There is still plenty of oil hidden underground these days but in order to harvest it requires more work than ever before. Wildcat oil drillers in the 1920s only had to drill holes in the right places and the oil would just gush to the surface. Now a cracking process is needed as liquid under pressure is sent deep into crevasses which then forces the remaining oil up to the surface.
Similar circumstances have occurred in the locksmith business. At one time our only competition was the local hardware store. They just cut a few of the most popular keys and left the rest to us. Lock manufacturers had no ANSI standards, so every lock manufacturer made their products to different dimensions. When a lock needed replacement, a skillful locksmith was needed to remortise the door to accept the new lock. The phone rang on a regular basis without fail.
The demand for security continues unabated, but big box stores, hardware chains and allied industries such as alarm installers are edging into our field. In order to be successful today you cannot wait for the business to come to you.
One of the biggest changes is the way the public searches for a small businesses. Use of Yellow Page books is steadily declining. People either use their cell phone or search internet websites when looking for a business phone or location. Anyone with a cell phone finds little use today for Yellow Page books. Pay phones and their accompanying Yellow Page books have completely disappeared from public places. Search engines such as Google have become the new way to source information.
If you do not have a web site for your business, then there is no time like the present to get one in operation. Web site changes or additions can be immediately made without waiting 12 months for the next phone book to be printed. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process which can be used to hopefully keep your listing near the top of the heading when people require your services. There are many web site companies to choose from either locally or on the internet who can assist you with web site development and with SEO solutions.
Finally, be customer pro-active. Ask your customers how they found you. Ask your customers for referrals. Offer a small discount for first time customers. One locksmith has a coupon on the back of his business card for a free duplicate key. Anything to get customers to walk into your store. There are several companies such as Angie’s List, Checkbook.org and YELP who specialize in grading small business services. People do depend on their recommendations. Try to satisfy every customer. One bad customer experience can ruin your reputation on these lists for a long time. Change with the times and you can’t lose.