Do you have hidden gems concealed in your longstanding product offerings? Taking a new perspective on buying and selling patterns established over nearly quarter of a century at Cash Converters Southern Africa made CEO Richard Mukheibir realise a business lesson he needed to put into practice – and one he felt worth sharing with any other SA businesses looking for a wakeup call that can help them grow in today’s slow economy.

Reinventing your brand to keep it fresh and successful means everything from refreshing your logo to sharpening your strategic vision, he believes. That led him to relook the company’s product offerings and spot the gap where they could supply better.

“Dealing in second-hand jewellery has always been a sideline for us, another minor part of the product mix we offer,” he says. “But as the vintage trend took root in South Africa, we realised that instead of just ticking over and maybe not even earning its floor space, this could potentially be a good earner for us.”

In just six months, the 13 pilot stores have already significantly outstripped their annual target and other franchisees in the group are clamouring to join the initiative.

Mukheibir has broken the experience down into five key learnings:
Extend the brand: The typical Cash Converters customer tends to be about 40 years old and male. But improving the jewellery offering, the company realised, could attract more female customers. It chose to start by focusing the extended product range on fashionable silver items to cater to women in their 20s.

Establish a support team: Mukheibir did not hesitate to bring in expertise in this area, recruiting Scott Townsley to project manage the initiative. This enabled the company to leverage Townsley’s 21 years of experience in the jewellery industry with the likes of American Swiss and Arthur Kaplan. One of Townsley’s first moves was to establish alliances with jewellery workshops to machine polish second-hand jewellery and give the customer the reassurance of a third-party valuation certificate that can also be used for insurance purposes.

Price smart: Pricing reselling of second-hand jewellery at about half of retail prices for new products created bargains at the company’s jewellery counters. This made them all the more tempting to customers already attracted by their sparkling, nearly-new state and vastly improved display.
Display, display, display: Jewellery was previously mixed into the company’s display of other small, high-value items. Townsley pulled it out of there into a standalone display and devised a common merchandising formula, including layout and props such as charcoal-coloured display fabric to show off the jewellery to its best.

Success breeds success: “Jewellery is a luxury item, part of a consumer’s discretionary spend after the basics of food and clothing,” Townsley says. This means that sales staff need some creative flair as well as understanding the advantages of merchandising together a chain and bracelet that are part of a set. Staff also need to have the personality to interact positively with customers, as well as having confidence instilled in them thanks to being well briefed and trained to deal with questions during the selling process. The product-knowledge training introduced includes understanding hallmarks, basic familiarity with semi-precious stones and understanding the most popular types of purchases, from trending silver pieces to solitaire engagement rings.

The outcome of this initiative has been a win-win, says Mukheibir – enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and a jump in the company’s jewellery business, with the new-look displays being rolled out as quickly as possible across the group.

“The initiative only needs minor realignments on the shop floor and implementation can be slotted into the company’s workflow without major disruption,” he says. “This brand extension required minimal investment for useful rewards. It shows how it pays businesses to re-examine opportunities that could be sitting under their noses.”

About Cash Converters
Cash Converters Southern Africa was co-founded in 1994 when Richard Mukheibir (Chief Executive Officer) and Peter Forshaw (Chief Financial Officer) bought the licence to establish a master franchise of the Australian brand, the world leader in trading and marketing second-hand goods and now the world’s largest cash and asset converter. Cash Converters Southern Africa purchases merchandise from customers, enabling them to have instant access to cash. Since 2007, it has also offered short-term loans against a customer’s valuables or against their salary. Cash Converters Southern Africa is built on a solid foundation of franchisee owner-operators, guided by core values of passion, professionalism, integrity, respect and collaboration. It has already empowered nearly 100 franchisees to run their own businesses and create their own wealth. Each franchise store, in turn, provides job opportunities for an average of 12 employees, each supporting about five other people. This network of businesses is supported by robust processes and systems and ongoing training programmes for franchisees and staff.

The dynamic growth of up to 20% per annum has created more than 84 Cash Converters stores in Southern Africa (as at 1 January 2018). These stores will have a combined annual turnover in excess of R1.7bn across all products and services in 2018.

They are part of the rapidly expanding Cash Converters International network of more than 740 stores around the world. These can be found in such diverse countries as Australia, the founding country, the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand and the UAE, as well as France. Cash Converters Southern Africa was a finalist for the Franchise Association of South Africa Franchisor of the Year Awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016.