A Locksmith’s Story of Perseverance

July 2, 2021

Barak Hen admits that when the coronavirus pandemic exploded in spring 2020, he was extremely worried — so much so he planned to close his locksmith shop and weather the storm with his family. However, the pandemic that wreaked havoc among so many small businesses across the United States had a different effect at the Locksmith Monkey. This two-man locksmith shop in northern Portland, Oregon, which has served the community for more than 20 years, is doing “OK” by Hen’s assessment.

“In the beginning of COVID, I was putting together a plan to close our shop,” says Hen, an Israeli transplant who operates Locksmith Monkey with his son. “I was scared for my family, and I was scared for me. All I could do was hope that my clients would understand and that we could survive a short layoff.”

Hen, like myriad other locksmith professionals around the country, quickly found out that in times of crisis, the locksmith can be their clients’ best friend.

“Believe me, we tried to close the business, but it just didn’t happen, because people kept calling us,” he says. “They were just as frightened as us, so they were looking to rekey locks at their own businesses, or others wanted to put higher security residential locks in their homes.”

Hen adds that in Portland, people also were looking to protect themselves during the spate of civil unrest that hit the city. “People needed a locksmith more than ever over the last year,” he says. “It was very satisfying to be able to help.”

In a blog on his website, Hen says locksmiths have to have a strategy to survive in difficult times. He says it’s crucial to understand your business’ strengths and vulnerabilities and have a plan to adjust your safety and security protocols.

With crisis comes opportunity, and Hen adds that most of the small businesses he knows are taking advantage of the situation to build their brand online.

“It has become a necessity as people find anything and everything at their fingertips,” he says. “With the pandemic situation, people are searching for the local businesses near them, and the search for the term ‘locksmith near me’ has seen massive hits. Having your business online has proven to get more visibility and allows your customers to discover your business easily. We are making use of social media and Google My Business to help bring in new customers.”

Locksmiths have other avenues they can travel that might not have been in their purview previously. The list is almost endless, from installing thermal scanners by a secured entrance to retrofitting regular windows and doors into automated touchless technology solutions, along with security upgrades to more-sophisticated and elaborate systems because of the potential of thefts, looting and riots.

Post-COVID, it appears the future belongs to the locksmiths who adapt and take the crisis as a challenge to retrofit their business model.