Yigal Adato: 00:00 Hey Pawn family it’s Yigal and welcome back to another episode of the Pawn Leaders Podcast. On this episode I’m excited to have somebody here from Boise, Idaho, who’s 31 years old who started as a lone wolf in the industry with zero pawn shop experience. He’s a former marine and contractor and he opened the store to get home and build a legacy and people taking care of people is his motto. But before we get to the guests, a big shout out to the sponsor of the podcast podium. Seriously, I’ve been seeing such incredible responses and wins with pawnbrokers using podium. Now what’s podium? Podium helps you get Google reviews and it helps you increase your connection with your clients using text messaging and other services for your website. I have clients who use podium, many people are sending out for podium and if you’re not using podium, you are missing out. So go to podium.com/pawnleaders to get a special discount just for you, the listener of the podcast. Now onto my podcast episode with my good friend Sam Read from Sam’s Locker Pawn.
Yigal Adato: 01:10 Hey everyone, my name is Yigal Adato and this is the Pawn Leaders Podcast, a podcast that help you make more money, stress less, and live an epic life all while working at the pawn shop.
Yigal Adato: 01:29 Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Read: 01:32 Thanks Yigal.
Yigal Adato: 01:34 So happy to have you here, man. Your story is not unique, but it’s a great story. So first let’s start with where you are. What are the laws, so how much interest you’re allowed to charge in the hold period. And let’s talk about your story, man. I think it’s an awesome one. So go for it.
Sam Read: 01:51 All right, cool. So I’m in Boise, Idaho, lived here since 98 since I was about 10. There’s no state regulations, only city regulations and they do not regulate our interests. 20 day hold periods on bias and 30 day hold periods on pawns. And actually you can write a pawn for only two weeks if you wanted, you just couldn’t resell it for overt, you know, 20 to 30 days.
Yigal Adato: 02:21 Got it. Cool man. So from military service to pawn broker, can you tell me the story of how that happened?
Sam Read: 02:29 All right. So, I was graduating high school had a pretty bad I guess education motivation. So I didn’t pursue education very much through middle school. I think my senior year hit and I was like, crap, I need to get my grades up. I’m about to get a full ride scholarship for wrestling, for I came through but I didn’t feel like I was ready for higher education. And so I decided to pursue my childhood dream. So joined the Marine Corps, did five years of service, kept contracting for about five more years and kind of got tired of being out of town. And so I decided to pursue my other childhood dream, which was to be an entrepreneur. And business owner at that time reached out to a pawn shop who was closing down, sat down with them for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then it followed by another two hours. And it’s like, okay, I’m opening a pawn shop. And that’s about where it started.
Yigal Adato: 03:31 Awesome. How long ago was that? So when did a Sam’s Locker open up?
Sam Read: 03:35 Four years, two months ago.
Yigal Adato: 03:37 Nice.
Sam Read: 03:38 And so I was, you know, all self funded from all my savings, made a couple of good house moves kind of by accident on buying and selling. And so I started pretty small one and skipped over head low because I didn’t really know what I was getting into. And 15 months ago I opened a second store, closed the first one, and now I’m here at the, I guess the, I don’t know, it’s not a mega store, but it’s definitely a career.
Yigal Adato: 04:06 Yeah. And for those of you who haven’t seen, if you’re not following a Sam’s Facebook page, you’ve got to check out the new video he posted up on Sam’s Locker, it’s such an epic video. And I love the fact that you created that content. Last time I checked a couple of days ago it was over a thousand views. So I’m sure you’re just-
Sam Read: 04:24 That’s pretty awesome.
Yigal Adato: 04:24 It’s growing. Pretty cool. Awesome man. So four years in business, what are some of the things that you found that mistakes that you made, that you can kind of share with the audience and then we’ll go into what you did that really helped you increase your business because I know that you were awesome and you more than doubled your pawn balance in the last like six to eight months. So first talking about like the mistakes, right? Like what mistakes did you make looking back when you were just like, oh my God, I can’t believe I did that.
