Locksmith News – 4/30/2018


Case Study

Vision by VingCard Hack.


Wireless Electronic Locks

Tyler's Take: Customer Retention

As I mentioned in my customer service article, repeat customers can payoff big time for a locksmith business . There are multiple philosophies, concepts, strategies, and tools available to locksmiths to assist in customer retention. I’m not going to champion some and poo-poo others; that’s not my purpose. I’m simply going to list some customer retention ideas that others recommended and that I’ve found effective. If you are not already employing some of these philosophies, concepts, strategies, and tools to retain customers, it’s in your best interest to start.

1. Knowledge and expertise.

Most locksmiths are experts, just ask them! But do your customers think that? It’s a two-way street. Having pride in your “expertise” is fine but is it translating to the people paying your bills? The traits of an expert include, but are not limited to: knowledge, experience, communication, judgement, and wisdom. Does that describe you? Selling a product or solution isn’t solely telling the customer what you’re doing. It’s telling them their options, the pros and cons of each, and why you’re recommending what you’re recommending. It’s giving them multiple pricing options in some situations. Customers appreciate honesty and the opinion of an expert.
I once had an issue in my basement with flooding. I called 3 contractors. The first 2 tried to sell me a sump-pump system that would cost me thousands. The 3rd contractor told me he’d do the same, but he also told me my problem could be fixed for less than $100. The true problem was something the others didn’t bother to check but what he immediately looked for. Who do you think I considered the expert? It was the guy willing to identify and fix the problem and not just the symptom; the guy willing to offer the right thing even if it wasn’t the most profitable thing. Be that 3rd contractor to your customers.

2. Stay in contact.

Let’s say you sell a large job to a new customer. You go out, install, test everything, and leave with the customer happy. Don’t become spoiled or complacent and forget about them while you chase the next sale. Send them a thank you card, reach out to them throughout the year and see how your product(s) and/or work is doing, ask if there’s anything else you can quote or if there are any current or future projects they may need assistance with. It’s not overbearing to make sure that your customers are doing alright and that their needs are being served. You want to stay in their mind and show them that not only do you value their business and their satisfaction, you’re ready for your next assignment.

4. Go that extra mile and where others won’t.

Let’s say that one of your customers has a policy that requires 3 bids for any project over a certain dollar amount. This is common with institutions. I was an institutional locksmith for many years and one of my duties included coordinating and evaluating quotes for large, capital projects. Do you know how many jobs I saw other locksmiths purposefully overbid so they didn’t get the work? A lot.
I was told multiple times that a repair or install wasn’t possible and we would need to replace an entire door, frame, or similar item and start from scratch. I knew that obviously wasn’t the case. It’s not that they didn’t want work, they just didn’t want THAT work. THAT work would be a big pain in the butt. It may have even been that they weren’t confident that they were even capable of it. Whatever the case was or may be, you need to be ready to go that extra mile and go where others won’t. It really may be a big a pain in the butt and a miserable job, but that’s your inroad, that’s your open door. I didn’t do business with the companies that tried to sell me something that we truly didn’t need, all under the fallacy of “it’s the only way it can be done”. But the company that did? They became a preferred vendor and they got the jobs that didn’t require bids.
Show to the customer that you’re willing to do what the other companies wouldn’t. Use that opportunity to demonstrate your value to the customer.

5. Excellent customer service.

If you read the first article this should be a no-brainer but it bears repeating.

6. Embrace and resolve complaints.

In the customer service article I also mentioned that businesses typically only hear from 4% of dissatisfied customers. If it happens to you, feel fortunate you got to hear about it. Embrace that you have a complaint AND an opportunity to resolve it. First, you get a chance to resolve it with your customer and, hopefully, retain their business. Second, it can be an excellent learning tool. If an error goes unchecked and repeats, you’re more than likely not going to hear about it. Use the opportunity of a complaint to learn and grow so that it might not cost you any additional customers.

