Name: Thomas Roupe
What’s your current role/title?
I am a General Manager with Continental Home Centers dba Continental Rental.
Years in RTO: Just over 28 years
What did you do before RTO?
I managed an oil-change facility.
What do you do in a typical day or week?
My duties are widespread. Monday starts with reviewing morning COVID-19 health check-ins, reviewing monthly/yearly business operation reports (BOR), and checking in with my regional staff on their schedule for the week, their goals, and their inventory needs. Tuesdays, I am often traveling to work at different locations and help fill the gaps — anything from employee training, inventory audits, or assisting in service. Wednesday is our inventory day, with an online meeting with my buyers. Not only do we review our stock and budgets, but we also communicate with our suppliers on current lead times, which we follow up with an email drafted to our store managers. Thursday and Friday unfold as regular RTO workdays; I work where I am needed.
How did you find your current position?
Chris Yule recruited me back in 1993 from the oil-change business and has been my mentor in RTO along the way, including grooming me for my current position. Continental prides itself on promoting within the company.
What are the benefits of working in rent-to-own?
Rent-to-own has many rewarding benefits; the top of the list would be creating a long-term relationship with the community. RTO at Continental has never been just about operational reports or the numbers; we provide many services. We help local charities and facilities with electronics when they need them, as well as fundraise to donate. In 2015, our employees did a companywide fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, raising over $10,000.00.
How do you manage work/life balance with your role?
My position is challenging, demanding, and can take up over 60 hours of my week. I am fortunate to have college-graduate children and a wife with her demanding career, which allows me to meet the demands of my job. But we always set aside time to unwind and enjoy each other and the outdoors.
What do you predict will change in our industry in the next five years?
With COVID-19 hitting the country and the effects we have already seen here in Michigan, I see the current trend lasting for the rest of 2021 and partially in 2022. I see growth shortly thereafter if you have the right RTO leadership in place. You have to monitor trends and communicate with your customer base on what works best for them, continue to train your staff, incentivize your customers with a rewarding referral program, and stick with what works in RTO. At Continental, we always put the customer first, with a product, program, and price that is not only competitive in RTO but has advantages over even retail — same-day free delivery and setup of a quality product, backed with quality service.
How did you prepare for your role in RTO?
Continental always focuses on promoting within. I started as a delivery and collections manager. Then I moved to Store Manager, Regional Manager, Operations Manager, and now General Manager. The experience alone was never enough for me; still today I read books and articles on leadership and employee development, and apply those tools in my daily work life.
What do you love most about your job or employer?
Our Owner, Jim Patterson, created an atmosphere at Continental Rental where we are one big family. Our regional staff consists of three employees with over 30 years, one employee with over 25 years, and another one with 18 years. There are over 20 store-level employees who have been with us for over 10 years. We have great team-building meetings and take employees on annual industry trips.
To connect to Thomas Roupe, you can add him on Facebook.