14: 3 Biggest Mistakes Pawn Leaders are Making Today with John Thedford

March 21, 2018

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Yigal Adato: 00:21 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 pawnshop. Hey Pawn Leaders welcome back to the Pawn Leaders Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and for those of you who have left a review, I really, really appreciate it, and if you could share this with other pawnbrokers as well as employees, it will give great value to the industry. With me I have John Thedford, who's a pawn industry entrepreneur who has founded numerous successful corporations including Value Pawn, Rent-Rite, La Familia Pawn, Premier Pawn and most recently Smart Financial. Thedford is a certified public
accountant as well as the author of the bestselling book, Smart Moves Management, which focuses on cultivating world class people and profits. In 2008, Thedford was honored as a finalist in the Ersten Young Florida entrepreneur of the year award, in 2008 Easy Corp Inc acquired value financial or Value Pawn and during the company Thedford founded for $120,000,000, and I'll
say that again, $120,000,000. Thedford grew the chain from three Value Pawn stores in 1994 to 70 locations with over 800 place after the sale of Value Financial Thedford founded numerous successful businesses. And today Thedford continues to offer high end consultant services through his firm initiative consultant group and remains the founder of Smart Financial. John, thank you so much for being on the podcast.


John Thedford: 01:36 It's a pleasure to be here.
Yigal Adato: 01:38 I know you're a busy, busy man and I know that you're going to give some incredible value to the pawnbrokers listening and I want to start with something that you have in your bio and I kind of took it out because I wanted it to be the first question and that is your tenet. It's kind of like what you live by, your motto, right? Which is the most powerful force on earth, human being engaged in meaningful work. Tell me about that.
John Thedford: 02:01 Well, you know, everybody who's got any experience has seen somebody who did the work of two people and that does it matter whether it's a backroom associate, sales associate, assistant manager, a multi-unit manager, you know, when you can find that person that is absolutely passionate about what they do and they do the work of more than one person, they are engaged and that one person can really move the world and can move an organization. And so the most powerful force on this earth is a human engaged in meaning for work. Now to the most equally as destructive as a person not engaged in meaningful work. And we call those the Brotherhood of the miserable and they can destroy a work group, they can destroy a customer interaction. And so that's where I go back to the most powerful force on this earth as a human engaged in meaningful work. To get there, you got to select a science, which means hiring I believe is the hardest decision we make in business. Who Do you hire? And if you're not going about it in a systematic and a in trained way. And everybody's not good at hiring, some people are better at it than others. And so within your organization, you've got to measure and find the people that are good at hiring, got to select with science, which means standard set of interview questions, psychological profile, calibrated amongst your top performers. And then each and every day you got to hold it together with leadership and culture. So our job as the pawn leaders you referenced as we started this is, our job quite simply is that in every position and as part of our mission statement, excellence in every role, every position must be staffed to excellence. And they must be an engaged person. That's a great team member that likes to be managed and measured and wants to win. And every day as leaders, we've got to hold it together with culture leadership and create purpose and create meaningful lives of the people that we work with so that they do above extra ordinary work. And then when they do above extraordinary work, guess what? We all win, consumers win, the team wins and life is about being fully engaged.


Yigal Adato: 04:23 I love it and I can see your passion. I mean people are listening to this, they're not watching it and we'll put it up on youtube in the future, but you can see your passion in the way like you're moving your hands and how much you really care about that tenet that you just said. Now, before we get into how to do that stuff, I want to talk about your history. How did a CPA jump into the pawn world. What happened and how did you get from growing the stores from four locations where it was to 70. So,let's start with how did you jaunt that for getting into the pawn industry?