7. Reflect.

Reflect on the times you did business with other service providers. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What impression did they give you? How did they do it? Your business should be a reflection of the principles that you valued enough to become a repeat customer of X or Y company. Me personally? I value companies that honor their appointments, show up on time, communicate effectively, adhere to quotes, conduct themselves professionally, etc. That’s what gets my loyalty and repeat business. That’s what gets a lot of people’s loyalty and repeat business. We are, after all, consumers at the end of the day. We have a good beat on these things. Use that to your advantage with your own customers.

By |2018-04-26T09:00:24+00:00April 26th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Library Update: Electric Strikes

We’ve added more manufacturer’s literature and manuals to our Electric Strikes page in the Library. New documents have been added for the following manufacturers:

  • AdamsRite USA
  • Alarm Controls Corp.
  • BEST Access Systems
  • Camden Door Controls
  • Hanchett Entry Systems, Inc. (HES)
  • Trine Access Technology
  • Von Duprin

We’ve also added the following documents in the “Resources” tab:

  • Adams Rite Electrical Strike Handbook
  • A Complete Guide to Electric Strikes by Hanchett Entry Systems, Inc. (HES)
  • Von Duprin Guide to Selecting an Electric Strike

If you are new to electric strikes and/or you want to learn more about the subject, these three documents are great resources. They cover the basics of electronic strikes and can help you better understand their purpose, their features, and their usage.

Locksmith News – 4/23/2018

Today we’re introducing a new feature to our website: weekly news stories for locksmiths. Each Monday we will recap the past week of news as it relates to the locksmith industry via links to articles and press briefings from around the world. This is a work in progress so stick with us as we get our “sea legs”. Thanks.

Case Study

Classroom Intruder Locks


Door Closers

ASSA ABLOY UK new door closer design



ISC West 2018

Wireless Electronic Locks

Apple Watch

Tyler's Take: Pricing Surveys

If you’re a member of ALOA you more than likely already know that the April edition of Keynotes featured the annual “Pricing Survey”. If you’re a subscriber of the Locksmith Ledger you’ll recall that they published their price survey in January. And if you know other locksmiths you’ll know that the mere mention of a price survey is enough to elicit multiple expletives and the typical “negative Nancy” attitude that we’ve all grown to love and appreciate, or at least tolerate. I can’t help but wonder: why?
If you ask any locksmith why they don’t like pricing surveys, you’re sure to get one or more of the following reasons:

  • “They’re inaccurate”
  • “They don’t account for X, Y, or Z”
  • “They’re too low”
  • “They’re worthless”

Here’s the thing, they’re just questionnaires. Differences between your prices and the survey’s findings don’t mean you’re wrong and everyone else is right or vice versa. They’re never going to be a perfect metric because, like all polls, surveys, etc., someone, somewhere is going to take exception with the method or the respondents. That’s just reality.
Short of some masterful analysis software that can account for and pump out data to adjust for every single variable under the sun, you’re never going to get a 100% accurate, foolproof price list. It’s foolish to think that, however, because that was never the intent or goal. It’s equally foolish to discredit a metric because it fails to be anything less than perfect or comes even remotely close. Even if they aren’t the perfect metric, they are a metric and there is value to them.
To the new guys or the guys looking to branch out and offer new services, they’re at least a starting point and that’s better than nothing. Those are the types that truly appreciate this metric and data.
Let’s say I want to start an access control company. Maybe I’m well versed in IT and want to branch out into access control full-time or maybe I’ve been an access control tech for an institution my entire career. Whatever my background, understanding, at the very least, how access control-related work is billed is beneficial to me. Learning typical “billing codes” from others in the industry is beneficial to me. If I didn’t, I might just assume that rather than bill individual tasks my peers may just bill hourly. I mean, how or why would I know any differently? If you have enough types do that you’re more than likely going to end up with unintentional undercutting. Oddly enough, I hear plenty of locksmiths complain about others charging too low for certain tasks, perhaps there is a correlation there?
We don’t all inherit businesses or work for other businesses prior to getting into this industry; let’s not be naïve. If someone can get a semblance of how others may price their work, no matter how vague or circumstantial, it’s still better than nothing. There’s still plenty of real world experience needed to fine tune pricing but I don’t see the reason to get up in arms about surveys or immediately discount their worth. After all, wouldn’t you have appreciated one less lesson learned the hard way?
I think we all owe it to the industry to participate in price surveys. Furthermore, I think that even if we disagree with them vehemently, we should hold our tongue – you might not see the worth but, trust me, others do.

