Ways to expand your locksmith business

By Troy Johnston.

Having been in the locksmith industry for the last 17 years, I would consider myself well entrenched, but not yet a veteran. After many years purely focusing on mechanical security, I slowly began the transition into the world of electronic security. Scary I know, but it can be done!

When a customer comes into your shop or calls you on the phone, who do you think will have a better chance of making a sale, the individual that offers a holistic approach to security or the individual that specialises in one facet only? In my mind, the former and not the latter has the upper hand. Customers are sick and tired of trying to arrange multiple companies to achieve one goal. If you can make it easier for the customer you have already won the sale.

When I started working for myself I had a very limited client base and due to the basic necessity of putting food on the table, I toyed with a lot of things that were not what one would call ‘bread and butter’ locksmithing. Initially this was somewhat nerve-racking, however, I think most locksmiths would be surprised at their existing skill set and how easily it can be applied to expand their business’s products and services.

Diversification is essential to furthering your business revenue once a certain point has been reached. If your business has reached its peak potential as far as sales in one area, you have few options left to increase revenue. The obvious option – stealing a competitor’s business – is often costly and usually leads to fruitless price wars for everyone. A more constructive option is to expand the products and services your business offers.

Start by thinking logically of all things security related and of the types of security being used in conjunction with your existing locksmithing work. Doors, windows, gates and so forth are all secured by some sort of physical means designed to help prevent unauthorised entry. The next step is to enhance this level of security, or allow someone to be notified if this level of security is breached. The final addition would be to enable someone to view the area being secured and see events as they occur or to authorise events once a visual confirmation has been made.

Doors and windows are an easy addition. The job of replacing doors after a break-in or simply a security upgrade is often passed on to carpenters or handymen when it simply does not need to be. As a locksmith, you are often on site to replace the lock, why not mention the fact that the client has a hollow core door, particularly if this has been damaged during a break-in and would be replaced anyway. Buy yourself an electric plane, cut the door down and simply chisel the hinges in before you fit the lock. Sounds challenging? It’s not really if you are capable of fitting a mort ice lock or servicing a safe.

Windows – you might say, “I’m not a glazier.” Think of security film, mirrored tint and so forth. Obviously you are not going to apply film to the whole building, but a small window in the office or secure area is easily accomplished.

Security grills and bars is another avenue that you can pursue when analysing a customer’s needs. You do not need to secure a whole property with security screens and doors, but offering a custom-made grill to a problematic area can be easily done and provides yet another reason to shine in your customer’s eyes.

The world of electronic security can then be entered into once most of the physical facets have been analysed. A great way to start is with wireless alarms that can be programmed on the bench before going to the site, then simply fitted off and turned on once you are finished. Talk to your supplier about what options are available, pricing, and how to obtain some training before quoting or installing them for customers.

Another option is to install a wireless alarm in your shop or home; this will allow you some hands-on experience while enabling you to talk to your clients about the features and benefits you found. There is no better advertising then actually using what you are trying to sell to your own customers. Make a phone call to several monitoring companies and discuss with them what options are available to you and the associated costs and obligations that need to be met in order for your business to have alarms monitored. You might be pleasantly surprised how easy this can be and the potential financial rewards that monitoring alarms can bring. Also, discuss what options are available as far as
self-monitoring for your customers with your supplier; this is easily achieved these days with SMS and GPRS technology.

Security lighting can also be investigated with the help of an electrician. If you do wish to pursue electronic security, it is advisable to find an electrician you can use regularly for the installation of power points and running cable if needed. Security lighting can range from simple sensors to enhancing lighting requirements so that your CCTV installation can reach its full potential.

CCTV is a natural progression as most customers like the idea of being able to see what is happening when they are away from their business or home. Once again, technology and broadband internet have made this an affordable option for most individuals on both residential and commercial levels.

Take the time with CCTV to understand the product and the theory behind it all. The actual installation of the equipment is relatively easy. However obtaining the knowledge of lighting, cameras and lens selection, IR, and cabling requirements is crucial. This will allow you to recommend the correct products for every job and enhance your ability to sell beyond that of your competitors as you will be selling on product and knowledge, not just price! Obviously, making the sale is important, but being able to provide that crucial piece of footage when your clients need it most is paramount over everything else.

Just because the specification sheet says it has a particular chip in the camera doesn’t mean it’s great or even current technology for that matter. Also, having your company name put on the cameras does not make quality any better, nor does it enhance your reputation unless your business name is one that has been manufacturing electronics for many years.

The fundamentals of access control should already be understood by any locksmith who has keyed alike cylinders or designed and installed a highly complex master key system. The ability to restrict access where needed and provide the convenience of one key are two issues that can be transferred directly into access control. Instead of keys, you are now using cards or fobs and have the ability in a lot of cases to know who went through the door and at exactly what time. Access control doesn’t always mean 100 doors, three lifts and a car park all to be controlled from a far flung place by an IT graduate. It can be as simple as a stand-alone unit on the front door of a business allowing the staff to enter on week days only, or a single intercom system on a front gate that allows the householder to see who is there before letting them in.

Many of you would have already thought about these areas and considered their feasibility for you and your business. I would urge you to try a few, or even just one, to open your eyes to the ever expanding security industry and where you would like to see your business in years to come. Overall, a holistic approach to security will help you generate more revenue for your business, distinguish it from the competition and make you a well-rounded security professional.

Troy Johnston has been involved in the locksmith industry for the last 17 years in various capacities. He is currently based in QLD with LSC Technical Sales and Support Electronic Security. Contact Troy on tjohnston@lsc.com.au or 07 3252 1056