What is a locksmith, really? Technically, a locksmith is someone who specializes in locks. I’m sure anyone who has been locked out of their home or car or has moved has probably become familiar with one of the services a locksmith offers. However, locksmiths do more – a lot more – than helping you get back into your locked car or home.
Locksmith, as a trade, is an ancient profession. As long as there have been locks, and keys to fit them, there has been someone who has specialized in them.
Not every locksmith provides the same services. A locksmith business, be it mobile or store-based, is unique. Locksmiths may be commercial (working out of a storefront), mobile (working out of a vehicle), institutional (employed by an institution) or investigational (forensic locksmiths) or may specialize in one aspect of the skill, such as an automotive lock specialist, a master key system specialist or a safe technician. Many are also security consultants, but not every security consultant has the skills and knowledge of a locksmith. Locksmiths are frequently certified in specific skill areas or to a level of skill within the trade.
A mobile locksmith provides his or her service at the customer’s residence or business. They will re-key locks, change out the products, and more – all on-site. The advantage of being a mobile locksmith is having a service vehicle equipped with all the equipment necessary to service the customer on-site. Many locksmiths start out as a mobile locksmith to save the initial expense of renting and staffing a storefront.
A store-based or “brick-and-mortar” locksmith provides his or her service from their shop. This offers the customer the opportunity to schedule service at their location and also to come into the store and purchase products, set appointments and discuss security issues.
You wouldn’t go to a dentist to look at your foot, you go to the specialist – the podiatrist. The same holds true for the locksmith industry. Locksmiths know the proper security package for a customer’s home or a business. They provide a personal touch to customize the “job” for the customer – build a relationship and it’s pure gold! This is something that buying your locks on the internet, or big box stores do not offer.
As a reminder, if you live in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and certain cities – a locksmith license is mandatory.
Marketing the Business
Now that we have defined what a locksmith is, let’s help you out with your business.
How do you increase your business sales if you don’t market it? Locksmiths tend to think that Marketing is not necessary, and some assume if they advertise in the yellow pages that they did their “marketing” job.
“Marketing: an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”
In today’s technology world, yellow pages isn’t going to cut it as advertisement for your shop. Not when virtually half of America has a smartphone. Ever see those Apple iPhone 4S commercials where the homeowner is locked out of the house and asks the phone for a locksmith.
This blog has offered many marketing solutions and ideas to help. Here’s just a few more.
If you are a locksmith with a retail storefront, do you have a sign on your building? Is it clean? Have you tried to cross the street and read it – is it legible? Have you tried driving by your building and actually noticed your building or sign? Would it make you want to stop in? If it’s not inviting, you are missing the opportunity to increase your business.
Do you have a smaller sign on your door or in your window that clearly shows the business name and hours of operation?
What if you are a mobile locksmith – do you have signage on your van or truck? Signs on your mobile service vehicle seems to be the biggest debate. Having a sign clearly sets you aside from the scam artists in the locksmith industry, and it promotes your name as free advertisement. On the other hand, for anyone who is dishonest, it informs them you are driving around with expensive tools in the vehicle. It’s something you need to decide, especially when the number of sales that you gained from the signs usually outweigh the total loss should your vehicle be broken into.
To decrease the possibility of a break-in to your vehicle, purchase a vehicle without side or rear windows, install a locking partition behind the front seat, and use your own expertise to lock down your vehicle.
Ever wonder why many stores offer a key chain with the stores logo on it for loyal customers (ie. grocery stores, office supply stores, etc.)? Loyal customers mean they share their positive experience with anyone. In today’s technology age, that also means through social media, text messages, and more.
I know a small handyman business who never once advertised in yellow pages or internet. His business doesn’t have a website and the only phone number advertised is on his business card with his logo. He does follows the steps to provide an invoice with his logo and contact information. Yet with no advertising, he’s been extremely busy.
How has a man who doesn’t market his business stay so busy? His business is 100% referral. He has done two things and both are referrals:
Part 1 Referral: He will give a discount to his loyal customers, and make it known to them “Thank you for the referral. I normally charge $xyz, but because of the referral, I’m charging you $zyx”. His work ethic is honest, and the customers appreciate it.
Part 2: He partnered with a Plumber business to offer referrals. When the plumber came into a home, he had to cut into the wall to get to the pipes. But, the plumber didn’t specialize in drywall so he referred the Handyman business. Since the Plumber’s customer was a loyal customer to the Plumber, they trusted that the Handyman would do honest work. On the flip side, when the handyman came in to a home and replaced a toilet, for example, if the job was too big for him he referred the customer to the Plumber.
Offering superior service is free marketing! When you have completed a service call, the technician obviously documents it so the customer can be billed. As the owner, put yourself in the customer’s shoes – ask if they were satisfied with the service. This can be done as a follow-up call, it can be done onsite. Create a list of about five questions to ask, but tailor the questions so all five can be answered in less than a minute. If the customer was happy with the service, they will give a thorough answer. If they were dissatisfied, the answers will be short and curt. One of the questions could be “Would you refer us to your family and friends?”
For the owner, take it one step further. When you bill your commercial or residential accounts, consider writing a short one-sided hand written thank you note, and toss in a one page newsletter discussing new products, promotions, or things your customer may want to think about.
© Copyright IDN, Inc.
Kathleen Kempf is the Marketing Manager at IDN-H. Hoffman.