Most everyone who owns a house, car or business uses the services of a mobile locksmith from time to time, providing you with a wealth of potential customers. It’s a competitive market for entrepreneurs. Of the more than 30,000 locksmiths in the country, about 17,400 worked for someone else in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the right training, a solid marketing plan and the proper licenses and permits, you can join the self-employed with your own business and turn a profit of more than $50,000, according to Entrepreneur.
Learn the Trade
Before you can get a license to open your business, you’ll have to prove you know the industry. One way is to learn on the job by working for a licensed professional locksmith as an apprentice. The state of Texas, for example, allows locksmiths working in the field for a couple of years as an apprentice to apply for their own licenses. Another option is to attend a school authorized by your state to teach locksmithing. Many trade schools, such as the North Bennet St. School in Boston, provide hands-on training in their nine-month program. Check with your local municipality before signing up for an online training program to make sure it’s acceptable.
Apply for a License
Every state has its own rules governing the locksmithing industry. Find a link to the agency overseeing locksmithing in your state through the ALOA Security Professionals Association, which also offers training programs. One of the most important steps required by all 50 states is a thorough criminal background check. In addition to proving your credentials with a certificate or apprentice background, you will need to pay a variety of fees for permits and licenses.
Purchase Necessary Equipment
Depending on how much you have to invest, Entrepreneur reports you could spend anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to start your business. Starting on the low end, accumulate the tools you’ll use every day ranging from pliers and steering bar unlockers to a key punch machine and a complete set of lock picks. Keep your larger equipment at home and purchase a van to be able to make keys on the spot once your business is up and running.
Build Your Clientele
During your training period, begin watching for ways other locksmiths in your area get new business. Join the locksmith association in your city or state to take advantage of membership deals on things like printing and website development and to earn the continuing education credits you’ll need to maintain your license. Network in the associations to get and give referrals. Use the membership directory to get listed on the roster of licensed locksmiths. And since you’re mobile, take advantage of the exposure and place a magnetic sign on your vehicle to advertise while you’re on the job and traveling.
- California Locksmith Association: Membership Benefits
- Entrepreneur: Business Idea Center: Locksmith
- Locksmith Video School.com: Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Locksmiths and Safe Repairers
- North Bennet St. School: Locksmithing
- ALOA Security Professionals Association: State Licensing Laws
- Pro-Lock: Lock Picks and Picking Sets
- Locksmith Ledger: Locksmith Marketing Basics
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."