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Rodger Lyn Gets Back Into RTO as Premier Dealer in Miami

After a 10-year hiatus, Rodger Lyn is re-entering the RTO industry as a Premier dealer in Miami. Being a Rent-To-Own dealer wasn't even on Rodger's radar until recently. But going into business for himself and owning his own Premier dealership has become an entrepreneurial adventure like none he could have imagined.

While Rodger hasn't always been in RTO, he's consistently stayed in the rental game. He worked for Blockbuster Video in Miami for five years. Several investors were getting involved in RTO, so he branched into the industry as well. He worked as a project coordinator at Premier Rent-To-Own when it was a Boca Raton-based licensor. While there he met Trooper Earle who eventually acquired Premier's licensing arm and relocated the operation to Virginia to form Premier Rental-Purchase as its President and CEO.

After his first and early-Premier experience, Rodger formed his own consulting company targeting RTO and business start-ups as clients.

"I actually helped Trooper in the early days of Premier when he was about to go into franchising. I worked with other RTO operators as well."

He took a break from the industry and went to work for Budget Rent-A-Car as a district manager in Florida. "It's all about rental," he quips.

He stayed at Budget for ten years, all the while remaining interested in, and keeping tabs on the RTO industry and specifically Trooper. He watched with interest as Premier seemed to expand overnight from a small company of four stores to one with over 40. A year ago he decided it was the perfect time to re-enter the industry as an owner operator - a Premier owner-operator.

Given his history with Trooper, it was an easy decision to join the Premier team. But he made the decision with some careful research, taking the time to contact several dealers to learn more about their Premier experience.

"I checked on Premier's track record," he said. "Trooper is good about not forcing anyone to join his organization. I talked with him and he encouraged me to contact other franchisees as well. I talked with a bunch of other dealers to see what motivated them to take that big step. I wanted to know what they had been uneasy about in going in and what they liked once they were open. I looked around and franchisees were quite happy. In fact several dealers told me that business and getting into business was better than anticipated."

After studying the situation, Rodger started the new dealer process with Premier. He comments that every dealer finds a different challenge to opening a store. For him it was finding real estate, especially in his Miami market.

"Real estate is one thing that's a barrier for new dealers in Miami. After a frustrating six months, Trooper came down to personally help me find a suitable site. Luckily, I found an ideal spot with Premier's help," he says. "They proved invaluable in other ways too. They were very helpful with the financing side of the business. Once I had my business plan prepared, it was almost easy when I went to locate an interested bank. I secured a business loan with the second bank I spoke to. With my financing and a site ready, Premier kicked in with its turnkey process for getting supplies to prep my store for opening. Materials started arriving; a delivery truck showed up completely decaled; I secured credit and membership to a buying group immediately. Premier really does take care of a lot of the details normally associated with starting a business from scratch."

Rodger shares his impressions of Premier's marketing support. "I have found the marketing process very effective as well. They have a dealer marketing program with pre-made templates ready to modify for specific needs and markets. I had easy access to experienced professionals who went over my marketing plan several times with me to help me get it right."

Because he's been out of the business 10 years, he's hired a local operator with 17 years of recent experience to help him, particularly when it comes to pricing trends and product demand.

"I have a fairly good understanding of how the business works to make money. But I wanted to bring in someone who has been in the RTO business more recently than I have to get me caught up. I feel I am surrounding myself with the right resources." And he looks forward to success.

Rodger reflects some more on what he has liked about his experience so far as an official Premier dealer.

"I really like the whole collaborative aspect of being part of Premier. I can call another dealer because he or she is an entrepreneur like me. It's very helpful. Premier isn't like an ivory tower where no one cares. Any dealer has access to people who are in same boat and sharing the same experiences starting out with their own businesses. I know I can call any of them, and they will open up their store, talk to me and give me their advice and talk about how they have handled the same situation. It isn't like a mega franchise where someone at the top throws me a manual and say, 'Here. Don't call us."

Rodger went to Premier's annual buying convention in Las Vegas last spring. If he hadn't already been sold on the decision he had made to become a Premier dealer, he would have recognized its value and potential at that meeting.

"It was great to have everything and everyone in one place. I went to the show to try and get my product knowledge up. I met other Premier dealers who knew what was what on pricing and could recognize a bargain instantly. It was great since I've been out of the industry so long. I would have had to do a tremendous amount of research with vendors and multiple cross checks of pricing if I had done it on my own. At the show, everything was on display, not in a book or catalog, so I could see it. The savings were tremendous. I saved myself $5,000 on merchandise from one brand alone just by being there. That's the whole point of it: talk to other Premier dealers, meet vendors and take advantage of reduced prices."

With the many details of opening up an RTO store behind him, Rodger looks forward to the new experience of owning and running his own business. And while not exclusively related to RTO, his experience and commitment to customer care that have definitely been a big part of the past 10 years will be part of the next decade to come.
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