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How To Start A Locksmith Business

How To Start A Locksmith Business

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How To Start A Locksmith Business

How To Start A Locksmith Business

If the idea of running your own business, enjoying the freedom of independent work, and making a difference for people in sticky situations excites you, then starting a locksmith business could be the perfect fit for you. Starting a business can be an overwhelming task, but if you’re drawn to this field, we’re here to help unlock the door to your entrepreneurial dreams.

Business Overview

Locksmiths specialize in security services and solutions. A locksmith business may offer just a few or a comprehensive menu of solutions. Some businesses specialize in commercial security, while others specialize in vehicle lockout services. Other common services include rekeying, cylinder repairs, home security, and emergency services. Because of the nature of locksmiths’ work, many of these businesses are partially or entirely mobile, often working out of vans or trucks.

Locksmiths need to be talented in many ways. Security systems and video cameras are becoming more typical aspects of a locksmith’s work. A locksmith may also work in a consultant capacity, recommending products and solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial use. Some locksmiths establish relationships with apartment owners or condominium owners, where they become the go-to locksmith for all of the services that the facility might need.

Industry Summary

The locksmith industry has experienced slow, but steady growth over the past few years and is projected to continue this trend. As per IBISWorld’s report, the locksmith industry in the US has grown by .1% per year on average over the last five years to reach $2.6 billion in revenue. This growth can be attributed to increasing security concerns among consumers and the consistent demand for locksmith services from residential and commercial sectors. In addition, advancements in technology have led to the proliferation of electronic and smart lock systems, creating new service avenues for locksmith businesses.

The locksmith industry has witnessed several trends that have significantly transformed the trade. One major trend is the increased adoption of smart lock systems. With the rise of smart home devices, homeowners are progressively opting for advanced, keyless lock systems, thereby generating new business opportunities for locksmiths.

Another trend is the increased focus on security consultations. Businesses and homeowners are becoming more security-conscious, leading to a demand for professional consultations regarding the best security measures to implement. Locksmiths are capitalizing on this by offering comprehensive security solutions, including recommending and installing high-security lock systems and safes.

Moreover, mobile locksmith services have gained popularity. These businesses operate out of a van or truck, offering on-the-spot services such as emergency lockouts and immediate lock replacements, which provide a high level of convenience for customers.

Target Market

The target market for a locksmith business is diverse and wide-ranging, encompassing any individual or entity requiring security and lock-related services. Here are some of the key segments within the target market:

  1. Homeowners: This segment includes individuals and families who own or rent homes and apartments. They might require locksmith services for a range of needs, such as lock installations, repairs, rekeying, and lockout services.
  2. Business owners: Businesses, regardless of their size or industry, have various needs for locksmith services. They might need the installation of high-security locks, maintenance and repair of existing lock systems, or advice and implementation of comprehensive security solutions.
  3. Property management companies: These entities manage large residential complexes, commercial properties, or rental units and frequently need locksmith services for maintenance or emergency purposes.
  4. Automobile owners: Locksmiths can also specialize in automotive locks, providing services like unlocking vehicles, making duplicate keys, or programming car key fobs.
  5. Government institutions: These can include local city offices, courts, schools, or even larger state or federal institutions. They require robust and reliable security solutions and often need locksmith services for maintenance, upgrades, and repairs.
  6. Construction companies: When new buildings are erected, whether residential or commercial, locksmith services are required to install new lock systems.

Understanding the specific needs and behaviors of these different market segments can help tailor your locksmith business services to best meet their needs, ultimately leading to business success.

Checklist To Start A Locksmith Business

If you’re thinking about starting a locksmith business, it’s important to do your research first. Here is a checklist to help you get started.

Step 1: Assess the Market

Understanding market demand is a fundamental first step when considering a new business venture. This is true for all businesses, including those in the locksmith industry. By researching the market demand, you can gauge the potential success of your business, helping you avoid costly mistakes and ensuring that your investment is directed towards a business that has a real chance of success.

