When Rent-A-Center decided to move forward with its large-scale refranchising initiative, it knew that it needed to partner with the right vendors in order to make it a success. From day one, the brand was determined to make the transition from corporate to franchisee ownership a smooth one, not just for its customers, but also for its employees. That’s why Rent-A-Center set out to find best-in-class companies to assist new multi-unit operators entering its system.
In its search for vendor partners, Rent-A-Center discovered Paychex, a payroll, human resources, retirement and insurance solutions provider that immediately stood out as an excellent candidate. After meeting with members of Paychex’s team, Rent-A-Center knew that they were the best fit for their business model.
“Our business model is great because we have a low-labor count model. It only takes about five employees to run each store. But when multi-unit franchisees are taking ownership of 50 existing stores, they’re dealing with 250 employees all at once. Because we care about our co-workers a great deal, we knew that we needed to take steps to ensure that this transition was seamless. It’s of vital importance for our co-workers to be just as excited about our new franchisees as we are because they play such a critical role in our business. Our employees build relationships with customers, and high employee turnover could lead to high customer turnover, too,” said Michael Landry, Rent-A-Center’s vice president of franchise development. “Finding the right vendor to work with in order to streamline the transition process from corporate-owned to franchisee-owned was one of our biggest priorities in implementing our refranchising initiative, and Paychex has stepped up in a big way. Since the minute we reached out to them, they’ve been knocking it out of the park.”
What makes Rent-A-Center and Paychex a perfect partnership is the fact that Paychex has the ability to cater its services to each individual client’s needs. Given that Rent-A-Center is bringing in major multi-unit investors who are looking to diversify their portfolios, those franchisees will need assistance across the board during the transition. Paychex also makes that transition easier by establishing a relationship from day one that’s designed to last in the long run.
“We believe in working with clients for life. Sometimes in the industry, there’s a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality that takes over. But we’re set up to maintain the same level of consistency with our clients over the course of the entire relationship as we had in the initial onboarding,” said Paychex Major Market Sales Representative John-Michael Cabot. “We operate on a dedicated service model so that our customers have one point person that they can turn to whenever they have a question or need that pops up. It’s really helpful to have that single point of contact to establish a relationship and create an established path for communication.”
That singular point of contact was another reason that Rent-A-Center decided to enlist the help of Paychex. Aaron Bylund, Rent-A-Center’s senior director of franchise operations, is the executive who decided to bring Paychex on board and also manages the ongoing relationship. He says that the personal connection that Paychex brings to the table is instrumental to franchisees’ success.
“One of the big deciding factors for us when it came to choosing Paychex as a partner was their one-on-one relationship. Whether you’re a small or large franchisee, you have one point of contact. You don’t need to go to someone different to talk about benefits, payroll or adding locations—it’s all one person,” said Bylund. “Being able to build off of that relationship is extremely beneficial to our franchisees. That’s one less thing that we as a franchisor have to worry about.”
Paychex has also gone above and beyond when it comes to understanding the Rent-A-Center business model and refranchising initiatives at their cores. That deeper understanding of what the brand is all about is another reason that Paychex is able to position multi-unit franchisees who are new to the Rent-A-Center family for long-term growth.
“When any new partnership is formed—and this one has been around for about two years now—we try to make sure that we’re supporting both the franchisor and franchisees. We make it a point to know their objective, which for Rent-A-Center is finding larger operators to move into their family and take over operations. So, in order to ensure that those operators can hit the ground running, we need to support that initiative as best we can,” said Leslie Bolton, Senior Business Development Manager of Strategic Accounts for Paychex.
The multi-unit investors and franchisees who enter Rent-A-Center’s franchise system will now have the ability to tap into Paychex’s extensive service offerings, including payroll, time and attendance, human resources, hiring, employee benefits, business insurance, finances and payments. Every owner or investment group that works with the company will receive one point of contact who will then assist in customizing the services that need to be set up for their specific needs.
“Paychex has a robust platform for any type of franchisee. They’re able to help out with payroll, recruiting, human resources and other services that our franchisees can then engage as needed,” said Bylund. “They’re also definitely forward thinking when it comes to getting out ahead of local legislation or changes in payroll or reporting. When minimum wage was at the top of everyone’s minds, they were months ahead in educating people on how to get ready for that storm and they were then able to steward them through.”
That forward-thinking mentality was evident for Shirin Kanji, Impact RTO Holdings’ president. The investment group became Rent-A-Center’s first new large-scale franchisee, with 45 existing locations and a recently closed deal to acquire 31 more. Because Impact RTO’s portfolio previously consisted primarily of hotels, it needed more assistance diving into the unique rent-to-own segment of the retail industry. So, the Paychex team got to work.
“What was unique about Shirin was that he needed everything right out of the gate. It’s not every day that you encounter a clean slate like that where a franchisee needs everything at the same time. But the advantage there—and what will be great for Rent-A-Center’s new franchisees—is that it creates one single employee record from day one. That means that all administrative duties, from setting up payroll to point of sale systems can all be managed from one place,” said Cabot.
It became clear right away that Impact RTO’s experience with Paychex was a positive one— they retained 245 out of 246 Rent-A-Center employees in that first deal. That’s why Rent-A-Center is eager to continue introducing the Paychex team to other franchisees and investors who come on board.
Cabot said, “We have a really strong understanding of what each individual client needs. What worked well for Shirin may not work for the next franchisee, but we have the products and services available to cater to those unique needs.”
With Rent-A-Center’s refranchising initiative now fully underway, Paychex will continue to have the opportunity to help each individual franchisee get off the ground quickly and smoothly. As this strategic partnership continues to move forward, both companies will continue to support one another and strive for excellence.
“Paychex holds themselves to the same high standards that we do, and it’s refreshing for all parties involved,” said Bylund.