How To Select A Locksmith

How To Select A Locksmith

20 years ago selecting a locksmith was a matter of going to your local Yellow pages, being presented with an alphabetical listing of locksmiths in your area, then calling to determine the price and scheduling an appointment.

In today’s digital environment that process has changed greatly. Now anyone in the world can set up a website, put some keywords in the title or on the page and represent themselves as an actual locksmith in your area. This has made the process of finding a real locksmith, who is truly near you, extremely difficult, and potetially dangerous.

Here are some tips to help you select a locksmith confidently in the digital age:

1. Google: Google is the 800lbs gorilla of search engines and has become a primary source for people to use for locating a locksmith. This has not been without its pain for Google. (Source:

Using the term Locksmith and the location where you are located such as “Locksmith Mobile, Al” will result in a search engine results page that displays in a few different sections. At the very top of the page you will see a list of paid advertisers. Below that you will likely see a list of locksmiths in a ‘Map listing’ format, to the right on the page are more paid advertisers and then finally in the body of the results you will see links to various locksmith related websites, most commonly known as Organic Listings.

Breakdown of Google Serp (Basic)

If you are looking for a physical locksmith shop to walk into and have service performed, then the map is a logical place to look. If you see a listing with a full address, under Google’s quality guidelines, that means that the locksmith should have a physical location at that address that is staffed during normal business hours. (Source: Google Support).

If you see only a city name and state, that likely means that the locksmith only provides mobile service. This not uncommon nor should this be considered a negative when looking for a locksmith, typically only a small percentage of locksmiths have a physical location ( Survey).

When looking at the Google map listings you want to examine a few things closely, that should only take an extra 3 minutes to perform but could really save you from a major headache:

  1. Is the locksmith verified on Google Plus? You can see this by looking at the little check mark next to the name of the business.
  2. Do they display a license number in their ad?
  3. Do they have any reviews, and do the reviews look ‘real’ and not made up to boost their ranking.
  4. Do they have a link to their social media page, do they look like real people and have lots of real friends (not purchased likes from black hat sources)
  5. Do they offer a local phone number or only an 800 number? There is nothing wrong with a toll free number but if they don’t also have a local number this could be a warning sign of a problem.

If this quick check looks legitimate then don’t hesitate to call them and let them know what your needs are. Many locksmiths, particularly at night will use an answering service to ensure calls are answered promptly then the information is emailed or texted out for the locksmith to call you to arrange the details.

Some may have standardized pricing and can simply tell you the total price for a simple service like a car door unlocking. Other tasks may require the locksmith to call you to ask some questions about your needs to give an accurate price.

A large job such as a masterkeying job, construction related projects, electronic access control systems or similar may require the locksmith to come to you and perform an inspection before an exact estimate of the services can be provided. Make sure you ask, “Will I be charged for the estimate if I don’t opt to have the service performed?” For some large scale projects it is not unusual to pay for a detailed estimate to be provided as it can be very time consuming to do so.

For many jobs however such as to change the locks or to rekey the locks (Definition source: Wikipedia) a price will typically be quoted as a Service Charge and a price per cylinder (or key hole) to rekey. If you are actually changing out the door hardware itself, then price will largely be dictated by the cost of hardware. The quality, brand, function and finish of the locks will be the deciding factors.

A good tool to evaluate the pricing of the service you are requesting is a locksmith pricing survey, this link is to the 2013 survey performed by industry trade publication the Locksmith Ledger (Source: Locksmith Ledger Price Survey)

2. Online directories: Many online directories exist, think of them as Yellow Pages but in an online format. This form of directory is waning as a search tool due to the effectiveness of Google searches (and similarly Bing and Yahoo local). (Source: Google Trends)

However, is one of the directory services who has been able to make the transition due to creating a Social Media type of environment with high quality information on the businesses in its directory. What really makes Yelp special is the user base and their willingness to share detailed reviews and also business information.

One caveat about Yelp is its double edged sword review algorithm, they will only put recommended reviews from ‘power users’ of Yelp. So a single voice who had a good experience with a small locksmith may not be viewable on their listing. This is good in that it keeps out automated reviews and many fake reviews but for a small business it can mean very few if any reviews will be visible.