Sam Read: 04:54 So many. So I tried to take on too many things at the beginning. I’d actually purchased a another store, a clothing store called other mothers from my mom, for retirement. And it almost, you know, it almost tanked me, you know, I’m trying to keep it afloat, green to high lease costs and things like that. So I think the first mistake I did was actually was doing like three businesses trying to do too much. So that, you know, once I started focusing on just the pawn shop, that’s when things got a lot better. So I’d say that’s like mistake one is you just got to focus and consistency. So I wasn’t very consistent. I was kind of all over the place. And so, you know, finishing things 70% of the way doesn’t get you to where you need to be. You need to be at least 95%. And then another big mistake I think I did was during my initial build out the first store, I didn’t really look at traffic counts and location, so I thought I just kinda knew and went with the cheapest lease. Which I found out now with my newer store that location is very crucial. Sometimes even if you’re paying double the square footage cost, it can be well worth it. And then I think, you know, just kind of hiring general contractors and not doing multiple bids from the beginning. I had a ton of waste that just, I don’t think was unnecessary. I’d say probably, you know, 50 grand. I lost the first year just that I could have saved if I would’ve known what I was doing now.
Yigal Adato: 06:30 Gotcha. Man. So let’s talk about the focus and the consistency real quick. It’s something that we talked about in the mastermind all the time. You are a mastermind family member.
Sam Read: 06:38 Yes.
Yigal Adato: 06:39 You’re in the mastermind for a long time and then you crushed it. And you know, how did that, what happened when you got consistent? What changed? Obviously we’re entrepreneurs and you know, we have the Squirrel Syndrome where we kind of want to do so many things at once. But once you kind of focus what came to light and what did you do when you focus that increased your pawn balance.
Sam Read: 07:01 Okay. Yeah. So, right before I start the masterminds, which I didn’t know about at the time, I knew and I was opening the new store, it was going to be more epic and I knew that I couldn’t take those losses and struggles I had before cause I was on a much smaller budget. And so I started reaching out like as like, okay, these three things need to be solved. Two of these I really don’t have a clue how to do. And so I searched for podcasts, came across The Pawn Leaders Podcast, which has been epic for me. At that point, you know, we connected, you told me about the masterminds group. I was like, hell yeah, let’s get on board. And I think the biggest things that helped from the, you know, I didn’t think of the consistency that way until you guys were coaching me on it. But that consistency and focus it just keeps you like driving every day. So, you know, even if you doing something poorly, if you’re consistent with it, like in business, it’ll still do okay. So you could like have a bad business model, but if you’re consistent every day you’ll probably still succeed. So I just kind of maintain that consistency, which I definitely wasn’t consistent before that. And I think you guys, masterminds kept me accountable for that.
Yigal Adato: 08:20 One thing about you and I told you before when we chatted is you know, it’s important to get, you know, coaching or consulting, whatever, but you took every bit of information and you just, like you did it. And I think that, and I always talk about this on the podcast, it’s all about execution, right? Like when you execute you get things done. Now, can you kind of relay the fact that how you execute and your military service, was that kind of taught to you there or was it from somewhere else?
Sam Read: 08:54 I don’t know. I think it comes from wrestling. I wrestle my whole life and had some really hard coaches and I think that I wasn’t very good at first. And so that like is, there was nothing ever harder than those practices in my whole life. So other than maybe deployments, and I think the military taught that to me in all the time overseas. I [Incomprehensible] over five years in Iraq and Afghanistan, in that like, that grind is a lot different. It’s easy to grind for two months. When you spend like 14 months straight, it’s a whole different grind.
Yigal Adato: 09:34 Yeah. So I don’t know if you know this about me, but I wrestled in high school. Awesome. So, I always in the best shape of my life, man. Like there was like morning practices after school practices and I had a coach who I’ll never forget, he just kept on saying like, you’re gonna hate me when you practice, but you gonna love me when you win. And what that taught me was that the process doesn’t have to be pretty, the process doesn’t have to be fun. But the success at the end is what makes it fun.
Sam Read: 10:01 It’s worth it. Yeah. And I was going to say the interesting thing with the, you know, at the pawn shop when I started it, the drive for the success isn’t, it’s not financial. It’s like the legacy or the like building something. It’s fun. It’s exciting when things are doing successful and you strategize or you know, you plan it out and then you implement and then it goes successful. Like in that reward at the end. Like what being right now. Something I didn’t ever think about before the masterminds was to have a good business, you need to have a good personal life. And so I wasn’t focusing on my personal life, not that it was horrible, but it wasn’t like, it wasn’t great either. It was just, you know, it was kind of just maintaining. And so I started focusing more on spending time at home, developing processes that allow me not to have to be here every minute or getting, you know, a bunch of calls when I’m not at work. And so I think the last three months have just been crazy for me. In terms of like I have more free time than I ever had before. And we’re making more than we’ve ever made before also, and my pawn balance is also higher than it’s ever been.