John Thedford: 04:51 Okay. So, I'm a certified public accountant by professional training and studied real hard in college and made really good grades and I got picked up by a very prestigious CPA firm right out of college, called Up Pricewaterhouse Coopers, one of the four largest firms in the world. And in 1985 I was there at the intro, myself and the six other starting associates for that period. And they were like, okay, you, you're going to work, you're going to go on American Airlines, you, you're going to go audit JP Morgan Chase you and going around the room, they got to me and said, you, we've got a client that's got 15 stores, they're chain of pawnshops are probably going to go bankrupt.You got to go audit them and collect the check. And My, what? I made straight A's in college, they're going to work for this prestigious firm and I got to go work in a pawnshop you're kidding me? And so that client was Cash America. I went and you know how to do audits of the stores and put that as like, oh my gosh, pawnshop who'd ever, who would ever thought, the
customers are very happy. The people are very happy that time Cash America, they've just grown too fast. They didn't have the money they needed, it wasn't a bad business. They just made some bad business decisions. Anyway, we helped them through their issues. And the next thing I'm leading the audit for several years and then they hired me away and so I went to work for Cash American led the accounting function and we went public during that time. So I got to see that whole process. And then next thing you know, this chain of stores called Easy Corp down in Austin was up and going and there were very few pawn professionals. And so, they picked me up and I got to and I was on the team that took them public too. And, and so, in 1993, I
said, I'm going to do this on my own. So I drove my black Honda Accord to Orlando, Florida from Fort Worth, Texas and started from one store not for really start to one was Pawn Beach and with friends and family, I raised $30,000,000 and we started today was value pawn and jewelry built that up to 70 stores. And I always told my investors were not just raising the money. And on this long journey I said, look, I was on the team that took Cash America public, I was on the team that took Easy Pawn public. I know every mistake they've made and I'm not going to make any of them. And I didn't, I made bigger mistakes, I made mistakes they had thought about, I did mistakes they have thought about making. And but we certainly learned a lot, a lot along the way. And when we sold Value Pawn store was doing about $2,000,000 a year in revenue. I have ensure was earning about $450,000 of profit. And it all comes down to my basic tenet, highly engaged people at every position. And so, we've done a few more. We just recently, I did $125,000,000 equity raise. And with Smart Financial, we have a 63 stores opened. We'd like to be at about 120 by the end of this year. We've got those opportunities lined up. And I feel like the industry is, that continues to be a great opportunity if you're willing to work hard there's no secrets to our approach. It's great people, it's competing every day. And yeah, so that's how I got in the pawn business.


Yigal Adato: 08:24 Nice. So, I have a confession to make to you. I heard you speak at a pawn convention years ago when my brother and I had barely started in CashCo and you were talking about how managers at value make $110,000 a year, $120,000 a year, pay your people more money. And I was looking at you like, what is this guy talking about? I'm in California. I'm making four percent interest. I can barely pay myself a six figure salary. And I thought you were crazy back then. Now fast forward a bunch of years and having sold my portion of the pawnshop to my brother, having consulted some other pawnshops in the industry, I realized how important it is to pay people the best when it comes to the retail environment. And you talk about that, that's your smart move number one. It's a prosperous wage. Did you guys get to that as your rule number one when it comes to smart moves management?


John Thedford: 09:21 Yup. High wages, I'm not a genius. So, I copied a lot of things that in fact, everything I do, I've copied. I wish I was creative and smart enough to come up with some things on my own. But we're great at replicating great practices, but I mean CassCo if you did the forever valuation of Stock Price on CassCo, it's gone up like a Berkshire Hathaway, it's a 25, 27 percent on an annual forever basis improvement stock price. Average associated CassCo right now? $25 an hour. But you feel it when you go in there. Chick filet, which is kind of the southeast, now they're a little further apart, you know what I mean? Average store manager to Chick Filet a $120,000 a year. So, a Chick Filet does $4,000,000 a year in revenue close Sundays and the average Burger King and McDonald's do a million dollars a year. Average manager makes them at 60. So, high wages are not just about paying the wrong people more money. It's about finding the right people and paying them what they're worth. And so, life's all about vision. You wind up. The good news is you wind up in life about where you see yourself. And so we want to get people at the manager level. We don't want people that don't see themselves making $100,000 a year. You're going to get people already making $100,000 a year, bring them into our system, train them for a year, and then put them in roll. And same thing. Even with our sales associates right now in the United States today, we've got about 550 team members and in the United States we've got about 300. United States Canada, we've got about 350 sales associates. We won't hire anybody for less to their numbers $18 an hour. I mean, that doesn't mean we're going out and finding somebody to make it 10 and pay on 18.We're not find people will make it 18, 15 and paying them that 18. And again, in this environment of leadership and initiative which is getting weaker the difference between paying somebody 10 and 18 is night and day, a night day. And we bought a 17 stores in Canada and we had our January financial review a couple of weeks ago. Last year that group made $150,000 in the month of January. This year they made $500,000. I'm sitting here after the financial right here. And great people, you've got to start with great people and so our wage strategy is the first step on our strategic path. You gotta get the right people. We don't put up with rookie stuff, we show up to work on time we're professionally dressed. We're in this industry, we want to convey a great service and pride in what we do. But we go after people that have a vision and see themselves in a different place. And so that's part of our wage strategy. We don't want underdogs, we don't want people, they don't see themselves at a great place in their life relative to their experiences and our education. We want people that want a new car. We won't, people that want a better place for the family. And so we want aspirational people. And it starts with our wage strategy.