3. A referral from a friend, family or trusted source. One of the best ways to find a locksmith you can trust is by asking friends or family who have used one in the past. Also there are certain authorities in the community that you can reference such as a Locksmith state licensing database or other authority such as Associated Locksmiths of America who pre-qualify locksmiths before allowing them in their database (Source: Aloa can also sanction, rebuke and disavow locksmiths who are not operating in an ethical manner (Source:

4. We are a franchisee in the Pop-A-Lock system and we are therefore biased on this point! However, Pop-A-Lock offers an excellent alternative when you are seeking a local locksmith. Even if you are not looking for Locksmith in Mobile, Al, we would strongly encourage you to check with Pop-A-Lock first in any area. The very nature of a franchise system helps consumers by ensuring that franchise locksmiths are selected, trained and managed with a great deal oversight.

  • Quality business people operating the locations
  • Formally Trained Personnel
  • Background checked and licensing compliant
  • Electronically dispatched and tracked
  • Clearly marked lettered and logo’d vehicles
  • Real time tracking through
  • Well stocked and fully equipped vehicles
  • A network of technical support through the franchisor, the franchise social network and partnered manufacturers.

Benefits of selecting a franchise member as your Locksmith Service Provider:

Standardized practices for call handling, pricing and customer service are required to remain in good standing in the system. When a problem does exist there are a number of behavioral pressures in place within a franchise system to help correct issues. Not only does the franchisor monitor issues and complaints through the website and national relationships but the franchisees themselves look out for problems among one another and can spread best practices to help improve the quality of service within the system.

Beyond the accolades of individual locations, the franchise system ranks extremely well as a franchise opportunity and attracts very qualified entrepreneurs to join the ranks:

Franchise Ranking History

Franchise 500®: #105 (2014), #118 (2013), #131 (2012), #135 (2011),
Fastest-Growing: #28 (2014), #66 (2013), #87 (2011),
Top Home-Based: #22 (2014), #22 (2013), #29 (2012), #36 (2011),
America’s Top Global: #146 (2014), #90 (2013), #108 (2012), #111 (2011)
Lastly, Pop-A-Lock’s PALSavesKids program offers free unlocking if a child is locked in a vehicle. This form of community support is a clear example of leadership, care and professionalism.

Pop-A-Lock Locksmith Saves Kids


The Key-Wallet-Phone…good or bad, it’s almost here.

The Key-Wallet-Phone
The “Holy Grail” of mobile devices is the ability to use the mobile phone to transact payment. On the way to that goal, manufacturers of smart phones will likely solve a number of technological issues including the use of the phone for identification and security credentials (keys!) The future is here already, now it’s just a matter of the world catching up to it. Near Field Communication (NFC), Bluetooth 4.0, Ant, Ant+, Zigbee, Zigbee (RF4CE), Nike+, IrDA are battling low power technologies that will possibly provide the “Missing Link” needed to use smartphones as a practical key and as an electronic payment system. The keyword there is “practical” because our smart phones now can provide both of those functions but with many limitations and caveats.

Continue reading The Key-Wallet-Phone…good or bad, it’s almost here.

Top Companies Hiring Veterans

The highest honor is serving.

I am no war hero or super commando. I was able to serve my country as an American Soldier in many different capacities. However, I feel that my current role as Director of Operations for SystemForward America and owner of the Pop-A-Lock Locksmith franchise in Mobile, Al has enabled me to really begin to pay back my fellow veterans.

Throughout my career at Pop-A-Lock, I’ve looked for ways to attract veterans who needed work or were looking for a business opportunity. We are not a get rich quick outfit and to be successful as an employee or a franchisee requires extreme dedication…but the rewards can be just as extreme.

We passed a huge milestone this year by achieving 15% veteran ownership of our franchises. This came from a broad and persistent push through organizations like Gi Jobs, Fran Vet as well as veteran programs of many franchise brokers. We have recruited personnel from every branch, rank and job skill. This year we added 3 field grade officers alone as franchisees, yet we have also seen returning and retiring NCO’s taking the reigns of their own businesses or taking up locksmithing as trade.

