Locksmith News – 5/7/2018



Case Study

UT’s Old-School Lock and Key Shop.


Linus Yale Jr’s first patent.


Wireless Electronic Locks

August Smart Lock.

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

Tyler's Take: Social Media and, ugh, Locksmiths

Yes, we are discussing social media and the sharing of sensitive information on social media platforms. No, it’s not a repeat of what I discussed back in early February so don’t adjust your screens or refresh the page. I did not think I had to bring this up with other locksmiths but I was wrong. When I wrote the first post it was mainly to stress to other locksmiths, specifically the institutional variety, that you need to be cognizant of social media as it relates to your keying and access control systems as well as the key control policies that govern them. I didn’t realize that actual locksmiths needed to be told the same but, hey, here we are.

Don’t take that as a shot across the bow. I don’t mean that all locksmiths need this lecture. 99.99% have enough common sense to, say, not post key bitting information or pinning charts along with the customer’s location but, apparently, some do. This post is for those people and those companies.
Let me state this as plainly as I possibly can: don’t post your customer’s information online via social media. There is nothing wrong with showcasing work, I get that, and I’ve done that. It’s one thing to showcase an exit device install or a new door that you installed; that’s innocuous, that information cannot be used to decrease the security of your clients. But actual information that can be used to create working credentials for an easily identifiable location? Like the aforementioned key bittings? Pinning charts? Along with the customer’s physical location? No, don’t do that. Good Lord, never do that.

When in doubt, don’t post it. If you want to show others that you’re doing a large rekey or installing new locks, great, but don’t divulge the key bittings, the keyway, or the location. That’s analogous to telling someone on social media that you’re going out of town for the week and you have a lot of high dollar items in your residence. Maybe show a picture of the locks, sans keyway or brand, in front of your pinning kit and not say who you’re doing it for. In fact, never mention your client’s names. That’s tacky.
Put another way, let’s assume that someone out there has just as much intelligence as yourself. Before you post an image to social media, ask yourself: “Could this person use what I’m about to post to undermine the security of my client?” I don’t care how far fetched or unlikely it may be, if you can answer yes, don’t post it. Don’t. Just don’t.

By |2018-03-08T07:00:29+00:00March 8th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: Cold Calling Strategies for Locksmiths

For the purpose of this article, when I say “cold call” or “cold calling” I don’t mean introductions via phone calls, I mean in-person and face-to-face interaction. 
Cold calling is nothing more than approaching a prospective client with the intention of soliciting your businesses’ services and/or products. Each of these strategies build-on and/or rely on each other so it’s important to keep that mind.

Identify and research markets.

The needs of markets differ greatly. Yes, all have needs for locks and doors and door hardware but sometimes those needs go well beyond that. It is therefore advantageous to do research prior to cold calling. If, for example, you wanted to target retirement communities, it’s a good idea to learn the common needs of retirement communities as it pertains to physical security. A common need for retirement communities is elopement protection. Proper research would include products available, such as elopement detection systems or delayed egress products, life safety codes related to the aforementioned products, a manufacturer’s dealer requirements, etc. All of this information is pertinent because it’s going to influence and mold the questions you ask the prospective client during your initial contact.

Find the key players.

This isn’t necessary on small businesses, it won’t be hard to find the person in charge of “purchasing decisions”, but when you start approaching the larger entities? That’s when it’s time to find out who’s who. You don’t want to waste their time or yours by talking to the wrong person. There’s no sense in cold-calling a receptionist or maintenance/engineering if they’re not the ones that make those decisions.
There are two ways to do this, I’ve found. First, you can simply approach prospective client, introduce yourself, and ask who you need to talk to. Hopefully this will result in a name, a phone number, and/or a business card(s). Second, you can search out these individuals online via LinkedIn. You’re looking for job titles like “property manager”, “building manager”, “chief engineer”, “director of loss prevention”, etc. These are the people that do business with contractors on behalf of a building and/or business.

Keep your side simple.

Once you’ve identified your contact and researched their market’s needs, it’s important that you introduce yourself and your company but that should be about the extent of it. Answer questions, yes, but keep the volunteering of information to a minimum. No one likes an over-bearing salesman so don’t be that type. Don’t immediately walk in and start handing out brochures/catalogs and start listing off benefits of X or Y product. That will overwhelm the customer and more than likely torpedo the chance of a sell. Their time is limited and you want to make the most of it. You’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your companies value and worth, along with your products, when it comes time to make the actual sale. Until that time, save it!

Engage and listen.