Yigal Adato: 12:32 So, there's a lot of employees who also listened to this podcast and I'm sure they might be thinking, Hey, I'm making 12, 13, 14 bucks an hour. John's paying $18 an hour. That's not fair. But what you're saying is you are paying the $18 to the rockstars. Incredible employees who are engaged, who are entrepreneurial minded, who are taking care of your stores and with pleasure, you will pay them that money, but if there is sub par, if they don't have the leadership qualities, then you won't even take them on. You don't even talked to them.


John Thedford: 13:04 No, no, right now, today we have four full time recruiters to do nothing but guy. So here, here's the deal. You want to find the number one manager at rent a center in your marketplace. That manager is not looking for a job and so you know, we'll go find the number one. It's easy. You walk into any rent a center, Austin, Texas, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, markets where we are, and you can ask any person in a rent a center, hey, I need to run a bunch of furniture. We got some rental properties, where's the best store you got? [Incomprehensible] over the highway 52. Excellent! And because that's the number one source, because it's got the best manager. You go find that manager. Are they looking for a job? Do they have a resume? Nope, they don't have to. They're number one in the marketplace, and so we'll work on and that's how we do every position. You know, we find that the top salesperson in a local store tops, sales sales associate and these are people that are not looking for jobs. We want people that are not looking for a job. We want people that are so good at what they do, they're not even thinking about another opportunity. So, when we do that and you got to have a lots of people you're working on, it might take us four months to get an interview with those people, but that's how we go about it. We sift through a lot of people to find the best ones for camp.


Yigal Adato: 14:20 So, it's all about going after the people who you really, really



John Thedford: 14:24 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 14:25 -offering them great wage because they don't want the job.
John Thedford: 14:27 They're not even looking for a job.
Yigal Adato: 14:29 And you bring them on and then you can train them under pawn and make them incredible pawnbrokers, managers, regionals, whatever that is.


John Thedford: 14:36 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 14:38 Now, let's take it down a level. Right? There's a lot of mom and pop shops and listening to this family run stores that might have one or two employees. How do you think they can start doing that and maybe they might not have the amount of money to pay as much, but how do you get a great employee and build them up if you're barely starting off, if you don't have the funds that you might have right now.


John Thedford: 15:01 Culture, culture, I will tell you what, people want to feel wanted, they want to feel taken care of and I could start completely over and have no money and, I promise you I can go find great people and through culture and leadership, offer them a better opportunity for their life, for their family. Part of our purpose is to be the best in the world at whatever we do. The best of the world. What do we do for our family. I mean, don't you have people at home you want to take care of? Don't you want to give them the absolute best you can? Well, be the best at what you're doing right now, every day, be the best you can for your family. And we create that culture. And so, folks that have a little smaller scale business, you've got to create a culture. It's about getting better everyday and you got to live it to, you got to look better. You got to strike that parking lot every other day. You've got to walk that parking lot for cigarette butts. Your story has to be clean. It's got to be priced right, it's got to smell good. You read the board has got to be fresh, it's gotta change, it's gotta be current. You've got to look good. And if you look good and if you are the best you can be everyday, you will find great people regardless of your size. And so, and you got to look at, I mean, everyday we get up and we play to win, we have a daily huddle up company wide 10 minutes before the start of every shift. We do the same thing here in the office. I don't like to be in the office. I like to be out in the stores and size doesn't matter. Money doesn't matter. Anything can solve that. It's where your heart is as the culture you create and you can attract anybody. If you've got a great culture and you care about your people and you give them an opportunity.


