If you’ve been in any part of Myrtle Beach, SC, you have probably driven by one of the oversized Dick’s Pawn Superstore signs. Raley Smith, known to most as “Dickie”, is the owner of those five pawn stores. Dickie’s family was in the hotel business, but with his knack for selling, his father thought he should open a pawn store.
Knowing when, where, and how to open a new location requires a lot of forethought and preparation, explains Dickie. He makes his location decisions based on “geographic location, road conditions, and quantity of competition.” Approximately three months out, he chooses the staff, begins training them, and makes other preparations like purchasing, advertising, and setting up the store. In the past, he has usually borrowed capital from the bank, but with his most recent expansion, he used internal cash flow to finance it.
If you are thinking about adding a pawn store location, Dickie shares his best advice. “Patience is everything. You also need lots of cash. I mean more than you think you need, plus more after that. You have to be prepared to take no profit from a new location for at least a year and then to get no serious money back out of it for about five years after that. Preparation and patience are what you need for an expansion.”
When asked about the biggest obstacles with owning a multi-store operation, Dickie says, “The biggest obstacle I have had is consistency – making sure everything is managed and handled the same from reporting cash to selling inventory to employee management. I have implemented a central hub for all our supply and wholesale purchasing. It has proven helpful by having supplies readily available as well as giving me a clearer way to monitor and find discrepancies.”
Communication can be another challenge for multi-store owners, but Dickie has a couple of great systems in place. They have a cloud-based phone system that allows each phone outlet to have its own number within their one network. Each phone is equipped with its own extension and paging options to all of the locations, so employees and customers can be reached specifically and easily when needed.
They also use a messging app called GroupMe that allows them to create specific groups based on location as well as position so they can communicate directly and with more efficiency. They can send out updates, alerts, announcements, and procedure changes through the app.
With five locations and 73 employees, finding and hiring employees can be yet another hurdle to overcome. Dickie looks for flexibility, energy, and enthusiasm, in addition to passion. “We start our hiring process at Indeed, an online job search website where we post our available positions. From there, the applicant completes a Top Talent Solutions (TTS) personality test that gets compared to our baseline scores for each position. I also require an interview process as well as criminal and financial background checks.”
Dickie has met his growth goals for the Myrtle Beach area, so his focus for the future will be on strengthening and fine-tuning staff and practices. “We consider ourselves number one for jewelry and pawn in our area, so the Title Loans department is a big goal. I want to see our Title Loans strengthen and become number one too. There are always opportunities to take advantage of in this area.”