Some people are in the pawn business happy to run a single, owner-operated store. There are many states and communities that can support this kind of business, and south Florida is one of those areas.
But Josh Davis, the owner of GC Pawn, isn’t one of those single-shop owner/operators. He and his brother Adam are third-generation pawnbrokers (we have that in common) and when they were in their early 20s, they set out to build a pawn empire in south Florida.
Having grown up in a family that revolved around a multi-store operation in New York, Josh had learned first-hand the multi-shop business model. He and Adam are now taking cutting-edge technology and online strategies and applying them to what some might call an “old-school” business model.
Mental Changes in Going from One Shop to Many
When I asked Josh what he would do differently in the transition from one shop to two, and from two shops to three, he said the biggest thing would be to find a way to have all your stores open every day of the week. Going from that single shop mentality to a many-shops mentality boils down to simple advice like that.
This makes sense, though–when you’ve got two stores, you also have twice the bills to pay and twice the opportunity to service the community. Skipping a whole day for two shops means leaving a ton of business outside, or worse: in someone else’s shop. When you’ve got one store, of course you want a day off. But things change once you go to two stores.
While running a business that involves multiple stores can be really exciting, it makes work/life balance even trickier.
GC Pawn aims for a pretty lean staff. Across their seven stores, they have approximately 22 employees. That means it can be a little tricky when more than one person needs a day off, because there’s not a whole lot of back-up.
Josh said he’s had to cancel all kinds of engagements, parties, even vacations because he had to be at the shop. Ultimately, though, he and his family are willing to make the stores the priority, so they’ve found a balance they can live with.
Strategizing for Future Acquisitions
When you know you want to expand in the future, you have to start making smart decisions today. The most important thing is to conserve as many resources as possible so you’re in a good position to strike while you can.
Josh and Adam knew that they wanted to open a whole bunch of stores–this is the model they grew up with and knew so well, after all. So when gold prices were high, they socked away as much as they could, knowing they would have a bunch of acquisitions in the future. By doing so, they positioned themselves to be able to pick up struggling and retiring shops.
Then, once a new shop was in the business, they could funnel all their energy (they started young, remember) and strategy into revitalizing that already-existing store instead of building it from scratch.
The Power of Consistent Branding
Some pawn brokers will go with a “new store, new brand” mentality. They give each shop its own personality, with its own name and logo. But not at GC Pawn.
Josh uses their brand liberally across all of their marketing efforts, including social media. That way they have a lot more visibility behind each store. In a sense, advertising for one store works as advertising for all of their stores. The name and logo is present on every Facebook post, blog entry, and online ad.
By keeping it consistent, they can keep their name top-of-mind in their community, and their customers can come to trust that every GC Pawn shop is going to treat them with the same level of respect and service, no matter the location.
You’ll also capture a lot more attention by using social media and other online advertising options.
There’s More, Too
I love what Josh shared with me in our conversation about the complexities of running a multi-shop pawn business. If you’re thinking about making the leap beyond one shop, or if you just want to learn how to use current strategies to revitalize your own shop, I highly recommend you listen to Episode 4 of the Pawn Leaders Podcast today.