Understanding market demand allows you to identify the number of potential customers, their needs, and the extent to which these needs are currently being met. It allows you to craft your offerings accordingly, differentiating your services and filling any gaps in the market. This research could also reveal specific needs based on local demographics or needs that are not being adequately serviced. For example, a rapidly growing residential area may have a high demand for home security systems, or a business district might require more sophisticated security solutions.

While there is no way to know for sure whether a market exists, here are some ways to help get a better understanding of the needs in your area.

Local demographics: Look into the demographics and economic conditions of the location where you plan to establish your business. A growing population, increasing number of businesses, or significant construction activity could signal a need for locksmith services. Census data and local government reports can be useful sources for this information.

Competitor analysis: Study your potential competition. Understand their offerings, their customer base, and their areas of operation. If there’s a high concentration of locksmith businesses in a particular area, it may indicate high demand, but also stiff competition. Conversely, fewer competitors may mean an untapped market.

Social media: Social media platforms can also offer insights into consumer demand. Look at reviews of other locksmith services, observe the problems consumers are facing, and assess the general sentiment towards current providers.

Conducting thorough market research is the cornerstone of planning a new locksmith business. This process will equip you with a nuanced understanding of market demand and competition, enabling you to make informed decisions and strategies that can set the stage for your business’s success. The time and resources invested in understanding your market will indeed bear fruit when you see your locksmith business thriving amidst a receptive and demanding customer base.

Step 2: Write a Business Plan

In the grand scheme of setting up a locksmith business, the creation of a business plan plays a key role. It’s not only a tool for funding, but it also serves as your business’s blueprint, detailing the steps necessary to transform your entrepreneurial vision into a functioning enterprise. It extracts ideas from your mind, putting them on paper to provide a clear path for starting and growing your business.

If funding is needed, there are a few sections to focus on:

One of the most important sections of a business plan for a locksmith business seeking funding is the Financial Projections section. This portion should include projected income, expenses, cash flow, and profitability.

The Market Analysis section showcases your understanding of the target market, your potential clients, the competition, and how your business fits into this landscape. For a locksmith business, this could involve discussing the number of residential and commercial properties in your service area, prevailing security concerns, the presence of competitors, and how your services cater to this market’s specific needs.

Last, your Marketing and Sales Strategy outlines how you will attract and retain customers. For a locksmith business, this could include traditional marketing methods as well as digital strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) for individuals seeking locksmith services online.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 3: Source Funding

After you’ve determined there’s a market for your locksmith business and your business plan is solidified, the next step is to secure funding. Money is the lifeblood of any business and obtaining it can be a challenging hurdle for many aspiring entrepreneurs.

The most immediate and accessible source of funding is personal savings. It’s a route taken by a substantial number of new business owners, particularly in the locksmith industry. A key advantage of using personal savings is that it eliminates the burden of loan repayments, thus freeing up your cash flow for other business operations.

However, one must consider the risk associated with investing your own savings – you may find yourself in a bind if your business encounters unexpected obstacles or downturns. Therefore, it’s recommended to retain a cushion of personal savings for emergencies and unforeseen business costs.

Locksmith businesses often have relatively moderate startup costs, mostly involving the purchase of specialized tools, a service vehicle, initial inventory, and operational costs like insurance and licensing. Given the modest capital requirements, many locksmith entrepreneurs start their business using their own cash without seeking external funding. However, if your business plan calls for a larger scale operation or if personal savings are not sufficient, a combination of personal savings and additional funding may be necessary.

If your plans involve considering a business loan, bear in mind that lenders often require the borrower to invest a significant amount of their own funds, typically around 15%-25%, into the business. Additionally, a credit score above 650 and sufficient collateral are also often required. If a bank feels the loan is too risky, they might require an SBA loan guarantee. The Small Business Administration (SBA) doesn’t directly lend money to small businesses but instead guarantees a portion of the loan, reducing the risk for lenders.

