The city of Killeen, Texas, located about halfway between Dallas and Austin, was originally a small farming town that grew into a military boomtown when Fort Hood was built. As a newlywed college student, Johnny Frederick started working part-time for a pawn store in Killeen. He quickly became the manager and in 1986, opened his own pawn store with his wife and father-in-law. Five years later, they opened a second store, with a third store six years after that. He currently has two stores, both in Killeen, and employs 10 people.
Johnny and his team wanted to expand the company’s market share and loan base. When existing businesses came up for sale, they acquired them. “These stores were in good traffic areas, with potential for growth. We viewed this as an opportunity to expand and bring our business model to new areas,” says Johnny.
Multi-store owners have many challenges. For Johnny, the biggest obstacle is finding good people with the skill set he needs. When hiring, he looks for people who are friendly, outgoing, express themselves well, and are willing to learn. “If they have these qualities, we can teach them to be a good pawnbroker. We look everywhere for new people—friends, church, word of mouth, Facebook, Craigslist.”
At Top Loan Pawn, all of the training is “hands on”. Employees do many practice loans, sales, and redeems before they start helping customers under supervision. “We currently have a great team we work with. Our employees are like family to us. We celebrate successes, console each other during difficult times, and support each other in attaining goals.”
The other challenge Johnny faces with owning multiple stores is time management and delegating responsibility. “You can only split your time so many ways before you become ineffective.”
As with any business, getting the word out about what you have to offer is a priority. Top Loan Pawn has used many marketing tools over the years. “We now use television and community involvement. We just started a new digital campaign with Facebook and Google that I am very excited about.” Their motto is ‘Your Helpful and Friendly Pawnshop’ and they know their customers. “They become our friends and we treat them as such. They are not just a line on the balance sheet.”
If you’re thinking of expanding your business, Johnny’s advice is, “Do your homework and hire a quality staff.” For capital, he feels when you do the homework up front, the risk is reduced to a manageable level.
As a pawnbroker, Johnny is very happy with what he and his team have accomplished over the last 33 years. “It’s been a great learning adventure. That being said, we should have expanded our social media and digital footprint sooner. It is really starting to pay off.”