Rent-to-own veteran Jim Forker opens his second Premier Rental Purchase store in Sturgis, Michigan, with new partner and RTO veteran Matt Chamberlain. Forker's 24 years of rent-to-own experience paid off for him when he opened his first Premier store more than 15 months ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
"It was time to venture out on my own," says Forker. "And, secure a future that I could control and not leave to someone else." Forker says he was inspired by fellow Premier store owner and friend Mike Lewis to launch the beginning of a multi-store operation. "The first store went unexpectedly well," he says." It took off like it had wings."
He credits his success to prioritizing customer service and to hiring quality employees who do the same. "They believe in what I am trying to accomplish as a small business owner. They have the same goals." And he gives credit to Premier's help getting him underway with a successful SBA business plan. "It was something I had never done." However, Premier helped him through that, and Forker found the rest of the process easy going."
"I always planned to open a second store," says Forker. "I'm not thinking small. I wanted to think big. I have managed a multi-unit operation for someone else for 12 years. I know what one store can do, and that gives me the drive to go forward with more."
Forker is not alone this time. He has partnered with Chamberlain, a former employee of his when both worked for one of the big chains. Chamberlain, an eight-year RTO veteran and most recently a store manager, was ready to pursue his dreams and jumped at the opportunity to go into business with Forker.
"Jim came to me in September," says Chamberlain. "Over the years my company had cut back the freedom of store managers. We weren't involved in ordering any more and things were really too tight. There were clamps on everything. I had the title but no entrepreneurial spirit left. Jim had been my market manager and boss and it was a no-brainer when he came with the proposition."
Forker discovered that opening his first Premier store was a streamlined effort. "The steps are all laid out for you. You just follow them — from the bank presentation to leasing agreements, advertising to human resources," he says. Premier's help and Forker's good history made the second opening even easier. "After setting up the first store, I found it couldn't have been easier with the second store. I already had the contacts and the vendors. With the second loan, we walked right into the bank with paperwork and, because of our good record, we walked out with our loan. It was easy."
Forker says that the Premier name and reputation helped as well. "Premier stands for quality. It stands for being the best," he says. "As Premier continues to expand, more people know and trust you as a Premier dealer."