Yigal Adato: 16:38 I think that's the key phrase right there, John. It's you have to care about your people. John Thedford: 16:42 Yeah, absolutely. No question. Yigal Adato: 16:44 So many times, I hear other pawnbrokers talking bad about their employees they're so stupid. They don't know what they're doing. I've got the worst employees, employees talking about their owners, my owner is so lazy. So they're creating this horrible culture. Right? So, give me three steps, really actionable steps that a pawnbroker can take right now, listening to create a better culture today. They can listen to this podcast and tomorrow they open up their stores. What do they do? John Thedford: 17:12 Gotcha, gotcha. So, we have a training called the communication model, which goes through. So we're going to talk about communicate. So that's my step one. Communicate. And we require three meetings each week. And that is a, the store's going to have a Monday morning meeting with the written agenda, so everybody's leaving on the end of their last shift before the Monday meeting with a written piece of paper with a minimum of four items on it and it's a financial update as the operational tasks we need to accomplish this week. It's a training session and then it's a role play. We're going to role play or training session. She got to communicate. That's the first meeting of the week. Then we always have a huddle up 10 minutes before the start of the shift is an opportunity to train and reward. And then weekly, weekly, we have a required store manager, associate weekly one on one, going over six questions. I know what is expected of me and the materials, equipment I need to do my job, etc. So, step one, you got to communicate. And number two, you got to celebrate. You gotta. Celebrate, celebrations. You talk about mediocre organization, say, yep, every quarter, every 90 days, do you have a celebration. What? Every 90 days? You got to celebrate today! You got to celebrate before noon, you gotta celebrate afternoon every chance you've got, you've got to celebrate. And then lastly, the leaders need to look in the mirror. Are you somebody that people are going to want to follow? Are you living the life that you, I'm not talking about, I'm talking about do you show up on time or you groomed, are you polite to people? How are you in the relationships that you've got? And I mean people, the leaders, the pawn leaders you're referencing here in this program. Our associates watch every move we make. We are the most watched people. So, if you're not living a good life, you will never create a good culture. So, I mean, you gotta exhibit that spirit of excellence in everything you do from you can never walk by a piece of trash. Every transaction has got to be done the best. We always have a quote, a phrase we use and so in our area manager meaning, so store managers, five stores, one area manager would say who's the best pawnbroker in your market? And the area manager better say it's me because they need to go into those stores over to close, do their things they need to do before noon and the rest of the day they need to be out on the sales floor in the manager's circle. Being the best at customer service in the marketplace. Because what happens is whether the best at customer service, everybody else does the same. It's, yeah, that's how it works.


Yigal Adato: 19:55 So let's go over that really quickly. So the three things that the listeners can do tomorrow when they opened their store. First I'm going to say the cleanliness, right? Walk around your parking lot, make sure there's no trash, make sure your stores are clean. I've walked into a lot of pawnshops where there's a lot of crap everywhere, too much merchandise. You're saying get clean.


John Thedford: 20:14 Get clean. Yeah, absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 20:15 Alright. Number two, communicate. Which I couldn't agree with You more communicate. You guys have morning huddles, you guys have weekly meetings, whatever that is. Communicate. Even if you start with a monthly meeting to start just how-
John Thedford: 20:29 Go go, go. If you those three meetings, a monday morning meeting, everybody's going to be in attendance. A daily huddle up 10 minutes before the start of the shift and a weekly one on one. Every associate gets time. like monday is your one on one. Tuesday is one on wednesday. He said, I got to tell you what? Over time those weekly one on ones, over time in six months you will develop trust. People will become to when they've got an issue, they know that Monday is my one on one. We're going to resolve that. So.