By |2018-04-19T09:00:04+00:00April 19th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take|0 Comments

Library Update: Deadbolts

We’ve added more manufacturer’s literature and manuals to our Deadbolts page in the Library. New documents have been added for the following manufacturers:

  • Arrow Lock & Door Hardware
  • Baldwin Hardware
  • BEST Access Systems
  • Cal-Royal Products, Inc.
  • Corbin Russwin, Inc.
  • Emtek Products, Inc.
  • General Lock
  • Hager Companies
  • Kwikset Corporation
  • Master Lock Company LLC
  • Preso-Matic Keyless Locks, LLC
  • SARGENT Manufacturer Company
  • Schlage
  • Segal Lock Company
  • Unison Hardware, Inc. (INOX)
  • Weslock
  • Yale
By |2018-04-17T09:00:18+00:00April 17th, 2018|All, Deadbolt, Locks|0 Comments

Patents That Shaped American Locksmithing, Part 4: The Sidebar Lock

The gallery was not found! Patent Number: 167,088 (Google Patents)
Issue Date: August 24, 1875
Inventor(s): Philo S. Felter


Philo S. Felter might be one of the most underrated and unknown innovators in the history of locks. In March of 1868 Philo received a patent for one of the earliest, if not the earliest, wafer tumbler lock designs (Patent No. 99,013). On August 24, 1875 Philo was issued a patent for another revolutionary cylinder design. Philo’s cylinder utilized a locking bar to prevent plug rotation. Philo called it a “fence-bar”, we know it today as a sidebar. When the proper key was inserted it would lift the “notches in the tumbler” to the proper height to accept the fence-bar. Once this happened, the fence-bar could enter the plug far enough to allow the plug to be rotated.
Taking things a step further, Philo implemented multiple “false notches”, or what we now call false gates, in each tumbler. This greatly added to the lock’s pick-resistance. Additionally, if taking the patent at face value, the new cylinder design was to be paired with rim night latches, which were very popular at the time.
Unfortunately, the sidebar design never really caught on at the time. The sidebar concept laid largely dormant in the American market for the next 58 years. Then, as fate would have it, a new mind revisited the concept.The gallery was not found! Patent Number: 1,965,336 (Google Patents)
Issue Date: July 3, 1934
Inventor(s): John W. FitzGerald
Enter John W. FitzGerald. In July of 1934, FitzGerald received a patent for a wafer tumbler lock design that utilized a sidebar. Utilizing 4 different depths (eventually growing to 6) across 6 positions, this new design offered a great number of possible bitting combinations and, unlike the popular pin tumbler automotive locks at the time, it was very, very pick-resistant.
FitzGerald, unlike Philo, had perhaps the greatest series of circumstances that would ensure that his design would flourish:
First, it was the 1930s. Bootlegging, bank robberies, and automobile theft occurred at an alarming rate. Gangsters, mobsters, and crime rings were rampant; criminals like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and Dutch Schultz were mainstays in the newspapers of the day for their “activities”. As a result, automotive manufacturers and insurance companies were looking to protect automobiles as much as reasonably possible. A lock that offered greater pick-resistant than it’s contemporaries was right up their alley.

Second, FitzGerald was an employee of the Briggs & Stratton Corporation. By the end of the 1920s, Briggs & Stratton had manufactured and shipped more than 11 million automotive locks to nearly 130 manufacturers, including Chrysler, the Dodge Brothers, Ford, and General Motors. At the time, they were largest manufacturer of automobile locks in the world. Needless to say, the design was in the right hands.


