What Tools & Equipment are Required to Run a Locksmith Business
The tools you will need to become a locksmith are key cutting machines (for key origination and duplication), software for code retrieval, lock picks, and a variety of small tools. This list talks about the basic tools and equipment necessary to get started and perform the most common locksmith services. As you grow your skill set, and start offering additional services, additional tools will be needed.Read more
Is the cheapest safe the best safe? Big-box stores like Costco carry large safes for under $700. But what do you get for that money? No. Cheap safes are built cheap to be sold cheap. They do not protect their content.
Check out this quick video clip that shows what you get when you buy a discount safe. Is this what you want protecting your money and collections? I took this video at my local Costco.
Finding the Best Safe Brand for You
The 5 Most Important Factors that Make the Best Safe Are.Read more
DIY Home Security Products You Didn’t Know Existed but Will Love.
As a locksmith I see new home security products frequently, most of them don’t stand the test of time and fade away, but there are a few that I really like because home owners can realize their value immediately to help protect their homes and families. These DIY security products are of the do-it-yourself variety and easy for most homeowners to take care of. If you do need help, your local locksmith should be more than willing to assist.
Are you considering access control for your business? There are many advantages to these systems. I am often asked, “What will it cost to install access control?” The answer usually starts with, “What do you want in a system?” but there are some general guidelines.
We’ve published several blog posts in the past about why we like the locksmith versions of deadbolts over the big-box store locks. We are sticking by that article and maintain that the deadbolts sold by locksmiths are better in security and safety. Manufactures are just cutting too many corners to keep the big-box store prices down. But, we recognize some people want the most affordable lock solution, as opposed to the most secure. There is such a thing as “secure enough” for many, and lets face it, residential locks are easily available while the lock versions carried by locksmiths are not.
What are the best home deadbolts?
ACME Locksmith recommends the following, generally available deadbolts: Read more
People lose keys. It happens. Having a locksmith out to your location can be a very expensive way to replace those keys. The service call can often make the key origination more expensive than simply replacing the object.
If it has a lock, takes a key, or open and closes a door; ACME locksmith can repair it, replace it, or install it. Our technicians must pass yearly certifications to demonstrate their knowledge of the latest lock and security products. Read more
KeyMe Will Copy Your Key from a Photo for Anybody.
The new app KeyMe will send anyone your key to anyone that has a picture of it. In the screenshots shown, I tell KeyMe that I am copying my girlfriends key from a photo to break in to her home when she’s not there, and they’re eager to help me out!
Anyone can simply snap a picture of your home or business key and have it mailed directly to them. Voila! They are in your Read more
I’m the first to admit it, our company can be a pain. It’s true. But this, my friends, is a good thing.
When you call us for a car unlock or a house unlock, we WILL ask you to prove that you have rights to be in the property. Is the title available and in your name? Does the registration match your drivers license? Does your drivers license show the home’s address? Etc…
If you don’t have something that confirms you have rights to the property you’re asking us to open, we’ll ask Read more
Many file cabinets come with pre-installed locks. If you lose those keys, no problem. We can make a key for the cabinet at your location or ours. Even if the lock is missing, we can simply replace it and get you one your way with new keys.
But what about when the mechanical linkage is broken within the file cabinet? The lock is present, and the key turns it, but the cabinet can’t be locked. In this case, finding and repairing file cabinet linkage is very difficult if at all possible. If it is an inexpensive file cabinet, it’s not worth it. But if they are expensive file cabinets, their is a more affordable way to secure them.
The simpliest and most secure solution is to install an external file cabinet lock. These locks have three major advantages over the lock that was pre-installed.
File cabinet locking bars are more secure than the factory installed lock
They are locked in place by a padlock, which can be keyed up to your business key (no need for an extra key). Alternatively, a coded padlock can be used.
It is easily retrofitted to the file cabinet.
The bars are easily opened and spring loaded to be held open until relocked. So when you want a filing cabinet without a lock secured or one where the linkage has broken, we have an affordable solution for that as well.
Ever taken a lock of your door and said, “What the heck?”
One very popular brand of lock that is no longer made was the old Schlage E-Series. It was a good lock, but many customer are now seeing them fail. The trouble is, when that particular lock was installed it put a huge hole in the door to account for the mechanics of the hardware (see photo).