Yigal Adato: 20:55 And you get to know your staff.
John Thedford: 20:59 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 20:59 Next with you and and you also don't fester issues. There's no
resentment because every week you're going to talk it out.


John Thedford: 21:07 Yup. Every week we're going to talk it out. New Speaker: 21:09 So, John that's actually being courageous, right? Because a lot of times owners, pawnbrokers don't want to hash things out with their employees. They want to blame them, they want to justify why they don't talk to them. So I think it's a great, great role. So cleanliness, communicate, celebration. I love to celebrate. I agree with you. If somebody hits a great number, if something great happens in big sale, I love my chiropractor. Actually, when somebody has a test that results over 90 percent health, they ring a bell on the store right. Celebrate Yes, this is great health. So, a lot of celebration. And then leadership. Look at yourself.


John Thedford: 21:45 Look at yourself, yup.
Yigal Adato: 21:48 Right? And know that everyone's looking at you.
John Thedford: 21:50 Yep. Gotta lose your self. Are you getting better every day? Are you getting better physically? Are you getting any better relationally? Our people are watching everything we do and don't either. So, you need to inspire them.


Yigal Adato: 22:10 Now let's talk about something that you might've forgotten about or don't want to talk about, or maybe it's in your mind every single day, we all make big mistakes.


John Thedford: 22:18 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 22:19 What are three mistakes that pawnbrokers are making today that you've made over time and in your consulting you might walk in and say, these are the same three mistakes I see every single time and it might go back to the communication, the celebration, the leadership, but what are the three biggest mistakes that pawnshops are making today that if they take a turn tomorrow in fixing it, improving it, it will make a difference in their bottom line.


John Thedford: 22:48 Yep. So, three things come to mind in a hurry. One, people, you got to have great people. People do not change. And so you got to get in. If they do, they only change temporarily. So, you got to have great people, okay? And people that do the job. Our mantra is life should be fun and easy. And if you've got great people that are doing a good job and working hard, [Incomprehensible], fun and easy. Finally is number one. You gotta have good people and good people do not cost money.They make you money and and so, so many times. People are narrow in that was going to cost you not. No, no, no, no. Your cheap employees cost you more money than you can count. You gotta get the right people that can do the job. I was, I'll tell you, I was recently, I was in Texas and I heard somebody, we were, we were discussing about doing a transaction with and they're like, you know, you can't get good people around him, so what? He paid $8, $9 an hour while I said, well, what a burger and a sign up there. She's hiring at $14 an hour. You're telling me you're going to try to provide a good opportunity for people at eight and then go, wait 14. You've got to come into the number one people. Number two, financial literacy up. It's amazing how many organizations were walking. Just say, do you have a budget sometimes already amped? Absolutely. I said, okay, a budget is revenue expenses, profit january to december. That's a budget. Do you have a budget? Yes, we do. Do your store managers have that budget? Well, we kind of, if the store manager can I tell you what their net income is, you do not have a budget, so you got to have a financial strategy. You got to have a budget in place and along with that you have a monthly meeting with their managers, ranking them one, two, three, four, five or whatever the number is. And upon net income, celebrate and go to the financials. So he got to have a financial statement approach in place. Lastly, culture, leadership and development sets. The third piece is, I'll call it training and, today, today, if you upgraded your people and it does take a to upgrade your people, it could take six months to a year, but you got to encourage people, you get into a financial strategy today and one of the reasons we get dramatic improvement in these acquisitions we make is you've got people walking around all day they don't have a goal and you got a financial strategy. And then lastly, cultural leadership and training. I mean everybody in our organization, I'm in my office right now, we've got about 30,35 folks that work here. They all have been through these circle of the sale training. They know exactly what that is. They've all been through our pawn loan qualification training. Everybody this organization knows are the bedrocks of our to a customer engaging trainings and so you can start training to date and will have a big impact and you know, it's fun to win and it gives you a chance to celebrate when you see somebody and onto a sale or, or, you know, convert a redeem into a, just a extension payment. And so, people finance strategy in a trading culture, leadership and development.


