Q:) Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A:) Crown Gold Exchange provides an easy and local solution for people who are looking to sell their unwanted gold, silver, platinum, coins and diamonds. Our friendly staff provides personal, one-on-one evaluations and purchases items instantly in our stores. We have 10 locations throughout Southern California and are the largest gold buyer in the area. We are located in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA., Riverside, CA., Chino, CA., Ontario, CA., Redlands, CA., San Bernardino, CA., Carlsbad, CA., Palm Desert, CA., Hemet, CA., and Corona, CA.
Q:) Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A:) I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. With this passion I graduated with a Business degree from Cal State University, Fullerton. From there I’ve launched several successful (and some not so successful) companies with my business partner, Brock Ward, including Crown Gold Exchange. In our first 12 months of business we went from just one location to seven locations throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties paying Southern Californians almost $4 million dollars. To date, we’ve paid out $50 million dollars and counting.
Q:) What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A:) I have a background in financial services and worked in the consumer lending industry for 8 years before opening Crown Gold Exchange. Being self-employed in the mortgage industry in 2010, it became increasingly difficult to provide my customers with competitive solutions in a regulations-hungry industry. This prompted a look at new opportunities which is where we founded Crown Gold Exchange. Call it luck or foresight, but that year gold went from $1,250/ounce to almost $1,900/ounce-the largest increase of gold prices in history.
Q:) What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
- Have a roadmap. Develop a strategy that will make your company successful by putting the customer first and stick to it. Don’t try to be all things to all people-that will stretch your resources too thin for a budding business.
- Develop a system that you can teach to other people to make yourself replaceable. Too many entrepreneurs say things like, “Oh, I’ll just do that myself”. Yes, the entrepreneur CAN do it themselves, but doing so takes more time than the day gives. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt after hiring my first employee and letting him work without my supervision. Yes I was a bit nervous, but I knew that because of the proper training and systems I had put in place, everything was going to be ok. This gave me time to work ON my business instead of IN my business. The sooner you can replace yourself, the sooner you have a real business.
- Don’t wait to be perfect. A good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow. There will always be room for improvement in any business but if you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never get anywhere. Some of the very best business plans I’ve invested in never get anywhere because the owner is always waiting for something. Waiting for the website to be finished. Waiting for more funding. Waiting to get more training. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Stop waiting and get moving.
Q:) What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Be optimistic. Of course people want your product or service because it’s YOU. They can’t get you anywhere else.
- Be persistent. Did the customer say “No?”, or have they just not said “Yes” yet? Most of the time, customers are just unsure about what they want. It’s your job to stay persistent and help them make the right decision.
- Be honest and helpful. If your product or service isn’t the right fit for a potential customer, point them in the right direction. Your goodwill will spread and it will go further than you may think.
Q:) How many hours do you work a day on average?
A:) I work about 8-10 hours per day on average. However, my day is never done. It’s difficult to own several companies and not be thinking about ways to constantly make them better.
Q:) To what do you most attribute your success?
A:) I attribute most of my success to the people I have working for me. Most of our employees have worked for us for several years.
Q:) How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A:) What I’ve found to be the number one way to get new customers is the location of our business. Having street frontage on busy streets is some of the most expensive real estate to lease, but it’s worth the money. It’s the fastest and easiest way for people to know that you exist. I consider our commercial lease expenses to be part of our marketing budget because it means I need to spend less marketing dollars elsewhere.
The second best form of marketing is staying in touch with your existing customers so they become repeat clients. Studies show that getting a new customer costs 5x more than getting your existing customers to come back. Stay in touch with them via email, social media, and even direct mail.
The third best form of marketing for us has been online. Making an online presence takes a lot of work and I would recommend using an SEO company to help manage your online presence. Additionally, getting online reviews is crucial. So many people read reviews and if you ignore them, you’ll lose potential customers. Be sure to claim your business profiles and respond to your good and bad reviews.
Q:) Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A:) Luckily all our businesses have been self-funded. We started with a small amount of savings and risked it all to start this venture. Yes it’s risky, but what’s the worst that could happen? The business would fail and I’d have to actually get a job! That’s not so bad. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you see opportunities everywhere and there’s always another chance to try again.
Q:) What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A:) Always think in terms of what’s best for the company and keep it well-funded. If you have extra money in your business account, is it better to take it out for yourself, or is it better to use that money for hiring more people, buying better equipment, investing in better systems, or somehow improving your business?
Q:) Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A:) I hope to continue searching new business opportunities in the next 5-10 years and to have several successful companies. As long as we continue implementing our core strategy of putting our customers first and giving them what they need, Crown Gold Exchange should do great.
Q:) Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A:) I admire any company that takes great pride in their employees and their brand. One that comes to mind is In-N-Out burger. For a company that started in 1948, they have never closed a location. The company’s owner, Lynsi Snyder (36), prides herself on taking care of her employees. Her company consistently ranks at the top in job satisfaction. In-N-out also selflessly gives an incredible amount of money to charity and they don’t even want credit for it.
Q:) How important have good employees been to your success?
A:) Good employees are essential to any thriving business. The best employees will offer suggestions on how to improve your business. Take those recommendations seriously. They are the ones face-to-face with YOUR customers.
Q:) How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A:) If you’re going to do something new, do it as if you’re going to keep doing it. If you treat it like an experiment then it’s likely to be labeled a failure. However, if its not giving you the results you expected after 3-6 months, then maybe that wasn’t the right decision.
One idea we had was to start purchasing gift cards along with gold, silver, diamonds and coins. This opened a new product category which could potentially get more customers in the door. We were hoping that if someone sold us a gift card, they might also have extra gold to sell as well. After about 6 months, we reviewed the program and decided to stop buying gift cards. Although it brought us more business, it did not bring us more gold. The customers were either gift card customers or gold customers, seldom both. The gift card customers ended up taking more of our employees time, caused more fraud, and overall caused more commotion than it was worth.
Q:) What motivates you?
A:) I’d like to have the opportunity one day to not worry about money and to have enough to give away to those who need it the most. Look at Bill Gates. He has more money than he knows what to do with and he spends it helping the poorest people in the world. Doing something like that would bring me more satisfaction than growing the most successful company.
Q:) What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A:) My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is my flexible schedule. I like being able to attend my kids’ activities or leave early on a Friday. I know what needs to get done and if I don’t do that then my business pays the price.
Q:) In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q:) How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A:) I struggle with the work-life balance because there’s always something to do at work. Sometimes I’m working at a great pace and I have to stop because I need to get home. I could easily work until 11pm every night if my wife let me.