In 1935 Briggs & Stratton began selling it’s new sidebar lock to General Motors. It quickly became a hit and would go on to be perhaps the most popular automobile lock ever made, appearing in all GM models for the next 50 years.
Sidebar designs didn’t end with the Briggs & Stratton and GM; other automotive manufacturers, such as Chrysler and Ford, began to utilize sidebar locks as well. Sidebar designs would find additional, widespread usage in high security locks. High security locks utilizing a sidebar include:

  • Abloy Classic
  • Abloy Disklock
  • Abloy Exec
  • Abloy Profile
  • Abloy Protec
  • Abloy Protec2
  • ASSA Twin Combi
  • ASSA Twin V-10
  • BiLock FG
  • BiLock NG
  • BiLock QC
  • Chicago TuBAR
  • EVVA 3KS
  • Fichet 450/480
  • Medeco3, or M3
  • Medeco Biaxial
  • Medeco BiLevel
  • Medeco Original
  • Mul-T-Lock MT5
  • Schlage Primus
  • Schlage Primus XP
  • Scorpion CX-5
  • Zeiss-Ikon Sperwellen
  • Zeiss-Ikon SK6 ZSE/ZSV

Sidebar designs aren’t restricted to high security locks, however. The following locks utilize sidebars as well:

  • Kwikset SmartKey
  • Schlage Everest 29 SL
  • Schlage SecureKey (Discontinued)

Much like the Blake brothers and the cylindrical lock, Philo S. Felter’s design was well ahead of it’s time. And while Philo might not have received his rightful “due” for this sidebar design, there is a lot to be said about an idea that, nearly 150 years after it became a reality, continues to be a hit.

By |2018-04-16T09:00:35+00:00April 16th, 2018|All, Cores and Cylinders, High Security, History, Locks|1 Comment

Tyler's Take: Locksmith Apps

Locksmiths appreciate tools that help complete jobs efficiently and properly. A source of modern tools, believe it or not, are smart phone applications, or apps. While apps cannot and will not accomplish tasks such as pinning a cylinder or cut a key they can supplement these tasks by providing pinning charts or providing bittings for a blind code, respectively. With that in mind, I decided to list a few of the apps available to locksmiths that can assist with day-to-day jobs. While this isn’t a full, comprehensive list (and that may be something we compile for you not too far down the road), it represents a good portion of what is out there. If you have any recommendations or comments, feel free to leave them below so that others may see. Without further ado, here is a partial list of available locksmith apps:


A2Calc is an app that can create pinning charts AND decode a core to determine the control key for 6 and 7-pin A2 SFIC systems. While there are pinning worksheets (much like the ones we have!) and desktop/laptop software available to do the same, A2Calc is unique in that it relies on nothing more than what you already have: your phone. With A2Calc, you can save up to 16 systems at one time, all of which can be encrypted and password protected. Not bad. A2Calc is a valuable tool if you don’t do SFIC work often enough to commit pinning rules and formulas to memory. And, if you require them, A3 and A4 versions exist for an additional, separate cost.
Cost: $4.99     iPhone: Yes      Android: No


BILT, the only app on this list that isn’t exclusively locksmith-oriented, features step-by-step assembly and repair instructions of products in an interactive, 3D format. Imagine if you need to install or remove a Medeco Maxum deadbolt for the first time; not a problem with BILT. BILT will show you the process, the tools required, and any applicable information. Perhaps the only drawback to BILT is that, at the moment, there aren’t that many locks and door hardware featured. But, because apps are updatable, I’m sure this list will grow in the future. As a neat added bonus, there’s instructions for hundreds, if not thousands, of other products such as grills, high chairs, the list goes on and on. It’s not only a great app for locksmithing but also for those “around the house” projects.
Cost: Free     iPhone: Yes      Android: Yes

InstaCode Live

InstaCode Live is a modular, subscription based app. When I say modular I mean that, at the very least, it functions like traditional code software but you can increase it’s available features with “add-ons” in your monthly subscription. These add-ons include: automotive opening instructions, a database of vehicle immobilizer system information, and a Find Bitting/Wafer Swapper that helps you cross-reference partial, known cuts against code series using “Fill” and “Cutting Tree” features.
Cost: Varies; Subscription Based.     iPhone: Yes      Android: Yes