After introductions, your best strategy is to engage the client by asking the right questions (and this is why prior research is key!) and listening to their needs. Do they have security goals or pending items that they wish to fulfill? What is their budget? What is their timeline? These questions, and more, can help you craft the best solution(s) possible for the client. In other words, don’t go into the conversation trying to sell a product, let the client spell out what they’re looking for, what they want. It’s not hard to sell something to someone that already wants to buy it. Remove any of the guess work by simply engaging and listening.

Create the opportunity to make the sale.

The initial meeting doesn’t always have result in a sale; in fact, it shouldn’t be your goal. Yes, it does sometimes happen if you’re cold-calling in your service vehicle, specifically for smaller tasks such as a simple rekey or a duplicate key, but the initial meeting should create the opportunity to make the sale. Once needs are identified, schedule a time with the prospective client where both parties can discuss solutions without distraction. That is the meeting where you make your sales-pitch and where you get a chance to make the sale. The number one goal of any cold-call should be to get to that meeting.

Conclusion and Aftermath

If done right, hopefully you should have the follow-up meeting scheduled. And hopefully it is at a date that gives you time to fully prepare a presentation of solutions for areas in which they have identified a need. As I said, that will be your chance to make that sale. One day in the future we’ll touch on effective sales techniques and tactics but it’s not exactly rocket science. Chances are you’re already good at sales. We are all consumers, after all, so we have a good idea of how to “do business” with others.
If the prospective client doesn’t have any immediate needs or they blow you off or you get no where, don’t be discouraged. Take notes of who you spoke with, when, and what about. Make a return visit a month or two down the road. You want to stay relevant in their mind without being overbearing. They may not have the time or interest in your services at the time but what happens when something breaks or an item becomes a necessity? They’ll be looking for someone to get the job done right. That’s you. That necessity might not be present on the first visit, or even second, but the “law of eventuality” states that it has to happen. Be polite, be respectful, but definitely follow up to pounce on that opportunity when it presents itself.

By |2018-03-01T07:00:27+00:00March 1st, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: The Impact of Customer Service

Quality customer service is one of the most important attributes a business, big or small, can possess. This is especially true in our industry. It can make or break jobs, accounts, and, in some cases, your entire business.
The impact of “bad” customer service is profound. According to Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved, negative experience. In the same book, Newell-Legner states that a typical business only hears from 4% of dissatisfied customers. A 2011 American Express Survey found that 3 in 5 Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that a bad customer service experience reaches more than twice as many ears as a good customer service experience.
To recap, if you or your company aren’t providing quality customer service then you’re likely not going to hear about it, it’s going to be an uphill battle to correct, your existing customers will more than likely be looking elsewhere, and people are going to hear about. That’s not a good situation to be in, especially if you’re new in town or operate in a smaller market.
But what if you provide excellent customer service? There are a large number of reasons customers choose to “come back” to a business. Categorically, excellent customer service encapsulates a large majority of those reasons. And when they do?
In an article for smile.io, Alex McEachern found, and cited, that repeat customers are profitable in 5 big ways:

  • A repeat customer is more likely to shop with you again and again.
  • A repeat customer is easier to sell to.
  • Repeat customers spend more on each purchase.
  • Repeat customers spend more at key times.
  • Repeat customers share your store/business more.

Who wouldn’t want that?
Corroborating this article, the same American Express Survey mentioned previously found that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. According to Capgemini, this number is actually 8 in 10. Bain & Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%!
What if a part gets delayed or the wrong one is shipped and the job is a delayed? Not a big deal according to MarketingSherpa; they found that 82% of satisfied customers are either “likely” or “very likely” to keep shopping with a company even if something goes wrong. Taking excellent customer service a step further, a resolved complaint in the customer’s favor results in the customer doing business with you again 70% of the time, according to Lee Resources.
How do you know when you’re providing excellent customer service? The two biggest indicators I have found are:

  1. An overwhelming majority of your jobs will be from repeat customers and customers referred to you.
  2. Your customers will be proactive to let you know that they appreciate your service, your responsiveness, your assistance, etc.

If that sounds overly simplistic, you’re right, it is. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. If you are doing a good job, your customers will remain loyal and send their friends, family, and colleagues your way. It’s often said that the best compliment in business is a referral. That couldn’t be more true in my eyes.
Teaching and imparting excellent customer service information, techniques, and wisdom is beyond the scope of this article but let me share a few books on the subject that helped me:

  • Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet by Ron Kaufman
  • The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business by Richard R. Shapiro
By |2018-02-22T07:00:02+00:00February 22nd, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Tyler's Take: Lead Tracking