Most new locks are prepped for standard 2 3/8″ holes. They will neither fill the hole left by the old Schlage or be made to function within in. What are you to do? Replacing the door is one option, but a very expensive one.
A better way is to install a cover plate over the holes. Here’s an example we just did for a Phoenix customer. Not the most ideal solution, but very affordable when faced with the alternative of replacing the door.
I my opinion, there are two types of home robberies: what I call smash and grabbers and then the smart ones.
Though devastating, smash and grab robberies are usually done by kids. They quickly take what they can, and they’re out. Your insurance fixes the damage and replaces the property. It impacts your life but the impact is temporary. As the name implies, there’s clear evidence that you’ve been robbed. Broken glass, smashed locks, kicked-in doors; these things can’t be missed.
But the the smart burglar is much harder to detect. They get into your home unnoticed using techniques like lock bumping or picking. These techniques are easily learned online and the tools bought to do them cost less than a couple of dollars. When someone gains access to your house using these techniques, you’ll probably never even know they were there. Your key will still work, and the locks show no damage. But one day you discover you can’t find that expensive piece of family jewelry you had hidden in the closet (did you just misplace it?), or there’s unauthorized charges on your credit card, or worse, there are new credit cards under your name because you’re identity has been taken. Smart robbers leave no trace they’ve been in the home, target items such as mail or a few pieces of jewelry, and the results aren’t found until long after they’ve left.
How do you stop this type of robbery when even the new locks that were specifically designed to stop lock bumping and picking are vulnerable to simple, undetectable attacks? That’s were a lock and security professional comes in.
At ACME Locksmith, we evaluate your home’s entire security and identify weak areas and possible points of entry – even the ways someone can get in undetected. We recommend solutions that you can implement yourself or, if you prefer, we’d be happy to help. Our security evaluations will tell you how to:
Stop someone from getting in through weak security points such as garage doors, french doors, and sliding glass doors
Prevent your locks from being bumped or picked
Stop someone from getting your mail
Properly beef up and secure your entry doors
All home evaluations are Free if we’re onsite performing any other service.
The new push, pull, rotate locks by Brinks give you three ways to release the latch and open the door. Push it, pull it, or turn it the old fashion way.
What do you think of this lock? Seems a clever idea for interior door knobs and levers, like the laundry room or bedrooms where your hands are often full. But exterior, we don’t see the value. You still need the key to unlock the door, so you’d have to put everything down to take care of that part. But for interior doors, while hauling laundry or bags of shopping to your rooms, this could be useful.
Installs just like a regular deadbolt/lever/knob.
4 common finishes: Oil rubbed bronze, satin nickel, brass, polished chrome (availability based on style)
Comes equipped with anti-bump, anti-pick pins
Lifetime warranty for defects in material and workmanship
Pricing similar to competitors residential door hardware
We just received a call from a client. She had a 2010 Hyundai Elantra. Nothing fancy, nothing special. She just needed a backup key. It’s a good old fashion steal key (a mechanical key). Not a chip key, transponder, or FOB.
The first company she called, a legitimate company, wanted $150 to duplicate that key. That sounds insane to us for a mechanical key. Read more
We are loving this new card access lock from Schlage. At its price point, it’s one of the best card access locks available and feature rich. Full installation (parts and labor) for less than half of previous stand alone, card access systems with audit trail capability.
Replaces existing commercial-grade levers
Half the cost of traditional wireless access control for very affordable implementation
No wiring, no power supplies, always ready in case of power or network failure
Up to 5000 users
2000 event access report (audit trail)
Add and control up to 100 locks
Wifi and Bluetooth enabled for access and programming from computer computer or smartphone
Send daily automatic updates from the cloud or manually from the app
20,000 cycle battery life for up to two years of access
Supports schedules (enable and disable access based on time of day or date) with auto-lock or auto-unlock scheduling
Works with smart cards, FOBs, or proximity cards
Field reversible for left handled and right handed door
Weather resistant for exterior doors
Standard cylinder and IC Core format key override available
When ACME Locksmith does a job for your business or home, ACME Locksmith will install a little, discrete decal next to one of the locks we serviced.
Sometimes customers ask us, “Why do you do that?”
