Pawn Leaders Podcast with Michael Mack of Max Pawn

Yigal Adato: 00:00 Hey pawn family. This is Yigal and welcome to another episode of the Pawn Leaders Podcast. I’m so happy to have you here. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen. Thank you so much for taking the time to even leave me a review, a five star review on iTunes. It helps other pawnbrokers find this podcast and it helps the industry grow as a whole. I had a conversation today with one of my coaching clients and they talked about how you know, their culture is taken a dip and how morale’s down. And as we got into the conversation, he said one thing that made a lot of sense. He said, Yigal this is my fault. And I said, yes, yes it is. And I said, well, what’s the one thing that you can do to change it? And he said, I can get organized. And I said, well tell me a little bit about that. And he talked about how his desk was a mess, how he just wasn’t getting stuff done and how he just, you know, wasn’t all there in the store. And I said, well, there it is. And I gave him the task to get organized, to get his desk clean, to get his area clean so that he can get his mindset clear to function and strategize. You see, if you get to work, if you get to that pawnshop and just open the door and don’t have a plan of attack, you’re going to stand up at the end of the day and say, what did I do today? Then a week is going to pass by. You’re going to say, what did I do today or this week? And then a month it’s going to pass by and you can say, what did I do this month? And you’re going to get angry. You can get anxious, you may even get depressed. So I urge you and going to give you a little bit of homework and it’s called the focus 4, and that’s just writing it to do lists a four things that you need to do today and focus on and give it your all. Those four things must get done today. And when you focus on those four things at the end of the day and you look back and you checked off everything, I’ve thought this, you see success and that triggers your mind to be a positive. It triggers your mind to look forward for what’s next for tomorrow. And then the next day you do the focus 4 and you get the four things done and the next after 30 days you can look back and say, wow, there was success there. Maybe your pawn balance didn’t go up, but you organize the store, you came out with a new, you know, a new marketing idea or you even added to improving the culture in your business. So sit down and get organized. And the guest on this show, Michael Mack, who is a guy who is super, super smart and he’s got his stuff together and in this episode, Michael Mack, who is the owner of Max pawn out in Vegas, he lays everything out in the line. You know that famous saying what stays in Vegas or what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This wasn’t the case. Michael just put everything out there for you guys to learn and we really talk about PR and how we maximize on the public relations to grow his business. So thanks again for tuning in. And this is my podcast with Michael Mack from Max pawn.

Yigal Adato: 03:18 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 family, welcome to another episode of the Pawn Leaders Podcast. I’m super excited to have a great guest with me today. All the way from Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Michael Mack welcome to the show.

Michael Mack: 03:51 Thanks. Not necessarily. So for today’s show we’re going to tell it all.

Yigal Adato: 03:54 Yeah, there you go. That’s what I want. That’s what I was getting into next. I know you’re in Vegas. We have to tell everything that happens over there. Thanks for being on the show, you know, I follow you online. And I want to start with just how you got into the pawn industry.

Michael Mack: 04:10 [Incomprehensibe] 5th generation pawnbroker. So, it goes way back. My father was in the business but my brother and I the first who’d to ever go in business with each other and take the family business to the next level. So my great, great grandfather, he had a pawnshop in Seattle, Washington, sold to me [Incomprehensible] guitar. So that’s kind of a cool kind of thing. Yeah. But you know, so I was born with the pawn spoon in my mouth. My dad had a single store in Reno, Nevada. My parents, my mom is an only survivor though the Holocaust. And a really pawn guru herself. And my mom and dad, my mom, after the war, moved to San Francisco, worked for Bank of America. My Dad worked for a credit jeweler. He didn’t work for his father. None of the generations before worked for their father. You know, how family businesses, I don’t need to tell you, but, so they met and they got married and they honeymooned in Lake Tahoe in Reno. And my parents didn’t have much. And my mom won Jackpot for like 500 bucks and that was the start of Super Pawn.

Yigal Adato: 05:26 Oh Wow.

