In this Did You Know?, certified PawnMaster trainer Richard Lutz shows us how to create a call list for soon to be forfeited items. You can use this list to call your customers and remind them that their items are about to be forfeited. This goes a long way in providing good customer service and will often result in those customers coming it to either pick up their items or extend their loan.
I was handed a great opportunity and a privilege to enter into our industry two years ago. As I stepped into my new assignment I not only focused on making our company better, but I was very interested in the clients and people who make up the entire pawn industry.
As a former entrepreneur, and a “behind the counter” business owner, I encountered many successes and more than a few pitfalls. After moving on to a career in the enterprise software arena, I was excited about my opportunity with Data Age and the pawn industry. An opportunity that married both my software expertise and my small business experience.
Early on I was interested to see if some of those same successes and pitfalls I once experienced were being encountered by our operators and our industry overall. I spoke with numerous pawn shop owners, managers and employees. I also spoke with other industry vendors, not only in the software space but diamond buyers, gold refineries, insurance, merchandise supplies, safe manufactures, and many others. It became clear to me that, while the industry did indeed share many of my past experiences, there seemed to be a significant short coming in the industry overall. Gaps in education, news and general information. As close as the pawn community is, there is a decentralization of education and general knowledge. Over the past two years, Data Age has taken up the mantel of responsibility, helping to bridge these gaps.
For those of you who are linked in with me on LinkedIn, follow our LinkedIn company page or follow us on Facebook, you’ve seen me take every opportunity I can to preach about continued industry education and centralized industry knowledge. Data Age, and some of our competition, have been working hard to deliver education where it relates to our different software systems. Data Age strives to tie this product training into being more efficient, productive, and better overall business owners.
Individuals like Jerry Whitehead and his Pawnshop Consulting Group are working hard to enhance the pawnbrokers businesses at the operations level. Many of our partners are also doing their part, adding their pieces to the education puzzle, with the end game of tooling up the operator in their areas, all in an effort to those operations in the best possible position for success.
That may seem like a lot of work for a pawnbroker looking to get even the most basic of education. That’s because it is.
In addition to education, I saw other gaps in both industry news and information delivery. There really is no one “go to place” to support most of the needs of the operators.
As the preeminent global leader in this market, Data Age is proud to launch a new website, PawnLink.org, which will address these gaps in our industry.
PawnLink.org is a collection of news and information from a wide variety different sources but all focused on the pawn industry and being a small business owner. The goal of this free site is to over communicate to the industry, giving you that “go to place” to get all the news, information and education you need. It’s a highly dynamic site with new news, articles and videos added throughout the day.
That’s right, it’s free. PawnLink.org is run by Data Age as a service to the community and supported by some of the industries most talented and knowledgeable people. All of who believe in sharing their knowledge and expertise with the pawn community.
The site will evolve over time because we encourage vendors, operates, partners and yes, even the competition, to contribute to the platform. The vision for this site was created for the industry by folks like you and I. Folks who crave more information are excited to contribute to progress. While PawnLink.org is in its infancy, it is our hope that the pawn community helps drive the future of this news, information and education center. With your feedback and ideas, we expect PawnLink.org to grow even bigger, providing move and more value to the pawn community.
I encourage everyone to take a look at the site, use it and help grow it. I think you will find the original content very useful but the day-to-day information from the field is the sizzle to the site. The industry is starving for dynamic information, which is easily attained without investing so many cycles through exhausted searches. We hope everyone sees and experiences the value we know this platform will provide.
So, take a moment, visit www.pawnlink.org and look around. Then use the “Suggestion Box” and send us any comments, ideas or suggestions you have.
An internet security bug announced Monday may be putting your personal information and your web based business may be at risk!
Earlier this week a security vulnerability was discovered in the encryption protocol OpenSSL, which is used on most websites that collect private information, use passwords and collect credit cards. Most websites that try to protect their users information, such as Gmail, Yahoo and your bank also use OpenSSL. Many web based businesses, eCommerce sites, SaaS (Software as a Service) services and other transaction based websites also use this protocol.
Most websites are in the process of patching this vulnerability however it could take a few days. Security experts are recommending people do NOT use their banks or other secure websites until Friday or until they have verified the vulnerability has been fixed. They are also recommending that you change your password to all your secure sites including your bank, email provider and any SaaS applications you run in case your account has been compromised. You should do this only AFTER you are confident that site is protected.
The article also provides a link to a tool that can check your sites to see if they are vunerable.
