A locksmith business, be it mobile or store-based, is unique. Add to that not every locksmith provides the same services. Some locksmiths specialize in commercial work including electronic access control and offer a few safes in their showroom. Some locksmiths specialize in automotive work and will change the combination and install residential and commercial locks, exit devices and closers. Some locksmiths are general practitioners and do a little of everything.
A handyman or carpenter may install locks, but only a locksmith knows the proper security package for a customer’s home or business. This is the personal touch most locksmiths can offer their customers, which enables them to get to know their customers on a personal level. This type of relationship is pure gold. With encouragement, your satisfied customers will share their satisfaction regarding your services to their friends and associates.
A store-based professional locksmith business offers its customers the opportunity to schedule service at their location and also to come into the store and purchase products, set appointments and discuss security issues.
Although it is more expensive to operate both a store and service vehicles, the storefront provides a built-in source of advertising, a sense of permanence, and an easier way to develop clientele.
A mobile professional locksmith will provide his or her service at the customer’s residence or business. An advantage of being mobile is having all the equipment necessary to service your customers with you on every call. Many locksmiths start out as mobile to save the initial expense of renting and staffing a storefront. As the business grows, they later have the funds and customer base for a permanent location.
For retail storefronts, signage is a no-brainer. In addition to the business name and hours, many shops advertise special promotions or services, such as “Gun Safe Sale” or “Ask For Your Home Security Survey.”
A mobile locksmith is caught in the debate of “Do you have signage on your vehicle?” Signage is a two-sided issue. Driving around with a billboard on your service vehicle is a great way to let people know you and how to contact you. On the other side, it informs less than honest persons that expensive tools are stored within.
I have contacted a number of locksmiths regarding this issue and have discovered the feelings are about split 50 percent for signage and 50 percent who do not have signage on their vehicles. For one of those locksmiths, the recognition of the company name being driven around to job sites every day is worth significantly more than the loss.
Something to consider: When you purchase a service vehicle, get one that does not have side or rear windows. Install a locking partition behind the front seat. This way, your property has secondary protection if someone breaks a window.
A number of locksmiths have had their trucks burglarized, losing thousands of dollars by having their key machines, tools and lock hardware stolen.
Then there are the cities, counties and other jurisdictions that are strapped for cash. This results in fees, taxes and more regulations. Around where I live, if you have a sign on your vehicle, there are towns that charge a fee for a tag that avoids a ticket if you drive through with signage and do not have a current tag.
When I was growing up, our number one source of advertising was the Yellow Pages. It seemed whoever had the largest ad would get the most business. Those days are no more. More and more informal surveys seem to be showing that people are using personal referrals and the Internet more often than the telephone book. This is especially true for those who own Internet (data) enabled cell phones.
Today’s marketing techniques must be varied in order to communicate with your potential customers. Integrated marketing is putting your message in front of those people in need of your services at the right time. There are a number of ways to get your message out: in person, direct mail, advertising, Internet, etc.
When business is quiet, take some time to create a flier, search the Internet for organizations looking for a guest speaker, or visit potential customers and drop off your brochure.
Your vehicle serves as free advertising. Feature your business name in bold print.
Forget the economy when you’re working. Focus instead on the little things that you can do to improve your customer service and lower your costs.