Michael Mack: 05:28 They opened it and right off, you know, the Reno Arches where it says, welcome to Fabulous Reno Nevada, right underneath it, you know, a little motel called the silver slipper. And it was the beginning of my mom would iron t shirts and they had coats in the window and they bought a costume jewelry. And you know, long story short launched my brother and I do what we do today. My brother and I created Super Pawn and my brother sold the company about 11 years ago to cash America, 50 stores. What we thought of the businesses, much of what I see, it was happening with your family is, you know [Inaudible] a different level of service. Pawn shops aren’t what they used to be. People feel comfortable. The pawnshops are nice, they’re appealing, they’re not just what I would go to go buy tools or guns or you know, electronics, it’s where ladies go when they buy jewelry. And of course now with me and sorry, in your family as well. They do a hand bag. It’s a big piece of our business. So, my brother since then sold out the company and he has a software Bravo and very successful software for the pawn industry. And I have had a, I kind of launched out into a different world similar to what you’ve done. And I went out in the community and I got involved. I was, became a planning commissioner for the city of Las Vegas. I was appointed to that and then I was appointed to the Las Vegas City Council in 99 and I was on the city council from 99 to 2006. So, got my feet wet in politics and enjoyed that, it was the fastest growing city in the United States. So, I really enjoyed it. And about nine years ago, I came back in the pawn industry and opened up Max Pawn. We had a small store and then we moved into our new, larger location. And we’re often running.

Yigal Adato: 07:26 Awesome man. Very, very cool. I love this story and there’s two things that, wait, before we get into that, you’re in Vegas. Let the listeners know what the hold period is for a pawn or a buy and what you guys charge kind of [Crosstalk].

Michael Mack: 07:39 So Las Vegas is a limited market. It’s not easy to get into the marketplace. There’s a moratorium on pawn shops and it’s been on here forever. That you can’t just go and open a pawnshop or get a license from the city. You have to wait to the population increases to a certain level. And then they have a lottery and they charge $2,500 for a lottery ball and you can put in for as many balls as you want and the winner gets the right to open up a pawnshop with $100,000 bond in place. So we haven’t had pawnshops issued in years because what happened is when the economy was going strong, they are given pawnshop licenses left and right. And for some reason the Mack family happen to get a lot of those balls. And we opened a lot of stores. But since then, you know, the population decreased. So there’s not been a population increased in many years. The state law regulates our industry, like many pawnshops. We have a 90 day loan, a three month loan, and at the end of the 90 days we do a courtesy 30 day extension here at Max Pawn, you’re not required by law. So it’s 120 day or 121 days before it expires. And then our interest rate is 13% a month.

Yigal Adato: 08:55 Awesome. Thank you. And following you on social media and there’s two things that you do incredibly well and it’s why, you know, I wanted you on the show. One is your PR is epic. You’re always on the news. Like any event that’s happening in Vegas, they call you guys. If it’s Valentine’s Day, if it’s mother’s Day, if it’s father’s day, you guys are always on the news and in the community. So let’s talk about that first before we get into like the luxury goods. How do you guys do it and why do you think it’s important for a pawnshop to consistently have great PR and be in the news?
Michael Mack: 09:30 So, you know, we were very fortunate to be nominated as pawnshop of the year, image award here at the National Pawnbrokers Association. We won that this year.

Yigal Adato: 09:39 Oh, congrats

Michael Mack: 09:39 It is kind of an accolade to what you said. Why, how are we out there? Well, number one, and I think every [Inaudible] pawnshop should really consider it. Hire a PR person [Inaudible] Cause your PR person will bring you ideas all the time. You know, it’s national, you know, left foot day. It’s national rightful day. It’s national you know, garage sale day. And somehow we weave ourselves into these stories and make it a story. So I sit down with my PR girl and we go a garage sale, [Incomprehensible] garage sale. Oh yeah, yeah. It’s our left foot. So we make it whatever type of a day. Now I can’t do this everyday. But as you can see we do weave ourself in into the news many a days and they look at us as the expert. Last year we had a new hockey team that opened up here in Las Vegas, NHL Las Vegas Cold Knights. We weave ourself in. We had a pep rally during the Stanley Cup. My dog became the official dog of the team. So again, weaving yourself in, just being smart. And I had this Gal who is just dynamo. She gets in there, she’s friendly with all the news crews. These papers, not so much anymore. I don’t think anyone’s really seeing much of a newspaper. But your broadcast news and your news from stations, they still there looking for material all the time. And if you have a great pawnshop and you’re doing something for Valentines, we also do something that’s really key is we tie in a nonprofit for everything. So if it’s Valentine’s, we’re having a Valentine sale and it’s for junior league or we’re having a St Patrick’s sale and it’s for you know, make a wish. So there’s always something and it really, you know what, on top of it, we’re giving back to the community, they love us and I believe that, you know, I think people like doing business with companies that are community oriented and get back, hey, I like that guy, I liked that company. I’m going to go do some business with them. And so it’s not just the traditional, oh, I’m looking for a loan customer, looking for someone to come in and buy some jewelry. It really goes beyond.

