Working as a locksmith, you are providing an important service and many of your customers will appreciate a thorough and friendly service. Unfortunately some may be calling you out to change locks after a traumatic incident such as a burglary or domestic incident so you may find yourself calling out to a distressed customer. Alternatively someone may have just lost their keys, but can still be stressed about being locked out. These are common situations if you are out on an emergency call.
An understanding ear and acknowledgement that your customer may not always be in a great mood comes with the job. As a result people like to know they are dealing with trained and honest locksmiths who can answer all their questions and allay any security or access fears they may have. A good locksmith will come out with equipment to deal with almost any lock on arrival, rather than having to call back at a later time. Always agree a price before you begin your work and customers will appreciate a locksmith who can accomplish the job without resorting to destructive methods.
Customers may just be changing their locks and have booked you in advance or are fitting locks to a premises for the first time. This gives you an opportunity to get all the details before arrival and give a quote. This is where your knowledge is required to give the customer an idea as to what is legally required, for example on external doors for insurance compliance reasons. As a locksmith you will need to stay on top of safety standards and other compliance issues. Versatility is part of the job. You may not only be changing locks and fitting new locks but tackling broken keys still stuck in a door or car ignition. A large part of your work may involve vehicles as well as property.
Security technology is always changing so locksmiths need to stay on top of all the available options from the very low tech deadbolts to more sophisticated electronic systems. Your lock fitting and the operation of locks may well have to fit into an electronic and video system. It could be a remotely operated system making use of IT technology.
An age old problem
A problem locksmiths can run into now and then is how to fit today’s security to period doors and windows. Few period door and window fittings can meet the security standards of today. One option is to replicate the period look in modern materials and manufacture. If your client wants to maintain original features, or indeed needs to as a result of listed building status or planning requirements you can find locks that will accommodate common features of period doors such as centrally located door knobs instead of a handle and eye level key holes. There are cylinder locks that can be placed at the high level and the addition of a latch snib can prevent accidental lockouts. A lock can be fitted that does not actually require a handle as a two turn operation will fully lock or unlock the door.
Abbey locksmiths were asked to change the locks on a residential flat in Chelsea. Both locks were cylinder type locks which meant only the cylinders of the locks needed to be changed in order for the owner to have new keys. Both cylinders were changed and additional keys were cut for the owner on one of our mobile workshops. The job was completed in 30 mins and our customer was able to fit it in on their lunch break.
For information and prices on lock changes, please call our Chelsea Locksmith on tel: 0203 397 2226 or email us: email@example.com
Abbey Locksmiths were called by a company in London, EC1 following a break-in. Our London locksmith attended and after a survey of their office supplied and fitted 2 high security locks to entrance and cupboard door. Both locks provided better physical security and will help prevent further attacks by intruders. The locks fitted were euro cylinder locks with lock guards and new anti-snap high security cylinders. We also installed hinge bolts to both doors as the doors opened outward and the hinges were exposed.
For a free survey or no obligation quotation please contact our London locksmith on: 0203 397 2226 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our London locksmith was called out to commercial property in London, SW1 to change lock on an office door for new tenants on behalf of the managing agents. The lock in question was a Chubb 3R35 detainer lock, these are quite expensive to replace so our locksmith replaced levers within the lock instead and cut 20 new keys on his van which he delivered to the managing agents office in another part of town.
Changing levers in locks or simply replacing cylinders is much more cost effective and is often all that is needed when you are changing a lock.
For a free no obligation quote from our London locksmith please call us on tel: 0203 397 2226 or email us: email@example.com
Our locksmith in Harrow recently attended a business premises, a few staff members had left and although keys for the building had been returned the mahagement were unsure if any copies had been made. Our Locksmith Mark carried out a free security survey of the whole building including the entrance door, and recommended a restricted key cylinder for the staff entrance door, in order to keep control of keys and to stop any copies being made without the consent of management. The rest of the buildings security was fine and this ended up being a cheap and quick solution. Mark had the parts on board his van and was able to carry out the works there and then including cutting the 50 keys for staff members. The manager was issued with a key registration card, without which no keys can be duplicated.
If you would like a free survey carried out for your business or home from our Harrow Locksmith please call us on: 0203 397 22 26 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Watford locksmith was called out to a residential property with shared occupancy. The customer wanted to improve security on the communal door. Our locksmith recommended and fitted a cylinder deadlock with a key and turn cylinder. This meant that all the occupants could leave the building without a key using the turn on the inside to lock and unlock the deadlock. This is a good solution for any multiple occupancy buildings as fire regulations state that all doors should open without the use of a key in the event of a fire. This is also the responsibility of any landlord or employer. Our locksmith also added a lock guard to the door for extra protection, strengthening the part of the door where lock was fitted.
