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Retailer’s Secrets to Successfully Growing Lease-To-Own Sales

Jun 14, 2021

Fifth Avenue Furniture store front

As lease-to-own solutions become more popular, we got to speak with Donovan Zerki of Fifth Avenue Furniture in Detroit, Michigan about the great success they’ve had providing the Acima lease-to-own offering.

Fifth Avenue Furniture has served the Detroit area since 2005 and started offering additional leasing options in 2014. Donovan said, “The moment we started utilizing the financing options, Fifth Avenue Furniture took off.” They started as a “cash and carry” business model and rarely took credit or debit cards, but immediately saw a lift in revenue once they started offering leasing options.

The Zerki family has many secrets to being successful in the LTO landscape, and he was kind enough to share a few.

  1. Have a program for your unconverted approvals and open-to-buy customers

    A lot of the time customers come into the store, apply for a lease and do nothing with it. Donovan and his team have a communication strategy to re engage those consumers and push them back into the store to utilize their lease line. “We have one dedicated person to bring conversions in”, says Zerki. “I will give her Excel files of paid in full customers and those who have open approvals within the last 30 days.” These paid in full customers and open approval customers receive phone calls and text messages from the Fifth Avenue Furniture team to push them back in the store and utilize their remaining lease line or start a new lease line.

  2. Create a personal relationship with exceptional customer service

    One of the things Donovan and his team pride themselves on is the customer service and personal relationships he builds with his customers. “At every location there is a person overseeing every team to make sure everything is running smooth,” said Donovan. If there is an issue during delivery, his team knows about it and fixes it for the consumer without them knowing. His customers continue to return to Fifth Avenue Furniture due to the personal connection they have with the team. They know they are taken care of when they walk through his doors from purchase to delivery. Donovan and his team pride themselves on the personal relationships they build with consumers. “It’s so underestimated how much having that personal touch makes a difference on the customer,” said Donovan.

  3. Communicate the flexibility of payments to the consumers

    The customers that come into Fifth Avenue Furniture carry average to lower-than-average credit scores, meaning they cannot usually qualify for traditional financing options. “We really push the concept that your payments don’t start until the merchandise is delivered,” says Donovan. “We are very flexible with the customer and want them to feel comfortable with the sale.” Customers feel taken care of knowing they don’t have to start paying on merchandise they don’t have in their hands. Knowing the LTO offering and being confident in the terms is extremely beneficial to the Fifth Avenue team.

  4. Be honest and transparent about the contract and payment terms

    One thing Fifth Avenue prides themselves on is how honest and transparent they are to their customers throughout the whole purchasing process. Donovan and his team take the time to sit down with the customer, go through the entire contract, explain all the terms and conditions, and ensure the customer has all the details. Donovan says “If you are upfront and honest with the customer, most of the time they will go through with the program.” His advice is to not “Be hesitant on using the program…be upfront with the customer about the program.” Customers want to do business with retailers they trust, so be the retailer that exudes honesty and transparency.

The Fifth Avenue Furniture started the LTO journey skeptical if it could help their customers, but after educating themselves on the offering, they haven’t looked back. If you want to better leverage the LTO system, try these four secrets and see if you're able close more sales!