“It is the “best of times, it is the worst of times.” But whatever time it is, don’t call 2013 “The Year of the Locksmith.”
Times are tough for the local locksmith dealer. The person who used to call you, the woman locked out of her car, desperate for help, checks her smart phone and calls the first locksmith she sees, an 888 number promising 15 minute service for $15. And the guy who comes is not the skilled professional in business for 15 or 30 years. No, it’s the guy showing up in an unmarked car, charging $289 or $315 or whatever he can get away with, to do a simple five-minute car opening.
Fake locksmiths, listed on the top of the search pages, whose mission is to trick and swindle scared people locked out of their cars and homes, aren’t the only problems for today’s real locksmiths. How about runaway health insurance costs for your employees or expensive vehicle maintenance, including the exorbitant cost of gas? What about getting your company name known in the crowded clutter of the public eye?
You, the lock security dealer, are supposed to be the expert on security and you think you should reach out to a larger and younger clientele. You hear you must advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Linked In, yet who has time to create online advertising, quality websites, or display on social media? Can you truly combat the tech gurus who have gotten the phonies’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses up to the top of the search pages?
Today’s real locksmith wonders how he can compete with Home Depot and Grainger and Costco and the contract hardware dealers getting great deals from manufacturers. How do you get market recognition and fight ADT and AAA and the large companies that seem to be demolishing small business? Is it possible for the small guy to compete against Amazon and other Internet resellers selling many of the popular locks and door hardware directly to consumers at really low prices?
You can go crazy trying to run a small locksmith business in this day and age. And even though people in homes and businesses worry about their own security and need answers, they often seem more concerned about identity and credit card theft. And if they really do need home or commercial security, won’t they just go to their home center or check the Internet rather than going out of their way to find you?
These problems plague the locksmith of today as well as the locksmith distributor, since much of a distributor’s sales come from the locksmith channel. Both locksmiths and distributors face similar problems: how to compete against Internet resellers and large corporations gaining market share in security products while customers avoid the locksmith market altogether. Both locksmiths and their distributors’ marketing in Internet/social media is often weak or non-existent.
Locksmiths and distributors, despite all the modern challenges of business, face an even greater challenge: doing business the way they always have and not wanting to change, because it’s just too hard to change.
It sounds like a Herculean task to survive in business today or to grow your small company. But it doesn’t do you any good to worry about things out of your hands. Does it really help to focus on scammers, competitors, the Internet, and social media? One of the best business consultants, Brian Tracy, says, “The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire, not things we fear.”
Richard Branson, one of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in the world, wrote that throughout his four decades since starting his business from scratch, he has had five rules for good business:
- If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You must love what you do.
- Be innovative: Create something different that will stand out.
- Your employees are your best asset. Happy employees make for happy customers.
- Lead by listening: Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis.
- Be visible: Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras. (Richard Branson, entrepreneur.com, July 30, 2012)
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