Does One Size Fit All?

April 1, 2005

Bigger is better seems to be the rule of the day. Two rival department store chains are poised to merge into one large company and all the of the stores in the new company will surely lose some of their former identity. Familiar stores such as Marshall Fields are reportedly going to have their names changed to Macy’s.

Size also extends to the locksmith industry. National service providers have moved into the locksmith field with little fanfare. Locksmith have grown accustomed to receiving calls from auto clubs, door companies, safe companies and other national service providers. Every locksmith who depends on out-of-town referrals from these companies has really become part of a larger scheme, a new way of doing business. The control of our livelihood is slowly being passed to people calling us from far-away offices in New York or California.

Another notable change for locksmiths is happening in yellow page phone book advertising. I have always advocated using an identifiable name such as Jones Locksmith. Locksmiths have often used other words such as Accurate or Dependable in their business names. Some companies use AAA or Aardvark in order to get the top listing.

Business names are becoming less of a factor in yellow page ads as big business moves into locksmithing. Investors with money to spend have set up banks of telephones somewhere and then flooded many cities with huge yellow page locksmith ads and even toll-free numbers. People in need spot the big locksmith ads and expect that company to be the most successful and therefore the one to call. Some of these yellow page monsters reportedly depend on ill-equipped, inexperienced handymen who may also charge exorbitant prices.

Another yellow page scheme is to use business names which include the words ‘24 hour.’ One suburban phone directory shows eight locksmith listings using the same name which includes ‘24 hour’. None of the listings show a business address, so this again could be a phone bank hundreds of miles away.

A local telephone operator will notice the 24 hour name when asked for a locksmith offering emergency service and automatically give out that number. One locksmith told Locksmith Ledger that when a new yellow page directory appeared, his phone stopped ringing.

None of these yellow page ideas are illegal and this movement of large companies into the locksmith industry will have an effect. We are being pressed from all sides as national service providers aim at commercial customers while big yellow page advertisers siphon off residential and emergency work.

If each of us is to remain an individual small business, then now is the time to solidify your relationships with every regular commercial and residential customer to be sure that they will continue to think of you when they need locksmith services.