Columnists, V7I1


(Photo courtesy of Zac Durant on Unsplash)

I just finished another year of day-to-day management in our shed rent-to-own business. And, believe it or not, I enjoyed every bit of it. Now I know I’m a bit prejudiced in favor of my team, but I enjoy “sitting where they sit,” as Ezekiel the prophet said. 

I made mistakes. I didn’t get everything right. But I do enjoy my work.

I enjoy our manufacturers. I liked listening to the challenges they faced in 2020. And they had them. 

Shortages. Prices out of control. Shop production shortfalls. It was good for me to listen and respond in the context of a sister business. I like helping people. 

I enjoy my customers. They have had a lot to say sometimes. They need someone to hear them out. They have had their share of troubles in 2020. It only takes a few minutes to listen, to ask about them, and to let them know what you can and cannot do with their account. I can’t please them all, all the time, but I can remember that each of them has a story. 

As an older pastor, I often think about them and how their shoes must feel on their feet. There is joy in this because this is just another part of me serving Christ by serving others.

I enjoy my accountants that review and watch over my books and my financial health. They want everything done just so. They are so picky! I like that because I want the same thing. 

Years ago, I developed an “in house” daily record system that lets me know today and every day exactly where I am. I enjoy getting rid of guesswork.

I could go on. I enjoy my haulers. Their solutions and stories. I enjoy my sales staff, especially when they rightly represent me and RTO.

My reflections bring to mind the fundamentals that help us to succeed. I am convinced that so often we win or lose on the basics.  Let me mention just a few of these fundamentals.  

Know your current margins. Now, not tomorrow.  With rapidly changing prices, it only takes a short time to be upside-down financially.  There’s not much joy in that! This has been a big part of our conversations with manufacturers this past year. It is hard to recover once you get behind. There are simple programs and procedures that make knowing our margins quite painless. 

Rent-to-own customers need the “bread and butter” shed. There is a lot of advertising and marketing going into elite-style sheds. Many of these sheds are really nice. That’s wonderful for certain customers for sure.  But our mainstay in RTO is the basic shed.

Talk to the customer early and pass those little notes along to us. RTO companies get paperwork that comes through the manufacturer or a sales lot. They meet the customer first and talk about what the customer has in mind. We would like to be a mouse in the corner listening to that conversation.  

If some of those notes would come along with the paperwork to us, it would make our day. Those things that the salesman learns from the customer at the beginning is so helpful to us going forward. Things like location, intended building use, and unique customer needs (like being hearing impaired). These tidbits of information are the ounce of prevention that saves the pound of cure.

I do enjoy rent-to-own. And I hope you enjoy working with us too. Let’s all bring a bit of delight to this new year!

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