Yigal Adato: 11:12 I’m here celebrating man, cause that’s, it’s music to my ears. I know that when you came in there was a lot of stress and I think that like for the people listening, what I want you guys to know and the reason why I started the podcast and I call it the Pawn Leaders, is you can either build a job for yourself or you can build a business for yourself. And the job is being a pawn broker sitting at the store seven days a week, 14 hours a day, not having a life. Or you can build like the process of Sam that you spoke about where you can enjoy your life more. I know that like you took the fact that I said, if you exercise more, you’ll make more money.
Sam Read: 11:50 That month I made more than I ever made. I’m not exercising now, but that month was my most epic month which is pretty crazy.
Yigal Adato: 11:56 Yeah. Because when people don’t understand, sometimes it’s like when you exercise, you get all that stress, the anxiety, there’s like a chemical reaction happening and endorphins are coming out so that when you get to work, when you get to the pawn shop, you’re more focused. You’re leading without stress, you’re leading with less baggage and you just make more money. People have asked me before, like, I just want you to teach me how to grow my loan balance. I don’t care about like exercise and losing weight. I’m like, brother, if you want to grow your look balance, you’ve got to exercise. It’s a big part of it, you know.
Sam Read: 12:31 Since I stopped exercising and left the masterminds. My pawn balances stayed steady. It hasn’t grow. But I’m okay with that.
Yigal Adato: 12:42 Yeah. I know that you’ve grown very quickly, very fast. And so you want to slow down a little bit to kind of refocus and put more processes in place so that you can grow at a steady rate. Awesome. So, Sam, let’s talk about something that I think that you are a bad asset. While you’re in the mastermind, you’re always giving ideas about how to turn inventory and you just gave me the number. Your inventory turn is basically 5.8, which means that you turn inventory every almost every two months. Is that right?
Sam Read: 13:14 Yes.
Yigal Adato: 13:14 That’s good. So I’ve talked about hoarding before. You are the epitome of the opposite of a pawn hoarder. How do you do it? How are you turning inventory so quickly and what are you seeing in doing that that’s helped your business out?
Sam Read: 13:29 Okay. So, I were doing it so quickly because I put together some kind of like a semi-automation. So I took the website, how we picture and all of our whole processes and then I implemented a excel that we press a button. It generates all of our Facebook and craigslist postings and then we just copy paste. So, basically all that external marketing is done in about 20 seconds of product and it’s part of our weekly process. So by every day or by Thursday then the day on Thursday, every week, every new item that’s been listed needs to be posted on Facebook marketplace and craigslist. And then we implemented grasshopper, which I think I’m gonna switch to podium soon, but we have limited grasshopper for text messaging so they can call the business or they can text the business. And every pawnbroker I have including me can check that and reply to it quickly because I think it all comes down to quick replies, end up closing the deal. So if you wait 24 hours to reply to a message, you might not close it, but if you reply in about five minutes, they’re probably going to come buy the product.
Yigal Adato: 14:42 Also something else that you do that you’ve mentioned before, the mastermind was that you auction while your stuff off.
Sam Read: 14:47 Yes.
Yigal Adato: 14:48 You kind of like bulk everything out. Send it to an auction house, they auction it off. You might make a smaller margin on it, but you’re turning that inventory to get cash to put into your loan balance because you more than doubled your loan balance.
Sam Read: 15:00 Correct. Yeah. So what I kind of looked at when I was opening the new store was, okay, so one of my problems is I can’t get stuck on inventory. If I get tied up on all this inventory I can’t increase my pawn balance and ultimately it will lead to my [Incomprehensible]. So I developed two different auction companies and then one jewelry store where I pushed my product out too, and I can sign through them and they understand that I don’t need a huge margin. So that at the end of the day, I look at all my product as in though I need to turn it at least a 10% profit on it per month. So if it’s going to sit six months, I need to make 60%. If it’s going to sit 30 days, I need to make 10%. So, you know, it’s all about the term. Like if you look at these coin dealers, these big online gold shops. It’s not about holding your product, it’s about turning and turning in, increasing that profit because all it’s gonna do is grow, you know, grow your big [Incomprehensible].