Being the global industry leader and continually bringing on more than 30 new stores every month, we embrace our status as the tip of the spear when it comes to helping our clients advance their business. Below is some of the feedback we have recently received.
“Thank you very much for your hospitality. Richard did a great job with the training and I would highly recommend the course to anyone getting started with PawMaster, or looking to get better. I will definitely keep in touch, the better we know how to use your program, the better we can be.” Joe Genovese A-OK Enterprises, LLC Wichita, Kansas
“This was fantastic. This training should be a requirement for all new pawnshop owners!” Daniel Donaldson from Hometown Title & Pawn LLC from Haleyville, Alabama
Over the years, with the help of our dedicated clients, Data Age has been able to stay ahead of the curve and grow with our clients because of the day-to-day collaboration and feedback we receive from them on so many fronts. As we continue to work hard to increase our market share, we do understand the uniqueness of our industry. Our goal is to continue to grow with our clients through high standards of execution and integrity. Staying true to our goal and belief is why we understand and embrace the need for continued education.
- Education through knowledge share (even working with our competitors to ensure we are doing all we can to serve the industry first)
- Education through feedback from our clients (and yes, taking our lumps and using them as an opportunity to get better)
- Education through understanding our clients critical business issues and designing advanced programs to help them.
This includes a host of programs we have developed at Data Age University but it also includes partnering with the best companies in the business like the PCG gang. Even though there is extensive growth opportunities in this industry, we understand the opportunities are contained to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to their business. These handful of people provide a huge service to our communities and we will continue to pull out all the stops to ensure they have a real go to partner as they advance their business. We are hosting several clients a week at Data University and we continue to advance our efforts to fill in this vast informational void in our industry… as stated, stay tuned, more coming very soon on this.
Have a great Q2 all.
We are proud to announce we have just released our new eBook, “The 12 Things You Should Know Before You Open a Pawnshop“. Over the last 25 years we’ve worked with a lot of new shop owners, have shared their experiences, their successes and their challenges. From the shop owner in North Carolina who, on his first day open, had a line around the corner; to the shop in Florida that had a power surge damage every one of their TV’s. For every dozen successes we’ve seen, we’ve also seen a mistake or two. Mistakes that could have easily been avoided with a little advanced knowledge.
The growth of our industry over the last several years is bringing in a lot of new pawnbrokers. The number of people we speak to who are looking to open a new shop but have little industry experience is growing monthly. Many have experiences in other businesses but, as we all know, the pawn industry has a unique set of challenges, and anyone not aware of these challenges could be out of business before the doors are even open.
To help these new shop owners avoid at least some of the pitfalls common to new pawnbrokers, we have put together the eBook, “The 12 Things You Should Know Before You Open a Pawnshop“. This eBook covers some of the basic things that need to be addressed before the grand opening sign goes up. In it we look at how city ordinances can come into play when selecting a location, how important knowing ALL of the regulations in your area can be, we touch on contracts, licensing, funding and much more. This eBook also includes over 40 links to references and more detailed information about the topics covered.
Of course this isn’t a complete list of everything a pawn shop owner needs to know but with so many people looking to get into the industry, we feel it’s a good place to start.
Download it here, have a look and let us know what you think!
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has issued a an advisory letter warning to all federal firearms licensees and firearms dealers. This letter warns that some scammers are using fraudulently altered Federal firearms licenses to sell, but never deliver firearms online. This is a must read for anyone dealing in firearms.
The ATF warns that a scam will usually start with an online ad. Respondents to the ad will receive a copy of a fake license. After they send a payment they never receive any firearms and the seller basically disappears.
The letter from the ATF outlines some ways to help you avoid the scam. It also gives you some contact information if you think your license has been used in this or other scams.
As Data Age moves closer to the 3,000 client mark, our customers are reporting February was a month of growth and opportunity. It is obvious this progressive trend is continuing as we are experiencing both new store openings and expansion units being added by our existing clients. We also applaud the efforts and work delivered to the market by the other vendors in the space, as they continue to service our industry and open up new stores as well. With 35 new stores coming on line in February, Data Age continues to take mantel of the pre-eminent leader in the space. Our enhanced focus on education, support and & product development, all based on the feedback from the thousands of clients, is paying big dividends.
The Power of the PawnMaster network has helped many new and existing brokers in a multitude of ways. As our brokers continue to build on their existing business as well as expand their operations, they are able to leverage the PawnMaster network to help them save money and build beneficial relationships with a wide variety of vendors.
