Succession Planning for Pawnbrokers

By Dr. Geralyn Miller, Professor and Pawnbroker, 5th Street Pawn, LLC

There are no busier folks than pawnbrokers. Whether you are a new startup business or have a well-established store, chances are you have your hands full handling the day-to-day activities of running a pawn business. It is highly likely, then, that you have very little time to sit back and think about what will happen to the store if you decide to retire or, worse, become incapacitated. After all, who wants to think about that sort of stuff?

To most pawnbrokers, the business of running a shop is a labor of love. We do what we do because it not only provides us an income, but we truly love doing it. Each day is different, bringing with it our steady return customers along with a host of newcomers and even curious browsers who would never dream of actually buying anything. It is a day filled with new challenges, calling for us to use the talents and skills that we have acquired. The last thing most of us want to think of is the day that they will turn over the reins of the business we have labored in to someone else, even if that someone else is a trusted friend or family member. Giving up that control just isn’t something most of us look forward to and eagerly anticipate. Planning for it is not on the top of our list of things we want to do.

Even if you’ve thought about it or, perhaps, taken some steps to ensure that the business will live on after you leave it, you may be missing some key things that you need to take into consideration. Is a simple will or power of attorney adequate to sustain the business in your absence? Have you chosen to place your business into a trust and, if so, are you aware of the trustee’s ability to run the business during a transition? Does the state (or states) in which you operate have any requirements that would prevent a smooth transition, such as the experience levels, backgrounds, or financial status of your chosen successor(s)? Can your successor(s) obtain other specialty licenses, such as a transferred Federal Firearms Dealer License?

There aren’t a lot of studies available on successful succession planning for the pawn world. With little to point us in the right direction about how to create a smooth succession transition for pawn businesses, though, there are still indicators out there to follow. Fortunately, we are not alone in having to plan for business succession, so we can turn to other industries and occupations in the world of business that have already begun to study succession planning for clues about setting up a process that will result in a smooth transition for our own businesses.  These early planners, although from different industries than ours, have given us some things to both think about incorporating as well as things to avoid in crafting our succession plans.

Borrowing the thoughts and findings from existing academic studies gave us a starting point for a recent NPA survey that I had the pleasure of helping to design. There was a great response rate on that survey and I intend to discuss what the NPA discovered at the upcoming Pawn Expo 2017. I hope that you’ll join me for a fun and informative session.

Becoming a pawnbroker wasn’t something that I had planned on in my life, but when my pawnbroker husband passed away and left half of his store to me, I found myself in a business that I find very rewarding. And, yes, you guessed it; he did not foresee all of the difficulties that I have faced in trying to take over the reins of the business. So, let me give you my perspective on succession planning in our upcoming event. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on succession planning so that I can continue to learn more about it in the world of pawnbroking. This session will take place on Tuesday, July 11, at 3:15 pm at The Mirage in Las Vegas, so make sure to mark your calendars. See you at Pawn Expo 2017!