ACME Locksmith offers the best warranty of any Phoenix lock company in Arizona. Our labor / workmanship warranty is 12 months while most of our competition’s is just 90 days. Six months down the road, should there be an issue, will you remember which locksmith you called? We take calls frequently that sound like this, “I need to know if you performed my lock service at….”.
We do keep great records and track all the key services we perform, but by placing that little decal next to the lock, a customer will know exactly who to call should there be any issues. If you received great service, you’ll know who to call next time in order to get the same great lock or key service.
Don’t worry. These little decals are discrete and not even noticed after a day or two. Unless that is, there’s a problem with the lock. Then you’ll know exactly which locksmith service to call.
Bluetooth Locks are Being Released by Many Lock Manufactures. Are They Needed?
Locks just keep getting smarter and smarter. But what is needed vs what is too much?
For the past year, lock manufactures have been releasing deadbolts that can be opened via Bluetooth devices. And Master Lock has just released a padlock that can be opened via Bluetooth.
But are these devices worth it or are they just looking to jump on a technology that is currently a hot buzzword with consumers? Here’s ACME Locksmith’s thoughts.
Bluetooth locking devices tout the following benefits:
No need for keys
Share electronic access (via electronic key codes) with someone needing access right away
Some offer access history and tamper alerts
I acknowledge, I like these benefits. But with a list price over $400 is it worth it? Especially when you consider that electronic deadbolts are less than half that price and offer the SAME benefits as the Bluetooth devices. Electronic deadbolts offer Keyless entry, temporary pin codes or pin codes that can be easily removed, and in some cases (depending on the lock manufacture) tamper alerts and access history.
Our main concern with the Bluetooth home deadbolts lie within the technology itself. Bluetooth is a proximity based technology. That is, when your Bluetooth device is near the Bluetooth lock, the lock can be opened by anyone. So, if you just got home, entered the home and locked the door behind you, it is technically possible that someone behind you can then simply open the door because your Bluetooth device is near the lock. Thus the lock will offer NO PROTECTION. The home deadbolt manufactures are implementing technology that allows the lock to sense whether the Bluetooth device is outside or inside the home, but just how good this technology is has yet to be tested. Does the Bluetooth device need to be several feet inside the home??? Or is 2 feet sufficient??? Many of the deadbolts offer a calibration feature to improve the sensing of the device. How much at risk are you if you skip the calibration step? As a locksmith and security professional,these are our concerns, and we’ll wait until the technology has demonstrated itself secure before recommending it.
The new Master Lock Bluetooth padlock is more reasonably priced at around $70 (list price), and doesn’t have the same proximity security risk that the deadbolts do since they will typically be used on gates and noticing someone is possible since no door restricts your view causing a false sense of security. But, they too can be as much as 3X a good combination padlock offering many of the same benefits.
If the proximity technology proves safe, I like the idea of Bluetooth locks once the price comes down, but currently the additional benefits to justify such a large price increase (over a more proven electronic deadbolt or simply a combination padlock) just isn’t there in ACME Locksmith’s opinion. Save your money. With time, pricing will come down, the technology improved, and the Bluetooth locks will be more attractive.
What constitutes bad lock service and warrants a bad review?
Locksmithing is a services-based business, and ACME Locksmith deals with thousands of customers every year. I can tell you, it’s HARD to get someone to publically praise your company! Once their emergency is taken care of, the kids have to be taken to school, work has to be done, life just gets in the way, and writing a review about locksmith service just isn’t a priority.
But bad reviews are different. People like to be heard when something goes wrong. You can make 1000 customers happy and maybe see one positive review on google, but make just one customer unhappy, and you’re guaranteed to see that post.
But what’s fair when it comes to a bad review?
We are seeing a growing trend. People who are not using our service are writing bad reviews. This seems crazy to me. Is it fair to write a bad review of a lock company you did not use?
We recently had a customer call us needing us to come out for an emergency safe opening. Our safe technician was already drilling several safes that day and we couldn’t take care of her needs in the time frame she needed. We apologized and provider her the name of company that we thought might be able to help. They did, and she got into her safe. Though we couldn’t help her ourselves, we did provide her the name of a competitor that we thought could. Is this good service? Apparently not. She wrote a scathing review of our lock company because we could not service her in her time frame.
