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Shop layout
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Window displays are a good way to attract customers. The display itself should be simple and effective, neat, and clean. Window displays cannot be cluttered; you must be discriminating and orderly in developing them. The display should tell the viewer something interesting and appealing about your products or services.
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Working as a Locksmith
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The front counter area should be carefully organized; this is where sales are made. Ensure that the key machines are near the counter visible from the street. Spread out your keys on a keyboard; such a display stays in your customers minds longer than a pile of keys on a table. Code books usually are kept near the key machines. The workbench usually should be out of the customers sight, preferably in the back room. If it is out front, it should be clean at all times. Lighting of the work and customer service areas is most important. It should be adequate but not too bright. The lights should be of the nonglare variety. The work area can have additional small lights placed several feet above the bench.
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Merchandising through advertising
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Advertising takes many forms, from radio, television, and handbills to putting your name on each key duplicated. There are no hard and fast rules. Good advertising is advertising that gets results. The selection of the proper advertising can be important for a beginning locksmith. Consider the population; does it listen to the radio, watch television, or read the paper more than in other areas, or does it look for gimmicks What are the costs of the various advertising media You can approach the advertising staffs of the local media to determine these answers. Once you complete an advertising scheme, evaluate the results. Did the advertising increase business Was the advertising worth the investment Ultimately, the locksmith herself is the most effective advertisement. Responsible locksmithing, a neat appearance, and a little courtesy go a long way. In spite of all the sales talk and advertising hoopla, the customer is only interested in one thing quality services and products at a reasonable price. Whether you work out of your home, your vehicle, or a formal locksmithing shop, you need to have some form of advertising at your shop. A sign outside that merely states Locksmith isn t really enough. Whenever possible, you should have and use small stickers that can be affixed to windows, vehicles, etc; they can increase your business. Figure 20.4 shows a variety of such aids, including decals, window banners, and a sign. Whenever possible, you should use these types of aids. They promote business and tell your potential customers exactly what services you can provide. Signs also save you time in answering general inquiries from walkins off the street who are not sure if you can provide a specific service, such as cutting a circular (Ace) key. Having a sign indicating that you duplicate these keys can increase business. A hanging sign (Fig. 20.5) with a slightly different slant to it (Keys Cut While You Watch) is another visual aid to customers. By using properly aligned key machines, you can ensure that the phrase guaranteed fit is accurate. Decals for your office or on the service van also aid in promoting your business and security in general (Fig. 20.6).
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Figure 20.4 Various sales aids used in locksmith shops. At upper left is a key sign; others are window banners. (Dominion Lock Co.)
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Figure 20.5 Advertising sign to hang in window of
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locksmithing shop. (Dominion Lock Co.)
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Figure 20.6 Decals for use in office or on side of van. (Dominion Lock Co.)
Working as a Locksmith
Selecting key blanks
It is important to carry a variety of key blanks to meet the continuing needs of your customers. More important, you must determine which blanks are most popular in your area. Purchasing one or two boxes of every key blank that you might use during your career in locksmithing is ridiculous and extremely costly. Purchasing such items randomly shows poor business judgment. Large companies that supply all kinds of locks and security devices will, naturally, have the widest variety of key blanks available for your purchase and use. That assortment doesn t mean that you really need such an extensive variety of key blanks. In almost every case, you do not. To decide what you should have, examine the key determination process from the viewpoint of a key blank manufacturer. The following information comes from Herbert Stein, President of Star Key & Lock Manufacturing, Co., Inc., of New York. For many years, this company has been in the business of carefully foreseeing the key blank needs of locksmiths. The first step is to consult a number of the largest competitors in different parts of the country for their opinions of the relative popularity of a particular blank and the anticipated annual demand. (Some blanks may be extremely popular in certain areas of the country, but very slow in other parts.) Then, consider such factors as whether the blank s lock is made by a major company or not and whether it is a big or small volume lock (for example, if the blank is for an automobile, is it for the major line of one of the top domestic or foreign automobile makers, or is it just for one of the small volume imported cars ). Naturally, if a deluge of requests for a specific type of blank comes in from across the nation, it will gain priority on the production list. Knowing how a key blank is selected for production helps, but how do you find out what the most common blanks are in your area Here is where your regional representative of the manufacturer, or direct contact with the factory, can help. Knowing what keys are most used in your area is part of their job. Through various national and regional trends, regional and area market studies, and previous sales to your area, the manufacturer can determine with great accuracy what the most common and popularly requested blanks will be for any given part of the country. While manufacturers keep such records, you might feel that you are imposing on them with a trifling request. Not so, but even then, some locksmiths just look through a catalog, especially when starting out in a business, and contact a local locksmith distributor/supply house in the area. The supply house can assist you, but many sales of key blanks don t go through the supply house; they are purchased from other area distributors or directly from the manufacturer. The supply house, while in touch with your area, isn t always as fully cognizant as the manufacturer in this regard. At the supply house you will probably be shown one or several catalogs with a myriad of key blanks indicating which ones that you should have on your shelf. These may or may not meet your requirements. Again, Star Key & Lock has thought of this; their catalog lists the most commonly used key blanks for
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