Our emergency locksmith in St Albans was called to a business premises to replace an existing door, after an attempted break in. Our customer wanted a stronger high security door and to improve the security of their building, we were called out on a Friday morning. The old door was replaced with a solid core door and a British Standard Nightlatch and British Standard Deadlock were installed. We also added new hinges, hinge bolts, London bar and lock guard. This greatly improved the security of the building and we were able to respond quickly and complete job on the same day so premises was secure over the weekend.
For a free no obligation quote please call our St Albans locksmith on tel: 01727 537999 or email us: email@example.com .
If you type the word ‘Locksmith’ in to google the no 1 predicted next word is training. And if you are searching for ‘Locksmith Training’ then this is probably how you have found this article.
With high unemployment in the UK there are thousands of people out of work desperate to find a job and willing to re-train and switch careers. While Locksmithing has always been a steady job in the past, there is not as much work out there compared with some of the traditional construction trades like building, plumbing, carpentry and electrics.
Most Locksmith jobs are normally one offs, so there is not much chance at getting repeat business. If someone has lost their keys or been locked out, it is unlikely that they will do it repeatedly and if a locksmith installs the correct locks and advises their customer on the appropriate additional security measures, there should be no need for them to return. If locks are correctly installed and properly maintained they can last a life time.
I have noticed over the years that the Locksmith Industry especially where I am (London) has become saturated with new start-up locksmith companies, one man bands fresh from the latest 3 day locksmith training course, of which there are many, and more and more of the well established locksmith companies are getting less work and in some cases going out of business.
I do welcome competition as I think it’s healthy and not actually a bad thing, as it has got rid of a lot of the big call centres and maintenance firms with their army of sub contractors who used to dominate publications such as Yellow Pages with their advertising. They have now mostly been priced out of the market and customers are paying a much fairer price as a result, and are mainly dealing directly with a locksmith now.
A lot of people thinking of a new career or business opportunity are attracted to locksmith training courses as in theory you can go on a 3 day course, buy some tools and away you go. The trouble is, as with most services there is only a certain amount of work in the first place, its difficult to create more work because as a mobile locksmith, you are not really selling a product that you can convince people to buy, its more of a service. Generally as a mobile locksmith, most of the time you are relying on people’s misfortune, and luck that they pick your company over the hundreds of other locksmith companies out there.
Due to the growing number of newly trained locksmiths, work is slowly drying up for many Locksmiths old and new, I’ve talked to a couple of people new to locksmithing looking for work who have forked out thousands of pounds on a course, new van and tools and are yet to have a customer call. As for the established locksmiths, many ironically are turning to making money from locksmith training courses. Try searching for ‘Locksmith Training’ on any of the big search engines and you will see exactly what I mean.
Here is an example:
There are dozens of 1-4 day locksmith training courses advertised on the internet, claiming you can ‘learn to be a locksmith in 3 days’ This is simply not true. I myself started off as a carpenter and joiner, taking an NVQ course at my local college and working for 5 years on building sites and in a workshop as a carpenter. Carpentry is a great place to start as a lot of jobs as a locksmith will require carpentry skills. I have seen quite a few jobs finished by other locksmiths and it was obvious that their carpentry skills weren’t up to scratch. Basic carpentry skills is a must, and on a 1-4 day course it is unlikely that you will gain the required skills and experience fitting all the different types of locking products to a good standard.
After being made redundant I was looking for work and a friend suggested that I get in contact with a local locksmith they knew as he was busy at the time (has recently gone out of business) and could do with an extra pair of hands. This meant going back to an apprentice wage for 6 months while I was training but it was worth it as he was passing on valuable knowledge and I was getting real ‘on the job training’ which is the only real way to learn how to be a locksmith. He would always remind me of that saying ‘they’ll never teach you this on any course’ and he was right.
So after a year or so I started to do the odd job for friends and family and got recommended by them, leading to my own jobs. This is the best way to start, rather than jumping straight in. You get to practice your customer skills and learn simple things like invoicing, banking and basic book-keeping.
Now on to the other side to Locksmithing (the bit I hate) which you probably will not get told about on courses is advertising and marketing. As I mentioned earlier Locksmithing does not often provide repeat business, so getting your name out there is essential. You can be the best Locksmith in the world, but if nobody has your number you’ll be sitting at home all day. The reason locksmith training companies fail to tell people about this is because it can be off-putting. Advertising and marketing can be as much as 40% of your turnover!