A few nights ago we took a call from a customer down the street from one of our locations. He was locked out of his car. Though he was near our shop, our field locksmiths are out on the road providing mobile locksmith service for our customers. We placed the call on hold while we called several of our locksmith technicians to see how soon we could get to him. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to him in time to meet his needs. So we gave him the name and number of another locksmith company nearby that we felt might be able to help him. They did. We put him on the path to solving his problem. Good service? Nope. He scolded us online for having him on hold too long and not being able to send someone out.
We’d love nothing more than to be able to take care of every person in Phoenix needing our locksmith service. Believe me, we’re a small business, every call counts. It pains me when we have to turn away a call. Some companies may fudge and give you faster ETAs in order to book your business. They’ll tell you 15 minutes to arrive but you won’t see them for 2 hours. Ethically, we just can’t do that. It’s more important to us to find someone that can help you, even when it’s a competitor, than to get the business under false pretense. If this is bad service, we’re guilty.
ACME Locksmith Takes the Following Steps to Ensure Your Home & Business Stay Safe
At ACME Locksmith we screen every locksmith we hire. We check them for drugs, we check them for criminal history, and we run a personality profile on them to see if they have any tendencies towards dishonesty. We won’t hire anyone that doesn’t pass these tests.
Our locksmiths will likely have access to your keys while they are on site. You want someone you can trust to have them.
Our locksmiths are responsible for improving your home’s security. You want someone that’s knowledgeable.
Our locksmiths may have access to your credit cards while you pay for your lock service. You want someone that won’t be tempted.
Bottom line. We want you to feel more safe after our locksmith has arrived than you did before he got there. It’s our job to not only solve your lock, key and security needs, but to do so as safely as possible, without risk, and that’s why we insist on screening all our team members.
Do we really do it? After all, some lock companies claim to perform screenings, but aren’t really doing it. How can you be sure we screen out locksmiths?
As evidence, here’s a recent scan result report for a mobile locksmith team member hired late last year. At ACME Locksmith, we value your trust and we’ll do everything we can to keep it.
It is self rekeyable so it can easily be made to match your existing house key if desired.
But now the flaws:
Our biggest issue is that it does not cover the footprint of the existing deadbolt (see photo). In fact, despite the new touchscreen locks being much larger than existing standard deadbolts, most brands suffer from this flaw. When you remove the old lock, the imprint from that lock will NOT be covered. Any flaws left behind will be visible. That is, unless you want to take the time to putty and repaint the door. But that makes it more effort than it’s worth. On a new door it will look beautiful, but on an existing door it will make the door look like crap. I don’t know why vendors aren’t thinking this through. A simple flat cover plate placed behind the lock in the same finish would easily solve this problem. Every lock should come with one, but none do and no one on the after market is making them.
The second major issue is that programming is a major pain. Its easy enough to do, but to get the lock into programming mode you must remove the back cover plate. This plate is held on by no less than three hex head screws. One of those screws is placed on the bottom of the cover plate, and the handle / knob down below is in direct interference of it’s removal. Kwikset supplies a long hex wrench, which makes it a “little” easier, but it’s still an annoyance. The lock should be changed to us a keyed sequence to put it in programming mode.
One thing you need to be very aware of is that the receiving strike’s bore hole must be at least 1″ deep for the lock’s bolt. If it is not, the lock will not fully lock. In fact, we initially missed this in our first install. We had set the lock to auto relock and every 30 seconds the lock kept trying to auto relock itself despite the latch being in the out “locked” position. At first we thought we had a defective lock, but upon a second reading of the installation notes (we are locksmiths, we thought we could install a lock without them :-P), we found this to be the culprit. Because our bore was not deep enough the lock never thought it was “locked.” Once we drilled out the hole a bit more, the problem was solved.
Since installation, we have enjoyed using the lock, but am now awaiting a door painter so it looks beautiful.
Locksmith Claims of Superiority – Be Cautious When Hiring
“The best…,” ” #1…,” “99.9% Satisfaction” and other claims of superiority by service companies can be found all over Arizona. It can be a bit overwhelming to consumers looking for a service provider. For example, in Phoenix there are at least three locksmith companies claiming to be “#1,” and ACME Locksmith is one of them. There are numerous more claiming to be “the best”, “the fastest”, etc…. So how do you find out when you are being given true information or when someone is misleading you? After all, if a company is deceiving in their advertising, how will they do when it comes to service and billing?
