Starting a Locksmith Side Business

If you’re looking for a business with nearly limitless profit potential and constant demand, a locksmith sideline is a great idea. The nice thing about locksmithing is that it can be applied to a wide range of niches. Everything from residential to automotive installations are within your reach if you have the tools and the know-how. Furthermore, a locksmith business can be launched on a shoestring budget. To get your own locksmith business off of the ground, just follow these simple steps.

Get to Know Your Local Market

Before you install or replace lock one, it’s critical that you study the demand for such services within your immediate area. Is there a high concentration of industrial parks and shopping malls nearby? If so, a business based on car and commercial locksmithing would make a lot of sense. If you live in a town or city that’s more of a bedroom community, it would make more sense to focus on courting homeowners. Get the lay of the land before you draft a final business blueprint.

Learn the Trade Inside & Out

While conducting initial market research, you’ll need to work on your locksmithing expertise. Start out with a general rundown of how locks work to guide your educational efforts. Check out Lock Picking 101 to obtain a solid grasp of how most burglars go about defeating common locks. You can even get an online degree in locksmithing from an accredited institution. The trade organization Associated Locksmiths of America offers exams and certification for would-be locksmith professionals of all stripes.

Stock Up on Locksmith Tools & Parts

As far as tools go, you’ll need to cover the basics like drills and screwdrivers. You’ll also need more specialized locksmithing tools like key duplicators, rekeying kits, a few different pick sets and key stamping tools. Be sure to stock up on generic parts like deadlocks, padlocks and faceplates. You can probably get started for less than $1,000 in hardware. A more complete set of equipment can cost upwards of $5,000.

Sort Out the Paperwork

The licensing requirements for locksmithing vary by state, so  look up your local regulations for your jurisdiction. Get a business license and form an LLC or other corporate entity. You’ll probably want to get insurance at some point to protect yourself from costly lawsuits in the event of a lock hardware malfunction or botched installation. Set a room aside at home for an office where you can crunch the numbers and sort out any paperwork that crops up.

Break Yourself In Gradually

Whether you start by offering a small selection of services or a full buffet, it’s wise to gradually gain experience to ensure the best results. Offer to do pro bono work for family, friends and civic organizations to boost your business profile. During the first month, you should be able to get a good idea of which services make the most sense for you from an ROI standpoint. Adjust your game plan as needed based on initial experiences.

Market Like a True Professional

Once you’ve identified your locksmithing strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be well positioned to market your business in the most effective manner. Whatever your wheelhouse, your marketing efforts should include a strong word-of-mouth component. Print out a grip of business cards, coupons and flyers to pass out while on the job. Create a Google+ Page for your outfit to encourage positive consumer reviews. Finally, put together a responsive flagship website to tie all of your online marketing efforts together.

Synergize with a Vengeance

While the services of a locksmith pretty much sell themselves, you’ll get more traction by pairing up with complimentary SMBs. For instance, you could make arrangements with property managers, construction firms, car dealers and mechanics to be their “on call” lock repair man. Network with related local businesses and entrepreneurs that might be able to send customers your way. Likewise, you can refer clients their way if and when it makes sense.

Keep Up with the Joneses

The locksmithing game and the security industry in general essentially boil down to an arms race between the good guys and the bad guys. As soon as a new lock is introduced, criminals will immediately work on refining tactics for defeating it. Investing profits in the latest training and technology as you grow your business is vital if you wish to remain relevant. Stay on the cutting edge and your locksmith operation is sure to thrive.

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