Ryan smith was working as a construction surveyor when the market started to go south. Smith decided to try something new and different and in July 2012 was hired by Jacksonville, Fla. Jax LTO LLC, dba Rent Wise Home Furnishings as a driver at the company’s Beach Boulevard store. Within months he was promoted to Account Manager and within a year was promoted to Store Manager.
“A partial owner who was also a district manager left the company a bit suddenly, and my store manager was promoted to replace him,” Smith recalls. “So my manager recommended that the owner take over as store manager. He told the owner, “Trust me he’s ready. He can do it.’ It all happened quickly, and I was still learning the trade, but it came very naturally to me. “
“Ryan has been placed as a manager during a difficult time for our company,” confirms district manager Russell coffmann. “We had to rely on his personal motivation and hard-working attitude to maintain the store’s income. And, to our happy surprise, he successfully developed the store. He is a star employee day in and day out.
Indeed. Smith holds the company’s highest-grossing month and week records for a single store. In addition, Smith trained store managers at the other two Rent Wise locations. It’s no wonder Rent Wise named Smith’s Store Manager of the Year 2020.
The main contributors to Smith’s Pay-to-Purchase Leasing success are his steadfast work ethic, friendly personality, and his leadership balance between being uncompromising and being compassionate.
“Everyone – even my supervisors – calls me general,” smiles laughs. “They say I’m running a tight ship, I bark orders. And it’s true, I only expect the best from my team. I expect all of us to do things right, to take care of our customers. I can be firm when necessary, but I am also understanding. I listen, I understand.
“I guess I’m a gung-ho type of guy,” he continues. “I never stop. I don’t sit down, I just constantly do something. I’m never going to sit in my office, I don’t sit down for lunch, I just work. In fact, I just lost my father recently and had to miss a day of work to attend his funeral. So I worked my day off to cover the day I missed.
“Ryan is extremely dedicated,” says Rent Wise owner / operator Jeff smith (no relation). “Even during his most difficult personal times, he always shows up and strives to be the best. He’s a really great person to be around.
“Everyone who works with Ryan has a well-balanced picture of what it’s like to work hard and love what you do,” agrees Coffmann. “This mentality cannot help but be perpetuated in the work ethic of its employees. He does the job and has fun doing it.
Smith’s love for RTO comes from his naturally outgoing character. He describes himself as a “social chameleon”, able to create real relationships with anyone and everyone.
“It doesn’t matter who walks through the door, I can approach them, put them at ease and make it work,” notes Smith. “My store’s customer base is around 30% Hispanic and I don’t speak Spanish. But my clients come and always want to do business with me, even though I may have a bilingual employee available. They want me because we’ve built this relationship between us.
“I like helping people,” he continues. “We deal with ordinary people who live on fixed budgets. We offer a service that allows them to acquire the finer things in life and make affordable payments. Every time I hand in a certificate of ownership it is a proud day because I know I made someone happy. It might sound cheesy, but even if Rent Wise offered me a higher job, I don’t think I would want to stop being a store manager.
Smith spends his free time with his family – his two grown sons, two granddaughters and his mother. He’s also a gun enthusiast who not only enjoys the shooting range, but also collects and assembles guns.
So whether it’s at play or at work, Store Manager of the Year Ryan Smith is having a blast – and he’s feeling pretty excited about it.
“It seems Rent Wise is grateful to have me, but I’m actually the lucky one to work here,” Smith concludes. “Just as our business provides our customers with things they could never have had without us, our leadership has given me opportunities that I could not have had on my own, and I am grateful. “