Yigal Adato: 15:55 Yeah. Awesome man. I love that. For those of you who are listening, you know, if you don’t know how to get your inventory turn number, reach out to me. I’ll show you how to do that. But I mean a 5.8 is outstanding, I see pawnshops who are the one which basically means it takes them a year to turn them merchandise. They’re at a 0.5, they might be at a two every six months, but almost at a six. But I congratulate you for that man. That’s awesome.
Sam Read: 16:22 Yeah, and to like motivate people. We did, I think we did something like 800,000 in sales revenue with three [Incomprehensible]. So I don’t know what the standard in the industry is, but those numbers and that turn was done with three guys.
Yigal Adato: 16:38 And just to mention, how big is your shop square footage?
Sam Read: 16:41 3,500 square foot total. About a thousands or 1400 square foot of that is a retail store frontage and the rest of it all storage.
Yigal Adato: 16:50 And you don’t have to have an 8,000 square foot store to do with Sam’s doing. So. Dude, seriously, congrats. And thanks for sharing that.
Sam Read: 16:57 Thank you. Appreciate it. So can you tell me what’s going on with Sam’s locker? Like what’s the future hold for Sam’s locker? What’s happening?
Sam Read: 17:06 So, about three months ago I decided to cut my overhead way down cause it was all about growing, growing, growing, and I just wasn’t looking at overhead. So I was like, okay, let me cut my overhead back, kind of refocus a little bit on making sure on cashflowing which is also advice you gave me, you know. So I started actually payrolling myself for the first time, you know, I’d been like three and a half years. Cut some overhead back, got some staffing back or some of my team members and really focused on my key guys. That piece of information about, what did you put in there? It was a treat your shop or treat your business like your baby. If anything’s jeopardizing your baby, then get rid of like, get rid of what’s jeopardizing. And so we kinda had a guy who was, you know, great working here, but had some issues where it just wasn’t meshing with the team well and my business philosophy and how I want to take the business. So yeah, cut back on that. And this year the plan is to not really grow, just kind of put all those processes in place, build a really good culture through processes and make sure that’s running correctly. And then 20, 20 open either the same size store or a mega store, I haven’t decided on that. And then I want to be out of the business at the time I’m 40 so I want to grow, grow, grow, and then or passive become really passive by the time i’m 40. And so I want to structure it that way, which is eight years down there.
Yigal Adato: 18:40 What’s amazing to me is, you know, I’ve been in the business for 16 years, third generation, been to every single pawn convention and the way you’re speaking is that of a true CEO and entrepreneur as opposed to just a pawn broker. You’re talking about strategy, you’re talking about holding your business like your baby. You’re talking about vision and your mission. And that’s what I want for the pawn brokers listening. You’ve got to slow down some times to be able to speed up. And I did a video on this. You’ve got to sit back and talk about culture. Like what is my culture look like? I remember Sam, when you were in the mastermind, you know, it was getting rid of like one of your top guys, you know, it was like the general manager, the store manager, and it was conversation. Then you got rid of them. And when you did it was like, oh my God, that’s such a weight off my shoulder.
Sam Read: 19:30 I’m just talking to my guys yesterday about just how things had been and I’d told them how much I appreciate and I’ve never been less stressed in my life than I am now and had more time on my hands than I’ve ever had now.
Yigal Adato: 19:43 Yeah. I’m about to cry a tear of happy coach.
Sam Read: 19:46 My wife’s been happy.
Yigal Adato: 19:49 Awesome and you’re a great guy, man. You deserve it. So
Sam Read: 19:52 Yeah, and I appreciate that. So that actually goes to our, like the company core value that, you know, we really push is where people taking care of people. So we pushed that to our customers and clients, you know, and I, and the same thing to my team, you know, when people walk in the door, a lot of the time they don’t want to be coming in here for money. They’re having some kind of struggle or something in their life and we need to keep that in mind, you know, then the end of the day we’re here to make money, but I’m also not here to rip people off. And I think that’s a much better long term business plan. And we’ll just keep the growth organically happening. So I think we’re up to like almost 400 Google reviews with only has one or two negative which were, you know, not justified.
