Gaining 25 more customers per month with Acima.
In its first six months of using Acima, Appliance Warehouse averaged six more sales per week between its two stores, which means the company is gaining 25 more customers per month, translating to a 10 to 20 percent increase in business.
“Roughly 30 percent of our customers are using this now. Our business has gone up significantly since we’ve had Acima as our financing option. This is so much better than what we had before.” – Julia Bruhl, General Manager
About Appliance Warehouse
The first thing people say who walk into Appliance Warehouse’s 20,000 square foot showroom in Valdosta, Georgia is usually something like this: Wow, you have parrots?
“It’s true—we have four parrots in our store, and they’ve been in commercials and things, so some people come visit us just to see the birds,” says Julia Bruhl, General Manager of Appliance Warehouse, a retail outlet in Valdosta, GA, selling top-of-the-line washers, dryers, and other major appliances at discount prices. (They have a second, smaller store in Centerville, GA.) “Of course, we have other draws besides the birds. We’re pretty well known around here.”
Known for years as Nationwide Appliance, the outlet store’s name was eventually changed to Appliance Warehouse. But what didn’t change was the store’s and founder John Clark’s reputation for excellent customer service. “John’s been here twenty years, and I’ve been here seven,” says Bruhl. “If we don’t have what you need, we’ll refer you to our competitors,” she says. “It’s one of the benefits of being in the South, I guess—we like to help each other. It must be working because people keep coming back.”
There was a time in the not too distant past when Appliance Warehouse was spending way too much time dealing with customer payments.
“We had so many problems with payments,” says Bruhl. “Trying to handle the financing and people’s money issues—we were doing all of that ourselves.” Bruhl gives an example of a couple coming in the store to buy a washer and dryer set. They pick out what they want, then figure they can easily pay with (insert payment method here) only to realize either the store can’t accept that method, or some other issue will surface.
“They might pull out a credit card, and then a bank card, then want to put 50 percent down, or they have to show proof of residency, and the list goes on—so many different issues can come up,” Bruhl says. “Even then, those transactions didn’t always go through! We were spending so much time trying to figure out who owed us money, and how we were going to get that money. It was too much for us.”
That cycle of payment frustration at Appliance Warehouse began to change the day Acima sale rep Matt Livingston walked in the door.
“Matt came in and briefly told me about Acima and left his card, but at the time I didn’t think we were interested, so I let him go,” says Bruhl. “But my boss [ John Clark] realized this could help solve our customer payment frustrations, so he said, ‘Get him back in here!’”
Livingston explained that Acima was different from traditional financing options because it didn’t hit the customers’ credit. The merchant would be paid either the same day or the following day, and all the history and everything the merchant did was accessible from a convenient online portal.
Appliance Warehouse was sold.
“It’s so easy because I can see everything,” Bruhl says. “We make invoices and make a payment to it, and the portal shows the date, the invoice number, what they funded—everything. Acima makes sure we’re funded properly. Getting our funding is always fast and simple. I go straight to the portal and answer my own questions. The portal is amazing.”
Customer service was another part of Acima that impressed Appliance Warehouse.
“When I have a question, I call and speak to Jade or Kyle,” says Bruhl. “For any issue I have, they take care of us.” She said the Acima reps are trained to know each merchant’s store policies, acting like an extended staff for Appliance Warehouse. “They go by our store policies, not just their own, and I love that. They’ll call us up and verify everything—whether it’s about a customer not paying, or a question about a refund, or one of our policies—getting both sides of the story while staying in close contact with us. Their communication is great.”
With Acima now advertised as the go-to financing option at both company’s stores, Appliance Warehouse and its customers are reaping the benefits.
“People here in the South are very open, and they’ll tell us if they don’t have good credit or can’t afford something,” says Bruhl. “They might come in and say ‘I only have $200. Can I spend that much now and pay the rest later?’ And the answer is yes. Or they’ll call up and say ‘I just saw your ad. Can I apply on my computer here at home?’ Then they’ll swing by later, already approved, and just pick up their fridge or washer and dryer. This financing tool is very simple and self-explanatory, and since so many people don’t have that perfect credit score, it’s an extra big draw.”
Though very open in telling their situation and asking questions, Valdosta locals are usually hesitant to give out their credit card numbers, says Bruhl. That’s another reason why using Acima for financing is such a draw. “The fact is, most of our customers aren’t comfortable giving out their card info, but when they see a big company like Acima is behind our financing, they like that. Also, it’s convenient because applying takes just a few minutes and they get immediate approval, right there on their phone.”
In just six months after starting to use Acima, Appliance Warehouse is making up to six more sales per week between its two stores, which means 25 more deals are closed per month, says Bruhl. “Roughly 30 percent of our customers are using this now. Our business has gone up significantly since we’ve had Acima as our financing option. This is so much better than what we had before.”
The added customers have produced a 10 to 20 percent increase in Appliance Warehouse’s business.
“When you’re able to do that much more business with something like this, it means you’re able to help that many more people who, for financial reasons, wouldn’t have been able to get that needed washer and dryer or refrigerator. It’s nice to think we’re helping people in that way.”
Whether those ‘welcoming parrots’ are helping people, as well, is for another story.
Julia Bruhl, General Manager
511 W. Hill Ave.
Valdosta, GA 31601
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