"Good Old Days" No More

“Good Old Days” can mean many different things depending on your collection of memories. In reference to the lock industry, good old days reminds me of a simpler time when there was less competition, no big box stores, every lock was a mechanical type which you could easily repair and there were far fewer government regulations.

This October Locksmith Ledger issue shows an example of how rules and regulations affect the hospital industry. Regulations are good because they provide business as health care institutions must tighten security measures. The problem is that different areas of the country are working by different standards. The Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (LAHJ) must now become an important member of your team whenever fire or safety issues are involved.

A locksmith company reported another issue rarely encountered in the Good Old Days. At one time business was done with a handshake. Now any important security hardware job must be done with bids. Bid forms are usually sent to several companies. Profits must be held to a minimum in order to have any chance of winning a bid.

The locksmith company in question reportedly had the low bid but the building owners decided that they wanted a union shop to do the work regardless of any added labor cost. The last time I checked, union carpenters were being paid $75 per hour. Business owners must also pay an hourly fee into a carpenter pension fund. If locksmiths were bidding against union shops all the time, it would be beneficial to have a union shop but that is not possible for most locksmith businesses. Under these conditions, a non-union locksmith business is essentially eliminated from bidding on large jobs.

Another locksmith company contacted me with similar business challenges. This locksmith had the local account for a large chain and serviced several of their local company stores in his area. This large company recently sent the locksmith an announcement explaining that they would only accept bills for labor charges in the future. Any replacement hardware products would be sent from company headquarters. This is not an isolated case. Other large national firms are reportedly controlling hardware sales and limiting locksmiths to charges only for labor. Locksmith profit for the sale of hardware has been eliminated.

A lesson learned from present developments is that we can no longer sit and wait for business to find us. In many ways the locksmith business is being affected by circumstances outside of our control. As a result, every recurring local account you have and any new local accounts you can find should be continually cultivated in any way possible.