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: 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

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

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

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

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

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:

  • ASSA ABLOY
  • 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

Tyler's Take: Bench Testing For Locksmiths

If you already aren’t practicing “bench testing”, I would highly suggest that you start. A bench test, or bench testing, is defined as:
the critical evaluation of a new or repaired component, device, apparatus, etc, prior to installation to ensure that it is in perfect condition.
Perfect is overly subjective but I think we all get the point. Bench testing is trying out new parts to make sure everything is good before we get to the job site. Why would this be beneficial? It can potentially save time, money, and face. I think we’ve all ordered parts for a job, gone to the job site, and found out that something was defective with the new parts. I have at least and I’m not ashamed to admit that. So, we pack everything back up, maybe put the existing part(s) back together (if we got that far before discovering the defective item), explain the situation to the customer, and then start the RMA process. It’s not a fun situation and we should all take measures to prevent it. Bench testing is just that measure.
Bench testing is very, very popular with those who service and install access control systems. After the survey is complete and the quote has been approved, the parts are ordered and we await their arrival before scheduling the job. Upon receipt of the parts, and prior to scheduling, a fair number of companies will unpack each item and do a “mock assemble” to ensure that everything is working as it should be. Some may even take it upon them to begin setting up the software, or as much is as reasonably possible, while everything is connected. Whatever the case, they are bench testing the parts before they schedule and depart for the job. Time is money and we should all take measures to make sure we aren’t wasting it.
Bench testing isn’t just an access control thing, however, it can be applied to just about all parts. Ordering a few Simplex L1000s for stock? Check them in upon arrival and then inspect the locks, parts, and then test their function. Make sure everything is there and everything is behaving as it should be. New BEST 9K locks? Do the same. You don’t necessarily have to mount the locks to test them, a simple “in hand” test should be effective in spotting a large majority of defects. This same principle can be applied to exit devices, deadbolts, and even door closers. If it has a mechanical function, it can be tested prior to placing it on the shelf at the shop or in the truck en route to a job.
Another good benefit of bench testing is to make sure that the parts you receive are the parts they should be and/or they aren’t used. We recently received a large shipment of Simplex L1000s for stock. Upon checking them in we discovered one lock was obviously used. It had wear marks on it and the clutch assembly was actually bent. How that happened I do not know but imagine if we relied on that part for an emergency job? We’d tell the customer “We have the part, we’ll be there shortly!” and show up only to discover that we couldn’t solve the problem that trip. And maybe one of the distributors in town had another in stock but what about rare functions or finishes? They might not. Do you see what I’m getting at?
It’s not enough to just verify that the part number on the box matches your purchase order, you also need to verify that the items inside of the box match it and that they’re functioning as the manufacturer intended them to. If you already aren’t, start bench testing. It can save you a lot of time and a lot of trouble.

By |2018-03-29T09:00:39+00:00March 29th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take|1 Comment

Tyler's Take: How do we fix our 'age dilemma'?

It’s no surprise that locksmithing, like nearly all trades, is experiencing an “age dilemma”. The younger guys, and I say this as a 30-year-old, aren’t flocking to trades, or at least at a pace decent enough to replace those who are leaving much less meet outstanding demand.  Whereas other trades might be better suited to survive or perhaps even overcome this dilemma, such as electricians or pipe fitters with unions and localized education and recruiting options, we’re at a disadvantage largely due to our trade’s fragmentation. Be that as it may, I don’t believe it it’s our industries’ death knell; far from it, actually.
Now with all that said, how would you fix our trade’s age dilemma? How can we help fill our ranks and keep our trade flourishing? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’m generally interested in your thoughts. Please, leave a comment below with your idea(s). There are no wrong or right answers, only opinions, and welcomed ones at that.
My personal belief to fix the age dilemma is by paying it forward. To quote Wikipedia, paying it forward is “an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.” I’ve decided that the best way to truly pay it forward in this industry is to help those looking to get into this trade. It’s a win-win if you think about it. Not all of us were born into this trade; I would be willing to bet that a large majority of us are 1st generation locksmiths. And even if you were born into this trade, none of us walked into this trade day 1 knowing everything and we certainly didn’t learn it all on our own. We had a mentor, or mentors, who helped us along the way.
While “helping” may mean different things to different people, the degree in which you “help” is entirely up to you. Maybe helping is mentoring someone you’ve already hired or someone you work with or the younger guy at your local association/chapter, maybe helping is answering questions or giving advice to someone looking to get into the trade or new to the trade, maybe helping is hiring an apprentice or speaking at a career day at the local high school. Whatever you define as helping, I see no wrong to it. Perhaps the best way to solve the age dilemma and ensure the future of this trade is to all start being proactive ambassadors to it.  Perhaps the best way to pay our mentor’s back, since they thought enough of the trade to help others in it, is to pay it forward by helping out the next group.

By |2018-03-15T09:00:20+00:00March 15th, 2018|All, Industry, 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: Smart Locks and Privacy

It all started with a review…

Fortunately for us, this should be very easy to look into. It, according to the reviewer, was plain as day in the app’s privacy policy. Here are some relevant portions of said policy:


Well, that appears pretty cut and dry to me. But on the off chance that the original reviewer and I were misinterpreting or reading into this too literally, I decided to reach out to Schlage via Twitter for their response:

That was the extent of the conversation; I got no response after that. Let’s ignore the fact that they’ve blatantly and clearly said what information they will use. Let’s play Devil’s advocate and assume that, as it relates to “third party service providers”, they mean only the vendors, companies, whatever related to the development, implementation, and/or maintenance of the app. Let’s assume that the information is only used for the purposes of the app itself. Great…..so why couldn’t they just say that? I can only assume that’s what their Twitter account was suggesting but then again it’s so general that I could be woefully wrong. If Schlage would like to send me clarification I’ll be more than happy to update this post; that’s only fair to them.
When you speak in generalities, much like their privacy policy is written, you can cause a lot of unease amongst users. And yes, I’m not a lawyer and I realize that careful wording is a must when crafting these but I cannot understand why they wouldn’t be able to specifically state that the only third party service providers are the ones involved with the app and not companies purchasing your data. Is that too much to ask? August Home, makers of the August Smart Lock, doesn’t seem to have a problem with stating just that.


Good job, August.
But, there’s always a work-around, I suppose, albeit at the expense of your own time, effort, and circumstances (thanks to @MattEyraud):

Whether you’re a home owner or a locksmith selling smart locks, it’s in your best interest to not take products at face value and do your research. Read the privacy policies, the terms of service and agreements, etc. Make sure you understand what you or your customers are agreeing to.
For more information, here are a few links to privacy policies from the most popular smart lock manufacturers:

By |2018-02-15T07:00:14+00:00February 15th, 2018|All, Tyler's Take, Wireless Electronic Locks|0 Comments

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
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