What Is a Pawn Software Program/System?
Pawn software (or a 'program') is a computer application ('app') that installs on a PC or laptop and is used by pawn shops around the world to manage their businesses including POS. PPSS provides software for Australia, Belize, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Las Vegas, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, The Philippines and The United Kingdom (UK).
Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software is a one-time payment with no annual or monthly prepaid support fees.
Prices of other programs are significantly higher and monthly or annual payments for 'support' are required. (Starting with the 2nd year there is a small annual payment of $175 for software maintenance - not to be confused with 'customer support'.)
Other programs that reside on websites are 'web based' in that they are installed on a remote computer and the shop must have an Internet connection and a web browser to access the program. A (high) endless ever-increasing monthly payment is required.
Cheapest Pawn Software
The 'cheapest' software costs the least up front and over time.
Most software vendors use their websites to hype their products while knowingly and willingly avoid disclosing cost. Assuredly failure to disclose prices and fees warns that the software is expensive way beyond reasonable cost and most pawn owners' budgets.
For most software offerings the initial outlay is only the tip of the priceberg and will only be a fraction of the total cost over the time you expect to be in business.
Even where prices are posted on some pawn-software websites, there can be additional costs after the initial purchase of the software. Some of the add-ons are reasonable if additional features or usage are needed. Others are just price pits covered with branches and leaves for pawn-shop owners to fall into.
While it may not be in your plan at the moment, the day may come when you decide to sell your business. It will be more attractive if the new owner won't be saddled with a huge annual expense for software, or be forced to convert to a different program, have the data converted and have existing employees learn a new system.
Also possibly not on the table is the prospect of multiple stores. How much is it going to cost to add copies or uses of the software at other locations.
Budget-minded shop owners will find the best bargain for competitive and reasonably-priced software and hardware in Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software - marked down to moderate pricing with comparatively low-cost for software maintenance (updates).
Pawn Manager Software
Using software to manage a pawn shop operation has many advantages:
- Most importantly programs for managing pawns keep track of pawn transactions and all information related to pawns: pawners' identification and contact information, the items pawned, dates in and due, the periods or durations of the loans, fees (if any) and interest, and transaction or ticket numbers.
- More complete programs will also have provisions for buy outright (resale), check cashing, payday and title loans, layaways, rentals and military-lending compliance regulations.
- Apps generally print a variety of documents: pawn tickets, buy-outright agreements, price labels and hang tags, sales receipts, police reports, checks and reports for pawns, pawners, inventory, sales and disbursements.
- Typically programs use information (recorded in program setup) to avoid repetitious reentry of default information like shop information, date and currency formats, storage locations for pictures and documents, police/LEADS usernames and passwords, printers, label and tags settings, sales tax, pawn fees and interest, loan periods, legal terminology and shop terms (to be printed on documents).
- Management software can include conveniences like automatic notification of pawns coming due, the printing of pawn-due alerts, and allowance of editing any record's content for specific conditions and exceptions to default values.
- More advanced features include electronic gun logs and ATF requirements, fingerprint, signature and driver-license scanning (for populating a new-client record), picture taking and web-cam support.
- Some programs may only print on preprinted forms and loan agreements. In all states (except Florida) Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software prints all documents on plain paper using an ink printer, saving considerably on paper cost.
- With PPSS employees can be locked out of or granted access to any data. They can be prevented from voiding sales or granting discounts at POS. Each employee can have his or her own cash tray (till) which can be audited in real time. Commissions can be awarded, tracked and paid.
- A unique feature of Pawnbroker Software is an optional consignment module which allows managers to add to inventory at no cost - an attractive feature for new shops needing to stock shelves with merchandise. The system keeps track of items' owners, desired selling prices, lengths of times to hold items, the percentage to be paid to the consignor and consignee and what to do unsold items.
Pawn Software Price
"Price' often gets conflated with 'cost' which are two very different things. The former commonly refers to the up-front cost of getting started while the latter is a sum of all funds paid to a software developer over the span of software use.
Pawn-software pricing can invite misleading advertising. The temptation is to mask (very) high long-term cost with focus on low bait-and-switch start-up price quotes. "Get started for only $99!" might masquerade the real $xx,xxx cost of taking the bait and heading down the road in the wrong direction. Any program that is 'web based' will include perpetual payments and the risk that once locked into the program, payments over time will surely increase.
