One of the emerging issues pawnshops in the 21st century will confront is the acquisition and retention of motivated hourly employees. Obviously, there are several institutional avenues one can follow such as Craigslist, want ads and/or online services such as Indeed.com. But, what if the answer is internal? What if the solution is to make your store (in my words) an Attractive Pawnshop? Large, publicly traded companies that have a reputation for being a good place to work will always have plenty of candidates readily available and eager to work for them. Examples include Disney, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, UPS, The Container Store, and Whole Foods. Don’t forget, most larger companies all started as a single entity before expansion. So, the question is, what does it take to make my shop an Attractive Pawnshop?
What is typically the biggest asset in your store? Outside of your loans, it’s your jewelry inventory – yet very little money, time and effort is typically allocated for displaying your jewelry in the most effective manner. You’ve stocked your pawn shop with unique and fashionable jewelry you hope your customers will love. But stocking your store is only part of the equation. To move inventory, you’ll have to display your jewelry in a way that will catch your customer’s eye and show your jewelry in the best light – both literally and figuratively. You want to create a retail jewelry display that will not only attract customers but will keep them coming back for more.
- E-Commerce. My kids have coined the phrase, “If you’re not online, you’ve flatlined.” to describe how their lives are so interwoven with the Internet and social media. This also describes any pawn shop not utilizing various sales platforms (eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, GunBroker, etc.) or social media such as Facebook and Twitter for marketing. Remember that rising inventory levels are a negative to the bottom line – its cash you already spent that’s now sitting! The most active and successful pawnshops are constantly adding items to the Internet for sale. In the old days when business was slow, my boss would tell me, “Go clean something!” Now, the motto should be “Go post something!”
As I travel across this country touring pawnshops from coast to coast, the most common challenge facing owners is rising inventory levels. Their monthly sales are simply not keeping up with the amount of “pulls”, also known as inventory added through forfeited loans and purchases. The conversation usually begins like this:
The success of a pawnshop is reliant on many factors. In today’s world, countless technologies exist that help improve exposure and traffic, encourage professional education, utilize e-sales channels and, above all, empower pawnshop owners to achieve what they set out to do and allow them to be current while maintaining a high level of productivity. Pawnshops that want to stay relevant know that they must incorporate these technologies into their growth strategy. In doing so, they reap additional benefits that keep them ahead of their competitors who fail to embrace technology, including:
Does anyone out there know what the Manager’s Circle is? If you’ve ever worked for me or know me professionally, then you absolutely know this concept. It’s an imaginary circle, between the pawn counter and the front door where the manager resides while at work. Why? Because when a customer comes in to get a pawn, I want three things to happen:
1. This is NOT your Grandpa's old pawn shop! We must have an outstanding customer experience! Make it lively with upbeat music, smiling faces, etc. Also, give away bottled water and/or popcorn. Think about your shop from a "millenial's" perspective and make sure the experience is one that will bring them back because it is fun to be in your shop(s).
By a show of hands – how many of you got into the pawn business so you could help people? How many wanted to be the sole salvation for some families in a time of crisis? Instead of making money, who of you wanted to make a difference instead? I would suggest that very few (if any) of us got our start with such philanthropic motives in mind. Truthfully, we all had large profits and multiple locations in our dreams, but a funny thing happened during the journey - we learned that pawn shops make a difference in our customers' lives.
There’s an old adage about advertising that I still remember to this day:
Probably half of the advertising dollars you spend are wasted...and you don’t know which half it is.
So instead of frustrating myself more, I stopped advertising and focused on my employees. I became the sole responsible party for all new employees from the initial interview of a CSR (break-in employee) to managers and supervisors. I knew what kind of people I wanted working for me and the only way that could happen was to control the process.