Ziptide July 2012


I am writing this letter regarding the “Fire Door Essentials” article in the April issue by Tim O’Leary (  I enjoy Tim’s articles but he makes a statement in the article that must be a mistake. On page 18 he says “In a perfect world I would suggest knowing the requirements and insisting on strict LAHJ compliance. When customers for budgetary or other reasons, insist on what you believe to be substandard installation, and you don’t want to lose the business, you must document the deficiencies and have the customer sign off. This disclaimer needs to be clear, thorough and precise. It should include indemnification for all claims. It should, in fact, be drafted with the goal of forcing even the most insistent customer to permit you to install a legal compliant system so both you, and the customer, can be best protected against the loss the equipment is designed to detect or protect against”.

It is my understanding, although I am not an attorney, that by signing any form such as this you would be opening yourself to substantial liability. You are signing a form admitting that you did work that you knew didn’t meet fire / building code compliance. I would NEVER allow a customer for ANY reason have me do work that didn’t meet fire code compliance completely. Fire codes are law as I understand so you would in fact be breaking the law. I am more than happy to find less costly products that still meet the fire openings requirements but that’s as far as I will go. My credibility is too important to me to do something that I know is not correct just to make a dollar. If a customer demands that you do such an action, I suggest that you find a different customer or at the very least, lose this customer.

Dan Bernier, CML,CPS

Fire Door Assembly Inspector



I respectfully disagree with your editorial on bidding for work (May 2012 Locksmith Ledger,  It doesn’t need to be that way.

I have been bidding work with both verbal and written quotes for over 35 years and I still win about 80 percent of the work I bid. This has not changed over the last 10 -15 years since I learned the best way to quote jobs.

I do have a secret weapon. I never sell products; I only sell solutions and I never work for free. I always make sure a potential new customer has some skin in the game before I provide anything.

I read about a guy who runs a heating company who differentiates between an “estimate” an “exact.” I checked his web site, and it was exactly what I needed. I have used his methods ever since with awesome results.

We still give free estimates as everyone else does and the customers expect this, but I don’t give “exacts” for free. We charge for an engineered solution and we credit the full amount back if they go ahead with us.

The trick is getting the right amount for the “exact” (the written proposal), usually between, $500 and $3,000, because we give back the upfront amount as a credit toward the work, we are automatically that much lower than any competitor quoting against us. But asking for too much may scare them off.

Why would a customer pay us for a proposal? Two reasons. First, we offer a full engineered solution which they can use to give to other companies to bid. Second, they can hire us to oversee the job as security consultants even if we don’t get the job. We also get to see what our competitors are doing better and what they are doing worse than us. It’s a win - win situation for us and the customer.

Also the Auto industry has an “inspection fee” now, usually $75 to $175 to provide a written estimate and they work together and educate the public.

Locksmiths need to start asking to be paid for written estimates as we shouldn’t be expected to work for free.

Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the heating contractors’ site where I found this brilliant piece of information. If you wish, you may contact me for any additional information regarding this topic.

David Barrett

Citiloc Systems Ltd.

Vancouver, BC, Canada



The editors of Locksmith Ledger welcome reader input. Share your comments and suggestions on any of our articles or general industry trends and topics. Our mailing address is Ziptide, Locksmith Ledger, 3030 Salt Creek Lane, Suite 200, Arlington Heights, IL 60005. Letters can also be faxed to 866-827-8020 or E-mailed to