If your startup costs are low, typically under $50,000, a microloan could be a viable option. These are smaller loans that can be used for startup expenses or the expansion of small businesses. They are usually easier to obtain than traditional loans and are offered by various organizations, including local economic development and certain nonprofit community-based organizations.

Angel investors are another potential source of funding, although they are not as common for locksmith businesses. These are individuals with high net worth, often local entrepreneurs, who provide capital in exchange for business ownership. They are typically interested in helping other local businesses succeed. However, securing an angel investor can be challenging as they typically seek businesses with high growth potential and scalability, attributes not commonly associated with locksmith businesses.

In conclusion, setting up a locksmith business does require financial planning and often a mix of personal savings and borrowed funds. Although this may seem challenging, remember that every successful business had to pass through this step.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 4: Register the Business

Starting a locksmith business involves several legal procedures to ensure that the business is correctly registered and compliant with local, state, and federal laws. Every state is going to be different, but here are the most common requirements:

Form the business structure: This could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. Each of these structures has different implications for liability, taxes, and administrative complexity. Many small business owners opt for an LLC because it provides personal liability protection and has fewer administrative requirements than a corporation.

Related: Comparison of business structures

Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.

Related: Tips and ideas for naming a locksmith business

During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.

Related: Finding a domain name for your business

Obtain business licenses and permits: A professional locksmith business owner will need to obtain certain business licenses and permits. These permits and licenses can vary based on the state and town where the business is located.

In many states, a locksmiths license is required before offering the service. 15 states require licensing, including; California, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Oregon and the licensing process often involves an application, fee, and possibly an exam or other requirements. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) provides information on licensing requirements for each state.

The process of getting a license usually involves a criminal background check, and some states require locksmiths to pass written exams. Many states require an FBI criminal history background check and won’t allow people with felonies or misdemeanors to hold a license. In addition to licensing, some states also require bonding insurance and locksmith certification.

In addition, there are also some general business registrations that a locksmith company may need, such as a business license, sales tax permit, Employer Identification Number, and Occupancy Permit, among others.

Related: State guides for general business licensing

While these steps provide a general overview for registering a locksmith business, keep in mind that each state has its own specific requirements.

Step 5: Set Up the Operations

Now that your business is properly registered and funded, it’s time to focus on setting up your physical operations. This will primarily involve purchasing the necessary equipment and establishing your shop or mobile unit. Here are the key steps to consider:

Decide on a brick-and-mortar shop or mobile unit: First, decide whether you’ll operate from a fixed location or work as a mobile locksmith. This decision will depend on various factors such as your budget, the services you intend to provide, and your target market.

Many locksmiths opt for a mobile operation where they travel to the customer’s location. This requires less upfront investment and allows for flexibility in serving a broader geographic area. You’ll need a reliable vehicle, ideally a van or truck with ample storage for your tools and equipment.

Purchase necessary equipment: If you don’t already have the equipment, you’ll want to invest in specialized locksmithing tools and equipment. In general, you would need locksmith tools like lock picks, tension wrenches, plug spinners, bump keys, and decoder picks. You’ll also need key-cutting machines for making new keys or duplicates. A variety of locks and related hardware, key blanks, and other locksmith supplies will be needed as well.

If you’re operating a mobile unit, you’ll need a van or truck, ideally fitted with racks and organizers for tools and supplies.

Software: Consider investing in business management software to help with scheduling, invoicing, inventory management, and customer relationship management.

Step 6: Establish Partnerships with Suppliers

Establishing partnerships with suppliers is the next step we will cover when starting a locksmith business. Suppliers provide the equipment and materials necessary for you to deliver your services effectively.

It’s important to wait to contact suppliers until after registering the business as most won’t provide pricing or set up accounts until that is complete.

