Rick Vadnais opened his second Premier Rental-Purchase store in Central Square, New York this spring after two and a half years of big success with Premier in Syracuse. Growth has gone according to plan for this 21-year industry veteran. But it was time to make some changes. He's brought on a partner, Dean Carusone, and he's opened a second store because, according to Vadnais, "I wasn't going to be satisfied with just one!"
Vadnais has always believed, "The only way to control your own destiny is to own your own store." He knows from experience. He had thought long and hard before jumping into business ownership, but after having worked for some big RTO names for nearly two decades, he was tired of the corporate structure. He was ready to take charge of where he was heading and the profit he was making for others. He had worked his way up through many roles within the industry, finding himself dissatisfied before he decided to tap into his skills as an operator and start making his energy count for himself.
Vadnais chose to become a Premier franchisee because of all that he had heard about Trooper Earle, Premier's president/CEO. "I knew of Trooper by being in the industry, and I knew of his good reputation. I talked to a lot of people who knew of him too and heard all good things. It's Trooper's vision, fairness and flexibility that helped me make my decision to go out on my own and to go with Premier. He is a good leader in the industry and I wanted to be part of a growing organization."
Known for making sure his customers leave with a smile, Vadnais has enjoyed building his Premier business on the strength of customer service and relationships with good staff members. "Success is surrounding yourself with good people and trying to get those people to gain a sense of ownership with you," he said. "I try to create a culture where our employees are number one. We want to treat them extremely well and take care of them. That spirit in turn gets passed on to the customer and results in the best service."
One of those relationships has developed into a partnership. Carusone started with Vadnais in 2005 three months after the Syracuse store opened. The plan became for him eventually to have ownership of both stores under one company. Carusone came with 16 years of experience, most recently serving as manager and regional manager with RentWay. He was looking for a change, however. "I knew I was a good operator. But I no longer was satisfied in my career. I wanted to control my career and own a business. Rick and I shared a philosophy on running an RTO business. When Rick presented that opportunity to me to eventually become an owner, I knew that is what I wanted. We agreed when he expanded, we would form a partnership."
Vadnais got a bonus when he formed that partnership. He also got Danielle, Carusone's wife, as part of a great RTO package. Carusone had met her through RentWay where she had been an operator for 13 years. She began working at the Syracuse store a year ago and got her feet wet with the Premier system and the philosophy that Vadnais and Carusone have adopted. They have since turned her loose to manage the new store.
"I've been to that new store once since we opened in March," said Vadnais. "I'm too busy with the other one, and I have full confidence in Danielle's ability to run that new store successfully. She certainly doesn't need Dean and me hanging around. Our biggest obstacle there is that the store is in a small rural area with no competition within 10 miles. Unlike our first store in the city where word spread like wildfire when we opened, we are having to spend much more on advertising in this new market! But competition will come. We don't mind pumping money into advertising at this point. Dean is very familiar with the territory and was very excited about pioneering a new market. We know it will explode."
Vadnais reflects on his second experience actually going through the process of opening a store. For him it was naturally easier because he knew what steps to take, had his contacts and vendors set up. He also had a record with his bank that understood the value of Premier and recognized the success of his first store. Still, Premier was very helpful. "Trooper came up and looked at the location before we signed the lease. Having available all the systems and services that a dealer can use was huge, from ready-to-go counters to the A/V wall to the software to human resources and marketing. Once we signed our lease, we were open in 90 days. It's difficult to do that without all those contacts and support systems that Premier has already in place."
Just as Vadnais discovered his first time, Carusone has appreciated the flexibility Premier offers to its franchisees to manage and run their store in the way that works best for them. "We are operators. The majority of dealers has been in the industry for many years and understands how to rent and collect. As a Premier franchise, we can run our stores in a manner that we feel is most profitable. I like the support that Premier offers and the ability to pick the support services that best fit our operation. For example, by using Premier's services in human resources, including payroll and benefits, we now have a 401K plan for our employees. This is something we could not have done on our own."
Carusone looks forward to reaping the benefits of being a business owner. It's something he has always wanted. "Advice I often heard as a manager was 'to run an operation like you owned it.' I never felt like I had been given the tools or authority to do that. But now we operate the way we do because we own the business. And we benefit from the support of Premier, and that will help us be most successful."
Vadnais and Carusone take pride in supporting the communities in which their stores are located. They sponsor Little League baseball teams, donate merchandise to the local Rescue Mission, have helped with fund-raising for two customers with cancer and leukemia and have participated in a Special Olympics fund-raiser. Vadnais has offered time and support to the industry as Vice President of the New York Rental Dealers Association and Chairman of its Membership Committee.
The national office of Premier Rental-Purchase is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. All Premier stores are independently owned and operated. Visit Premier's website at www.premierrents.net or call (800) 2-Premier and ask for Trooper Earle.