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: Courthousenews.com)
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.
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 (www.clearstar.com 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:
- 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.
- Do they display a license number in their ad?
- Do they have any reviews, and do the reviews look ‘real’ and not made up to boost their ranking.
- 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)
- 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, Yelp.com 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: Findalocksmith.com). Aloa can also sanction, rebuke and disavow locksmiths who are not operating in an ethical manner (Source: Aloa.org)
4. www.popalock.com: 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 http://www.popalocktracking.com
- 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: