Notes On Being Different

May 1, 2005

Locksmith Ledger is owned by Cygnus Business Media. During the annual meetings a speaker compared our company to a flock of geese flying in a ?V? formation. He described how geese in the lead can cause a wind updraft which actually helps each following goose in the formation to remain airborne with less effort. The result is that the flock can travel further with less effort than one goose flying by himself.

This presents some interesting questions. What would have happened if people such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had just followed the crowd and not tried something out of the ordinary on their own? If Michael Jordan had always passed the ball to his teammates instead of shooting baskets, would the Chicago Bulls have won so many championships?

A similar circumstance is now affecting locksmithing. In a previous Ledger editorial, there was mention of unknown companies who are now placing large ads in many yellow page phone books. One result has been that people needing immediate locksmith service are apparently calling the largest ad first and established local locksmiths are said to be losing their share of emergency business.

A combined meeting of two Chicago locksmith associations was held recently in order to discuss what was happening in Illinois. Several locksmiths reportedly presented their personal stories of lost emergency business. Other locksmiths at the meeting reportedly stated that many of these new companies were unlicensed to do locksmithing in Illinois.

The 80-20 rule is a well-known business proverb. It is said that the top 20 percent of companies get 80 percent of the work while the other 80 percent of companies end up with the remaining 20 percent of work.

While emergency work is important, it is not usually the largest percentage of income for the top 20 percent of locksmith companies. Nothing beats a good base of commercial customers who can be depended upon to call you periodically. Emergency work should not be the primary source of revenue for most locksmiths.

It may be easier to fly in formation and wait for the emergency phone to ring, but it is the Edison and Ford types of the world who have become successful by striking out on their own and developing a sound base of return customers.