Yigal Adato: 11:47 So you said something and it kind of cut off, but I wanted to just reiterate, you said that you hire a PR person. Really funny because what you do and what my brother and I used to do when I was there are very, very similar, we hired a PR company and you know, thanksgiving we gave away 100 turkeys to the community and we weaved ourselves as part of the community, not just the business in the community. And I love what you do like with the dog [Incomprehensible] it’s awesome. So that’s very, very cool. Love that. So, hire somebody in PR and give back to a nonprofit of some sort.

Michael Mack: 12:23 And do throughout the year. Don’t just, you know, it’s not just once a year, you know. If there’s, you know, there’s a fire, I mean, we’ve had fires in California. If there’s something, you know, we can get back and donate or help out, you know, someone who loses their whole home in a fire. How many times do you hear that in your community and get them a few items in your storage to get them back on their feet. Or another thing I do, which you’ll like is, I’m close with a lot of the rabbis and local preachers in the area and were friends. And I tell them, if you have someone that is in need, please come to me. And not just everyone who’s in need because everyone goes to your rabbi or somebody who’s in need. Bring them to me, call me, I’ll give them an interest free loan.

Yigal Adato: 13:06 Wow.

Michael Mack: 13:07 Yeah. And why not? Why wouldn’t he? And you know, it’s amazing [Inaudible] done that a few times and then now these customers are good customers. They’re not pawn customers anymore. They’re actually buying all the time. So, another thing, it’s easy to do, you know, you can just do it with your, whoever your rabbi or significant other, you know, who you work with and it works.

Yigal Adato: 13:29 So let, let’s talk about this every time that you were on the news, when you do these types of things, what type of feedback are you getting from clients? You know, you’re posting it on social media, what’s happening to your brand? And the image of Max Pawn when you’re consistently out in the community?

Michael Mack: 13:47 Well, I think it’s just tremendous. First of all, I’ve always been in there, in the jewelry and watch business being a pawnbroker forever. But now that I’m in the handbag business I’m always a topic of conversation in every, every type of, [Incomprehensible] with friends or cousins or whoever we’re with, they want to talk about the handbags. I don’t care about the diamonds. I don’t care about the watches. They want to talk about the handbags. I’m sure it’s happened with your brother too.

Yigal Adato: 14:15 Yeah, for sure. And what, when did you, like, when did the idea of spark to say maybe we’ll get some handbags and what that does?

Michael Mack: 14:23 I started it when I started the store at 9 years ago.

Yigal Adato: 14:25 Oh, wow.

Michael Mack: 14:26 So I was really out front. Jordan [Incomprehensible] a buddy of mine and of course friend of the industry out of Beverly Hills. He and I were friends and he says, you should take bags like Birkin, like Hermes. Birkins I’m like, Woah, that’s a bargain. And he says, yeah, you should take up. So I took one, I took two and I thought to myself, I’m going to take a look at the time, because you know, not everyone knows a Birkin is. And then I thought to myself, it was interesting, what I did is I looked at the business models out there. There was no one in the pawn industry in the handbag business. There was a consignment business. That was my competitor and consignment business. To me it was so antiquated. They’re more antiquated than most old pawn shops. And so I looked at their model and here’s their model. They take your items in consignment, they give you a piece of paper. They, they took a high amount, 40 to 60% of the, you know, of the fee. And the greatest thing I thought that what they did, which I loved because I’m now their competitor. They never called you. They never spoke to you. 80% you know, 80% of the people who do consignments never get paid, ever.

Yigal Adato: 15:41 Wow.

