Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The slow economy of recent years has forced the reconsideration of budgeting for people from all walks of life. For many, the downturn has meant drastically reduced spending. Much more severe than simply eliminating luxuries, stretching dollars as far as they will go across everyday expenses has become standard practice. Items considered to be necessities are not any less necessary in this financial crunch. Occasionally, special circumstances lead to a situation that requires new ideas to maintain the mutually supportive confluence between business and consumer.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution recently reported on a local RIMCO, an arm of rent-to-own giant Aaron’s that has transformed a massive downturn in its primary business, selling and renting car and truck rims, into an opportunity to fill a real need for its customers rather than peddling a luxury. Unlike rims, the tires that wrap around them are an absolute necessity for car owners. However, tires are nearly as expensive; the outright purchase price for an entire set is well out of the budget for many drivers.

Renting-to-own is widely understood to be considerably more expensive than buying, but in the case of necessity items, some customers may have no choice. The store now rents twice as many tires as the rims that used to compose 60-70% of its business. Loyal customers, although not enthralled with the increased cost, are appreciative of the service and products they receive from the store, without which their commute would be impossible.

Rather than struggling with the challenges of the economic downturn, RIMCO successfully managed to shift its strategy on the fly in reaction to a radically changing market. In the face of lowered demand for the store’s primary source of business, it seized an opportunity to provide even more value to its customers than previously, and at an inflated cost that meant more revenue. The same lesson could apply in any industry – value is about more than price. For consumers, it is more important that a service fills a need. For businesses, creating an adaptable strategy that thinks far beyond cost is essential.

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