Back Page, April 2023

April 3, 2023

10 Years Ago

The April issue is typically the Know Your Distributor issue for Locksmith Ledger, and April 2013 was no exception. For our Distributor Profiles, we interviewed Akron Hardware (now part of Banner Solutions), CLARK Security (now Wesco), Doyle Security and Turn 10 Wholesale. Consolidation continues in the distributor sector, though Doyle Security and Turn 10 continue today as independent distributors.  Jerry Levine wrote about electrifying exit devices with the Command Access Electrified Latch Pullback Kit. Levine also took a swing at custom engraving key blanks with the Kaba Ilco Engrave-It XP. Tim O’Leary wrote about Augmenting Access Control with Exit Alarms, looking at products including the STI 64 Series Exit Stoppers, Securitech Trident, Securitron door prop alarm, Detex tailgate detection system and Von Vuprin GUARD-X exit alarm.  O’Leary also described Aiphone’s networked IS Series with school lockdown capabilities.

20 Years Ago

In his editorial, Gale Johnson suggested ways that distributors and locksmiths can work together for the common good.  From the distributor's vantage point, Steve Kaufman also chimed in.  Tom Gillespie explained what exit devices are and why we need them.  Jerry Levine replaced an old exit device with a Sargent surface-mounted, vertical rod exit device. Jerry Levine provided some pointers on fitting keys to older European vehicles. Jet Hardware added to its line of Groovy Keys.  Tim O’Leary had a response to an article in a New York newspaper showing how to bypass a master key system. O’Leary suspected that the publicity may have been pushed by someone with a new electronic lock system. Locksmith Bruce Huebner explained why it took three days to fit transponder keys to a 2002 Mitsubishi Galant.  Jerry Levine studied the new T-Code programming tool by Auto Security Products (ASP).  Jeff Trepanier (Tiny) had servicing techniques for an Adams-Rite latch lock.  Levine told of his first impressions of Von Duprin 994L handle trim. Tiny serviced the locks on a 2002 Ford Ranger.  Milt Wolferseder had some good tips for opening a Mosler TL-30 round-door safe.  

2013: The Year of the Locksmith?

Editor’s note: Many of the same issues that Arnie Goldman reported on 10 years ago still plague the locksmith industry today. His words of advice still ring true: “Focus on excelling for your customer. Always give your best service, treat your employees and co-workers well, and let them help you grow your business. Build a reputation that you can be proud of. Be trusted to do good work around your community, and ask your customers for good recommendations and referrals.”

Please also read Goldman’s article on page 24 of this issue, as he looks back on long career in our industry and looks ahead to retirement.

Times are tough for the local locksmith dealer. The person who used to call you, the woman locked out of her car, desperate for help, checks her smartphone and calls the first locksmith she sees, an 888 number promising 15-minute service for $15. And the guy who comes is not the skilled professional in business for 15 or 30 years. No, it’s the guy showing up in an unmarked car, charging $289 or $315 or whatever he can get away with, to do a simple five-minute car opening.

Fake locksmiths, listed on the top of the search pages, whose mission is to trick and swindle scared people locked out of their cars and homes, aren’t the only problems for today’s real locksmiths. How about runaway health insurance costs for your employees or expensive vehicle maintenance, including the exorbitant cost of gas? What about getting your company name known in the crowded clutter of the public eye?

You, the lock security dealer, are supposed to be the expert on security and you think you should reach out to a larger and younger clientele. You hear you must advertise on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Linked In, yet who has time to create online advertising, quality websites, or display on social media? Can you truly combat the tech gurus who have gotten the phonies’ phone numbers and email addresses up to the top of the search pages?

Today’s real locksmith wonders how he can compete with Home Depot and Grainger and Costco and the contract hardware dealers getting great deals from manufacturers. How do you get market recognition and fight ADT and AAA and the large companies that seem to be demolishing small business? Is it possible for the small guy to compete against Amazon and other Internet resellers selling many of the popular locks and door hardware directly to consumers at really low prices?

Here are some words of advice:

  • Be courteous and respectful to your customers, employees, and co-workers.
  • Remember that referrals are the best way to build business, so focus on giving your customer your highest quality service.
  • Dress so your customer will want to let you into his business or home again.
  • Make sure you and your employees clean up after the work performed. Your customers will certainly appreciate this level of professionalism.

The best rule is: Do the opposite of scammers. Focus on getting repeat business by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and see things from his perspective. Plug the holes that your competitors missed with new offerings, unique solutions, or readapt existing products or services to customers’ needs. Show him that you possess the knowledge and insights to be the logical choice for his security requirements.

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