It’s hard to miss the giant royal blue and yellow signs with the Amscot Financial name popping up around Miami-Dade County.
If founder and Chief Executive Officer Ian McKechnie’s growth plan succeeds, you’ll be seeing a lot more of the signs and the Amscot branches, whose services include check cashing, money transfers, bill payment and cash advances.
Over the course of the last year, Amscot started its growth in Miami-Dade by opening 18 branches. Plans over the next two years call for 50 additional locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The expansion is slated to result in more than 500 new jobs in addition to the 75 jobs that now exist in Miami.
McKechnie estimates the company will invest more than $20 million in opening new locations between now and 2014.
Store openings will span locations across the region, including Florida City, Coral Gables, Westchester, Miami Gardens, Davie, Pembroke Pines and Tamarac. The company already has about 25 signed leases with openings scheduled at a rate of two stores per month
“When you’re building a brand you have to get critical mass to support it,” McKechnie said. “You have to invest first and foremost if you want to build a top retailer.”
The company will celebrate its South Florida expansion Saturday with the opening of its new corporate training center in Hialeah at 885 W. 49th St., at the site of a branch that opened last month.
Amscot is a family-owned chain that McKechnie founded in Tampa in 1989. Since then, he has grown the company to 194 stores and more than 2,000 employees. The company boasted $6 billion in transaction volume last year. Prior to opening its first Miami store in March 2012, Amscot’s focus was on the I-4 corridor in Central Florida stretching from Tampa to Orlando.
But like any retail business owner, McKechnie knows that profits are all about volume. With the large population density in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale markets, this area was a natural for expansion.
“You either grow the business or you die,” McKechnie said. “Eventually we plan to be in every part of Florida. We just grow by demand. We’re not creating the demand. We’re just serving it.”
In an industry that gets criticized for charging exorbitant rates to low-income customers, the Amscot business model aims to borrow some of the pages from the Walmart playbook. Branches are open 365 days a year with hours at least from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
About one-quarter of the stores are open 24 hours and the company will start rolling out 24-hour stores in South Florida early this year.
“We’re all about convenience,” McKechnie said. “We try to keep our prices low. . We’re helping folks who need these services. We’re proud of the fact that we don’t take advantage of anyone.”