Yigal Adato: 20:40 It happens.
Sam Read: 20:41 Yeah. So, and we don’t ask for five star reviews. We just ask, you know, we just ask customers for reviews. We tell them, hey, reviews really help us out, write a review based on your experience. Which has been a really big part of the business too for keeping us busy as our reviews.
Yigal Adato: 21:00 Awesome. So we have, you know, 39 countries listening over 500 pawn brokers a week or listening to the podcast. There are pawnbrokers, Sam listening who are stressed out or anxious, who may be listening to the podcasts but they’re not making that next move, that next step. Being in the mastermind and learning everything that you learned. What do you think is the first thing that the person who’s listening, who’s stressed out, who’s anxious should implement so that they can have that life that you’re living right now, which is a little bit more free time, not as much anxiety or stress.
Sam Read: 21:35 Okay. I think they’d probably need to write down their three goals with their business. Circle the top one and focus on reaching that goal. And then in tandem, write down the three things that are stressing them out the most. And alleviate the one. Okay. So that you had me do that. I wrote down the three, one of them was finances. So getting more money basically to grow my loan balance. So I focused on that and I think it only took a week. So once I actually like hyperfocused on and that was my only goal, it took a week and through some connections and you know, talking to different people, you know got another, I think it was 50,000 line of credit and that’s, you know, that relieves that stress. And then I focused on the next thing, which was team members. And so I think like that’s the big thing you got to like write those down and then choose one, fix the one problem and then work on to the next.
Yigal Adato: 22:34 Love that man. And I want people who are listening to know that you don’t have to do this alone. Like the beauty of being in a group like the mastermind is that every week you get on a call and you’re held accountable. You have to hyperfocus because you get on that call with eight, nine, 10 people. And if you say here and do it, kind of feel like, damn, I didn’t get to do what I promise. So you always hyperfocused and I’m super proud of you, man, for what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished. You know that I love you. Sam was actually out in San Diego some months ago visiting CashCo and we gave him a tour of some of the family stores. And so like, it’s about learning, right? It’s about learning, it’s about absorbing, but most importantly about executing.
Sam Read: 23:17 Yeah. Implementation. Yeah. I appreciate that trip. That was pretty awesome. So if anybody’s listening, you should hit up Yigal and if you’re in that area.
Yigal Adato: 23:26 Yeah, 100%. If you’re ever in San Diego, if you’re listening to the podcast, shoot me a message. Would love to connect with you. Yeah, Sam
Sam Read: 23:35 And I really appreciate the, you know, you and the Pawn Leaders Podcast like, so I still, when I go do some side contracting work, every city I go to I usually will find a pawn broker or the owner and they’ll let me tour the shop and give me advice. And I just tried to absorb as much as I can and then choose a couple things that I like.
Yigal Adato: 23:56 Awesome. Very, very cool brother. Sam thank you for being on the podcast. It was honor having you in the mastermind and I think if you’re listening, the mastermind, a lot of people say, Oh man, it’s expensive. But what I will promise you is if you get in the mastermind, it will pay for itself. Am I right Sam?
Sam Read: 24:14 Yes. And I will say the only reason I’m not in the masterminds right now is because I learned so much information I needed to focus on. You know, focus on that. And you know, I’ll be rejoining probably at another six months or so, maybe sooner.
Yigal Adato: 24:30 So you know, it’s about learning, it’s about being hyper focused. It’s about, you know, being held accountable. That’s what grows business. That’s what makes you incredible pawnbroker. So if you’re interested, go to pawnleaders.com go to programs and under mastermind there’s a little application. Fill out the application. Send me a message on Facebook if you’re interested in chatting. Sam, I say this to the mastermind every single time we’re about to get off. I haven’t said this to you in a while. I love you brother. I hope to see you soon. Thanks for being on. And for those of you who are not in the podcast community, go to facebook.com just search Pawn Leaders Podcast and also go to pawnleaders.com tons of information, there’s a blog. All of the other episodes. Are there, Sam, anything that you want to say in closing for the pawnbrokers listening?
Sam Read: 25:17 Just keep grinding and you know, [Incomprehensible]
Yigal Adato: 25:23 Awesome. Yeah, make more stress less. [Incomprehensible]. Cool man, thanks for being on brother.
Sam Read: 25:30 Thanks.
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