Price manipulation can be avoided by asking questions up front and getting responses in written word (email) by an identified person authorized to make representations on behalf of the software developer. It's best to get these statements under the name of the owner of the software company. A great question to ask, to cut through the sales hype is "Based upon current pricing structure, how much will I pay to use this software over the next 10 years?" Also, "How much does it cost to use the software on multiple computers or at additional store locations?"
Software developers have ongoing costs in supporting software so it's reasonable to expect that some nominal amount would need to be paid each year for 'software updates' (or 'patches') which deliver bug fixes and minor feature improvements.
Finally, rethink just what is necessary for the software to do. The software provider with advanced features might cost $10,000 over time where a program providing essentials might cost less than $1,000.
How Does Pawn Software Work?
A computer program (software) for pawn shops records data related to pawners, their pawned items and the transactions related to the business of granting collateralized loans.
- Data related to pawners may include any information the store owner and regulators may require: full name, complete address, phone number, employer information, height, weight, eye, hair and skin color, DMDC Certificate ID, Identifying marks (scars, tatoos), pictures, licensed firearms dealer numbers, and usually 2 types of identification.
- Pawned-item information may be an item ID, description, make and model, serial #, category, a barcode and pictures.
- Transactional information is about the loaned money: amount, date of loan, due date for repayment, interest and fees, interest rate.
Software uses (manipulates) the data to process pawns, compute finance charges, account balances, due and late dates. It takes and store pictures (of clients and inventory), produces reports for the shop owner and regulating authorities, and prints price labels and pawn tickets.
In addition to pawns some programs provide for management and processing of check cashing, payday loans, buy-outright (resale), retail (buying from other businesses and reselling), layaways and consignment.
Within the software itself there may be functions or tools for batch processing or otherwise automating routine repetitive tasks like editing inventory, assigning inventory categories and sending payment-due reminders.
Features might also include data management (backup, restore, import).
Software that installs on the shop computer does not require the Internet. It's far less costly because there's just one payment to own the software and any recurring charge of maintenance is minimal.
'Web-based software' does depend upon the Internet. The shop does not own the software but merely rents it. The never-ending monthly payment adds up to a significant cost over time.
Expert Advice on Web-Based Pawn Software
Pawn-shop owners aren't expected to know about Windows, computers, servers, Internet outages, hackers and the inherent risks of making a pawn shop dependent upon 3rd parties, so why not entertain some professional advice about all of those things beforehand?
First of all, check with state and local authorities. Some jurisdictions might prohibit a pawn shop from becoming dependent upon a 'cloud platform' over concerns about data loss or data exposure. Putting client data 'out there' on another's computer (the software provider's server) that you may know nothing about (other than unfounded assurances proferred by the software vendor keen on getting your business) might be unacceptable to those who govern over your business. Moreover any shop owner who goes this route has a moral if not legal obligation to tell every client that his/her information is literally being put at risk of loss or hacking.
How Can I Use Software to Run a Pawn Shop?
Software performs a wide variety of functions, chief among them organization, automation, correct computation of values and some help in deterring employee theft.
Keeping things organized in any business is essential for efficient operation. We don't want employees wasting time hunting for things, especially if it means keeping customers waiting. Software can be used to categorize (organize) inventory into useful groups. 'Saws' might a category and within that category there may be sub categories like jigsaw, circular, table - then inventory reports can be run: "How may chain saws do we have in store?".
Separating inventory into categories makes it possible to treat each category individually for things like taxation, tax exempt, tax-free, tax above some dollar amount. A handy feature is using multiple label printers and designating which printer to use given a category. (Use printer #1 when printing barbell jewelry labels for all items in the categories 'jewelry', 'watches', 'rings'. Use printer #2 to print 2x1 non-adhesive hang tags for trigger guards on all guns categorized under handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc.
Categorized items can be tagged with 'locations' as to where they are stored (bin #6, top shelf, warehouse 12-2) making finding items quick and efficient. Conversely, within software, items may be found by running a report based upon categories but more commonly items are found by search Item ID or Description.
A stalwart feature of software is organizing pawn and buy outright transactions by ticket #, date created, date due and so forth. Managing transactions by grouping makes retrieval of information efficient. "How many pawns did we process this month?" "Which pawns are coming due this week?" "How much have we paid out today in buy outright purchases?"
Organization of a business is nearly second to the time save by automating repetitive tasks. How many things are done on a daily basis that are merely repeats of the same actions and tasks?
- Add a new client record.
- Print out a pawn or buy outright agreement.
- Compute due dates, applicable interest, data backup, price labels and hang tags, receipts, invoices
- Process sales and credit-card transactions.