As a locksmith working for yourself you will need to know your market. How much actual work is out there? How are people going to find you? How much are you willing to spend on advertising? You may have to take out a bank loan and be prepared to make a loss at first. Be prepared for a lot of researching and late nights in front of the computer. You need to study what works and what doesn’t, and find out about your competition, how many locksmiths are in your area? who are they? where are they? what are they doing? This all takes time, many months not days, and if you are sensible enough to do this first, you’d be mad to even contemplate it. There are more Locksmiths than there is work. Fact.
When I started out 15 years ago it was all about getting seen in publications like Yellow Pages, Thomson and BT Phonebook and it was usually pot luck if you were at the front of the locksmith category or the back. What was a 4 page section quickly grew to a 20 page section. As the internet grew this soon changed, if you look at a Yellow Pages now and are old enough to remember you will notice that it has got a lot smaller. This is because more and more people are getting their information from the internet, and since the introduction of smart phones and mobile internet connections, people who are locked out of there house looking for a locksmith will now use their mobile phones to find you. So as many other locksmiths have had to do, I have had to pay thousands of pounds to internet marketing companies.
So in summary, my advice to anyone thinking of becoming a locksmith would be to consider all these facts before parting with any cash. Someone who is trying to sell you a locksmith training course is obviously not going to be interested if your business is a success or not. An apprenticeship is the only real way of learning the job, and these are few and far between because if truth be known, there isn’t enough work to warrant anyone taking on an apprentice in the forseeable future, this should tell you something. As far as training, if you told a plumber you’ve been on a 3 day course and you are looking for a job they would laugh at you, the same applies for locksmiths, don’t be fooled by what you are told.
by Mark Grainger (owner of Abbey Locksmiths)
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A mortice lock is a lock that is fitted in to a hole or pocket of a door, the word mortice refers to the hole in the door in which the lock is fitted. These types of locks are most commonly found on wooden doors and are more popular in the UK and Europe. A mortice lock is often refered to as a ‘Chubb’ type lock by people in the UK, since Chubb has become the brand leader for this type of lock during the last few decades.
5 lever mortice lock in action
a mortice lock
Mortice locks can be deadlocks or sashlocks (sashlocks incorporate a handle and latch mechanism, normally found on back doors) and can be devided in to 2 categories:
Lever Mortice Locks
Cylinder Mortice Locks
Lever Mortice Locks
These locks are the most common type of mortice locks fitted to domestic properties in the UK, the majority of lever mortice locks are very similar in their workings. A key is inserted in to the lock which when turned will lift levers to the correct height enabling the bolt to be locked and unlocked. Please see diagram.
Lever Mortice Lock Diagram
Lever Mortice locks can have a different number of levers depending on the application and thickness of doors, generally the more levers that are stacked in the lock case the thicker the lock becomes. More levers means more key differs, so it is less likely that another key will open more than one lock. A lock fitted with 5 levers is also more secure than a lock say fitted with 2 levers. The most common lever locks are:
2 lever mortice locks - This is a lock comprising of 2 levers, the lock case is thin, so it is suitable for installation in to interior doors less than 45mm thick, where a low level of security is needed. Not recommended for security on external doors.
2 lever mortice dead lock
3 lever mortice locks- More secure than 2 lever mortice lock and more widely used, with more manufacturers to choose from. Also suitable for interior doors less than 45mm thick. Not recommended for security on external doors.
3 lever mortice dead lock
5 lever mortice locks- Lock cases vary in size and can be used on thinner internal doors and external doors where a medium level of security is needed. Most locks come with a box strike.
5 lever mortice dead lock
5 lever British Standard (BS 3621) mortice locks- All the same features as a 5 lever lock with the addition of anti drill plates either side of the lock case and a larger reinforced dead bolt. Recommended for compatible internal doors (minimum of 45mm thick) and external doors where a high level of security is needed. Box strike comes as standard.
5 lever british standard (bs 3621) dead lock
A good way of checking to see if you currently have a British Standard lock fitted, as most insurance companies in the UK now stipulate that any final exit doors are fitted with at least 1 BS3621 lock, is to check for the British Standard kite mark. Which will be stamped on the faceplate of the lock on the edge of the door, as shown below.
bs3621 dead lock
Cylinder Mortice Locks
These locks are different to lever locks as a cylinder is used to throw the bolt rather than inserting a key in to the lock. They are more commonly found on commercial premises, although increasingly more people are now having them fitted to their homes as they offer more flexibility with master suites and restricted keys. Cylinder mortice locks are normally fitted with a euro profile cylinder or an oval profile cylinder, which can be key operated from both sides of the door or can be key operated from one side of the door and locked and unlocked with a thumb turn from the other side.
oval cylinder with a thumb turn
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