We have returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan joining our ranks as technicians and locksmiths who are receiving real world job training that will benefit them and their families financially for the rest of their lives. We have partnered with one of the finest physical security training facilities in the world, Lockmasters Security Institute (LSI), to help us meet the challenge of preparing our returning men and women to have the job skills they need to be successful in the real world. LSI offers a wide range of courses including Professional Locksmith, GSA Safe and Vault, Container Inspection and Pure Automotive.

Lockmasters is fully accredited and many of their courses are Post 911 Gi Bill eligible including BAQ during your stay.

If you are a returning veteran contact us for employment opportunities!

For more information from Lockmaster’s Please visit:


Failure to rekey or change the locks on your home can lead to insurance claim problems.

Why rekey my home?

Police Lin Graphic for blog

As locksmiths we often deal with physical security concerns. In doing so, you become aware of the complicated interaction between security and insurance matters. For example, if you fail to rekey your new home and then find all of your furniture missing, it may not be a simple matter of making a claim on your insurance!

In the above example, this would be considered a ‘suspicious’ claim for a number of reasons:

1. No signs of forced entry (because it was some prior owner, user, maintenance person, maid, home health care worker etc that had a working KEY!)

2. Furniture theft is suspicious to insurance companies because it “doesn’t pass the smell test” that thieves would just pull up a moving van and clean you out.

3. It would likely be a claim on a fairly new house, with little insurance history behind it.

Rekeying the house doesn’t fix all of those problems, but it certainly would deter the would be thieves and add the element of forced entry into the equation for the insurance investigators who are very good at forensically examining the situation to see if fraud is involved.

A great site that explores many of these fringe areas of insurance is linked below, the analysis of vandalism vs theft related damage is particularly interesting.

Veteran Patch

The “Keys” to Locksmith Customer Service.


Every contact with a customer is an opportunity to stun them with your level of service.

How often have you left a restaurant or a service business and felt a tinge of regret from having to pay for sub par service?

Every customer, every franchisee and every tech we speak to needs to walk away from the interaction with one clear feeling: Wow!

In the locksmith business it is not a complicated set of standards:

1. Answer the phone quickly and friendly, who ever is calling probably didn’t plan to have to use us today. Be considerate of their time and LISTEN.

2. Be honest, give an upfront price and let them know that they won’t pay anything if we can’t solve the problem.

3. Give the best estimated time of arrival or schedule time that you can. If something is going to cause a delay, let them know immediately. If you call someone and don’t get through, text them the update if they are textable. Voice mail makes your problem into your customers problem…it’s not their responsibility to try and keep up with us.

4. When you get onsite greet the customer, introduce yourself with the intent of starting a life long relationship, not a one time event.

5. Tell them what you understand the problem to be, then let them confirm it. They have probably had to explain their problem from scratch to multiple people and don’t want to have to go through that again.

6. Fix the problem, go the extra mile if need be to meet the END RESULT that the customer needs, even if it means spending more time than you planned initially.

7. Don’t sell used parts as new. Give the customer the option to use an aftermarket part or OEM, don’t assume that they don’t want to pay a little more to go with OEM quality parts.

8. Offer an extra key, everybody needs one and we can do it right and for cheaper while we are already onsite. Don’t just assume that they can’t afford it or don’t want it. You are probably going to save them some money down the road. Ask about this early on in the job so they can give it some thought. Nobody likes being put on the spot at the last minute…do you?

9. Write a detailed, legible invoice with not only a description of what you did but WHY you did it. For example, “Installed guard plate on door to deter break ins due to exposed latch.” Charge what you quoted even if you had to do a little extra. If the job was completely different, make sure you communicate with the customer BEFORE incurring additional expenses on their behalf.

10. Follow up with a phone call, email or in-person a short while after to see if the service met their expectations. If you could only ask one question of your customer, it should be, “Would you recommend our company to your close friends and family if they needed our service?” If not, WHY NOT and how can you fix it in the future.

Customer service is not just a bunch of corporate speak, it’s a true, real-deal relationship with another human being…If done right it can last a lifetime.

The Keys to Locksmith Customer Service.
The Keys to Locksmith Customer Service.