So You want to be a locksmith?
Being a Locksmith can be a very rewarding job indeed, But like all jobs it has its ups and downs. I’ve wrote this short Blog to Let you know the pitfalls you might come across and how to avoid them.
You will wear different hats throughout your career as a locksmith and I don’t mean swapping from your cap in the summer to your woolen hat in the winter, What I mean by this is you will have different roles to play as a Locksmith. You will be a councillor, accountant, web developer, customer service advisor, advertising agent, salesman and last but not least A Locksmith! its not an easy job and its not a get rich quick and easy path to success. but what it will offer you is the freedom of self employment, the autonomy of being your own boss, and a great sense of self satisfaction
We will assume that you want to work for yourself and not for an employer. You will need to advertise your services. This is purposely the first topic of discussion because its possibly the toughest part and the biggest pitfall of many a “wannabe” Locksmith.
First things first .. Training
You need training. Can you call yourself a locksmith if you fit the odd lock and drill the odd lock now and then? Well you can call yourself a locksmith but nobody else will. There’s a lot more to the job than turning up and using the quickest and cheapest method to gain entry to the customers home that your mate has showed you . its about assessing each situation individually and doing what is best for the customer at that time. No two jobs are the same. There are training providers all over the UK and very easy to find with a quick search on Google, What I will say is research the company you use very thoroughly before you use them and check out any good or bad references they may have. You could alternatively look for an apprentiship or somebody to be your mentor it may be a bit trickier to attain but you will learn on the job and know the ins and outs of everyday life of a locksmith.
The industry is constantly changing and you need to always be at the top of your game. network with other locksmiths and don’t be afraid to ask questions they can provide priceless knowledge when you need it the most.
Like all sectors you will have quiet times. Are you going to sit in the house and watch the TV? Most Locksmiths when they first start out offer other services like home security, Drain unblocking or general property maintenance so that when business is slow you have an alternative source of income
Advertising your services
Online presence is essential in the success of any Locksmith business and you will be competing against big players with large budgets that already have their foot well and truly wedged in the door and they are not going to roll over and die easily. Below I’ve listed a few online methods and some of their pros and cons to save you some of the time, effort and money I’ve spent ..
Your own website – Websites are essential in any modern day business, Its the face of your business. Get one! or build one , you will need one. I built my own website without any previous experience. Read a book and look on YouTube because website developers are expensive. To show your website on Google searches you will have to let them know you exist by verifying your website so it can be indexed then optimise your website so that it ranks higher up the search results. the great thing about personally optimising your website is its totally free . I’m not going to go fully in depth with this subject in this blog as its very intensive and detailed. Take the time to research because the more effort you put in to this method of advertising the more you will reap the benefits.
Yell.com-I Find it a quick fix and a short term method of getting your phone ringing. But again like all internet advertising the big companies have the monopoly. Yell are partners with Google and you may have noticed they sit proudly at the top of the rankings. they don’t pay pennies to sit their and if you want to be their with them they will charge you a premium.
Yell have sponsored listings owned by the big players with a waiting list that’s very long, local search Position 1 is the ad that shows first every single time you search that classification within your desired city they are expensive (around £5500 per annum) then there is position two and three which will be obviously second and third place then newly introduced there is now position four or as yell like to call it local VIP these ads aren’t particularly expensive and I personally find them great for local advertising within a mile of your home or office.
PPC ( Pay per click) advertising– Pay per click, Exactly what it says on the tin.. Every time somebody clicks on your ad you pay! We will use Google Adwords as an example, On Google at the top of the search results (before yell and natural listings) these ads will show the larger your budget the more likely you will show here, I personally don’t use Adwords as I find it too time consuming and expensive in comparison with Website organic SEO
Social networking- Millions of people connect and socialise through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, Advertise your services on pages such as local buy and sell pages and make sure you add a link to your website as this helps your online organic presence that we have previously discussed in this blog. Let all your Facebook and twitter friends know what you do but don’t over do it and scare them away ( nobody likes workaholics)
Estate agents – Estate agents, landlords, and property management firms will always need Locksmith services. Get yourself some business cards and a list of services, write down all the local estate agents in your area and get in your car and talk to them. Most estate agents will give you a small job to test you then give you the better stuff as and when you prove yourself. They can be a great source of income but you may have to invoice them and wait on your cash and if cash flow is an issue this is a no go.
Word of mouth- Totally Free method of advertising so just one job is 100% profit. Tell all your friends and family because everybody uses locksmiths at some point or knows somebody that will and your name should be at the front of their mind.
Leaflet dropping- You can get some great deals on leaflet printing, if you offer another service to your customers use this method to advertise it and add a small part about your locksmith services, for example I do double glazing repairs but on my leaflets I have a small image at the bottom of my leaflets that say “24hour emergency locksmith service”. Why not?
Local paper- If you were locked out of your house would you go and buy a paper and look through the classifieds in the back for a locksmith? no you wouldn’t take a look at the site here. You could place a small ad for other services you provide such as Lock upgrades, home security awareness and Lock changes, but don’t spend big in this area hoping for lock out customers.
Warrant work– Some love it and some hate it. It can be the bread and butter to your business sandwich or it can take away the main reason you started out by yourself.. The Freedom, If the company you do the work for calls and you are busy elsewhere will they call you next time they need a locksmith? The pay isn’t brilliant but moneys money in business. My tip here is try it and if you like it do it and if you don’t? don’t do it.
Vehicle signage- As a locksmith you will drive around a lot so what better way to advertise your services other than a great big lump of meatl your sitting in. Make sure your website and means of contacting you are clear.
Start up costs
You will need ..
Training Costs– If you use a training course provider you will pay around £1500 if you do an apprentiship and you will more than likely be paid but it will take longer.
Tools– Locksmith tools aren’t cheap and the cost of this all depends on what you want you don’t necessarily need an electric pick gun but it will make your jobs a lot quicker and easier. With the industry constantly changing you will always have to invest in new technology.
Van – Depending on what other services you provide you wont need a lot of space so a small car derived van should be suffice.
Insurances- You will need liability insurance and Van insurance
Advertising- Again, a price cant be put on this. You could spend thousands of pounds on the wrong method of advertising the key here is to monitor which method works for you and what your ROI (Return on investment) is. Different methods work for some and don’t work for others.
Website building- I built mine for under £100. You woll need to buy your web domain ( the website address) and hosting.
Self discipline– You need to be able to make the best of your time, if you run your own advertising and you do your own accounting you need to set aside some of your time for this. treat it like a job.. if you wake up when you fancy and go to bed late and watch TV and neglect your business. IT WILL FAIL. or you are incredibly lucky. If you put in the hard work and effort you will reap the rewards.
Customer service – Brilliant customer service is paramount in creating a brilliant reputation that will create repeat custom. Treat every customer like you would like to be treated yourself, be friendly and go the extra mile every time ( but remember you have a business to run).
Before you go off and write your notice and slam it on the bosses desk ask yourself these questions
Do you have what it takes?
Why? why do you want to be a locksmith? is it for the right reasons?
Where? Does your local area need another locksmith? areas like central London are overrun by locksmith firms and its an incredibly competitive place to be.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and I hope it helps you decide whether to join the crazy world of locksmiths or not
Owner of DR locks & Double glazing repairs
Tyne and wear