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It affects it quite a bit; it's also Lowes and other home centers doing locksmithing work. I knew that electronics was where the industry was heading. Mechanical locksmithing may pay your bills and one or two guys in your shop because they'll always be lockouts, etc.
I saw access control, security systems and cameras as a growing market. Once you're comfortable doing it, you have to let customers know that you do electronics. You have to market yourself.
How do you suggest doing that?
When you're at a building doing simple lock changes, make sure you plant the seed for the future by telling them you do these other things. Try aggressively advertising in the Yellow Pages, direct mailing and any other way to let them know you're not just a mechanical locksmith.
It's my opinion that you need to talk to people about the benefits of what you do and not just the features. Can you think of a situation where you may have turned an everyday locksmith job into a sale of something electronic by using this technique?
One of the biggest opportunities is controlling entry into a building at a certain time by authorized individuals. We often ask people if they want their employees to have keys and be able to have them copied. We take it to the next level and explain that with electronic solutions, there's no fooling anyone and it's going to log who they were, what door and what time so we can limit access to a door at certain times. When we learn about thefts that occur, we ask if they would like to have seen who did this and let them know we offer video camera installation and recording devices. You have to find the key person and let them know you can provide solutions to these types of problems.
What was CCTV technology like when you first began compared to what it is now?
We used to offer time-lapse VCRs. The cameras haven't changed much for the most part. Now we have some cameras with LEDs built in to help view better in total darkness. Many cameras now have what we call a ‘wide dynamic range' which helps to filter out light coming from the front as well as excessive backlight. We now have cameras that have a day/night feature where they switch from color to black & white when the light level goes below a certain LUX. We also have infrared illuminators which illuminate an area in total darkness.
Now it's all digital video recording with hard drives and more storage devices so we don't have to worry about changing tapes and it gives you much better quality pictures to view.
For the beginners out there, what is LUX?
LUX is a measurement of the actual light that is available and refers to the level at which the camera will no longer see objects.
How would you compare the cost/quality ratio to what it was in the past?
Well, cameras have come down in size and are relatively less in cost as well. Another saving occurs when a loss prevention person no longer has to view an entire tape for a given day to see an event; it can take hours or even weeks. Now with the use of a mouse or the push of a couple of buttons, you can simply select a time and bring video up for that particular time right away.
So any locksmith can offer these solutions. They need to study and learn and what else?
We go back to the bench testing of things. If it's video equipment, then buy something and set it up in your own shop and become familiar with its operation. This way you learn and have something to use to market the fact that you offer this as well. People who see it will ask you to come out and give them an estimate. Put a sign right next to it that says “We install video systems.”
Also keep in mind that video and access systems aren't used exclusively for security; it's also a management tool. A business owner might want to find out when employees are coming and going and he can do an audit control through his access system. One of the biggest areas of loss involves employees claiming they've worked more hours than they really did. With access and video systems, you can track this.
Is this a way you sell and market these systems?
Yes and we sell more enhancements on video systems by giving demonstrations to illustrate that it's more than just a security tool. Many video systems we sell give people the ability to view what's happening through the Internet. If the business owner is in Florida , he can log onto his computer and see what is happening and what's already happened.
Jared Urman, Access Locksmithing