Sales

Inside the interlocking world of Lego resales

A business owner uses Slack to connect a remote community of experts

Bricks and Minifigs hero

Who would have guessed that the world of Lego buying and reselling can be as volatile as the stock market?

John Masek, CEO of Bricks and Minifigs
John Masek, CEO of Bricks and Minifigs

 

“The average Lego set is only on the market for about two years,” says John Masek, CEO of retail franchise Bricks and Minifigs, with 38 locations across the US and Canada. “There are a lot of pricing ups and downs because a Lego could disappear off the shelf at any time, so it’s important that our store owners update each other if certain pieces are suddenly retiring, or are hard to find, or if a new set is coming out that might affect the value of something that’s already out there.”

“For a store owner to be able to reach out on Slack and say, ‘Hey, I had somebody walk in with this. Anyone had one recently?’ And get an answer within five minutes: That could be the difference between making $500 on something and making $1,500,” says Masek.

Since introducing Slack several years ago, the company has helped store owners turn it into their personal real-time Lego information exchange. In public Slack channels like #identify-this and #pricing-to-sell, resellers help each other spot rare pieces and share tips about the most fair and competitive market rates. They also have a direct line to the corporate team, Masek included, by virtue of having their own private channels with them.

“For a store owner to be able to reach out on Slack and say, ‘Hey, I had somebody walk in with this. Anyone had one recently?’ And get an answer within five minutes: That could be the difference between making $500 on something and making $1,500,” says Masek.

Building the Bricks and Minifigs network on Slack channels

Masek’s philosophy on organizing everyone’s work is to keep channels specific and manageable.

There are 15 public channels, mostly for the franchise owners to exchange tips and information, and about 40 private channels, roughly one for each individual store to have a direct line of communication with the corporate team. “Store owners know they can reach out to us any time they need support,” says Masek. “We tell them we’ll reply in 48 hours, though usually the most they’ll wait is an hour. Slack has probably been the best tool possible for making them feel like they have our ear.”

But public channels are mostly the domain of store owners, and where they congregate to advise each other on everything from pricing to marketing strategies.

 

channel conversation

 

Masek gives us a quick tour of some of their most popular channels.

 

channel list

 

Masek found another clever use of public channels: gathering data to help make business decisions, and giving store owners visibility into how and why those decisions were made. One of the best examples he has is around requests for extra budget to use towards advertising. “Store owners ask us for this sort of thing all the time, but we have to decide how beneficial these ideas would be to all the stores,” says Masek.

Now, he’s integrated Polly — an app that allows you to quickly post survey questions to a Slack channel — so he can gauge the desire or need for a request on a wider level. “Everybody can chime in and very quickly we can see how the scales tip,” he notes. “So it helps us figure out what are unique opportunities for particular stores and what ideas might be useful to roll out to the entire company. We’ve never had that before.”

Most of all, Masek observes that the free exchange of ideas and information has allowed store owners to create a supportive community oriented around their mutual success.

“I think it’s too easy in the franchise world to feel like the franchise has all the power,” says Masek. “With Slack, we’re able to get people’s buy-in every step of the way. And that’s made all the difference.”

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Lima Al-Azzeh has lots of fond memories of challenging her sister to build the tallest Lego tower (and then knocking hers over).

Slack is the collaboration hub, where the right people are always in the loop and key information is always at their fingertips. Teamwork in Slack happens in channels — searchable conversations that keep work organized and teams better connected.