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


Welcome to our APRO-FESSIONAL series, where we spotlight the dedicated individuals shaping the rent-to-own industry. Each interview delves into the lives and careers of our members, offering insights into their journeys, daily roles, and passions. Join us as we explore and celebrate their contributions to the rent-to-own community.

Name: Ray McDowell

What’s your current role/title?

Owner of Advanced Rent To Own in East Ridge, Tennessee.

Years in RTO:

I opened Advanced in 2011, so 13 lucky years.

What did you do before you began working in RTO?

I began my career as a Certified Public Accountant, and expanded into consumer lending and commercial properties. Many of our lending clients were renting household items from rent-to-own businesses, so we decided to offer RTO as an additional service to our loan customers. In 2011, a space became available, and we opened a storefront.

My accounting background helps with the numbers side of the business, systems structure, and organizational management, while my consumer-lending experience helps with the approval process, marketing, and collections.

What do you do in a typical day or week?

I normally spend the beginning of each day assessing where we are in terms of achieving our goals. Next, I get on the phone with our managers and discuss the most relevant tasks, evaluating the progress and quality of each task. I usually work from home, then visit each location a couple of times every week to offer support and feedback for the team. Mostly, I’m the fixer, offering ideas and solutions to accomplish our objectives and keep projects moving.

What are the benefits of working in RTO?

People who work in rent-to-own have an opportunity to work in a job they love and enjoy, while making a positive impact on others. We get to work with great customers who value their relationship with us. And in RTO, there are many new challenges to navigate daily – it keeps it interesting!

What do you love best about your job?

My favorite thing is helping an individual or family fill their homes with high-quality items they can enjoy and what they need when they need it. I love knowing that our customers value us and that we make a difference in their lives.

How do you manage work-life balance?

I’m not the best source of coaching for work-life balance, but advise people to learn how to compartmentalize and prioritize.

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

I believe online sales and digital marketing will continue to grow, with AI being used more in the collections process.


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