Question about getting started in the business.

I would like the groups professional opinion on getting started in the
locksmith business. I have completed a home course which contained great
information, but as the FAQ states is far from complete nor contains useful
tricks of the trade. Also in my course of learning I have found that there are
many tools which will be needed to run an efficient business which can cost
quite a bit of money.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that it is probably more cost effective
to learn a bit of the basics and then apprentice with an established locksmith
and collect the proper tools over time and then consider going out on my own.
If an apprenticeship is the best way to go then what would the best way be to
go about getting one? Do I call up various locksmiths and see if they are
willing to take me under their wing? What would make you consider taking on an
apprentice?
Thanks
Matt in Louisiana
A note to anyone considering buying a home course: Most of these courses seem
to be basic and in my oppinion are way over priced. If I could learn the basics
over again I would purchase Tech-Train Productions "Basic Locksmithing #1"
Video or DVD (Which I got from my course) and purchasing the tools needed for
the basics seperately off of the internet. Also the books listed in the FAQ
have a wealth of information.
Reply to
Matt
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Definitely one of the best ways to learn, if you're serious about this.
To go about finding an apprenticeship: It's a job search. Yes, call up (or call on) locksmiths, tell them that you're looking for a beginner position and that you're willing to work hard for them in exchange for the opportunity to learn.
Don't be surprised if the first question they ask is whether you're willing to take auto-lockout work, which is probably the least pleasant part of the trade. Don't be surprised if the first question they ask you is whether you're willing to work the store counter/stocking/sweeping -- the gruntwork needs to be done, and if you're serious you'll be willing to do it.
On the other hand, it's legitimate to ask how long it might be before you graduate to other kinds of jobs, and how much instruction you'll get along the way.
If they're looking for employees -- not all are, at any given time -- they'll be looking for someone who is willing to work hard, eager to learn, pleasant to work with... and it helps if the prospective has some knowledge/skills coming in.
Obviously if you have other skills which might be useful in the shop -- computers, welding, carpentry, etc. -- play those up too.
In fact, you might want to do this right and start by drawing up a resume. Even if they never ask you for one or wave it off when you offer it, the exercise of trying to enumerate what you're looking for and why you're the right person to hire will help prepare you for going out and selling yourself.
Good luck!
Reply to
Joe Kesselman (yclept Keshlam
yes... then, UNLESS the town/area is big, do not set up shop in 'competition' with your mentor..
save LOTS of money for a store front, too --Shiva--
Reply to
--Shiva--
started in the
contained great
nor contains useful
found that there are
business which can cost
more cost effective
established locksmith
going out on my own.
the best way be to
see if they are
consider taking on an
these courses seem
could learn the basics
Locksmithing #1"
the tools needed for
listed in the FAQ
Matt, when I first finished a home study locksmith course. I realized that it was a very small first step and much more was to be learned. I went around to the local smiths. the first two didn't need any help. I told the third one, which happened to be the largest in town at the time, that I just finished a home study course. I admitted that I was NOT a locksmith but would work for FREE as long as I could if he would give me a chance to prove myself. he told me that he really wasn't needing anyone at the time but he would give me a chance to prove myself and see what happens. he also paid me. I was lucky enough to apprentice from four CML's at the same time. needless to say, I was learning at warp speed. like Joe Kesselman stated, I was also stocking/sweeping and doing the grunt work that needed to be done. I worked for that shop for 5 years, learning every aspect of the business that I could, including helping the book-keeper do statements, and buying all the needed tools for my own business. the beginning of the 6th year, I started out on my own and never looked back. stayed 'mobile only' the entire time. I even sub-contracted some work from my mentor that trained me. that was 22+ years ago. locksmithing has been good to me over the years. it was NOT easy. it was hard, time consuming and constant work. it had its ups and downs like most any 'service' business. I retired at the age of 45 and have turned the business over to one of my son-in-laws. I still work a little for him when I have the time. guess it remains in my blood :-)
g'luck I always looked at it as a 'service business' and 'service' was what I was selling. I say you 'will' get out of it what you put into it.
worked for me...
Reply to
Key
Matt,
This is good advice, allow me to add that you are not likely to have a second opportunity to make a good impression, so arrive well groomed and have a little sales brochure made up to give your prospective employer something to look at.
Also be aware that even if the boss is not at the shop at the time you call, the person that is there might be a well regarded employee that may be asked for his/her opinion about you so be cordial.
You might also consider asking people you know and think well of you to give you an introduction to their locksmith. The guy you worked for scooping ice cream might go to a lodge meeting or something with a prospective employer and put in a good word for you. This networking is why most employment positions filled never get published in the paper.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf
A few years ago I decided to get out of management and find a profession I'd enjoy. While combing through the Help Wanted ad's I saw a listing for a "Locksmith trainee", so I brought in my resume, did a quick interview, and was learning the trade four days later. I was lucky, in that I was PAID to learn the trade from day one, by a reputable company that had been in business for 27+ years. Not everyone is so fortunate, but you may want to keep you eye on the want ad's just in case something pops up. Other than that, if you live in a big city stop by some of the local security products distributors, many have bulletin boards with listings for shops in need of help. They may even allow you to place an ad of your own up there, offering your services as an apprentice.
A word of warning though: While locksmithing is interesting and challenging work, and most of us involved in the profession love what we do, there are some downsides you should prepare yourself for.