Yigal Adato: 25:52 Love it. Now we've been talking for about 20 minutes and I know you're all about culture, but a lot of times a lot of people say you need to just lend more and sell for less and lend more and sell for less. I think that the Pawn industry, and I say this in almost every single podcast because I think it's important for the pawn brokers to understand this no longer is this business and open a door, make money type of business because of the online competition we have to become better leaders, better marketers and better strategists. Better leaders or better marketers, and better strategists. Where does the lending more and the sales come into your smart moves?
John Thedford: 26:36 Well, you know, it's so interesting, you talk about our competitors and I, I've been in the industry since 1985 and it's more competitive than it's ever been. And why, why in the world would you carry your tv down to get a loan when you could go online and get a $3,500 loan? Oh my gosh. And then make payments online. It's competitive and we cannot be naive about that. And so, you know, loan more, you've got a little more to the right people and that's why we do not move people around sort of store. We keep them in the same store because,you know, people don't come to see smart pawn and jewelry.They come to see Maria in the store, so lending, more is relationship aspect and we always want a little more to our good customers. We literally just did an average loan measure and conversation, this week, uh, because it's crazy out. You're just getting a, you know, when, when you got to throw this kind of average loan, I'm making up numbers of $115 down the road.you don't want is 180 or 90. You got to train people to give more as that $5 here, $10 there. So smart loaning more, is, is, is where you got to be in sales. I mean we have, we are big believers in contests and celebrating and, and so you know, to,to drive sales, we're always all about our stores have got to be priced right in every time you walk into a store, there is an area manager opportunity to inspect pricing on the floor. And we, we call it, let's make a deal. You walk up to an item, your tv while you cover the, the tv and we all agree what the price should be,move her hand and see how close you are. It's always misprice is not always just price, but there's always room for improvement and it just can't be on top of it enough because anything in a pawnshop this clean and price right sells. And so-


Yigal Adato: 28:28 It's got to be clean and priced, right?
John Thedford: 28:30 Yep. That's it. That's if it's clean and priced right, it will sell.
Yigal Adato: 28:34 If not, you're hoarding.
John Thedford: 28:36 Yeah. Oh, you, you become the old proverbial museum and you know, and so yeah, clean and price. Right. and so, this is such an inspection business and that's why you know, externally, you know, a lot of folks in this business is easy. You loan money, you sell at the transaction level is world of complexity is because our associates have to determine what they're going to loan, but it comes down to price. And you know, at walmart they don't do that. They don't. Costco, they don't determine the price, the items coming in, they don't turn the, you know, the cost of that.T hey don't turn the price going out. And so it's a really a really complex business. And you know, what we really kind of focused on back to the complexity and the sale of your question was how do we sell stuff? What are our thoughts on that is we've been really going after these mall store managers that all make kind of 35, 40. They're really not managers, they're not leaders, they're more organizers and bringing them in and with they're making her more and having them be sales associates. Oh my gosh. Our minimum weekly sales goes three thousand 500. You sell $3,500, you get three percent commission. We have brought in folks. We just did this, we had our staffing review. We've got, a group of folks. Our recruiters, she's doing a great job, but , we've got folks who started in in a couple of weeks who are selling 10,000 a week and he's the hustle, hustle, hustle. And I wish we had trained them to do that. Not even close, I mean we sculpted them a little bit with our training and our approach. They brought all the heavy lifting. They Are the folks that are engaging a smile that are persuasive to close. Those are things that are hard to train.


Yigal Adato: 30:17 Let me ask you a good question. And it was brought up in the facebook group in the palm leaders community. I remember when we did the same thing, we gave a commission and it all started right. And there was one guy who was a bully and he was stealing sales from people. He would, you know, go around and say that's my sale. He'd push people around, not physically but because of his size and his demeanor and when we were giving all these commissions that we wanted to give back to our employees. At some point he started going sour and maybe. And we refine it and we. And we fixed it at the end, but how can people, because I know a lot of pawn shop owners are saying, well, if I give commissions, I have fights. If I'm doing productivity on the pawn counter, I'm having somebody say, that's my loan, that's not your loan. How do you guys handle that moving forward?