There are many metrics a business owner can use to assist in the development of his or her business. Business owners regularly track things like sales revenue, profit margins, gross margins, and maybe even retention rates and the cost of customer acquisition. One business metric that is highly undervalued in locksmithing is lead tracking. Lead tracking is nothing more than determining the source of your leads; it’s finding out how customer’s found out about you. There are many methods and tools available to locksmiths, or any business owner for that matter, to help track leads but I don’t think any are as simple or cheap as ending each call, email, or interaction with “How did you hear about us?”
Now that may seem obvious and overly ambiguous but let me explain. If you actively chart the source of service requests, you can plan and track other things, such as promotional campaigns, which can help grow your business. Let’s say you start tracking leads today by asking customers how they heard about your company and 3 or 4 months down the road you find out that 65% of your businesses’ leads come from repeat customers, another 15% from referrals, 5% is from Google, 4% is from Kudzu, 3% from seeing your truck(s) out on the road, etc. Whatever the source of your calls, you’ll begin to see patterns emerge and learn areas you’re doing well in, such as repeat or referral service requests, and areas that maybe you could use improvement on. This initial research can identify what avenues of lead generation you may need to focus on.
I don’t know the ideal makeup of leads. I don’t know what percentage need to be repeat, referral, Google, etc. I think that’s largely subjective to your area, your services, and far more criteria than I am capable of thinking of. The point is, by tracking leads you can at least see what areas can be improved on. If after your initial batch of lead tracking you decide to improve the amount of leads from Google, for example, you at least have a baseline for where your calls are currently at. After your determine a budget and timeline that will work on a promotional campaign for Google, you can begin to see if it’s working. If leads from Google increase, you’ll know because you’re tracking. From there you can determine, either by a percentage or whole number, how much those additional leads cost your business by comparing what you spent to obtain them. This information can then be used with the aforementioned cost of customer acquisition to truly see if it’s worth your investment. If leads from Google decrease, well, you’ll at least know so that you can either discontinue the campaign or re-evaluate it.
The previous example only skims the surface of what you can do with this information. There are far more ideas and metrics that can pull from it but that’s not the point of this post. Lead tracking is something you should be doing if you already aren’t. Keep a notepad next to your office phone or in the truck. Mark your leads and throw them into Excel at the end of the day or week. For virtually no added time or expense on your part, tracking leads can drastically help you grow your business.

By |2018-02-08T07:00:17+00:00February 8th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|0 Comments

Tyler's Take: Social Media and Key Control Policies

A recent Twitter exchange I was involved with provided a great example of why effective key control policies must now contain provisions related to social media. Let me explain.

The original tweet.

Back in December, @dontlook retweeted a tweet by a member of the U.S. Air Force. The original tweet contained a photograph of the service member’s ID badge as well as his key. Using the information on the badge, it wasn’t hard to narrow down where he was currently stationed: a public health building at a Royal Air Force installation. Further work by @nite0wl determined the key blank and pinning system of the key pictured, one that is readily available from multiple aftermarket vendors. He was also able to decode the key to two possibilities without the aid of apps or programs, which are available, or further analysis by comparing pixels or using actual measurements. He provided me with the bittings he decoded and I cut the keys for comparison.
Let me stress this: this was nothing more than proof of concept. We could have produced an accurate duplicate key with complete certainty but that wasn’t the point of this exercise. It was to show that individuals, locksmiths or not, can use photographs and/or information shared on social media platforms to compromise key systems.

Social Media and Key Control Policies

Your institution’s or employer’s key control policy should contain provisions which prohibit the sharing of information related to it on social media as well as provide corrective actions in the event such information is distributed on social media platforms. An effective key control policy in 2018 would prohibit photographs of keys as well as the locks or cylinders, which can assist in revealing keyways, governed by it. If the key control policy also governs access control systems then it should also prohibit photographs of credentials, such as cards or fobs, card readers, and other hardware related to the access control system. Furthermore, information unique to your physical security systems, such as the key bittings or badge types, should not be readily available to anyone with an Internet connection. This is even true for keys and cylinders with patent protection and restricted distribution channels. That adds an additional layer of security, yes, but it does not make you invulnerable. In the event that such a compromise is discovered, the corrective action should be all reasonable efforts to restore security to the areas left vulnerable. This may include loss of privilege, fines and fees, the rekeying of locks and issuance of new keys, etc.
This entire premise may seem far fetched but it’s not. I know first hand of a loss of security that occurred because of a key control policy that was lacking. Unfortunately, a sexual assault occurred because of it. Legal and civil ramifications aside, I wouldn’t want that on my conscience and I wouldn’t want my lack of foresight to result in a tragic experience for others. Make sure that your key control policy is up to date to protect your institution, your employer, the individuals that use it, and yourself.
Special thanks to @nite0wl and @dontlook for their participation in this case study.

By |2018-01-30T12:20:41+00:00January 30th, 2018|All, Business, Tyler's Take|0 Comments
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