Being a mobile locksmith service tech, in my humble opinion, has to be one of the best jobs one could have. We are out in the open air and on the go. Sure, we have those wretched days when it's 25 degrees, raining, windy, and we need to install a panic device. But all in all, what else would you rather be doing to earn a living?
One of the things that makes this trade so enjoyable is our office. Our office of course, is wherever we tend to be at any given moment in time. Over the years, the mobile office has evolved from horses drawing carts to modern service trucks with almost every possible convenience.
The mobile office is more than just a place where we spend time each day. It is our personal workshop on wheels, a place where we can craft solutions to normal and infrequent problems alike. In some cases, it is an extension of the driver.
Many are of the opinion that how the office looks is how well the work will be performed. Thus, a professional looking service van makes the locksmith appear more professional to many of his or her customers. How does your office look to your customer?
There are many types of vehicles one can use to be a mobile locksmith. Cars, station wagons, pick-up trucks with caps, old ambulances, or even the occasional hearse may be seen on the road. Most often, vans are the mobile locksmith shop of choice. These vehicles appear to be the most universal all-around best platform for our service work. That's not to say that the other types will not work for your given application, but simply that vans appear to be the most preferred.
In my service area, a full-sized van fits the bill quite nicely. Others in the area have cube vans that perform well. However for the type of work that I do, a full sized, normal length, regular height van is the best compromise. For instance: with this vehicle, I can go just about anywhere. If I can't get to the customer's location, how will I make any money?
An example would be a tiered parking garage. If the customer has lost all keys to a vehicle while parked in the garage, I can simply drive right up and begin working. If I were in a hightop or a cube van, I would be doing a lot of walking. As we all know, time is money.
Another example would be navigating on side streets while in town, especially in the wintertime. Parking is tough enough let alone with an extended van or box truck.
Now, this does not imply that larger vehicles are inappropriate for locksmith work -- quite the contrary. Larger vehicles can carry larger amounts and also more diverse product lines. This will save time (money) running for supplies. It also helps with impulse sales. If the customer is wavering and you say you have everything right there to do the job, he is more likely to commit than if he has to reschedule.
While not necessarily the best all around, smaller vehicles such as cars or station wagons can function depending on your needs. I have found that they can not carry what I use on a daily basis. If I needed a person to do primarily vehicle lockouts, a small car or station wagon would be perfect. Running a full-sized van would then be wasteful.
Choosing the correct vehicle to suit the type of work that you do is very important. Over the course of time, it can make, or lose, a significant amount of money for your company. Knowing your market before purchasing a vehicle is vital to your bottom line.
During the course of this two-part article, I will not show a work of art, but a work truck. This truck was done on a budget and designed to be worked out of. It is not in any way a showpiece. Its sole purpose is to make me money.
FULL-SIZED VAN WITH SLIDING DOOR
I chose a full sized, medium length, ¾-ton van with a sliding door. This will allow me to carry almost everything I need during the course of a day without having to return to the shop for more supplies. I have always tried to plan for add-ons and emergencies.
Mini-vans are perfect for most of the jobs locksmiths do. The products we sell are small, we use mostly hand tools, and a small bench to sit and work at is all we need.
Inverter Input EDITOR: I read Steve Young’s article in the February 2014 issue of Locksmith Ledger about setting up his Transit Connect with interest. I also set up a Transit Connect, after...