Some of the many advantages of working with a well-established and stable company is the ability to focus on, and listen to their client base. We have been preaching this for a while now and we continue to hear that ongoing education, world class support and agile development cycles are still the areas of significant interest for our clients. Having all of these resources under one roof affords our clients a real competitive advantage in the market place. This stability gives our customers the ability to focus on THEIR customers and their businesses. They know as long as they’re in business they have a partner backing them up.
Since the inception of Data Age University, our on-site and off-site training programs, our clients are reporting huge returns based on the continued education we and our partners like the Pawn Shop Consulting Group are providing them. Not only helping them maximize the efficiency of their stores by using PawnMaster but also assisting them in many other areas like marketing, demand generation and overall business operations.
At Data age we have built a culture of high integrity and high standards. We are happy to see other vendors and brokers in our space holding themselves to these same principles. We have begun reaching out to these businesses and individuals, asking them to help us improve the quality of information available about our industry. You probably have seen our client corner blog posts and Facebook posts on improving your marketing, updating your website, and other business ideas. We will continue to provided this type of information, including insights from experienced pawnbrokers, marketers, and more. This is a great time to be in the pawn industry and we are excited about the future.
I hope everyone has a productive and profitable March.
This months Client Corner comes from Chad McGhee, VP of Operations for CashWiz Holdings located in the Cayman Islands. Chad outlines the importance of including Facebook as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.
BREAKING THE SURFACE
The Social Media Phenomenon – What you should know!
By Chad McGhee, VP of Operations for CashWiz Holdings
“The question isn’t what do we want to know about people? It’s what do people want to tell about themselves.” – Mark Zuckerberg
I can’t have harped on the importance of customer qualifying enough. I’ve preached it over and over again, “Ask the questions and find out what our customers need!” But that’s not the first step. Before we can wind up and let loose our best sales pitch we have to have someone to pitch to.
CashWiz over the past few months has started breaking the surface in social media marketing through the world’s largest database, Facebook (FB). Facebook is the world’s largest online database of people and one of the most targeted marketing platforms ever developed. Through Facebook marketing, companies are able to build their own database of people in their specific markets. This allows us access to a large percentage of our local populations to market our business and services to directly.
Right now our stores, depending on location, have between 40 and 200 people per day walking through our front door. That’s quite a few people that get to see our goods and services. Now, imagine if 50,000 people were to walk in the door tomorrow as see your goods and services! Sounds unbelievable but it’s not. Through building a database of locals with your Facebook page it is possible. With our Facebook pages we are able to build a database of thousands of people that we can market to daily and directly. We are able to post our popular items, promotions, services, competitions and events to a large percentage of our local market without leaving our office.
Today we have over 70,000 Fans on Facebook. That’s right, 70,000 people follow our CashWiz store FB pages. 90% of which checks their Facebook daily. These people, now that they are fans of our pages, will see what we post. So instead of the 100 people that walk in our store today and see our products, 60,000+ will see the items we post on our Facebook pages. We run games, competitions, and all kinds of promotions on our pages. This is an invaluable tool but must be managed. Make sure you utilize this to its maximum potential and assign a Facebook page manager from your store to answer customer questions and update content.
What you need to do today!
Build a Facebook Fan Page. It is simple and Facebook will walk you through the process. DO NOT create a new profile for your company, it will be shut down. Under your profile “Create a Fan Page”. Once it’s up and running, allow Facebook to promote the page for you. Set a daily budget of what you’re comfortable with. We use $10 per day. That’s it. Good luck!
VP Caribbean Region
QR Codes are everywhere! From grocery stores to the streets, from business cards to billboards, from marketing materials to people marketing themselves with tattoos, everyone is scanning! (or Everyone seems to be scanning)
What is a QR Code?
Originally developed in Japan, this 2D barcode is the Quick Response Code. The code gives smartphone users direct access to your products, services and information. The QR Code’s great storage capacity, as well as its fast readability, has made it a popular marketing tool all over the world.
The code is used as a shortcut to directly connect customers with websites or online resources by scanning your smartphone over the square design. It connects your mobile browser directly with the intended online location, without ever having to type a URL into a browser. Easy!
For example, if a person on the street walks by your pawn shop flyer, billboard, or any other advertisement and scans the QR Code on the ad, it could directly take them to a map to your location, your website or to pictures of items new to your inventory.
