Employees as Advertising


There’s an old adage about advertising that I still remember to this day:

Probably half of the advertising dollars you spend are wasted…and you don’t know which half it is.

So instead of frustrating myself more, I stopped advertising and focused on my employees. I became the sole responsible party for all new employees from the initial interview of a CSR (break-in employee) to managers and supervisors. I knew what kind of people I wanted working for me and the only way that could happen was to control the process. 

About eight years ago I sat down with Jim Sud, then COO of Whole Foods North America, and I asked him about his employees and the entire hiring process (Whole Foods is a well-known leader in employee happiness and satisfaction). He said, “I look for personalities. I don’t care what you look like or how many tattoos you have or what kind of experience you have – we will train you to be technically sound. But I can’t create a personality. At the end of every interview, I said to myself – ‘Would I want to work with that person every day?’ If the answer was yes, then we advanced him/her forward.” I took that advice to heart and still feel its relevant today – especially for pawnshops. And here’s why:

74% of all retail customers identify word-of-mouth as the key influencing factor in a purchasing decision

That statistic alone is why I’m so adamant about having the manager in front of the counter in the “Manager’s Circle.” I want control over the engagement of my employees with our customers. I want consistency in behavior from all of our staff – especially when it comes interacting with those customers. If the store manager is on the sales floor, constantly monitoring all transactions and employee behavior, then customer engagement improves.     

Consistency vs. Conformity

Like Mr. Sud from Whole Foods, I don’t care what race, gender, or demographic my employees came from, I wanted smiles and commitment to customers. USA is still a melting pot, so your staff should be one as well. And just like I recommend to owners not to micro-manage their managers, the same holds true for the managers themselves. Allow personalities to shine through, but continue to monitor the process and step in when necessary. Remember: the best advertising you have are your people.