These pages have been put together to assist a person either setting up or thinking of setting up their own locksmith business and for those who have just completed a locksmith training course.
Many locksmiths chose to offer a 24 hour service to their clients. This decision will depend on a locksmiths own personal circumstances such as family and other commitments. Doing late night call outs can be very profitable locksmith jobs, many locksmiths will charge a higher fee for doing call outs during unsociable hours.
A 24 hour service can help retain the business of regular clients who know that they can call you any time, day or night. A locksmith who switches their phone off at night may lose valuable clients who find they cannot rely on them.
To work as a 24 hour locksmith you must answer a phone at all times and be prepared to work some very unsociable working hours. However the benefits can be great including the extra income generated from locksmith jobs and the retained clients who come to view you as a reliable and efficient locksmith business.
As with any business a locksmith may require an accountant to help format the sales and expenses figures amongst other things such as filing in tax returns. For locksmiths who become VAT registered once their turnover reaches the appropriate threshold they may need to employ the services of an accountant to help process VAT returns.
Accountants can be useful in helping a locksmith understand how much money their business is actually making and pointing out where the business may be going wrong
A locksmith business which takes on a "limited" status will need an accountant to file year end accounts.
Once completing a good locksmith training course it is advisable to speak to an accountant prior to setting up a business.
Clearly an important factor for any locksmith business to be successful is what advertising is carried out. Anyone who is new to the business of being a locksmith or has just completed a locksmith training course needs to be cautious about what type of advertising they budget for.
Traditional printed publications can be good places for locksmiths to advertise however take careful note of several factors when considering such advertising;
Internet advertising is increasingly becoming more popular amongst locksmiths particularly those new to the industry or those who have just completed a locksmith training course. New locksmiths can use the internet to achieve relatively quick results when looking for jobs and more locksmith work. However as with any advertising be weary of what internet advertising you are being offered.
Always treat with suspicion any advertisers who call you claiming they have a shortage of locksmiths for a particular area of the country and ask for you to pay for an advert to have exclusive locksmith advertising rights to an area. Such deals are often very poor in terms of the returns that they generate. Always be weary of anyone promising you locksmith work in return for a fee of any kind.
If you decide to advertise your locksmith business on the internet it is wise to stick to only the better know directories and advertisers.
As with any advertising be careful not to tie you and your locksmith business into long term deals that you may struggle to see out. This can especially be the case of new locksmiths and those who have just completed locksmith training and are eager to increase the amount of locksmith jobs and work they generate.
Local, simple advertising can often prove effective for locksmiths. Having small business cards produced detailing what specialist locksmith services you can offer is a good way of increasing awareness of your locksmith business. Speaking to local businesses, the police and local authorities and letting them know of your locksmith business and the services you can offer for their locksmith needs.
Being a member of a locksmith association can be of benefit for those either operating as existing locksmiths or for those looking to take a locksmith training course and become a locksmith.
Some associations offer locksmith training courses which then give you an opportunity to join the association for free or after paying a fee. Some locksmiths choose to go down this route whereas some prefer to work completely independently.
It is worth considering what support and benefits a locksmith association is offering a locksmith before making a decision to join or not.
Being a member of a locksmith association can sometimes mean paying less for tools, stock and insurances if they have special deals on offer, also it can help reassure the customer that their locksmith is of a particular standard.
The idea of dealing with cars and auto locksmith work in general can appeal to many locksmiths or those thinking of becoming a locksmith. Some training companies offer auto locksmith training courses to those interested in this type of work.
For those completely new to the locksmith industry it can be a wise decision to first complete a traditional locksmith training course and obtain some experience as a general locksmith before getting involved in auto locksmith work.
Be aware that the increasingly sophisticated technology used in cars can make the business of being an auto locksmith increasingly expensive.
How you want to brand your locksmith business is an important consideration to make when first starting out as a locksmith.
Choose a name that identifies with the locksmith image that you want to portray, make sure you appeal to the market you are attempting to target whether that be the public as a whole or a more specific market.
Consider carefully how your locksmith brand will make you appear to the customer. Will they view you as too expensive, as unprofessional, as too corporate in image? If you want customers to view you as a small local firm then make sure your locksmith advertising reflects this.
Once you have either finished a locksmith training course or planning to start a locksmith business the legal entity of your operation is something to consider.
Some locksmiths will choose to operate as a sole trader, having the advantage of not having to file accounts every year with companies house. Other locksmiths establish their business as a limited company. This can give you some degree of security as it means that liabilities and debts incurred by the locksmith business will not be held against the individual.
Once your locksmith company begins to grow and establish itself you may need to seek the help of other individuals to cope with the workload. In the locksmith industry companies will tend to employ people and or supply other locksmiths with work on a subcontract basis.