According to the Los Angeles Times, for the first time ever more Americans own smartphones than regular phones or feature phones. As we leap into 2014, a lot more people are “tech savvy,” as smart phones are a big part of our everyday lives, and what people want is a fast and easy life. All you need is to download the application on your smartphone and have a URL of the online location you want people to view.
The best part is that QR Codes are free!
Check out this easy video on How To Create QR Codes
Benefits of QR Codes in YOUR Business
Larger brands and businesses are using QR codes as a marketing tool for their products and services and to bring in more traffic to their websites. Small businesses such as pawnshops should not be an exception. Whether you are a large, multi-shop operation or a small, single store owner, integrating QR Codes into your marketing campaigns could give you a competitive advantage.
Devicemedia.ca states that QR Code scanning has increased by 1600% over the last year. Around 70% are between the ages of 25 to 55.
How QR Codes Can Be Used
- On Your Business Card – QR code on your business card allows your customers to instantly add your contact information to their phone, link them to your online portfolio/resume, or link them to websites of your choice.
- Coupon – Link direct shoppers to specific coupons and current deals in your shop.
- Product and Service –You can link the code to a new or existing product or service and its details.
- Social Media –Link directly to your social media accounts for more exposure of your shops inventory and to gain followers. (See Alex Cybul’s post on Using Social Media for Pawnshops .)
- Link to Video –Give customers instant access to advertising, training, and informational videos. Link a virtual tour video of your shop.
- Registration –Quickly register for an event, mailing list, appointment. Register for possible discounts in your pawn shop.
- Link to Google Places –Link your QR Code to your Google Places page of your pawn shop for customer reviews and testimonials.
How QR Codes Can Benefit You
- Save money –With QR Codes your business can save a lot of marketing money from reprints of advertising materials.
- Ad Space –You can give your customers a lot of information about you and your shop without requiring a large ad space.
- Instant & Direct Information –Being able to give instant and direct information on what you want viewed.
- Traffic to your website –You decide what action you want your customers to take and what online location to visit. Whether it be your inventory, social media accounts, testimonials, your shops website, or discounts for your pawn shop.
- Instant Subscribers –Add viewers as email subscribers of your monthly newsletter for your shop.
- Measurable – Actions triggered through QR Codes can be traced with web analytics or other tools for marketing campaign measurement. You can track to see whether your customers like spending more time on your shops inventory page, or the social media accounts, as well as how many people visit which site.
- Competitive Differentiation – Because QR Codes are taking off in the U.S., those who are among the first to employ them in their pawn shops, will set themselves apart as leaders in strategic marketing within the industry.
- Versatile –Quick Response Codes can be integrated with a wide range of marketing materials for just about any purpose, which includes direct mail, outdoor displays and print collateral.
For your customers, this is a way to keep them connected as they learn more about your pawn shop and what it has to offer. For you, QR Codes is a way to keep relationships strong, even after your customers walk out of your door, and improves the chances of them coming back to your shop.
If your shop is looking for new ways to target and engage your audience, to show off your inventory and what you stand for, QR Codes offer opportunity to combine online and offline media, while setting yourself apart from your competition in the process.
Here is a fun video on Where To Find QR Codes
Here are a few sites where you can generate your own QR codes for free.
As in any operation, we’re always trying to maximize our performance. We began looking into employing “Think Tanks” (paid groups based on a specific income/demographic/age/gender criteria). Instead, we tapped our greatest resource, our staff.
We spoke with them one by one in a private setting and gave them three days to come up with some thoughts and suggestions. The criteria: if they could make any number of changes to improve our operation, what would they be? These changes would be influenced by their consumer experiences, work experiences, and life experiences. The parameters explained to them were: there are no bad or wrong suggestions and if we used their ideas or strategies we would compensate them accordingly.
Three days later my managers and I interviewed each staff member for the second part of this internal “Think Tank”. My managers were given specific instructions that no idea or suggestion would be criticized, disputed, or visibly dismissed. They could, however, request additional explanation or definition.
The results were phenomenal. Some of the suggestions were ideas that, unfortunately, we in management miss because we may be inundated with our own functions. We had some great promotional ideas, ways to improve our transaction speed, and some great sales strategies. Another benefit that came from this “Think Tank” was employee empowerment. Our staff felt that we valued them and their opinions.
We now see our staff taking additional ownership for their areas of responsibility and taking the initiative to resolve issues before bringing them to management. It has been a win-win!!!