Good Reasons For Locksmiths To Do Electronics

Oct. 1, 2007

Rekeying or replacing locksets for home-buyers and renters is probably one of your bread and butter services. However, competition from the home centers is mounting and cutting into profits on this traditional work. Besides having their own offering of installers for everything they sell, home centers often carry the same locks as you, only cheaper. It may be time to expand the scope of your business.


Residential and commercial alarm systems are a growing market. Why not keep flyers in each truck, or program your customer service people to mention this to clients when they call? Also targeted ads in local newspapers, and hooking up with local real estate brokers and builders will be a big help to get you going.

Alarm technology can be wireless; however hard-wiring is still used extensively for certain applications. Wireless alarms are far less labor-intensive than hard-wired, although a certain degree of technical expertise is required for programming the system.

The alarm industry has to constantly update itself as technologies evolve. For decades, all alarms were hard-wired, and wireless was viewed upon with suspicion and disdain. The Internet, VoIP and AMPS Sunset have all caused alarm dealers into crash courses in new means of monitoring their client's alarms, besides new players entering the marketplace, the turning away from POTS (plain old telephone service) in favor of high speed Internet and Voice over IP; and the suspension of analog cellular service has antiquated a large percentage of legacy alarm hardware installed in America, and has triggered learning new technology and removal and replacement of alarm communications hardware.

The RMR (Recurring Monthly/Monitoring Revenue) that alarm system monitoring generates is an important element of installing alarms systems, and a valuable service to subscribers whose whole motivation for having an alarm is knowing that in the event of an alarm, help is on the way.

Unfortunately the alarm industry is somewhat in jeopardy because many municipalities are levying fines and threatening to cease police response to unverified alarms, due to what they claim is the financial burdens that responding to excessive false alarms places on them.

The industry has responded by implementing enhanced alarm verification techniques and using remote video surveillance. This remote video surveillance is an additional billable service which will add to the RMR stream for those dealers who get on board.


Twenty or so years ago, video was expensive, and the market was relatively limited. That's changed. The demand for video has exploded into one of security's growth industries. With a little training and practice, any locksmith with an interest in learning can be profitable and competitive in no time at all. The introduction of digital signal processing, IP and computer technology to surveillance opens new opportunities for alarm verification and remote surveillance services for which the public craves.


The variety of types of access control systems available is only exceeded by the growing numbers of applications. Since keys were the first access control credential, and locks are what locksmiths are all about, it seems like it would be the most natural evolution for a traditional mechanical locksmith to make. Access control includes everything from restricted keyways, standalone battery units, networked enterprise–wide systems, and integrated security, access and video surveillance.


The sale of new intercoms, maintenance of existing ones and the upgrading to video intercoms is a niche market in itself. In urban areas with multiple occupancy dwelling and office buildings, entry panels are ubiquitous and frequently the targets of vandalism. Gated communities and high-end gated estates are another market for intercoms.


Low energy door operators are a typical retrofit sale, and are growing in popularity for clients interested in the convenience and safety of their premises. High energy door and gate operators are also an important market, and basically require the skill set of an experienced locksmith. Control wiring is low voltage, and primary power is via line cords or a quick visit from an electrician.


With a little training, installing structured cabling in homes and businesses can add substantially to your bottom line. You'll find that most guys in networking are former telephone installers and electricians who needed to migrate in order to pay their mortgages. Why not you?


Technologies are combining, the work force is cross training, and businesses are diversifying in order to differentiate themselves from their competition. A lot is said about people crossing borders to pick our produce, but there are lots of mechanics crossing the street and picking our locks.


It is a fact that electronics have radically changed the automotive side of locksmithing, The automotive industry began this transition with their transponders, and other gimmicks to capture aftermarket business for their dealers. Many commercial customers want electronic locks because of the audit trail capabilities and the ability to control access by changing the code or disabling a credential, with no need to rekey or track down keys of terminated employees. Now the keyless trend is coming to the residential market, as electronic locksets and biometric locksets are being marketed to homeowners. Whether these changes represent a change for the better remains to be seen.


Direct marketers are into everything, including mechanical locks and anything electronic. In many cases, their prices are lower than yours. But the locksmith has a few things in his favor. One is the locksmith is local and trusted. Another is the locksmith's image is that of a skilled craftsman. Finally the locksmith can offer the highest degree of warranty to the end-user.


Laziness : It's a fact that learning is not always a fun activity. It can be hard work. There are stretches in the learning curve when you may be totally confused and frustrated, with little hope of redemption. Additionally, all too often, it will be younger guys who are familiar with the newer technologies, and they tend to be impatient and overbearing (some call it payback) with a senior locksmith who is on shaky ground

Recalcitrance : Many locksmiths who are used to being the ‘master' find it difficult to start over as a rank amateur in some new discipline. They're on cruise control, and will be retiring soon anyway. They find it hard to accept that their technology and product knowledge is no longer adequate in our high tech culture.

Fear Of The New : Actually all these reasons tie into emotional issues, and fear counts as a major contender. Many of us have acquired our skills through on-the-job training. Although it's a great way to learn some things, it isn't so great for others, especially technologies that are not particularly intuitive, mechanically oriented, and potentially dangerous. (Virtually all electronic equipment is low voltage, and you're generally not in any peril if you stay reasonably alert to what you are doing)

Industry professionals have all recognized the shift and are reaching out to the traditional locksmithing industry, The Locksmith Ledger is also committed to the transformation of locksmithing from a niche craft to a multi disciplined total security solution.