Back from the somewhat prolonged trip away.
Again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to contribute. I've read all the posts and taken everything on board. A few comments stood out.
I'm probably wasting my breath as you've already succumbed to a few other courses
I haven't succumbed to any courses - I'm still looking into the options and hence the request for advice about the best course.
"Oh and be prepared to give up your social life as contrary to belief the phone doesn't ring when you want it to so you can't work your own hours".
I realise that. In fact, I'm counting on it. Evenings/nights/weekends will be my main target initially.
when you consider it is basically 1 pick for each lock this is well worth considering.
Hmm. One pick for each lock? I've read differently but I'll keep on reading and learning.
Incidentally you should also consider why so many people are now training locksmithing rather than doing actual locksmithing, simple answer is because they don't have enough work to survive as a locksmith.
Yes, that's one conclusion. Another might be that there are some who have a desire to pass on their skills. Another might be that the trainers are not and never were interested in practicing as locksmiths, but simply saw the 'demand' for training as an easy way to make money and are not concerned about their own levels of skill or the level of skill they pass on. Again, that's why I hoped for some assistance with sorting the wheat from the chaff.
You will find it hard to earn good money....Its great to do alongside another job and now and again you have a load of work for no particular reason.
I'm in the position where I have another source of income. I do not expect to train for a few days and then start a business that will pay me a full time wage. To begin with I can afford to start slowly and build up the business. If, over time (and I don't mean a few weeks) the business grows and the profit increases, then one option would be to move full-time into building the business.
from your example given, i would say that Â£115 for a simple euro change is extortionate , but i dont know his circumstances , after all when he works out his costs per job , ie his advertising spend , tool and stock investment, van running costs , admin costs , and general business costs such as insurance bank charges etc, total divided by his number of jobs , its not unusual for many to have a very high cost per job ratio due to them not having a sustainable job volume to bring this down. so without knowing his cost to job, time of day , quality of cylinder being fitted etc , its hard to judge whether hes just trying to make a living or ripping you off.
I don't know if it was a rip off price and obviously I don't expect anyone here to comment one way or another without knowing all the circumstances. I can tell you that this was not an evening/night time/weekend call out. It was not an 'emergency' because the house is occupied and until the lock was replaced some additional security measures were in place. I wanted to find a lock of the right size. I called. Some told me what size I needed without apparently needing to visit (when I removed the cylinder myself and measured it, the 'guess' I was given by one of the locksmiths I called was wrong). Two had not heard of anti-bump. If a locksmith had been used, it would have been no problem to fix a date a few days ahead for them to visit and fit the replacement - like I said, it was not an emergency. Rip-off or not, Â£115 was too much to pay for what turned out to be a five minute job even though I'd never changed a euro cylinder before, using an anti-blah blah lock bought from an online supplier. Regardless of the locksmiths' costs - in business you still have to charge a market rate for your service. If you have invested so much that in order to cover your costs you have to charge a rate that is too high for the market, then you do not have a business. Nobody owes anyone a living.
The answer for anybody starting in locksmithing now is get into the electronic side
My 'plan' is to find some training on mechanical locks and also to learn about electronic locks. I agree they are the future, but at the moment most domestic locks are not electronic (more so in commercial premises, obviously), so I need the 'traditional' skills too.
I really do appreciate all the comments. I have read through several forums on this site and seen the constant references to how tough it is and that people should save their money and not bother. However, I have a certain business 'profile' in mind which will not be the same as most. It might be a crowded market, but that might change and if by that time I have some experience behind me and have built the business a little, I will be able to take advantage of that. If I do nothing, I won't.
My goal will be to be the 'best' in what I do, offering the best service and reasonable rates. I will have to invest in some tools, but I'm not going to be buying 'one pick for each lock'. I will slowly build up the necessary selection of tools based on what I see as commonly installed in my area.
One thing that most concerns me is the amount I read some people are spending on advertising. Advertising is something that I do know about - it's what I've been doing for the last 20 years. Obviously individual locksmiths will have different needs and cover varying sizes of geographical market, but when I hear some spending Â£15-20k a year, I feel pretty confident that if I analysed their business, markets and goals I could save them a LOT of that without loss of profile. I know for sure that I'm not going to spend anything like that amount, but I will still achieve a lot of coverage. I'm not going to end up with thousands of pounds' worth of tools I don't use; nor thousands of pounds' worth of locks just to cover every possibly eventuality.
I've also read some posts that stress this site is for those interested in lockpicking as a hobby/interest and not for those wanting to set up in business. Fair enough - but it's about the only site (that's active) that I have found. If anyone knows of a site more geared to locksmith businesses but open to people who are not yet trading as locksmiths, I would be grateful if they would let me know.