Notes from the Editor: Union Labor

Aug. 2, 2017
Franchise hardware stores outnumber independent shops. This trend is also coming to locksmithing, an entrepreneur-driven field.It is still to be determined if that's a positive or negative for our industry.

Have you noticed that almost every hardware store in your area is now part of some chain?  Hardware stores once having local names like Jim's Hardware are either out of business or now sport store names such as Ace, Hillman or True Value. Even if an independent hardware store has kept its local name identity, most items within the store usually contain the logo of some well-known franchiser. 

There are some advantages to being part of a franchise group. Our family travels often include trips to Wisconsin.  A hamburger chain located in the dairy state has very good food. Every restaurant in the chain has the same menu so you always know what to expect. I checked into owning a franchise from this chain and the cost would have been $500,000.  Somebody is making money in the franchise business.

Franchising in different forms has found its way into the locksmith business.  The simplest form is where an entrepreneur solicits locksmiths to join a service group. According to this system, the entrepreneur acts as an agent who provides customers to locksmiths. Customers are usually assured that the provided locksmiths will perform a professional job.   Locksmiths are not required to change their company name but usually do pay a certain fee for each job provided by the entrepreneur.  One question would be how customers will be enticed into calling a national service group to locate a local locksmith. 

A more normal type of locksmith franchise is where the locksmith company is usually required to change their company name to that of the national franchiser. A locksmith then may become dependent on national advertising campaigns to generate business on their local level.  On the positive side, a franchisee can also possibly expect lower pricing through group purchasing, improving business skills through franchise company training and other group activity spiffs. 

Locksmiths have enjoyed the luxury for many decades of being profitable, independent businesspersons who have had very little influence of any kind from outside entities.  They stake out their territory and go about their business.   Now we have companies who seem prepared to organize group activities for locksmiths.  Time will tell whether this will be a positive or negative occurrence.