1) The customers you deal with in this line of work are frequently... well... "out there". While this can be entertaining sometimes, it can also drive you to the point of insanity when your having one of those days where nothing is going right.
2) Being on-call 24 hours a day (which is not uncommon) can wear you down to the point where the last thing on earth you want to see in another lock. Just be ready to work an 8-10 hour day, then get up at 1:00am to unlock someones car, then be back to work bright an early in the morning.
But, despite that, its a great job. Best of luck to you!
Majestic
Reply to
Majestic
Most communities have agencies that sponsor small business planning classes, like SBA for one. Along with an apprenticeship, a course like this will help you analyze the market in your area and someday write up a business plan.
I recently finished one and it was time well spent.
good luck, goma
Reply to
goma865
Id just like to thank all who replied with insight and stories of how they got started in locksmithing. I know it can be hard work and I am willing to work my way up from the bottom.
Thanks again, Matt
Reply to
Matt
stories of how they got
am willing to work my
g'luck Matt
Reply to
Key
If you want to do an apprentice training, I'd suggest that you will likely work for minimum wage for the period of training. Locksmithing has a lot of doing the same thing over and over. Duplicate keys. And such. You can expect to do a lot of very basic things for the first few weeks, such as sweep the shop, and grind keys.
Look at it from the shop's point of view. They are training the guy who is going to hang out his shingle and compete with them. Might make them a bit more comfortable if you offer them a full year of employment.
Hint: Don't ask anyone to teach you how to pick locks. At least not the first few weeks.
Yep, call them all up. Send resumes. Stop by in person.
Hint: There are a LOT of tools that are advertised which are simply not needed. Better to get on a job and discover you need something (and go buy it). Sure beats buying a lot of useless tools you'll never need.
Us guys on the board oughta work up a list of basic tools we use all the time. I'll get started.
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
One thing I learned is that locksmithing has a lot of different specialties. It is not necessary to be good at all of them. A few examples:
Installing residential deadbolts Rekeying residential deadbolts and knobs Rekeying and master keying Adams Rite locks Rekeying and master keying panic hardware Rekeying and master keying motel locks Rekeying and master keying commercial hardware like factories or apartment complexes Remaking lost keys to office equipment Installing window locks Installing Adams Rite locks (existing hole, or cutting new holes) Rekeying door or ignition locks to cars Remaking lost keys to car locks Replacing car door locks which have stopped working because of road salt (I've done a bunch). Changing combinations on safes Work with interchangable cores -- pinning and master keying
Please note, that nothing on this (above) list is considered "unlocking" or picking. Unlocking or picking opens up a whole new list of services.
Reply to
Stormin Mormon
I know this is an old thread so I hope Matt sees my response. I am also new to the field and trying to break in. I have taken two courses that showed me the basics. I also worked with automobiles in years past and was already familiar with opening procedures. I am inhaling any and all info about locksmithing and practicing everyday. The problem you run into when looking for a position in the field is pretty simple around my parts. All the shops are small family owned businesses. No outsiders wanted. One owner said it straight , why train you when you are going to take away part of my bussiness in the future. I can't say I blame him. It is not a heavily populated area to begin with so the shop owners around here stick with family or people they already know and trust. The only thing I can say is I know there is room for another smithie ,so it looks like it's gonna be the hard way. Good luck ,Matt. and don't be discouraged if you have to do it the hard way. Oh also, as far as tools are concerned i just pick up everything i Know I'm gonna need and pick up the misc stuff as the need arises. I have amassed a pretty good collection of tools thus far. att wrote in message snipped-for-privacy@mb-m14.aol.com>...
Reply to
Jimmy F.
There are a great deal of locksmiths listed in the yellow pages here. I want to brush up and practice everything I have learned before I start calling around so that I might have an edge being able to do some things. As I stated before though I am willing to work my way up even if it means pushing a broom and answering phones. The every day shop keeping work is well worth the knowledge that can be gained from someone with experience. One concern I did have though was how do I know the locksmith I end up with is knowledgable and reputable? There are alot of new locksmiths listed in the edition of the yellow pages I have. One listing is someone I know, but do not feel I would benifit learning from. He learned from DVDs at home and opened his own shop. I have thought that if all else fails and I cannot find a job with a locksmith willing to take me on that I might have to try to go it alone. It has to be possible, but I would rather learn the ins and outs from a seasoned pro.
Matt
Reply to
Matt
response.
have taken two
automobiles in years
am inhaling any and
in the field is
family owned
straight , why train you
the future. I can't
begin with so the
already know and
another smithie ,so
,Matt. and don't be
everything i Know
arises. I have
pages here. I want to
start calling around
As I stated before
pushing a broom and
worth the knowledge
locksmith I end up with is
locksmiths listed in the
I know, but do not
at home and opened his
job with a locksmith
alone. It has to be
seasoned pro.
Matt, time in business should be a clue.
Reply to
Key
see how many YEARS he has been in business... the older the better.. and PERSONALLY, I discount most shops UNDER 5 years..
--Shiva--
Reply to
--Shiva--
I have realized this. :) They do have the age of some companies listed in the yellow pages.
Reply to
Matt
companies listed in the
if they don't list that info in the yellow pages? ask em..
Reply to
Key
And dont forget that the time in buisness in the yellow pages may or may not be true. Dont use that as your only way of checking. Check the BBB and talk to buisness leaders in your community if it is a small town. Stuff like that too.
Reply to
Glen Cooper

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