Michael Mack: 15:43 So your mom takes her stuff in and [Incomprehensible] it’s typically, you know, dresses and outfits and belts and [Incomprehensible]. They close their eyes because now it’s gone and they never think about it again. Now your mom said, Huh, I’m going to call the consignment store and what’s going on you guys? Oh, we forgot to, you know, we forgot to call you ma’am. Yeah, we sold the one shirt and one blouse and [Incomprehensible] come up, we’ll send you a check and then the check wouldn’t come, they’d call again. And this is that 80% figure. So I thought to myself, you and I are smart guys. I’m going to be in the consignment business. I’m not only going to charge a lower fee, I’m going to pay these ladies right away as soon as possible. Right? And I’m going to have come in my store giving him cash because then they’ll shop in my store again. So it was like, oh my God. You know, pawn industry is pretty competitive. This net and the consignment industry was not. So I look at, you know, pawnbrokers out there that you have no competition out there. That’s your competition. And if you can get into the consignment, because the consignment is, I think the smartest because you take in, you taking this Rolex watch and you’re looking at it and the guy comes in and you know a lot of times people come in your store but not necessarily understand what a pawnshop is. They think pawn means to get rid of it. So they get a loan on it, pawn, will buy it out right. And those two numbers sometimes are low to the person that’s coming in because he paid 6,500 for this. So you said that I’m sure you know what I can do for you is I can offer you consignment. You’re going to have from a much greater number, you take a fee, we take a fee, it’s usually 20 to 30% so it’s a lot lower fee and people are thrilled. We call them right away and they pick up cash and they spend money in my store sometimes. It’s a great third option because as you know, lots of people don’t want to take two grand for this or they don’t want to take 2,500 [Incomprehensible] by, they want four. And so, you know, yeah, I can take it for four cause we’re gonna sell for 45, five. It doesn’t matter what you’re going to make a percentage, your customers can be happy. And then I do consign with a twist. So I offered the consignment and so you’d always says, oh, I want to get consign that watch that sounds good. You can get me 5,000 minimum. Okay, perfect. I need some money today. I get a loan on top of it. So while I’d sit in my showcase, it’s tick tock and in it’s collecting interest. It’s nice and the customer’s happy, they get a net amount when they, when we sell it, we stopped the clock and pay off the loan. We pay the consignee, the rest [Inaudible] now it’s due and they’re very happy.

Yigal Adato: 18:28 Very cool man. I do want to go back to something, Michael about the image award that you won this year. I think it’s not just you, right? You have to ingrain in your staff this idea of having this great image in the pawn industry. What do you do with your staff? How’s the culture at Max Pawn for you to be able to continue what you want, your vision and for your employees to be able to put that out on, you know, I think you said you send a guy out to the TV stations, right? Sometimes.

Michael Mack: 18:58 Yeah, I don’t go anymore

Yigal Adato: 18:58 Yeah, you don’t go anymore. You have somebody who specializes in going and your staff believes in that vision. So how do you do that?

Michael Mack: 19:05 So, you know, we have multi, you know, we have different languages that are spoken in my store, but most important, James, my manager, he’s the guy, he’s my face at Max Pawn now, which I love it. My [Incomprehensible] doesn’t have to be there. I love it because that’s how my business are going to grow. I mean, as I get old, they’re not gonna want to look at this old Jew, you know, they’re went to look at, you know, this good looking kid. So, we ingrained all our staff. We have a girl that speaks Chinese. And when you were at the Chinese awards here locally, recently we have multiple Latin speaking folks. And it works. It just, you know, we empower our whole staff. We have something that’s interesting at Max Pawn, we’re not a pawnshop. We’re an ECOMMERCE store. We’re a multifunctional business. So, we talked about our staff and our staff typically you walk into a pawnshop and there’s three, four people in the pawnshop that are staff and they’re waiting for the clerk. It drives me nuts. So we have a motto in our store. If we’re not helping someone in line, we’re helping someone online. So my whole team is on different online teams. We had truancy, we have ebay, we have the gun team, we have the music reverb. So everyone is embraced and they’re all want to get stuff out there because they’re on commission. They want to sell and they’re not going to just wait for the guy to walk in the store. So it makes our store, I mean our, our turnover rate in our store, I think we’re, we turn our inventory over 10 or 11 times this year.

Yigal Adato: 20:39 Wow, awsome.