- Send reminder notices of pawns coming due.
- Count inventory: Do it by hand? Takes days. Do it with a computer? Takes seconds.
- How did the store do today? this week? this month? Tabulate that manually and it will take hours and will often be incorrect. Use a computer to produce the same results in seconds and more often than not the end results will be accurate to the penny.
- Got employees? How are you going to know if they are stealing from you? Cameras will let you observe but do you have time to watch hours of video looking for evidence? With software employees start with an amount of money at the beginning of the day, process transactions, end with an amount at the end of the day. Software will let you know if they match.
- Software can also allow you to prevent employees from voiding sales transactions and pocketing the money. The common occurrence is to process a cash sale, take the money from the customer, void the same and keep the net. Software can prevent voids.
- Another way employees steal from employers is to grant discounts at POS and pocket the difference between the sale price and the discounted price. Software can allow you to prevent employees from granting discounts and require that a supervisor authorize such transactions.
- How long would it take by long hand to tally up the month's totals, determine profit and know that the end result is dependable? Store owners currently using software for such things might rather close the doors than have to be burdened with this monumental task.
All of these things are automated with the implementation of software - a program installed on the computer and specifically designed for use by pawn-shop owners and employees to speed things up, keep things organized, eliminate errors and make the business of processing loans, buying merchandise outright and processing sales quick, efficient and accurate.
What Are the Risks of Web-Based Software?
- Running a business on the Internet makes the shop dependent upon it's Internet connection, the software provider's Internet service and the Internet itself. The latter is under government control so while you might trust the current people in charge...
- The shop is dependent upon a second computer provided by the software vendor. Where it is located? Who owns it? What's the degree of reliability? What security measures are in place? No matter what they are, all of these concerns are added worry about data preservation and privacy. All of this can be avoided of course by purchasing a software program (like Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software) that installs on shop computers and does not require the Internet. Staying off the WWW is the only 'guarantee' that hackers can't get it.
- An unforeseen risk (that doesn't come to mind when shopping software price) is increasing costs. How much will it cost to add extra users? Licenses? Locations? The unspoken risk is an increase in the monthly payment. Can the software provider raise the price in the future? If so, what's the likelihood that once locked into the software, you'll be subjected to price increases?
- Another concern is ownership of your data. If you decide to dump a software vendor, does he or she have control over your data? Will your data be released to you so it can be transferred to the new software?
Someone's 'word' won't be sufficient to stave off future attempts to add to cost or hijack your data. Before jumping in it's best to read the developer's EULA (End-User License Agreement). Therein you will find the true disclosure of risk, which vendors often vehemently deny any responsibility for in using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IN THEIR DENOUNCEMENTS.
If web-based software is oh so reliable and secure, why don't software vendors share in the risk of this shaky platform?
New Pawn Software Tools
Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software includes a module for processing and managing payday loans. There are currently 2 formats and others may be configured as needed:
- Lend the net amount of the loan: For example, if the loan is for $100 and the loan charge is $20, the borrower would be issued a loan for $80.
- Add the loan fee to the amount to be borrowed. Give the lender $100 and collect $120. Collection is usually in the form of receiving a post-dated check dated for the due date in the amount of the loan + interest.
Improved Search Functions
In the program under User Interface options can be set to search for people (buyers, clients, employees) by name or ID, disbursements by 'paid by' or 'paid to', inventory by ID1, ID2, Description or Loan ID, Sales by invoice # or name, and pawns by ID or name. Under each table in each work area, click in the search box and starting typing a name, number or other search parameter. As each character is entered, the list of possible matches reduces to those entries matching the letters or numbers entered. When using a drop-down menu, pressing the first letter or number of the entry sought will move the cursor to the first matching entry.
Customizable 'Free' Pawn Forms
The amount spent on preprinted pawn forms adds up to thousands of dollars over time for the average pawn shop. The cost increases when changes make stock obsolete, requiring repurchasing new forms. Except in the State of Florida, Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software can be printed on plain 8.5 x 11 paper (with boilerplate terminology copied on the reverse side). It is possible to have the pawn ticket customized to print 2 tickets per page. While slight more ink would be used for the ink printer, the cost savings amounts to again, thousands of dollars, over time. When changes are required, the file read by the program to create the ticket can be edited and the changes will appear on the next print.
Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software includes several options for reporting pawn transactions to local and state law enforcement as well as to regional and national reporting agencies:
- A report of each pawn transaction may be printed and physically given the local police.
