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Independent Locksmiths v National Locksmiths: At the Job

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The 2nd in a 4 part series comparing the way Independent Locksmiths and National Locksmiths operate.

My company is IKS Locksmiths and we are an independent local locksmith service specialising in property security and approved by the Master Locksmiths association.

In Part 2 of this series we aim to focus on what can happen when a locksmith is on site at a job based on our experience of the business and how IKS Locksmiths operate as a company.

This is where customers can really feel the sting!

  • Quotes on Site

IndependentsQuotes that we carry out on site are done by the locksmith who will carry out and over see the work from start to finish and therefore knows exactly what they are talking about.

Nationals Quotes by multiples for a product like security grilles may be done by an individual who may have a nice sharp designer suit but little or no experience in fitting the products and expensive mistakes can be made. At this point it can become tricky in deciding who is responsible.

  • Response Time

Independents – We give an honest and realistic timeframe for each call out in North London with a view to exceeding expectations as opposed to quoting a good time to secure a job and arriving late. Operating within our means within a particular area of London allows us to give a good response time. If we are running late we will let you know rather than keep you waiting without information.

Nationals – It is difficult for a call centre to quote a realistic timeframe. There can be many locksmiths covering a vast area and they aim to secure the work for each and every call they receive to cover high operating costs. It is not uncommon for an unrealistic timeframe to be quoted to secure a job. The urgency to secure jobs becomes more significant for companies with high overheads. Quoting unrealistic quick response times to customers calling for quotes is one way to ensure that a company wins the work.

  • Charges

Independents – No call out charge and a fixed labour rate + parts is the way we operate. We stick to the price quoted on the phone and will not increase the rate on the job. We quote a fair competitive price for labour and parts.

Nationals It is not uncommon for a locksmith to quote a low price to secure the work. On completion of the job the prices can increase to ridiculous amounts. I’ve been shocked by invoices some of my customers have shown me. This is a trick that I encounter customers falling for all the time. I try to warn them but the lure of a low quote is too tempting to resist! Realistically the company needs to cover their high operating costs somehow. Unfortunately there is no law against doing this. This is definitely a case of where if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

  • Experience and Expertise

IndependentsAll work completed by us is carried out by and closely over seen by an experienced and enthusiastic locksmith who is MLA qualified and approved. High standards and quality control are paramount to the success of an independent locksmith business as we are relying on recommendation.

Nationals Quantity is often the priority over quality when it comes to covering the high overheads that come with a chain of locksmiths. It is very common for larger chains to contract work out to other locksmiths making it very difficult to monitor quality standards of the process from start to finish. It is also worthwhile noting that a company can be approved by the MLA but that doesn’t mean that all locksmiths within the company are MLA qualified.

  • Labour Charges

Independents – As mentioned before the price we quote for labour on the phone will remain fixed. We will not charge if we are unable to carry out the work at that time.

Nationals It in not uncommon for a customer to be charged a call out charge (as quoted on the phone) + Labour charge (of a surprise amount). Taking advantage of customers in a vulnerable position when they just want their door secured. There are also cases of unnecessary work being carried out to increase the cost. I have seen invoices from other locksmiths that are day light robbery (ironically).

  • Part Charges

IndependentsWe charge the RRP for parts.

Nationals – Charging over inflated prices for parts is another way that locksmiths can recoup expenses. I know of a national locksmith company that has charged over 600% of the RRP for a single lock!

My advice is to do some research and save the number of your local locksmith after choosing one you know you can trust and call in an emergency. It is important that you choose a locksmith for your home or commercial premises that is trustworthy. I recommend searching on the Master Locksmiths Association website (www.locksmiths.co.uk) using your postcode. This way you will be assured that the locksmith you choose is qualified and CRB checked.

A local mobile locksmith will offer much better value for money than a large multiple. If you need a local locksmith for home or commercial security we would be delighted to assist. We offer competitive rates and a free security survey.

Our next post will be Independent Locksmith V National Locksmiths Part 3: Invoicing and Aftercare. We will point out further differences between Independent and National Locksmiths that affect the customer. We will reveal more locksmith tricks of the trade to be wary of.

Please follow us on Facebook for the full National V Independent series amongst other security advice and information including my Diary of a North London Locksmith.

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