Michael Mack: 20:40 So it’s crazy. But you know, what it does is also it makes your input, your customer locally want to get in that store, see stuff there. It’s not going to be stale. It’s not, oh, I’ll wait till next week. It’s not going to be here next week, sir. Yeah, it’ll be gone.

Yigal Adato: 20:54 Let me pick your brain about that. You know, you said if they’re not serving somebody, they’re online and they’re in teams. And I think I love that because if you have a guy or a gal who loves guns, then she’s on the gun team. And if you have a guy or gal who loves guitars, then they’re on the musical instrument team. And to team them up to see, you know, who sells more or to be able to sell online. I think that’s brilliant as opposed to just having one person in the online department and that’s it, right?

Michael Mack: 21:23 Can’t do it. You can’t do it. Right. And so if we’re not helping someone in line, we’re helping someone online. And then we also, you know, what we do is not only is that person that wanted to be on the gun team, we take them off the guns, we push them onto the handbag team cause we want it, get them multitalented. They don’t, you know, we don’t want them to sit still in one area. So it works out very well. And you know, the store does, you know, between three and 400,000 a month in sales. sounds crazy. Yeah.

Yigal Adato: 21:50 So for those of you listening, you know, 10 times inventory turn three to $400,000 in sales is because you’ve ingrained in these employees won’t obviously because of commission, a little bit of money and two, you’re pushing them to sell on different teams. Do different stuff inline, online. I think that’s brilliant. Thank you.

Michael Mack: 22:12 Thank you. We also pay a commission and some something that in my brother and I had an argument over many a times, he says, I said, I pay a commission to my loan associates because everyone in my stores a pawn associate, they do everything. If you don’t pay them that, that’s all that’s you’re given. You know, that’s what come, I said, Steve, it’s amazing. Would I have done with bringing, paying a commission on the pawn service fees because now they’re like insurance salespeople, they don’t want to leave. The guy has $150,000 loan balance. He’s not walking away from that because that pays him every month. So we pay commissions on that and pay commissions on loans. I mean, on sales. And then we have a goal. We have a store goal. So for example, if the store goal’s 250,000 if they don’t reach the goal, it’s not make or break. Like, if you don’t make it, you don’t get anything. So if they only get 200,000 they get 75% of the goal of their pay and then 50% so we stagger it, but we’re hitting goals every month here, which is really nice.

Yigal Adato: 23:19 And so you’re pushing people with, you know, with the carrot. I think the commission on the pawn loans I think it’s great. We used to do it as well. [Incomprehensible] cause was it caused for people to be more attentive, to not let the loan walk out of the door. 2, to maximize the loan. And 3, when the person came back to do everything to convince them to pay interest as opposed to,

Michael Mack: 23:42 And then expire. Yeah, well what we have found is now they have their own book of business, like an insurance salesman. I use that same analogy. Yeah. You know, when you all is laid on his loan, Claudia is on the phone talking to you. Otherwise, no one was talking. I mean, we have notices that go out via text on that, but there’s that personalization, you know, what’s going on or do you need a few extra days a week and work with you. You know, and they’re not, the worst thing that happens to them is the loan expires and we own it for the associate. And also when we don’t get the loan at all that that’s the worst day.

Yigal Adato: 24:21 Yeah. And they’re creating more recruiting revenue for themselves because as the client’s paying interest, they’re making money on the interest every single three months or whatever that timeframe is. And I think it gives you, you know, if you’re paying somebody 15 bucks an hour, $16 an hour, whatever that is, people want to have a way to make more money. They want to be able to rise to the occasion and bring more for their family. And if you’re giving them that opportunity, like you are through commission of sales and loans, I think you won’t have low turnover for employees, but you’ll have that book of business that keeps on growing.

