50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019
The Silicon Review
“We are quickly moving toward a consistent digital experience across all our product offerings.” -- Chris Chilton
The consumer leasing industry has seen significant growth in part due to record-low unemployment and strong consumer confidence. Forecasts show that the leasing market is positioned for exponential growth in the next few years, and TEMPOE is ready to meet this challenge.
Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, TEMPOE is a national retail FinTech firm, founded in 2009.
The company was founded to serve retailers with cash- and credit-constrained customers who are unable to complete a sale due to a lack of available credit. With an eye on innovation, the company set a course to become ‘The Obvious Choice’ as an alternative to traditional financing.
TEMPOE was the first leasing company integrated through a national retailer’s point-of-sale system with the capability to offer secondary and tertiary leasing services. The company is also the only national provider that offers a true omnichannel solution, servicing in-store, eComm, and mobile platforms. Today it operates consumer leasing services within all 50 United States as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In 2012, TEMPOE acquired FlexPay and SmartPay, which brought the company diversity and expandability into new markets as alternatives to traditional financing.
Chris Garrido, Martin Kuhn, and Chris Chilton, TEMPOE Leadership, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
How did TEMPOE evolve in a competitive market? What initial challenges did you face?
Since its inception, TEMPOE has stayed true to its mission in the no credit required leasing space by developing cutting-edge solutions to simplify, integrate, and create a seamless leasing experience that drives repeat business.
“One of our key differentiators has been the success of our internally developed payment solutions,” said Chris Garrido. “Our internal customer service system, funding technologies, and integrations are what set us apart early. And we have the experience with retailers large and small, including traditional brick-and-mortar, eCommerce, and mobile applications, to thrive in this market.”
“Our reputation as an industry leader is earned through hard work and evaluation,” he continued. “We are innovators and are truly interested in our partners’ overall success – and help them achieve success beyond our services offered. We are problem solvers, we care, and most importantly, we are partners, not vendors or suppliers.”
How is innovation important to your success?
CFO Martin Kuhn said retailers that want to compete will have to consider how a digital payment economy will impact their business and scalability.
“Innovation at TEMPOE is ongoing,” he said. “Just last month, we put into production the final waves of our new Risk Advantage Engine™, known as RAE™. Underwriting the consumer is based on a true risk profile. Ultimately, more customers are being approved with higher approval amounts.”
Mr. Kuhn also believes that staying ahead of the curve is key to survival when it comes to automation and repeat velocity.
“With better than industry-standard predictive capabilities, our new RAE™ technology is a game-changer, not only for TEMPOE but, more importantly, for our consumers,” Mr. Kuhn said. “Approval amounts are based upon the risk level of the customer, not at a store or client segment assisting in risk mitigation.”
“Our approvals have always been fast, within seconds. Now we have the speed and accuracy, which frees up the time of our risk and underwriting teams.”
CIO Chris Chilton said TEMPOE has been focusing its innovations to create a great customer experience. In February of this year, the company released a new internally developed CRM account management system that frees up agents to spend more time servicing customers and enables more automation for retailers through funding.
“We are quickly moving toward a consistent digital experience across all our product offerings,” Mr. Chilton said. “Whether shopping online or in-store, the customer experience with TEMPOE should be consistent. For instance, a majority of our customers have smartphones. We are building our solutions in the format customers choose to use.”
“We are also always cognizant of the time it takes for a customer to transact with TEMPOE,” he said. “Much of our innovation goes into streamlining and speeding the fractions of seconds it takes to interact with TEMPOE’s platform.”
What are the factors that make your brand most ‘innovative,’ and why?
“We truly believe our payment technologies with POS and eCommerce integrations are the best in the industry,” said Mr. Garrido. “Our marketing efforts and rewards programs focus on driving repeat business back to our retailers. As for results, leasing continues to increase year-over-year with many of our customers coming back for second, third, or more leases.”
TEMPOE offerings help retailers gain new customers, sell at higher tickets, and most importantly, drive repeat velocity.
Last year, TEMPOE implemented its first eCommerce offerings. The initial eComm sales forecast was for $5 million; from April through December, the company posted more than $25 million in lease originations. This implementation provides TEMPOE customers with a seamlessly integrated experience within the retailer’s website.
“Our retail partners want to say ‘yes’ to their credit-challenged customers,” he said. “We offer a pathway to success with instant decisions, early purchase options, and affordable payments.”
How do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?
Over the past 18 months, the customer service organization has been transformed into a customer-centric, service delivery culture.
“Solid relationships are built on trust, and that’s the foundation of the TEMPOE experience,” said Mr. Garrido. “Our company is not so large, but at the same time, it’s agile enough that every department matters and plays a role in our client engagement and performance.”
“Feedback comes to us in the form of phone and email surveys, social media reviews and testimonials, and direct interaction,” he explained. “All have led to more proactive customer engagements.”
How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?
Repeat customers make up about 33 percent of TEMPOE’s business. Beyond the company’s rewards and loyalty program, the trust comes from its commitment to a customer-centric, service delivery culture.
“Our Net Promoter Scores have been steadily climbing since 2017. Our NPS scores now average 73-75, which is at the top of our industry and considered World Class for NPS ratings. Whether the agent is in the Honduras, Mexico, or Cincinnati, we provide a high-caliber service to the customer and encourage a customer-repeatable environment. Retailers have the confidence to know that they can gain a loyal customer, and consumers keep coming back,” Mr. Chilton said.
As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
The leasing industry has seen significant growth, in part due to record-low unemployment and strong consumer confidence. Forecasts show that the leasing market is positioned for exponential growth in the next few years, and TEMPOE is ready to meet this challenge.
The company moved into new, expanded office space in downtown Cincinnati in June and transfered its headquarters from Manchester, NH.
TEMPOE continues to develop new products and solutions that allow for expansion and engagement, not only to meet demands in a changing retail market but to stay ahead of the curve and become The Obvious Choice for both our retailers and their customers.
“We are innovators and are truly interested in our partners’ overall success – and help them achieve success beyond our services offered. We are problem solvers, we care, and most importantly, we are partners, not vendors or suppliers.”--Chris Garrido