Step 7: Create the Marketing Plan

In the locksmith business, like most, it’s important to marketing your services so potential customers know you are open. Here we will cover some of the more popular marketing strategies for locksmiths.

Starting with traditional marketing, local visibility is key. By participating in local community events and joining your local Chamber of Commerce, you can network with other businesses and get the word out about your services. Print advertising in local newspapers and community bulletins can also be effective. Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals either – providing excellent service to your customers can lead to recommendations.

Promotional items like branded keychains or refrigerator magnets can be great reminders of your services. Likewise, vehicle branding is an excellent way to promote your business if you’re operating a mobile service.

On the online front, creating a professional-looking website is first, and then optimizing that website for search engines (SEO) so potential customers can find you when searching for locksmith services in your area. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can also be excellent tools to connect with your local community and share information about your services.

Listing your business in online directories is another effective online marketing strategy. This includes claiming your Google Business Profile, which allows your locksmith business to appear in local search results and on Google Maps. Besides Google, ensure you list your business on other popular directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages.

Finally, consider email marketing. Collect email addresses from your customers and send them regular updates about your services, special offers, or helpful tips about home security. This not only helps keep your business top-of-mind but also establishes you as a trusted expert in your field.

In sum, marketing your locksmith business involves a combination of strategies, tailored to your specific business model and target audience. By balancing both traditional and online methods, you can establish a strong local presence and tap into the vast reach of the internet to promote your services.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 8: Prepare to Launch!

Starting a locksmith business is an exciting journey, but there are a few final steps to ensure your business is ready to roll.

First, consider business insurance. As a locksmith, you’ll be handling other people’s property, and it’s important to protect your business from liability claims. General liability insurance, property insurance, and workers’ compensation (if you have employees) are types of insurance you might need.

We recommend getting at least three insurance quotes, including local insurance agents and online providers like Coverwallet or Hiscox to get the best coverage and price.

Next, establish your bookkeeping system. This could be as simple as a spreadsheet or as complex as accounting software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks, depending on the size and complexity of your business. A well-organized bookkeeping system will help you track income and expenses, prepare tax returns, and make informed business decisions.

As a locksmith, you’ll also need contracts for different situations. For example, you might need a service contract outlining the terms and conditions of your services, or a non-disclosure agreement for situations where you’re privy to sensitive information.

RocketLawyer and Law Depot have free and inexpensive templates that may be helpful.

Opening a business bank account is another important step. This will help you separate your personal and business finances, making bookkeeping and tax preparation easier. Look for a bank that offers business banking services tailored to your needs.

Investing in industry-specific management software can streamline your operations. Software like Housecall Pro, Jobber, or FieldEdge can help you manage keys, jobs, and other aspects of your locksmith business.

Setting your pricing is another essential step. You’ll need to research the going rates for locksmith services in your area and price your services competitively while ensuring you cover your costs and make a profit.

You’ll also want to set up a system for accepting credit card payments. Look for a reliable payment processor that offers competitive rates and robust security features. Some popular services include Square or Stripe.

The process of starting a locksmith business involves many moving parts, and each entrepreneur’s journey will be unique. However, by diligently attending to these steps, you’ll be well-positioned to start your locksmith business on the right foot.

This material is property of StartingYourBusiness.com

Greg’s Tip: If you don’t already have the experience, many experienced locksmiths recommend getting an apprenticeship or training under a seasoned locksmith to learn the trade. Locksmithing is a skill that takes time to master, and hands-on experience is invaluable. In addition, keep learning new techniques, stay updated with advancements in lock technology, and continuously improve your skills to remain competitive15 states require licensing, including; California, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Oregon. .

Greg's Business Tip

Common Questions When Starting A Locksmith Business

How much does it cost to start a locksmith business?

Starting a locksmith business can vary significantly in cost, depending on factors such as location, business model (mobile or storefront), and the scale of operation. On average, you can expect initial costs to range from $10,000 to $50,000. Here’s a breakdown of the potential expenses:

Training and certification: The costs of locksmithing courses and certifications can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the depth and length of the courses.

