Batteries Plus CEO Scott Williams is a “highly accomplished executive with over 25 years in retail and e-commerce.”
In January 2019, Batteries Plus chose Scott Williams as CEO because of his “perfect combination of experience, expertise and vision.”
Before joining Batteries Plus, Scott Williams served in various positions at Cabela’s. These positions include “President of Cabela’s Inc., Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.”
Scott Williams served 6 years at Cabela’s. During that period, he delivered significant results, including “driving significant results by improving retail operations, revamping marketing, as well as many others.”
Prior to Cabela’s, Scott Williams served in senior management roles with Fanatics, Samsclub.com, and OfficeMax.
According to Scott Williams, Batteries Plus stands out because “each of our core offerings are fundamental to people’s lives.”
Scott Williams says Batteries Plus sells “batteries for everything from wheelchairs and mobility scooters, to thermometers and flashlights, as well as lighting, cell phone repair and key fob replacement.”
Likewise, Scott Williams says that “part of managing a franchise is making sure to manage the energy in the room.”
As a leader, Scott Williams manages his energy “while also being mindful of the energy of others and all relationships involved.”
Scott Williams adds, “When people look forward to coming to work it breeds better performance.”
We never closed based on the essential nature of our categories (another competitive ‘moat’) as each of our core offerings are fundamental to people’s lives. Scott Williams, Batteries Plus
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Scott Williams: As the pandemic hit, many would ask ‘Hey, how are you doing through this?’ as they saw much of retail closed, adhering to shelter in place, and stay home orders.
We never closed based on the essential nature of our categories (another competitive ‘moat’) as each of our core offerings are fundamental to people’s lives.
This includes batteries for everything from wheelchairs and mobility scooters, to thermometers and flashlights, as well as lighting, cell phone repair and key fob replacement.
In fact, we rebounded so quickly that June of 2020 was the largest sales month in the history of the company.
I felt we needed to find a way to describe this segment of retail in a very understandable way so I coined the term S.A.L.E.
S — Small box (limited crowds, personal service)
A — Assorted (not relying on just one category)
L — Local (growing call to support small business owners and communities during this time)
E — Essential (never closed, and resilient through all challenging times)
Jerome Knyszewski: Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Scott Williams: Most people believe that if an employee isn’t showing immediate signs of success that it’s important to cut ties sooner than later.
Sometimes true, but I’ve found most cases to be situational. For instance, a person might feel that the job is beyond their current capabilities.
In that case, I’ve found it worthwhile to invest in them and training, which often converts to gaining their loyalty and appreciation.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Have Integrity — this is №1 and non-negotiable including doing the right thing when no one is watching.
I remember early in my career discussing discipline for someone who had cheated on their expense account but it was only for $100-$150 — and the question came up ‘what is the amount that is ok to fudge?’
This had an impact on me as an absolute.
- Provide Inspiration — leaders need to find ways to get others motivated to follow — and it can come from storytelling (sometimes at your own expense).
At Batteries Plus we have drawn on this from using stories of our franchise owners who have relocated halfway across the country and raised families in new locations based on finding a great territory.
We want to use the success stories to provide inspiration to others in the system who are looking to do the same and/or scale their own business to new heights. This is their career — and we owe it to them to be the best in class franchisor.
- Tell an Inclusive Story — my management style has always been about making the story about the team as a whole, not just me.
I’ve been a part of growing the network for two years but we didn’t become the nation’s largest and fastest-growing battery, light bulb, key fob and phone/tablet repair franchise because of a few people.
We’re a nationwide network of more than 700 stores with a leadership team dedicated to supporting our franchise owners who are serving communities across the U.S.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Scott Williams: Part of managing a franchise is making sure to manage the energy in the room.
Part of team building is managing your energy as the leader while also being mindful of the energy of others and all relationships involved.
In good times and when the company needs to navigate through difficult situations, it’s the leader’s role to ‘keep the locker room.’
If there is conflict within the team or the dynamic is off, it must be addressed ASAP and move forward. It’s also important to address concerns and feedback.
If team members love coming to work except for X.
Then it’s worth addressing that, as its likely impacting others on the team who are unwilling to share.When people look forward to coming to work it breeds better performance.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Scott Williams: The biggest most fatal mistake leaders can make is ignoring market forces and refusing to make changes to the business model by assuming consumer behavior will ‘go back to normal’ or remain the same.
Some examples include the catalog industry believing that direct-mail would remain unchanged or that consumers would always buy cable TV.
Rather than leaders of companies being stuck in their ways, they should believe the evidence that ‘the times are changing,’ and worth evaluating future trends.
It’s easy to look back now at how blockbuster was done in, but what can we do in the here and now to spot the trends that are right here in front of us — like what’s the future of movie theaters and dining rooms of dine-in restaurants?
For us, we’re looking at the future of contactless curbside delivery and navigating commercial sales across growing industries like transportation and hands-free technology.
We’re also monitoring to see when schools and church re-engage with our offerings. It’s a disservice to any company to ignore the world around it.
Leaders need to be forward thinking and position the company for what’s up ahead.
Part of managing a franchise is making sure to manage the energy in the room.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Scott Williams: Growing up in retail and e-commerce, there is an art and a science to running a great retail store.
People think you just open the door, hire people, and it all takes care of itself. If it was that easy, everyone would do it.
In our case we have 700 stores, multiplied by six employees, which equates to roughly 4,000 people that franchisees need to train in order to deliver at a high superior service.
The main experiences that dictate a customer’s retail preference often boil down to how well the store is run, how fast they were able to get what they needed and if the product they were looking for was available.
You want to get yourself to operate well in all stores all across the nation, so that folks will get outstanding service every single time.
It’s an ongoing challenge to keep people’s training up to par, and easier said than done, but important for consistency.
There is a lot that goes into training, reinforcing and driving superior standards. To have a great retail story, the journey is never finished.
To have a great retail story, the journey is never finished. Scott Williams
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Scott Williams: Through my personal circumstances, we’re all motivated by what we’ve experienced in our lives.
In my greater family, there’s adversity such as members having autism, ADHD and depression.
I’d love for us as a country to have an opportunity to not judge a book by its cover and to think you know what’s going on in a person’s life at first glance.
People deal with challenges that are not evident to the naked eye, and acknowledge that there are greater traits on the inside of a person.
I’d like to live in a world where people are slow to judge and lead with more compassion and understanding.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Scott Williams: You can learn more about me and Batteries Plus on LinkedIn.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!