The word "battery" may conjure up images of dirty, greasy car batteries, but visit a Batteries Plus franchise, and it's clear that they energize a lot more than just cars. After all, batteries make watches tick, alarms ring and cell phones jingle. "It's amazing all the things that are battery-related," says Susan Manwaring. "You take [batteries] for granted until you're in this business."
In 1992, Susan, 46, and her husband, Dan, 55, opened the very first Batteries Plus franchise. Dan first heard about the company through a friend and was intrigued by the concept of a store devoted primarily to selling, installing and even customizing batteries. As soon as Batteries Plus received its license to franchise in the Manwarings' home state of Indiana, the couple was charged and ready to go. They opened their first store in Fort Wayne in 1992, and opened another store in Mishawaka and four in Indianapolis in the next two years. "We believed in the concept," says Susan. "We believed if we worked hard, we could make a success of it."
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The couple did work hard-while Susan juggled operating the franchises with raising four children, Dan worked a separate job for the first four years to bring in extra money. Now, 12 years later, they're still going strong-two of their sons are involved in the business, and they estimate 2004 sales for the six stores to reach nearly $5 million.
The Manwarings stay busy day in and day out. Susan deals with commercial selling and works hands-on in the business, while Dan focuses on goal setting and strategic planning. Through it all, their interest in batteries just keeps going and going. "You learn something new every day," says Susan. "It's never stagnant. It's never the same widget day after day that you're putting out."