Locksmithing is a unique career path, as it is one of the only trades where there will always be a demand. If you are considering on becoming a Locksmith in your future, the first step would be to research as much as you can before taking an exciting new leap into your career.
We’ve put together this expert guide on how to start your own Locksmith business and everything you will need to know about starting your career.
What are the Requirements of Becoming a Locksmith?
There are no official requirements to become a Locksmith as a whole industry is currently unregulated with no governing body, meaning that anyone no matter the experience could essentially become a Locksmith tomorrow. However, to be a competent Locksmith rather than a cowboy, you will need training and years’ of experience to be able to handle every situation thrown your way. It is also advisable to have the expert training under your belt for if and when the industry becomes regulated and a qualification is readily available.
1. Find the Right Course to Learn the Trade and Practice your Skills
The best way to learn the trade is to attend a Locksmithing course. There are a variety of courses on the market that will vary depending on what you are looking to learn and can differ in length and offer specialities depending on the course. These courses should teach you everything you need to know about Locksmithing to establish credibility and strengthen skills.
What would a Locksmith Training Course offer?
Within most all-in Locksmith courses you will learn a variety of techniques that will cover lock identification, operation, opening, fitting and upgrading most common lock types and brands. However, the level of detail covered within the courses will depend on where you are training and the course type. We suggest always reading the course description carefully and talking with the providers to find out the course breakdown so that you have all the information about what you are going to learn prior to the course start date.
How long will it take to Train?
As mentioned before Locksmith courses can vary in length depending on where you train, but a full training course should be no shorter than 5 days due to the amount you will have to learn to become a Locksmith.
Although you will have completed a training course, you might find that it will take a couple of years to become fully confident in all situations. Some training courses offer an after care service where you can still receive advice from them after you have completed your training. Always research what the courses offer after you’ve completed your training as it will come in handy if you ever have a question or get stuck when out at a property on your own.
2. Choose what Areas of Service you will Offer
The course that you take will determine what services you can offer; will you be an auto Locksmith, domestic or commercial? This choice will then influence the route you go with any marketing you might do to promote your business and the equipment you will need and carry on board with you.
Keep in mind that most basic course will cover basic areas but for more specialist services such as auto Locksmithing and safe opening, additional courses may be required.
3. Get a Vehicle
If you are going to be a mobile Locksmith you will need to be able to get around so you will need a vehicle. The best choice of vehicle would be a van, so that you can hold supplies and tools in order to complete a job. No matter what vehicle you choose it’s a good idea to add signage to your works vehicle by painting, vinyl or magnetic signs to give yourself and your business more visibility.
Top Tip: Make sure that your phone number is prominent on the side of your vehicle so people can see it clearly and call you when needed.
4. Purchase Tools and Supplies
The tools and supplies you will need will depend on the services that you are providing. For example, if you are an auto Locksmith you might need a key programming machine and other specialist equipment for the challenges you might face.
For non-specialist Locksmith services some of the most common tools that are recommended are:
- An Electric Pick Gun
- Cylinder Jigglers
- Bumping kit
(this is not an exhaustive list)
You will also need to start off with a wide range of common Locksmith parts to ensure you have the right equipment when attending a job.
Once again this will require extensive research into what you might need, talking to other Locksmiths and experts in the field, buying from established manufacturers, reading reviews and joining Locksmith communities is the best way to find out everything you need to know.
5. Find a Location
As a Locksmith you will have to do financial paperwork for customers and for yourself, so you will need somewhere quiet to quiet to complete this. It doesn’t have to be a shop, it can be your own home but you will need the space to store equipment and a computer for handling billing, marketing and finances.
6. Set Prices and Create a Financial Plan
Locksmithing equipment can be expensive, so creating a budget for purchases, a break even plan and a guide for the prices is essential.
With service pricing, do some research of your area and get to know what the going rates are; this will help you to set the prices of your services to suit you but will also help you to be competitive.
What is a Budget?
A budget is an estimate of income and expenses that a business incurs over a set period of time. Creating a budget for business enables the owner to better control what is being spent and to make better informed financial decisions. Once you know your ingoings and outgoings you can then determine a price.
For help creating a budget, click here
What is Meant by Break Even?
Break even is the point where a business’ profit is equal to its costs. This means that anything over this point is a profit for the business. Regarding to Locksmiths, this point would tell you how many jobs (of an average rate) you would need to complete before you can start making a profit. Knowing your breakeven point will help you to understand how many jobs you will have to do to make money, which can then inform you what hours you will need to work.
For help creating a break even chart, click here
For an online breakeven calculator, click here
7. Generate Word of Mouth Advertising
Start by doing jobs for family, friends and neighbours asking them to refer you to others. If you live in a smaller town, locals will notice your business from seeing your van driving around which will help will local recognition. The best way to gain creditability is through customer recommendations, so ensure from start to finish you set the bar high in terms of customer service.
8. Network with other Locksmiths and Companies
Associations, like the NGCL, are a great way to be in contact with other Locksmiths, keep up with trends and news and get help in sticky situations. Joining a community allows you to be better informed and you know that there is a network of support should you need it.
There are also national companies that sub-contract work out which you can join to supplement your own jobs. This also adds another support system to build your confidence whilst you’re still new to the industry.
9. Advertise your Business
If you have space in your budget, you can employ marketing agencies to handle all of your advertising for you. Although you can start doing the basics yourself if money is tight. Here are some basic things to consider:
- A website
- A listing in the local directories
- A Google listing; with images and location
- An advert in the paper or radio
- Creating a social media profile
Another important thing to remember is SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimisation. This will determine where you place in Google listings. You want to be at least, on the first page of Google results when people search for a Locksmith in your area, and having a better SEO will help get you a better ranking!
For more information on marketing, click below:
35 ways to promote your business effectively
For more information on SEO, click here!