Equipment and supplies: You’ll need various tools, such as key cutters, lock picks, key blanks, and more. A starter kit might cost around $1,000 to $2,500. Additionally, if you opt for a mobile locksmith business, a reliable vehicle is necessary, which can cost between $15,000 and $30,000.

Legal expenses: Registering your business, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, and paying for legal consultations may total around $1,000 to $2,500.

Insurance: General liability insurance, typically required, can cost around $500 to $1,000 per year. Remember, you’ll need to account for the first year’s premium in your startup costs.

Marketing: Initial marketing costs, such as building a website, setting up your online presence, and printing flyers or business cards, can range from $500 to $2,000.

Office or storefront: If you’re not opting for a mobile business, renting a storefront could cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per month, depending on your location. For startup costs, consider at least two months’ rent as a deposit.

Software: The cost of industry-specific management software can range from $200 to $500 per year.

In addition to these expenses, it’s wise to have a financial cushion for the unexpected. A recommended practice is to have three to six months’ worth of operating expenses on hand. This ensures your business can survive if it takes longer than expected to turn a profit or if you encounter unforeseen expenses. Remember, these are estimated costs and can vary based on multiple factors, including location, scale, and business model.

How much can a locksmith business owner make?

Profitability in the locksmithing business is dependent on a variety of factors such as location, services offered, and business scale, but we can build a basic estimation model for understanding potential earnings.

Let’s consider a one-person mobile locksmith operation offering residential and commercial services, as well as emergency lockouts. Pricing for a typical locksmith job to unlock a house might range from $60 to $120, depending on the service’s complexity.

Assuming the locksmith completes an average of 5 jobs per day, 5 days a week, that equates to a weekly revenue of $1,500 to $3,000, or $78,000 to $156,000 annually.

Subtract from this the operating costs: vehicle expenses (fuel, maintenance, etc.), equipment costs, insurance, marketing, and miscellaneous expenses, which could amount to around $20,000 to $40,000 annually.

So, a solo commercial locksmith could potentially net a profit between $38,000 and $116,000 per year.

These figures are just estimates and actual profits can vary widely based on multiple factors. However, this gives a general idea of the earning potential in the locksmithing business.

Of course, growing the business by hiring additional locksmiths, expanding the service area, or offering specialized services can significantly increase revenue and, subsequently, profits. However, this would also entail increased operating costs. It’s important to carefully plan and manage business growth to maintain profitability.

What skills are needed to run a locksmith business?

Skills, experience, and education useful in running a locksmith business
A locksmith business owner doesn’t need a business degree, but certain skills and experiences can increase the chances of that business becoming a success.

Locksmith education: According to ACME Locksmith, some states require locksmiths to become certified. There are many locksmith training courses that can serve as an education foundation, but pursuing an apprenticeship also provides valuable in-the-field training experience. Plan to spend about a year learning the skills necessary for this profession.

Mechanical knowledge: An understanding of how devices function and skill in fixing
and working with them is helpful in the locksmith business.

Problem-solving skills: No two days as a locksmith are ever the same, and locksmiths must be able to think on their feet and solve the problems that they face. The ability to stay calm and clear-headed under pressure is also a benefit.

Customer service skills: Interacting with customers is a large part of running a locksmith business, and those customers are often stressed and upset when they call for help. Locksmiths will benefit from strong customer service skills.

Marketing talents: The nature of the locksmith business means that most customers won’t be frequent returning customers, so the business needs to market to constantly bring in new customers. A locksmith who can do some or all of their marketing can save money while building a strong business.

What is the NAICS code for a locksmith business?

The NAICS code for a locksmith business is 561622.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code?

Associated Locksmiths of America
Master Locksmiths Association
Society of Professional Locksmiths


  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

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How To Start A Locksmith Business

How To Start A Locksmith Business

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