Taking on locksmiths as employees will mean your business takes on extra costs and responsibilities make sure you fully understand these before thinking about taking on employees in your locksmith business.
Some locksmiths may offer to send an employee on a locksmith training course in order to give them a job or to increase their ability and knowledge as a locksmith.
Locksmiths and locksmith businesses will sometimes look to take on locksmiths to work for them. In reality most existing locksmith companies will be seeking to employ only those experienced in the industry or with specific skills. Many of those who have just finished a locksmith training course will tend to set up their own business and become self employed.
Any working locksmith should have public liability insurance so as to protect them against potential claims that may be brought against them. PLI is not generally expensive for a sole locksmith and is relatively simple to setup.
Many contractors will insist on any subcontract basis locksmiths having liability insurance that will cover the locksmith up to a certain amount. Many insurance companies will also offer you insurance for your locksmith tools should they be stolen for example.
A good public liability insurance policy should be on the top of your list should you consider setting up a locksmith business or take a locksmith training course.
In order to give your locksmith business a good and professional image then it may be necessary to get some good quality stationary printed.
A set of numbered invoices can be useful for recording all the details of jobs – not only for accounting reasons but also in the event of a complaint or warranty a locksmith can refer back to the work they did at the time to establish the legitimacy of a claim.
Many locksmiths both mobile and those based in a shop offer key cutting as a service to customers. Key cutting machines are expensive to purchase and a locksmith also needs to buy sets of blank keys in order to cut keys. Other than household keys a locksmith may also cut keys for vehicles however the cost of entering this market can be very great as part of the process can involve programming the transponder part of the key in more modern vehicles.
Mobile locksmiths will sometimes install small key cutting machines in the back of their van, this enables them to cut keys on the move and provide customers with extra keys should they require them if they have just had a lock change.
Some locksmith training courses may offer key cutting as a part of the course.
The way a locksmith markets their business will be an important factor in how much work the business ultimately obtains. The marketing strategy of any locksmith business should be designed to target the customers that the locksmith is trying to get the attention of.
Some locksmiths employ some interesting marketing techniques and strategies in order to obtain further work. Try to be innovative and come up with unique and clever ideas to clearly and effectively market your locksmith business.
Anyone new to the locksmith industry or considering doing a locksmith training course may want to decide whether they will operate as a mobile locksmith or open a shop offering key cutting, locks and locksmith services.
A mobile locksmith solution is a good way to start and can be achieved at relatively low cost, with low ongoing overheads. A van can be used to hold all the locksmiths tools, stock and any other equipment, as well as acting as an advertisement for the business.
If a locksmith decides to expand out their operation and offer the sale of locks and other security equipment along with key cutting services then a shop or other retail unit may be a good solution. Before doing so you should make sure the business can support the extra overheads that a retail premises would bring, this may well be alongside the cost of a van the locksmith may have in incur.
Customers may prefer to use locksmiths who offer a warranty with their work and parts supplied. Any good locksmith will most likely offer at least a one year warranty for any work they carry out. However a locksmith must also be prepared to sometimes to contest a claim in the event of a mistaken or even fraudulent claim.
The best way to ensure this is for any locksmith to keep detailed records of all the jobs that they conduct. If a locksmith receives a warranty claim a long time after a job they may not be able to remember the work carried out on site and if the customer makes a mistake the locksmith may end up paying for further works that was no part of the original job.
A good warranty and claim procedure will attract customers whilst giving your locksmith business a good reputation as a company that stands by its customers.
One very specialist area of being a locksmith is that of safes. Locksmith safe engineers will open locked safes, carry out repairs and maintenance as well as supplying new and used safes for sale.
There are some specialist locksmith training courses for safes however anyone new to the locksmith industry will probably benefit from conducting general locksmith work for a period of time first until they feel confident to move onto other more specialist areas of locksmith work.
The cost of equipment to get involved in safes can also be high, something the locksmith will need to consider.
Once a locksmith has completed their locksmith training course they will need to purchase a quantity of locks in order to begin trading. The amount of stock purchased depends on the locksmith's budget and preference however a good stock of cylinder locks, such as rim and euro cylinders as well as a selection of mortice locks would be of great benefit to any locksmith.
Euro cylinders for example come in many different sizes, finishes and different forms. A cylinder that is not the correct size for a door may present a security issue to the customer so it is important that a locksmith fits the correct size locks for doors as well as ensuring the locks they supply customers with are of a good standard.
A locksmith who does not carry a good level of stock will lose out on jobs when they cannot fit a particular lock and will not gain a good reputation. This is especially the case if the locksmith attends a call in the night when they cannot readily obtain stock.