Michael Mack: 25:00 Exactly. So, we currently working on two great new pieces of business that, you know, we’re bringing additional types of services in. One is crypto currency. September one we’re launching, we’re going to take it in pawn, we’re going to buy it and people can buy merchandise with cryptocurrency. We’re very excited. We’ve got a cool program that we’re working with. We’re on Beta test, so we’ll see how it goes. But there’s a lot of people that want to spend money with the crypto currency. We see that it’d be a big benefit on the pawn side. You know, you’d all has $1,000 a Bitcoin, we’re going to loan probably 20 to 30% of what the coins worth, the value of this. So we’ll move that money, that cryptocurrency into our wallet. We’ll hold it. It was Kinda like me holding a gold coin and we give a loan on it. They’ll pay an interest. We redeem it. So we’re not involved with what’s happening with the marketplace per se, because we were 20 or 30% were fairly safe. And then on purchases, people want to use it, you know, just spend it. Second item that we’re working on, which I’m really excited about, is a shoe handbag repair in store. So it’s going to be called shoebag express. It’s a big handbag repair place here in Las Vegas and we’re putting an expression so people can drop off their shoes or bags or belts or wallets and have them repaired and a week later they’ll come back and get it. So another way to get people in my door to offer our opportunities that we have outside of the repair business.

Yigal Adato: 26:39 And I think that’s so crucial from pawn brokers to hear that it’s not just about the pawn and the sale, it’s about how many other revenue streams can I bring in and how creative can i be within the community to bring people to my store. And I think that you’ve done that to an incredible level and being at the forefront of that. I think that’s why you deserve winning that award at the NPA for sure. Cool man, this is man Michael, this has been incredible, so much information. Let me ask you one last question. You’ve been part of the NPA. You’ve been in the pawn business for a long time. Where do you think, some pawnbrokers today are doing it wrong and what small twist, what small change can they do to make a difference in their operation today after they listened to this podcast?

Michael Mack: 27:30 Okay, well there’s one thing I think old school pawnbrokers always had done and do still and that’s, they penalize the people who expire pawn with them. So Yigal has been a customer for 20 years or five years or whatever. And he expires two loans. He’s had 60 loans that he’s picked up, but the two loan, they penalize them that they treat him like a different customer with the way we look at it is if it was a good loan, it’s good inventory and did we make good profit on that inventory. It doesn’t matter. So you have to look at the hall, don’t treat any customer who’s, you know, customers are harder to get today. They’re not as the pawn customer is. You know, the traditional pawn shops are having a harder and harder time because tools, you know, aren’t as abundant, you know, and they’re not holding the values. You know, that’s the way it reason I got into the handbag business because it holds value. So we have to look at items that hold value and it might be something else. So I’m looking forward to seeing your podcast and maybe someone can show me some other items that we could take that we can make some money with.

Yigal Adato: 28:31 Nice. That’s awesome. And once again, listen up guys. Don’t treat that one customer who defaults to loans if it’s a good loan, if it’s good inventory, thank that person. I agree with you.

Michael Mack: 28:41 Yeah, no, he’s, he’s still good with it, you know what I mean though, right?

Yigal Adato: 28:44 Yeah.

Michael Mack: 28:45 The old school was like, oh, he’s not as good. Or we loan him less now.

Yigal Adato: 28:50 Because I know the pawnshop softwares have like maybe like percentage ratings who’s at a hundred and now he’s at 90 and you’re like, oh, wait a second. Like give the guy a break. Yeah.

Michael Mack: 29:02 Well I know with Bravo software, it evaluates the default profitability to that customer and gives them a benefit too. So that is smart. So, and I think it’s super important that you know, that we always look that way. But you know what? The way you’re going to be a good pawnbroker today is we’ll watch your podcast, listen to people, try different things. You have to try new things because it’s not the old school pawnshop. I mean the [Incomprehensible] business, it’s in the tank. You know, here’s one thing I have to say in closing is, you know, we’re the last of the generation of the collectibles, we don’t collect. Our kids are not going to collect silverware, flatware, China, crystal, artwork. These young kids, they’re not doing that. You know what they’re collecting apps on their phone. And so that’s alarming for, you know, if we’re in the pawn business because they’re not going to have that stuff. So we’ve got to figure out what they want.

Yigal Adato: 30:04 Awesome. Michael this has been a pleasure and an honor. Thank you so much for giving such great value to the pawn family and for those of you listening, if you have not joined the Facebook group the Pawn Leaders Podcast Community, jump in there, Michael I don’t know if you’re in there but if you’re not I’ll put you in,

Michael Mack: 30:22 I’m in there.

Yigal Adato: 30:22 Great. So, join us in the conversation. Have an incredible day, I’ll see you in the next episode.