RAC Winter Reunion: Hundreds of Rewards, Thousands of Donations, Endless Connections

CEO Mitch Fadel speaks to franchisees to drive innovation forward in their businesses.

APRO member Rent-A-Center held its annual RACFI [Rent-A-Center Franchising International] Winter Meeting February 2-4 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas. The event’s theme, “The Digital Pathway”, was reflected throughout the full week’s agenda – from a superb awards reception and future-focused training sessions, to a robust suppliers and a message to help RAC franchisees move forward with clarity in 2022.

“If we continue to innovate, our opportunities are endless,” said Rent-A-Center CEO Mitch Fadel. “This is the biggest takeaway for our franchisees who participated.”

On the first day of the three-day event, the RACFI Awards presentation set the tone for the meeting by honoring the competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of franchisees. The multi-brand franchise has recognized more than 500 stores, employees and owners for their excellence over the past year and their hard work during the pandemic. The Franchisee of the Year award, known as the Eagle Award, is based on revenue, growth and community impact, and was awarded to the APRO member The Raintree Group.

The Raintree Group was delighted to accept the honor of the Eagle Award, given annually to the top franchisee.
Vice President of Franchising Michael Landry summarizes the successes of the past five years for the RACFI brands.

Day 2 began with a general session, during which members of the RAC leadership team presented an overview of the state of the business since the new year. Vice President of Franchising Michael Landry informed attendees that RACFI brands could be found in 465 locations by the end of 2021, and franchisees have been given more tools than ever before to support their stores, especially during the pandemic. Landry also highlighted the phenomenal growth the RACFI brands have experienced over the past five years and thanked recent retirees for their service to the RTO industry.

Dave Feldner (right) dives into the camping experience at KAA, and Lissie Hickman (left) recaps her experience as a KAA camper.

Next, Fadel talked about the importance of attracting and retaining the right store staff, as well as how customer behaviors have changed during the pandemic. He noted that customers express a need to do business, rather than a more passive desire, which is why RACFI brands must remain proactive in meeting their customers’ needs.

A “housekeeping” information from the company followed, then a very relevant legal update. Children across America (KAA) Director of Development David Feldner and head of development Lissie Hickman shared a video explaining the Christian Sports Camp for Urban Kids and the RAC partnership. Franchisees made donations during the event’s vendor fair totaling $25,000, which RAC matched, doubling the funds raised to $50,000 – which will sponsor 85 children to attend KAA camp this year.

“Kids Across America is truly grateful for our continued partnership and support,” Feldner said. “Since the early 1990s, KAA has been blessed by RAC franchisees, the RAC business and many RAC suppliers and vendors. We look forward to many years of providing children in underserved communities nationwide the opportunity to experience a life-changing week at camp.

APRO Executive Director Jill McClure stresses the importance of the partnership between RAC and APRO for the industry.

Executive Director of APRO Jill McClure closed the general session with updates on activity in the lease-to-own industry. McClure emphasized the importance of bolstering RTO activity by joining APRO, the only national trade association for RTO companies, which protects the industry from harmful state and federal legislation.

McClure spoke directly to APRO member franchises in the audience: “We appreciate your commitment to not just partner with us to protect your own company, but also by supporting the collective work we do for the RTO industry. Our partnership is essential to our joint success and to continuing to meet the needs of our customers.

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