Association of Progressive Rental Organizations | America’s Champion for Rent-to-Own

2023: A Day in the Life in RTO | Heather Cleek

Name: Heather Cleek

What’s your current role/title?

Corporate Buyer and Home Office Employee at Cleek’s Home Furnishings/Rentals & Sales.

Years in RTO:

I have officially worked for Cleek’s for the last three-and-a-half years. I started as an office assistant and did whatever needed to be done – I’ve helped with the website, updated pricing and generated purchase orders for incoming shipments, performed file audits, and maintained uniform and promotional item inventory.

How did you find your current position?

Once my father-in-law, Tiger John Cleek, was diagnosed with ALS, he invited me to join the home office staff of our family business. It has given me such an appreciation for not only my husband (John Cleek, Jr.) and late father-in-law, but also for the rent-to-own industry as a whole.

What did you do before you began working in RTO?

I was a teacher and have a background in Early Childhood Special Education.

How did you prepare for your RTO role?

While there’s no substitute for working side-by-side with John, the APRO education seminars at RTO World and TRIB Group meetings have been instrumental. The presenters are so generous offering knowledge from their experiences, sharing ideas, and engaging others to participate. The vendors have also been so supportive as the transition was made from John to me as our buyer. Finally, I talk with our store managers and sales staff about product preferences, because they’ll sell items they’re passionate about themselves.

What do you do in a typical day or week?

During a typical day, I check emails for specials relevant to our inventory needs, and place orders for perceived gaps in our inventory or special orders for customers. I try to stay ahead of shipments to stores by preparing purchase orders and updating pricing in our system. I keep our website current, which is a constant task. And I enjoy meeting with vendors and seeing product offerings to generate more agreements from both existing and new customers.

What are the benefits of working in RTO?

RTO is an industry that feels more like a family, with lifelong friendships. I love going to the different buying shows to meet new people, see familiar faces, learn through the seminars, buy new products, and have lots of fun!

What do you love best about your job or employer?

I love working with my husband, John, and sharing in the vision of our family business. I appreciate all that he does and has done more now, because I see how hard he works every day. I also like getting to know our employees on a personal level. Finally, I really enjoy hearing about how we’ve positively affected customers’ lives.

How do you manage work-life balance?

I laugh when I think about trying to have a work-life balance. When you’re married to the owner, you try to talk about family, faith, sports, and anything else we love, but at the end of the day, business always seems to creep back into the conversation. We do love to have fun, so balance has to come in those moments.

What do you predict will change in the rent-to-own industry over the next five years?

I believe the growth of artificial intelligence will have a great impact on our industry; I’ll be watching to see how it can be useful to our customers and our business.

You can connect with Heather Cleek on Facebook or Instagram.

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