Over the past two years ALOA has fielded the following complaint from frustrated locksmiths with increasing frequency: “The scammers have hijacked my listing and are stealing my calls. My call volume has dropped and no one will help me!” This complaint can evolve from a number of...
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Over the past two years ALOA has fielded the following complaint from frustrated locksmiths with increasing frequency: “The scammers have hijacked my listing and are stealing my calls. My call volume has dropped and no one will help me!”
This complaint can evolve from a number of processes, some of which a locksmith can control, others that can only be reacted to through legal channels. The techniques and methods discussed in this article are not a replacement for legal action against an individual or organization who has infringed upon a registered trademarks or your business name. However, these first steps that we will discuss may reveal attacks on your business that you may not even be aware of that are affecting you right now.
Why is this happening?
The locksmith industry has always been prone to ‘sublime' attacks to gain an unfair advantage over competitors. Examples of this can be seen in outbreaks of ‘Stickers' that are affixed in mass to every door, mailbox and key slot that unscrupulous marketers can find. Many areas have outlawed this practice and will force the offending company to remove the stickers and clean up the residue left behind.
Another example of a ‘subtle' tactic that is generally accepted within the locksmith industry is the use of alphanumeric manipulation of company names in yellow page listings in order to appear higher up in the listings. There is nothing really illegal or unethical in this particular practice but it is an example of how names of companies and directory listings have always been intentionally manipulated to gain a competitive advantage.
The tactic of employing more than one business name in yellow page listings, often legitimately so because of purchase of multiple companies by one owner, has been around for many years. There is a pure mathematical advantage to having more than one listing. A customer simply picking a locksmith at random out of the phone book or other directory has a greater chance of picking a company with more than one listing. In fact, with all other variables equal, it doubles the chances of one company being picked over another.
Physical addresses where no shop exist:
Based on every survey ever conducted by ALOA, Clearstar and others, ‘mobile only' locksmiths make up a significant percentage of locksmiths (at least those participating in surveys). Using a home address in a directory listing is not only ill-advised but may even be dangerous or simply not permitted by zoning issues in your area. This has not been a significant problem for many years because the yellow pages didn't require a listing of an address to have a display ad or an in-line listing. We will discuss in a moment what factors have caused this to suddenly become a major practice and why.
What has changed?
There are really only two changes that have caused this major recent shift in our industry:
1. People: Smart but unscrupulous people have realized the profitability and the ‘holes in the armor' of the locksmith industry. These holes have allowed these unscrupulous people to manipulate the industry for maximum exposure in a very short period of time.
2. Technology: Changes in how information flows regarding business. Most notably is the increased usage of the internet and other ‘vertical' directories such as online yellow page type services. These online services use specific search patterns to find, sort and display results for locksmiths.
The business of changing people is an in exact science at best. It is appears that the people behind many of these exploits are unwilling to change their tactics and play on a level playing field with the rest of the industry. So the only option left is to step up our game and embrace the very technologies that are being manipulated against us. So the battle begins…
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