Luckily, there are many methods you can use to check on claims made by various service companies.
Ask them how they arrived at their claim
Verify the information they give you
Check sites they don’t mention to verify reputation such as Google+ or Angie’s
Always ask a company making a claim how they arrived at it.
When a superiority claim is valid, the company will be able to site the source of that claim. Perhaps it’s an award they’v won or the results of a reader’s poll. When you call a service company, they should have the evidence for their claim at their fingertips and be able to point you to it.
For example, the basis for ACME Locksmith’s claim of being the “#1 Rated Phoenix Locksmith” comes from the number of 5-star-rated internet reviews found on service company review sites. Today we have over 500 5-star-rated customer reviews, nearly 4X that of the nearest competitor. What’s more, we can tie over 90% of these reviews to the customer we serviced. If you’ve seen our advertising you probably already understand that this is the source of our claim. Companies that focus on “truth in advertising” always state the basis of their claim. So if you see a company stating “99.9% Satisfaction” you should also see something like, “As based on XYZ’s reader pole.” Doing so provides transparency for the consumer.
Interestingly enough, most companies that make false claims don’t think them through. Locally, there was one company claiming that they were “Voted the best Locksmith since 1979.” We called them, mentioned the claim, and asked what it was all about. The person on the phone said, “I don’t know.” Now if you owned a company that was voted the best of anything since 1979 (over thirty years in a row) wouldn’t you want all of your employees to know about it? We then called the owner and asked him what he based his claim on. He told us bluntly, “I made it up.” He has since stopped making this claim, but recently we found him claiming to be the “#1 Locksmith in Phoenix”. He’s also claiming to have 5.0 star rating which also isn’t true. We asked about this too and he said, “Because a few customers have told us.” While I’m certain this company has had customers tell them they are great, it is not evidence of being #1 since the claim cannot be substantiated and verified by any real data. This company is violating the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) and the Associated Locksmiths of America advertising policies. Do you want to hire them?
Verify the claim by checking what they told you.
If they said they won an award, search for it on the internet. If they said they have a 5.0 rating, ask them where and go look.
Check various service based websites for reviews of the company you are considering hiring.
Companies that make false claims often have negative reviews that will provide insight as to how they do business. Unfortunately, companies making false claims have also been known to write false reviews of their business, so careful examination is required. The BBB, Angie’s List, and Google+ do a good job at filtering out bad reviews. We’re not to fund of Yelp. We have a high rating there but their filter throws away a lot of real reviews and keeps some that are obviously questionable.
If in your research you discover a company making a claim that they can’t offer evidence for, and they are members of the BBB or their given trade organization, report them to these organizations. The companies will give them the chance to support their claim or be asked to stop making it. Either way, the consumer wins.
Another local locksmith using the “#1 Rated” claim told us when we called that they were number one because, “We think we are.” By following the above guidelines, you will have quickly realized that this was a false claim. Coincidentally, this company was not a member of the Better Business Bureau or their associated trade organization.
From simply asking, to just a bit of Internet research, you can always be sure that when you hire someone making a superiority claim you are getting a company that has a valid reason to make such a claim. Doing so protects you and helps ensure that the service you receive meets your expectations.
Schlage’s newest lock has hit the market and we’ll be getting our hands on one soon so we can thoroughly test it for strength, flaws, and durability. But in our opinion, there’s already one very glaring, obvious flaw.
Do you see it? Or maybe I should say, “Do you not see it?”
That’s right. There’s no override key. What do you do if the batteries die or the keypad malfunctions? Schlage’s marketing team is touting this as a strength because you don’t have to carry keys anymore. And, it certainly makes the lock bump and pick proof. But here’s the issue, when the batteries are dead, you’re locked out.
Schlage’s development team believes they’ve addressed this issue by borrowing a bit of technology we see all the time in electronic safe locks. They put a battery jumper at the base of the lock. By holding a 9v battery up to the lock’s jumper terminals you will give the lock just enough juice to open.
But is that better than carrying a key? How often will you have a charged 9 volt battery with you so you can get in? Sure, if you’re locked out you can get back in your car and head to the nearest Phoenix store to pick up a battery, but what a pain in the arse. And what if it’s not you that’s locked out? What if it’s your child that just came home from school?
I’d rather they have the safety and convenience of a backup spare key.