Aug08

What is happening to our trade and where is it going in future?

On Facebook groups and locksmith forums all I seem to be seeing lately is posts from genuine local locksmiths about national locksmith company’s. Pictures of very shoddy work by nationals, invoices for ridiculous amounts charged by nationals to unsuspecting customers, reviews left on sites like trust pilot about nationals not arriving on time or not arriving at all. Sending people with no knowledge who cannot complete the job or managing to complete a very simple job and charging 5-6 times what a genuine local guy would of charged.

I even had my own experience of this a couple of weeks back. I went out to a customer late one Friday night who had been having issues with a composite door. A well known national locksmiths had been out and replaced a Euro cylinder when in fact the real issue was inside the gearbox. Told the customer it was all fixed and then guess what? Yep two days later complete gearbox failure and door stuck in the locked position. Customer phoned back original company to be told it would be another £70 call out fee just to come and take a look when in fact it was there fault that this had happened as they had needlessly changed the wrong part in the first place and charged a fortune for the Privilege. Luckily he decided not to use Adwords this time around after his bad experience and found my local Leeds locksmith Company on Checkatrade where people are at least regulated to some degree.

It’s now even easier than ever for new national locksmiths to spring up from nowhere and start advertising in any area due to Google Adwords. An Adwords account can be set up in as little as 15 minutes and an advert go live. Whoever is willing to pay the most money will appear at the top of search results and local businesses just don’t have the sort of funds to be able to compete with these giants. In times gone by before the internet when paper directories were all the rage at least this could only really happen once a year. A new company would have to wait until a new directory was released in order to advertise meaning the flow of new comers was dramatically slower back then.

Then we have training courses. No such thing ever really existed until 10 years or so ago. The rise in training courses is insane. Many of these courses offering anything from 2 days to 7 days with accreditation’s. What many people don’t realise is locksmithing is a completely unregulated trade in the U.K. This means all these accreditation’s in locksmithing such as NCFE and City And Guilds are literally not worth the paper they are written on. Many of the trainers are failed locksmiths who not so long ago enrolled on a training course themselves and have little to no on site locksmith experience. These company’s are churning out massive numbers of locksmiths per week who don’t have the skills or experience to perform the job well and actually think they are qualified in a trade that has no qualifications.

And where do a lot of these new freshly trained start ups go to when they realise just how much of a struggle it is to get work in such a competitive industry? Straight into the arms of a national locksmith company! They start making money for other company’s, who are using there big advertising budgets to get high up on google and rip off the public and paying a pittance to the freshly trained inexperienced guy, who is now turning up at people’s property’s with no experience and overcharging customers so they can get there small percentage cut of each job up in order to try and make a living in the trade they were promised would make them rich.

When they fail to make it as a locksmith, somebody else fresh out of a locksmith training course will take there place and so the cycle of rubbish continues.

So who’s to blame? The national company’s, the locksmith training company’s,  Google for allowing nationals to exist on there listings or the government for allowing locksmiths to be unregulated?

Personally I think it all lies with the government for allowing locksmithing to be an unregulated trade in England. I believe that regulation of the trade would nip most of the problems the industry faces in the bud.

How would it be regulated? I think that just charging for some kind of licence would not be enough. Again those with the most money i.e. Nationals would benefit as paying for a licence would be easy for them. I think it should be based on inspections and tests alongside a licence/paid membership as well. Inspections and tests would mean only nationals that were serious about offering a good service would bother with going through the hassle of gaining a licence. Training courses would be inspected to see if they are teaching the relevant skills and to a high standard and all the odd job men wouldn’t bother paying for a licence meaning only proper serious locksmiths were left to carry out the job. I believe this would clean up the industry massively meaning better locksmiths all around and the public not being ripped off by cowboy or inexperienced locksmiths.

Locksmiths have been licensed in America for some time now and from what I’ve read seems to be cleaning up the industry over there. Who knows how long it’s going to be before anything changes in England. Like most things it’s probably going to have to get much worse before it gets better but hopefully one day we might see a big change for the better.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to share this article on social media or reuse this post on your own website but please leave all links in place and link back to the locksmith world.

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