LFIC is an app that can calculate pinning charts for Corbin Russwin (System 70 and Pre-System 70), Sargent, and Medeco 32 series cores. Like A2Calc, this app is good if you don’t do this work often enough to commit it to memory but still feel confident enough to take on the job.
Cost: $4.79     iPhone: Yes      Android: No

Master It

Master It is a self-proclaimed “on-the-fly master keying app”. Master It is designed to create up to 3-level master key systems (with up to 64 changes per master) in a matrix format for Arrow .014″, Kwikset .023″, Sargent .020″, Schlage .015″, Weiser .018″, and Yale. 019″ key bitting specifications. Much like the A2Calc, which coincidentally was developed by the same author of Master It – Phil Domenici, Master It is a valuable tool if you don’t create master key systems often enough to familiarize yourself with the rules and various key bitting specifications.
Cost: $4.99     iPhone: Yes      Android: No


PadPal is by far my favorite locksmith app. PadPal contains concise, summarized programming instructions for the most popular stand-alone keypad locks, mechanical and electronic, as well as electronic safe locks. In addition to these instructions, there are links for each model to the manufacturer’s manual that will open in your browser with click. Simply open the app, scroll through the nearly 40 models available, and select the model’s image to access the information. This is a VALUABLE tool to have if you’re called to change the code(s) on a lock you might not be familiar with. No more searching Google or fumbling through your folders/files to locate the instructions – it’s all right there.
Cost: Free     iPhone: Yes      Android: No

Snap Decoder

Forget using micrometers or calipers or key gauges (at least, as much), Snap Decoder can decode keys using just the blank information and a picture of the key. This process, with adequate lighting and a proper background, can be accomplished in seconds. The app comes with pre-loaded key blank references for Keyline, Silca, Ilco, and JMA blanks and can reference up to 6500 key series.
Cost: Free; Integrates w/ InstaCode Live.     iPhone: No      Android: Yes

Manufacturer Apps

Aftermarket apps aren’t the only available to locksmiths. More and more manufacturers are now providing apps to support their products. This support can come in the form of product-interface apps, such as Allegion’s ENGAGE apps which allow configuration of their NDE locks, to information-based apps, such as Falcon’s How-To app. The following manufacturers offer free apps to support their products:

  • August
  • Falcon
  • Kwikset
  • LCN
  • Master Lock
  • Schlage
  • Von Duprin
  • Weiser
  • Yale

Of those, Falcon, LCN, Schlage (electronic and mechanical products), and Von Duprin have “How-To” apps dedicated to their product lines which feature instructional videos, catalogs, and installation instructions. If you sell or service any products offered by these brands then I cannot stress how beneficial these apps are. Take a moment to download them and give them a shot next time you’re at a job and require information.

By |2018-04-12T09:00:16+00:00April 12th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take|2 Comments

Library Update: Floor and Overhead (Concealed)

We’ve recently added more manufacturer’s literature and manuals to our Floor and Overhead (Concealed) page in the Library. New documents have been added for the following manufacturers:

  • Cal-Royal Products, Inc.
  • Falcon
  • LCN
  • Locksmith Dealers of America (LSDA)
  • Norton Door Controls
  • Rixson Specialty Door Controls
  • Townsteel

Locksmith Scams

Individuals and companies posing as legitimate locksmiths are preying on consumers. The Federal Trade Commission summarized the scam as follows:

“companies run multiple ads that seem to be for local businesses, but actually connect to call centers in another city. Operators in
the call centers may give surprisingly low estimates and dispatch poorly trained locksmiths. When those locksmiths show up, they
say the job will cost much more than the estimate, and they insist you pay with cash.”

This scam, which is a textbook “bait-and-switch”, has been covered by multiple news agencies including ABC News, the New York Times, and the Today Show. Dozens of local news affiliates have covered the scam as well and most of these reports are available on YouTube.
We have developed this page and the following articles to help consumers and locksmiths in the fight against “locksmith scammers”:


By |2018-04-09T09:00:44+00:00April 9th, 2018|All, Industry|0 Comments
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