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Their Dad Passed Away Just After Buying a Batteries Plus Franchise. They Opened the Location In His Honor.

For the Lewis family, learning to run a business together brought them closer in a time of grieving.

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This story appears in the April 2022 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Victor Lewis always encouraged his wife, Audrey, and their kids — Netanya, Victor Jr., and Joshua — to be entrepreneurial. Lewis, a veteran and pastor, saw as a way to create a family legacy. And on a family trip to Virginia in 2013, an inconvenient delay set Victor's legacy in motion. The family's car battery died, and they wound up at a Batteries Plus store. Victor was so taken with Batteries Plus that he convinced his family to join the 713-unit in May 2021. But just a few months after they signed the franchise papers, Victor passed away from cancer.

Courtesy of Batteries Plus
Siblings Victor Lewis Jr. and Netanya Lewis at their family’s Batteries Plus, where the work is very personal.

Following his death, the family was bereft and uncertain about their future. But ultimately, they decided to push forward with Victor's plans for a Long Island franchise. Starting a business while grieving has presented the Lewis family with many emotional and logistical hurdles, but they've found strength in navigating the business journey like they have the healing process: together.

What was it like building a franchise during this difficult time?

Audrey: I was married for 28 years, and during those years, Victor took care of most of the business and family affairs. So when he passed away, it was a huge shift. I remember the first time I met with the loan advisor and she sent me a checklist. I just sat there like, "How am I going to do this?" taught me a lot about perseverance. It taught me never to give up, regardless of how frightening a task may look.

Victor Jr.: There were plenty of times where we were unsure of the finances, the location, and even the building materials. I've heard entrepreneurs say, "We get beat down, you've got to try again," but I never really took it to heart until starting the franchise.

Netanya: My dad was a very smart businessman. Even though he wasn't here physically, he gave us the tools and resources we needed to succeed. That drove us as a family. Throughout our lives, each of us learned bits and pieces from him about running a business.

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How did you all go about learning how to be successful franchisees?

Netanya: There was a lot of independent learning, like doing the Batteries Plus modules. But there was also a lot of in-person learning. When Victor [Jr.] and I flew to the [Batteries Plus headquarters], we just watched and learned from other managing partners or franchise owners. We observed their language, the way they spoke, and the day-to-day operations.

Victor Jr.: Coming in, I had a little bit of knowledge from my website design studio business. But my website business was more based on the electronic side, so I could work from home. Being at Batteries Plus, where there's a physical building — you need more resources to get yourself up and running. I've learned to not be afraid to ask questions, and to check something three to four times before sending it out.

Audrey Lewis (left) and her kids Joshua (right), Netanya, and Victor Jr. are opening a franchise in Long Island.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Batteries Plus

How has pursuing a franchise affected you as a family?

Audrey: It's almost forced time [together]. To sit together and talk and work out how the scheduling is going to look, the staffing, all those little pieces. I thank God for my children because they helped me not only through the passing of my husband, but when I doubted I could do this.

Victor Jr.: The wins and losses bring us together. When you're fighting toward a common goal, it's very easy to get on board to help each other out. It pushes us all to be more close-knit.

Netanya: One of the biggest realizations I've had is that you really need your family, especially when you go through difficult things. Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. When me and Victor [Jr.] were at [company headquarters], it was so cool because we were like this dynamic duo. My family being there for me and vice versa — it's something I'm grateful for.

Related: A Husband-and-Wife Team Converted Their Family Business to a Franchise to Make More Time for Family

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