John Thedford: 31:06 You know, I, I would say, the world is a commission based, the world was commissioned base. We're all in some form or fashion trying to do better, whether it's to get more of a raise, a weekly pay commission or whatever. And so we are very pro commission and you know, part of our psychological profile, we test six attributes of, of human behavior. There's 32 dimensions of human behavior, but we really focus on, on a six and if their emotional score, which is self esteem and social score are not where we needed to be, you got people that don't play well together and really bullies will become bullies in any environment. They just happened to become more of a bully in this role for a commission. And there's all kinds of retail strategies on rotating salesperson and all that kind of stuff. we think that's all hogwash. He, you got to get great people that work well together.


Yigal Adato: 32:09 And John, sorry, that test that you're talking about is that the TTS tests because you're the second person that's mentioned the TTS test.


John Thedford: 32:17 Well, and they probably got it from probably from us. I mean, we, we you know, we've been using it for a long time. It's, it's the, there's a lot of psychological trick about a psychological test is you need to go get your top performers, people you had hire all day long and test them and they will validate where you
want to go. And then that's when you just, people, you want to make sure that their test scores are like your top performers. You see what I'm saying?


Yigal Adato: 32:46 What does that stand? The TTS? That's the thurston?
John Thedford: 32:49 Test of temperament.
Yigal Adato: 32:51 Test of temperament. Got it.
John Thedford: 32:53 Yup.
Yigal Adato: 32:54 Thurston Test of Temperament.
John Thedford: 32:55 Yup. Yup.
Yigal Adato: 32:56 And that when you know who's, what emotional IQ they have, what social skills they had before they even come in.


John Thedford: 33:01 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 33:03 Right in the sandbox now.
John Thedford: 33:05 Yep, and to that point where I going to fix anybody know if they don't meet our, you know, high energy, active, impulsive can, can, can, can deal with things quickly. Active, impulsive, dominant, dominant, you gotta be down in enough to push the sale. Active posts of dominant emotional gotta have a good sense of self, you know, we're going to be dealing with other people and people that don't feel good about themselves, just all over it. Don't play well. They'll have big bad days, good to too hard. And, and social, we hope we're around a bunch of people because we got a really busy store and, you know, and then reflectIve, how quickly can they make a decision and when they don't score like are, you know, we literally have hundreds of thousands of these and you only need one and that's the right one. You can keep 100,000 but, but when, when, when people fit the right winner category, then it's all up to the store manager to create the culture that holds it together. We've had a lot of great people leave us because we had a bad manager. So it really takes, you've got to, you've got to have a standard set of interview questions. I mean, these are psychologically substantiated, you know, where you go and ask, you know, how do you like to be managed, are you opposed to be held accountable? Do you lIke having numeric issues? You know, anyway, you got to have a standard set of interview questions. You cannot shoot from the hip. You got to have a psychological profile. You got to have an observation day. I mean you need people to come in and spend a half a day watching what they're gonna do and then you've got to have a great orientation program and then you got to have a monthly training program. And so it's really, it's really all of those things that you have to execute and you know, John, you're giving away all your secrets. No, I'm not. I'm not. All this is called hard work, so he's off look will tell you everything we know. You tell us anything you know, it's all comes down to hard work. There are no secrets. There are no secrets.


Yigal Adato: 35:06 This is all for the betterment of the pawn industry anyways.
John Thedford: 35:09 Absolutely, so listen, in the United States, you know, whatever the number is, 14,000. I mean, we want this industry to do well. I, I want to go to markets where we're not in see, stores that are well lit, that are painted parking lot, center striped, you know, smartly dressed associates because that's our image. I mean, we want to look good, you know,


Yigal Adato: 35:31 It's safe to say, and this is a question that was on the facebook group, you know, how does this work in all different countries? And I'm going to just say it out there and tell me if you do with it. It's better people equals a better bottom line.


John Thedford: 35:44 Absolutely. It doesn't matter what language you're speaking.
Yigal Adato: 35:46 Doesn't matter what language, what city, it's better people, better bottom line.


