In today's locksmith market, you must think outside the box not only to grow your business but also to keep the customers you have. Almost daily we receive calls from fellow locksmiths who lost business to another because they did not invest in the time or capital with new technology that is challenging us daily in this fast-changing industry. Hopefully this article, if put into action, will provide some mutual aid in increasing your bottom line without a large investment on your part with a little know-how.
Speaking of thinking outside the box, several years ago I made a tool called the MCP which resets the CMOS chips on the Toyota/Lexus ECMs and ECUs, making them reusable so that new transponder keys can be programmed into the vehicle. At the advent of this venture, we formed another company named American Auto Lock.Com for distributing this product to the marketplace. Since then we formed another company, named Keystone Access, which is a manufacturing company. Let me tell you how this company evolved. As you know, most late- model vehicles are now taking the remote and the transponder key and integrating them into one unit, which the industry calls RKE (stands for Remote Key Entry).
As a result from reprogramming the ECMs and ECUs for the Lexus and Toyota, we found out that many times our customers wanted the RKE type keys instead of just a plain old rubber-headed transponder key. At that time, the only way to get one was from a dealership which of course had to be ordered by the VIN because (for security reasons) Lexus really did not want to sell uncut remote keys. We also discovered that the RKE was not always for a lost-key situation. Many times the RKE was electronically functional but the key blades usually broke away from the remote housing. So we, like several others in the trade, started to disassemble old remotes that we collected or bought from used car dealers and installed new key blades from the key blanks of the Kaba Ilco LX90P and the Silca TOY48P. So with a little cut here and a grind there along with some JB welding bonding cement, we had a solution for our customers.
The only problem was that it was time-consuming and running a busy shop by day and making refurbished remotes by night was getting old quick. So I thought, "I am sure there are others like myself who really do not care to do this." To serve their needs, in July of 2004 I started the process of manufacturing the replacement remote keys without the electronics. In the early part of December of 2004, our first product rolled out the door for distribution.
What we accomplished is a better product than the component that makes up the OEM's remotes. Like the OEM, we use only nickel silver material for the key blades. After researching various plastics, I discovered the best plastic for the remote housing was ABS plastic. ABS is a acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymers which in layman's terms is a plastic compound less likely to crack or break against environmental hazards like heat, cold, UV light to name a few. As a side note, in the beauty shops for artificial nail replacement, they use ABS plastic because it is a tough material.
Another design change was that I decided to have a larger surface for bonding the key blade into the housing. I also eliminated the empty cavities around the bonding mount, which added more strength. As for securing the back cover to the front part of the key housing, we used a larger black oxide stainless steel screw for reducing the problem of corrosion and stripped screw which had occurred on the OEM-type remotes. We made the plastic injection tool out of the best material so we can keep tighter tolerances longer and have the optimum life cycle of the tool before it needs to be replaced.
Like all good products, we needed a name so Joey Dalessio came up with the name DAP-key™. DAP stands for Dual Access Product, which is just that: a Key and a Remote. So we are in production and currently making three different part numbers for Lexus and one for Toyota. All the DAP-key™ products are currently three buttons with various key blade millings and key lengths.
We receive a lot of phone calls from locksmiths who wish to enter into the replacement remote key business but lack the understanding of what type of remote should be used on what type of vehicle. So to help the locksmith, we made a remote chart to assist the locksmith in selecting the right part number for his or her application. (See Chart 1, Lexus/Toyota Remote Application Chart)
When selecting from used remotes for a Lexus / Toyota vehicle, you need to know the five options that are required in order to have the correct remote for your vehicle. They are as follows.
1.) What type of transponder chip (Fixed RW2 Reads 4C and Jet Reads TX00) or (Encrypted RW2 Reads 4D and Jet Reads TPXX)?
2) What the visual appearance of the upper left remote button (Red Panic, White Car or White PWR Door)?
3) What type of key blade (LX90, TOY48 or TR47)?
4) What length key blade (Long, Medium or Short)?
5) What is the pulse duration of the remote LED when you depress the buttons? Is it fast blink or slow blink?
We also manufacture just the key blades for those locksmiths who still like to rebuild their own remote housings. The models we carry are Lexus Short Part #LSRB, Lexus Medium Part #LMRB, Lexus Long Part #LLRB and Toyota TR47-Type, Part # TRB.
For more information on DAP-Key, call 800-860-KEYS.