Back Page, Dec. 2013

Dec. 2, 2013

Are The Glory Days Of Locksmithing Over?

Early one morning, a man drove into a small town and stopped to fill his gas tank. He asked, "What kind of town is this?" The clerk responded, "Well what kind of town are you from?" The guy says "The people were friendly; we are proud of our teams and business is good.” The clerk replies," That what our town is like.”

Later that afternoon a second man driving through stopped for gas and asked the same question. The clerk replied asking the same question he did of the first man. The second man replied, "Well the people are jerks; you can't trust anyone; there are no jobs and business is really bad." The clerk replied " Well that's the way our town is."

Recently while reading a locksmith blog post titled "Are the Glory days of Locksmithing Gone?" the poster was lamenting how bad our industry has become. 

Quoting from the blog: “As more and more entities take away what used to be done by locksmiths and the industry continues to erode, I wonder if our days are numbered.

More and more locksmiths are nothing but subcontractors. Those of us who have been around a while remember when locksmiths made their own company policies and customers called us directly and regularly. Relationships were built. Trust existed.

Any sophomore in business school would immediately look at the current state of the industry as unsustainable. Many locksmiths I talk to are just trying to hang on until retirement. For me that would be at least 20 years. I'm not sure there will be a locksmith industry in 20 years as so much has changed in the last ten.”

It doesn't take a genius to see that we are being attacked on every front. The sad part is that the one thing we could do about it - sticking together - is the thing we are worst at. None of the associations have succeeded in getting their members to stand for anything as no two locksmiths can ever seem to agree for long.”

I am concerned with the amount of defeatism in our industry.  What industry are you going to get into that doesn't have competition, changing technologies, new regulations, unethical and non professional people?

It's not that more and more entities are taking what used to be done by locksmiths. The locksmith industry is giving it away.  Business does not operate in a vacuum.  Others who see opportunity are taking advantage of it while the locksmith industry is apathetic or just blind to the changes. Who says they shouldn't take it?  It's called “business.” Every industry gets attacked from every front every day.  That's the nature of business. 

Sometimes the soldier in the middle of the battle doesn't know who is winning the war because of his perspective. Our business is a great business compared to many others. We have very little government regulations to follow. With a relatively small start-up investment and no employees, you can easily produce a six-digit income out of a van if you are willing to work.  You can work as much or as little as you want and set your own hours.

I see tremendous future ahead for us as an industry.  When the unemployment rate goes up, so does the crime rate.  People are getting laid off all over; that's why commercial companies are changing their locks every day. By the way, do all the business owners in a five-mile radius of your establishment know your company exists?

What are you doing to stay ahead of the constant changing trends in our industry? How familiar are you with the latest advances in access control, CCTV or automotive?

What business are you in? I am in the “making people feel secure business,” secure in their homes, schools, workplaces, restaurants, shops, doctor's offices , etc. It's not time to jump ship. It's time to take the helm and set a new course!

May I encourage you to step back, take a vacation and count your blessings. Or if you are really a glutton for punishment, become a general contractor like I was for over twenty years. It was a great business except for the banks, the building inspectors, the subcontractors, the employees, the zoning officers telling you what you can or cannot build on someone’s private property, etc.

I'll let you in on a little secret.....Locksmithing is a money making cakewalk!

   Bob Tegge, A-1 Rudy Lock & Safe