- An electronic file (spreadsheet) can be created and emailed to the police or LEADS Online or local reporting agencies.
- With the 24k edition of Pawnbroker Pawn Shop Software data may be sent to LEADS via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) with the press of a link.
- For regional reporting, the software can be modified (configured) as needed.
Is Pawn Software Complicated?
In pawn there are only a few moving parts: Create a record for a new client. Enter the items being pawned. Print the pawn ticket and get it signed. Print labels for the items, or not. Store items somewhere out of public view so they won't be inadvertently sold before forfeit and any grade holding period. Send reminder notices of pawns coming due - if required by authorities or as a courtesy. Redeem pawns or extend them. Forfeit pawns that exceed the loan and grace periods. Sell inventory. Print receipts. Create reports. Report to the police or some reporting agency like LEADS Online. Repeat.
Is pawn software complicated? Simple programs are no more confusing than the actual pawn process. Pawn software seems to become complicated when those offering programs either do a poor job of designing user interfaces and/or conclude that more bells and whistles will increase sales appeal.
A well-designed and implemented software actually automates repetitive tasks, computes correct values every time, organizes inventory, makes the printing of labels and tags, receipt, pawn tickets and reports a simple process and consolidates information for any period of time into easily understood presentations in the form of reports, onscreen and in printed form.
Software vendors pushing ultra-high prices for their wares would have you believe that pawn software should do all of those things and more. If police reporting is relatively easy and the whole process of communicating with and dealing with the public is pretty much automated, do you really need to pay $2,000 every year one software allows for texts to be sent from within the program to pawners regarding pawns coming due and other communications? Roger. Some pawn-store owners fall prey to the 'If it costs more it must be better' way of thinking but such folks may not be so good at math either. The purpose of running most pawn shops is to maximize profit and giving a chuck of profits to a software developer for faddish functions won't win awards from the Wharton School of Business.
A key note of any good software program is the money saved by replacing high-priced thieving employees with computerization. With a larger monitor a shop owner can run his business on one half of his computer screen and watch his favorite sports team on the other half while saving a ton of money in wages and stolen property, not to mention forgoing the headaches of managing people. Software never gets sick. Doesn't show up late. Doesn't pilfer from the till and you don't have to listen to boring details of disinteresting lives.
Software simplifies your business, simplifies life and the meager cost is well worth it, unless of course the high-pressure sales pitches of the extremely expensive programs get the best of you.
Pawn Shop Inventory
Computerization of a pawn business is the modern, efficient and accurate way of managing and controlling the thousands of items in inventory. Organization saves time, improves customer and employee experiences and helps to build a customer base by presenting a professional image while making the experience of pawning one that many clients will be encouraged to repeat.
Each item in inventory is given an 'ID #' (identification number) and is known to shop owners and employees by that designation. With software and in manual operations, each item can be found in inventory records by its ID.
Every piece of merchandise can have a 'record' which is a file containing information about the item: its origin, description, price paid or loan amount granted, dates for when it came into the shop, when it was redeemed, forfeited or sold. (The pawn record can include a history of activity related to the item, including payments of interest, payments on principal, dates and outstanding balance.)
Inventory is managed efficiently with the use of categories - grouping items together by type. Large general category examples are vehicles, boats, equipment, firearms, electronics, outdoors, tools, metals and jewelry. General categories provide an overview of all pawned, purchased and forfeited stock but lack usefulness when creating inventory reports. Often more specific cataloging is employed to provide details about store wares. For example, firearms could be separated into antiques, collectibles, handguns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, tactical and black powder. A group like shotguns could be subdivided into single shot, over/under, double, break, pump, semi - although software might allow for subdivisions to be included as part of each gun's description vs adding complexity to the list of categories.
Using categorization with software allows for the application of variables to any category. A certain group of items may be tax free or placed on special discount. A category may be assigned a specific printer to avoid having to switch labels or tags when printing price labels for different types of stock. One printer might print a jewelry barbell label while another might print a 2 x 1 hang tag for trigger guards on guns. An item's category designation would let the program know to which printer to send the print job.
Location is another means of identifying, organizing and finding items in stock, and can be a part of the item record. Where is item 42-1? View the item record to see its location designation.
Dividing merchandise into groups is helpful for reporting - reports for the shop owner as well as reports to legal authorities (like the local police, a national database repository and/or the ATF). While the police might want a report on every item that comes into the store, the ATF, for example, only wants to hear about guns. Software is also available to automatically send daily reports to national databases like LEADS Online.