Since many of your residential customers are vacation rentals, are they interested in digital locks so they can give out codes instead of keys?
No, not yet. Many of the upscale vacation rentals are more concerned about appearances. They want a certain look for their front doors.
Do you see a lot of decorative hardware?
There’s one specialty hardware store here that sells a lot of Baldwin door hardware, which is very popular. Baldwin really stands behind their products. If I need a replacement part for a repair, they’ll send it right to me.
What about restricted keyways?
I’ve been trying to promote them. There’s not a lot of crime up here and people don’t seem to want to upgrade unless they have a break-in.
Do you spend time educating customers?
We have Home Depot and Lowes up here, and they can buy a Schlage F series lock for a reasonable price. I’ve had customers take it out of the box and feel it and then did the same with an A series lock. They are surprised at how much heavier and better quality the lock is that I sell and install.
Which part of the business do you enjoy the most?
I like running the business and solving people’s problems.
How do you market your business?
Whenever someone calls, I ask them where they heard of Access Locksmithing, and most of them say they saw my ad in the Yellow Pages or I had the best looking ad in the Yellow Pages, or they knew my grandfather or family.
Of course, referrals always turn out to be the best customers.
Did you grow up in this area?
I actually grew up on Mackinac Island. My father was school superintendent and my mother was a teacher, in fact she just retired a year ago They now live in the Petoskey area but still have a place on the island. My whole family is still in this area.
Do you come from a family of locksmiths?
No. When I was growing up on Mackinac Island, I didn’t even know what a locksmith was. I did a lot of construction projects with my family.
We’ve heard countless stories of scam locksmiths advertising names like AAA Locksmithing in the local Yellow Pages, but in fact being neither local or a qualified locksmith. Has this been a problem for you?
No, it is more in the major cities.
Do you have a lot of competitors?
There aren’t that many locksmiths up here. In fact, that is something I researched when I did my business plan. I found that most of the locksmiths were older guys getting closer to retirement, and they seemed happy to take some lockout calls and rekey front doors, but not so eager to get into the newer stuff like electronics.
Is licensing required in Michigan?
No, and I think that’s a big part of the problem. I’m an advocate for licensing and I’d like to see it required in all states.
How many locksmith distributors do you use?
I buy through everyone I can, based on service first and then price. I like IDN Hardware Inc., Akron Hardware because of their free freight offer and H.L. Flake, among others.