Many national locksmith companies offer sub contract opportunities to working locksmiths and those who have recently completed their locksmith training course. These companies normally work on the basis that they supply you with locksmith jobs and then take a portion of the takings from the job. This can be a good source of regular work for many locksmiths however before deciding to do locksmith work for a contractor it is wise to check there credentials first. If they have a bad reputation then it may have an adverse effect on your own locksmith business, or if other locksmiths have had bad experiences with them, such as not being paid then that may also influence your decision whether to work with them or not.
Anyone starting a locksmith business or considering a locksmith training course would be advised to speak to their accountant regarding how to pay tax as a locksmith and the best routes available.
Being a self employed locksmith will have various tax implications that differ from being an employee, you should make yourself aware of these before starting up a locksmith business.
Keeping receipts for all business expenses such as stock and fuel is very important as well as providing customers with a receipt for any locksmithing works carried out.
There is a wide and often daunting selection of locksmith tools available to those new to the industry or just completed their locksmith training course. Any good locksmith training course will normally advise you of the best tools to purchase. You may decide to purchase more specialist tools and equipment in the future should you come across particular jobs as a locksmith. This may be work that you have gained from a contract or just in areas of locksmith work where the locksmith feels they need more assistance.
It is wise to research new locksmith tools carefully before purchasing to ensure it is something that will really be of use and that the tool is reliable and spare parts are readily available. Some locksmith tools can be very expensive and complex to use, be sure that you will understand how to use the equipment and if there is anyone that can help advise you.
There are certain locksmith tools that are crucial to any locksmith; in many cases these tools are relatively inexpensive and durable. A good locksmith training course should provide you with a list of "must have" equipment and details of where these tools can be purchased from.
Anyone new to the industry with no prior knowledge will ideally need to go on a locksmith training course or act as an apprentice to an experienced locksmith in order to gain the knowledge and skills required to become a fully working locksmith.
There are many locksmith training courses available throughout the UK. Some are run by existing companies, others by individuals and some by associations. Training periods vary from a few days to some courses running into weeks. It is a good idea to research any training courses carefully prior to deciding which one to take. Any good training course for locksmith should cover a wide range of locks, promote non destructive entry methods when appropriate and provide an ongoing support helpline and manuals. They should also advise the student on the best places to purchase locksmith tools and stock as well as suggested quantities. Help and advice on what prices to charge for certain locksmith jobs, company policy and other areas of the business side of being a locksmith are also important things to learn on any training course.
Good quality locksmith training will also be very hands on for the student and allow them to try techniques and skills at first hand. This should give them the skills they require to go out and operate as a locksmith on a full time basis.
Training courses are available to specialise into other areas of the locksmith industry so you can improve skills and provide a wider range of services to clients.
A locksmith will require some kind of transport in order to visit customers and carry out jobs. Some choose to use a private car whereas many locksmiths opt to use a dedicated van for their business. A van can be used for mobile keycutting, carrying all the necessary locksmith tools and locks as well as advertising the locksmith services if there is signwriting on the van.
A van being used for business purposes will require an insurance policy that reflects this use. Many insurance companies offer policies for tradespeople who use vans for work purposes.
If buying a van it is worth purchasing a van in relatively good condition not only from a maintenance point of view but also the fact that a clean tidy looking van will reflect better on a customer's perception of a particular locksmith business.
Image and reputation is a very important factor in ultimately how successful a locksmith business will be. This is both the case for established locksmiths or individuals who have recently finished a locksmith training course and are setting up their own locksmith business.
A good uniform is an effective way of obtaining a good image that can help increase the customer base and establish a good reputation in the future.
Uniforms can be made to bespoke requirements for locksmiths who want their logo, name and any other details on their clothing.
Nowadays many locksmiths existing or newly graduated from a locksmith training course will establish a website advertising their locksmith business and services.
Some online companies allow websites to be built for free and many web design firms will build you a unique site for a fee.
A good locksmith website should very clearly give all the business details including the locksmith services provided, the areas covered, full contact details, any memberships and associations and any special skills and unique services you can provide to customers.
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Before starting a locksmith business, don't fall into the trap of thinking it's going to be an easy ride and that money will come flowing in from the beginning. Being a locksmith can be a rewarding and well paid profession but to get to that position requires not only hard work and dedication but some locksmith minded business decision making.
Yell Group has recently announced a four year strategic program to develop itself further into the realms of the internet and digital marketplace. In recent years the traditional publishing industry has suffered a downturn in fortunes as advertisers move to the internet as a primary place to market their business.
The Master Locksmiths Association has been around for a long while now and is undoubtedly the major association in the UK for the locksmith industry. We at the Toplocksmiths Association respect the MLA very highly and our experience with their members has always been very good, not just in terms of quality of work but also the attitude of Master Locksmiths.