John Thedford: 35:50 Absolutely. I tell you what, you know, we, we've worked in south America, central America, we've worked for west Canada where in stores today and now we've worked in the Caribbean. Look, you gotta know you gotta have great teams. You got to have excellence in every role. You got to have green and clean stores and environment arena. He's not about the environments, right? Your physical facility and plant your people. You know, you've got to have an open culture, trust and accountability, and you got to celebrate all of those things works in every country. No country is better or worse. that they all provide the same opportunity. If you deliver great customer service with people that care and have a longterm approach, you're going to do well.


Yigal Adato: 36:34 Nice John. I think we should wrap up. That was incredible. Thank you for, for sharing your wisdom with us. I do want to give away five of your books of your books, the smart moves management. If you're listening to the podcast, text the word pawn, p a w n to the number of four, four, four, nine, nine, nine. Again, text the word pawn paw, n two, four, four, four, nine, nine, nine. To be in to win one of John's books, please don't text and drive. Pull over if you're listening to this in the car. Once again, John, thank you for being with us and to our listeners. Thanks for spending your time and joining us in the Pawn Leaders Podcast and remember to check out the Pawn Leaders podcast community on facebook where we continue the conversations about the episodes. John, before we go, where can people find you and how can they find you?


John Thedford: 37:23 So, we are smart financial website or our initiative consulting website. We do both. We are a consulting firm and we have our champs stores and so you can find me there. And, and we're having to a lot. Yeah, I'm 55 years old. I'm in this business and I want everybody to do well. When you, when you have an abundance mentality, you know that if we all work together, we make this ffight bigger, not smaller sized, small fights and we're all going to do the best for each other.


Yigal Adato: 37:55 Love it. Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate your wisdom.




In today’s episode, I speak with founder of Value Pawn, Rent-Rite, La Familia Pawn, Premier Pawn and Smart Financial. John Thedford is a CPA and author of the best-selling book, ‘Smart Moves Management’. In 2008, EZ Corp acquired Value Pawn for 120 million dollars. Listen to this incredible pawn industry entrepreneur as he shares his knowledge on the operations of the pan business.



[02:36] “The most powerful source on this Earth is a human engaged in meaningful work



[04:03] It’s important that you utilize culture leadership so that the persons you hire do great work



[04:52] John started out at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a CPA and was assigned to Cash America pawn to audit their business. He was pleased with the concept of the pawnshop and was eventually hired as an Accountant.



[06:37] EZ Corp eventually hired John and the continued exposure kept him on the pawnshop journey



[09:53] High wages is about finding the right people and paying them what they are worth



[11:59] John’s wage strategy is hiring persons who are aspirational



[15:12How do you get a great employee and build them up? “Culture



[16:44] You can attract anybody by the culture you create and caring about your employees



[17:34] The 3 steps to creating a better culture are:
  1. Communication
  2. Celebration
  3. Self-Introspection/Cleanliness


[23:03] The 3 biggest mistakes pawn leaders are making today:

  1. Having the wrong people on their team
  2. Financial literacy
  3. Cultural leadership and training


[32:11How do you handle the disputes that might occur when paying commission? “You must get great people that work well together




[33:41] The TTS (Thurstone Temperament Schedule) gives you an indication of the most stable persons and how quickly they can make a decision




[34:07] When people fit the right winner category, then it is all up to the manager to create the culture to hold it together




[34:37] To have your business operate smoothly with the right employees, you must have:
  • a standard set of interview questions
  • a psychological profile
  • an observation day
  • a great orientation program
  • a monthly training program


[36:39] “If you deliver great customer service, with people who care, and have a long term approach, you’re going to do well”




[36:57] There are 5 “Smart Moves Management” books up for grabs! If you’re listing to this podcast, text the word PAWN to 444-999 to be in to win right now! [37:38] Visit the Smart Financial website for more information from John Thedford.

Yigal Adota

Yigal is a 3rd generation pawn broker, and is now a mentor, coach and educator with the pawnbroking industry.

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