Sometimes, not often, but sometimes we hear from customers,
“Why are you charging me so much? You were done in 10 minutes.”
There’s a certain part of the locksmith industry that is extremely complicated. There are so many locks, keys, and hardware brands out there that every job ends up being different. This simple truth makes jobs hard to quote site unseen, we simply don’t know what we will run into, but we are asked to do this every time a customer calls.
But, and this is important, a customer should NEVER pay more than any locksmith quoted for the most-common lock services (such as lockouts, rekeying locks, and trip charges). But I just said every job is unique. There are a variety of things that can make a job take longer, just as there are a variety of things that can make a job go quicker. So how can we quote an exact price for these locksmith services when we don’t know how long it’s going to take due to an infinite number of possibilities? Isn’t a job that takes 60 minutes to complete worth more in billing than a job that takes 10 minutes to complete? In the mind of the consumer, it is.
But our answer, and most often the answer of legitimate service-based companies, is in average-based pricing. We charge based on the service we are hired to perform, based on our knowledge of the average time it takes for that service, regardless of how long it actually takes to do a specific job.
For example. We can unlock some cars in a few moments, but some turn out to be difficult and can take much longer. We charge a flat rate for the unlock service regardless of if we are in quick or struggling to open the car. The customer’s car we struggle with sees us working hard, in the AZ heat, sweat pouring off our forehead. They are extremely happy they got such a great deal on the price. But, the customer we get into in just a few moments may think, “That only took a minute, that’s too expensive!”
However, it’s the same service performed. We were hired to unlock the car, we unlocked the car. And it’s at the same, agreed-to price, regardless of how long it takes us, but perception to the customer can be different. Customers are paying for an exchange of service. We quote the price for that service, and we perform that service at that price, every time. Sometimes we come out ahead (i.e. get it done fast) and some times we don’t, but it’s unethical for us to charge the person whose car takes longer than expected to get into any more than we quoted them. We also won’t charge the customer who’s car we got into quickly any less.
It is the same for automotive key programming, one flat rate for all vehicles. And for home rekeying, one quote for every home with standard residential hardware. This last point is what prompted my post. There is a small subset of residential hardware that can be rekeyed very quick under the right circumstances. Under the wrong set of circumstance this same set of residential hardware is a nightmare to rekey. We quote one price for the rekey service, and we stay at that price no matter what we run into. It’s ethical of us to stick to our price when it’s difficult, and it’s fair of us to stick to the price when it’s quick, because we are performing the service hired to do for the price agreed to by the customer.
Our goal is to keep out prices as affordable as possible. We remain well under the national average for nearly every locksmith service we perform. And we also want to make enough money to stay in business and feed the families of our employees. Those are our goals. Average-based pricing allows us to quote customer quickly and simply, stick to the price no matter what the job, and provide a good value on the whole. We appreciate your understanding.