I have put together this guide as to what you will need and need to expect if you intend or are thinking about opening or starting a mobile domestic locksmith business in the uk.
Im sure somebody will disagree with parts or wish to add to this guide which is fine, im just passing on the experiences i have had so others are under no illusions.
1 Skills and training
First up you need some skills, a quick hunt for locksmith training will throw up various courses starting at about Â£500 up to and over Â£5000.Before any pm's arrive i did my training with justlocks but im not here to advertise just offer a guide.
Things you need to learn on your course are more important than the course itself as then you know what to ask before going on the course and can ascertain weather it is the one for you.
You need to learn how to pick basic pin tumblers ,yale etc
How to pick 2,3 and 5 lever non bs deadlocks
How to pick 5 lever BS deadlocks with a curtain pick or dedicated bs picksets/decoders
How to drill the above to open them, but i think learning to pick them sets you up for the long term.
How to id mortice locks - without this skill you wont even be able to drill them or even know what you are up against when you go to pick them.
How to impression a lock, ok you may not fully pick up this skill on your course but its a technique to learn for the long term.
How to strip down a lock and reassemble it.
How to fit a lock to a door
How to use a letterbox tool and what its for.
How to make key turners and other tools from welding rod.
How to use rap keys.
How to use jiggler keys
How to use a snapper for euro cylinders
How to use mica
Also do your trainers provide backup ? This is essential as i have found out as when you are on a door step with no idea what to do who are you going to call/ask for help ?
There is a lot more training available in different areas through different associations but i think most of these skills will be enough to get you started.As things move on you will soon discover your own weakness's and strengths and make plans to boost them.
2 Start up costs to expect
Ok you need tools and quite lot of them ,not all expensive but they soon add up as you build up your selection.Listed below is a basic list as this topic is covered elsewhere in the forum but i am trying to make this just for the uk market.You may feel some of these things are not needed and nice to have but iam trying to educate people to what you may need with this list.
18v drill Â£80 - 260 depending on brand. I prefer a dewault
various handtools screwdrivers pliers etc etc
Woodworking tools for repairs and lock fitting
If you can afford it and are not as confident with your woodwork skills get yourself a mortice jig at approx Â£150
Hardplate drill bits approx Â£4 each
Normal hss drill bits
A basic pickset for cylinder locks plus lots of tension tools Â£15 +
Electric pickgun Â£ 80 +
Lever lock picks Â£15+ or make your own from welding rod
2 and 3 lever jigglers Â£15 -30
2 in 1 picks left and right handed in different gauges approx Â£35 each
Curtain pick approx Â£50 -160 different gauges may be required
BS picksets start at approx Â£160 - 500 and you need a few to cover a lot of locks
Drill template kit Â£60 -200
padlock shims Â£15
plug spinner Â£18
Letterbox tool Â£110 approx
Rap keys approx Â£14 for each type or make your own
Euro snapper approx Â£35
Tubular picks approx Â£50 -90
impressioning files Â£6-17 each
Padlock picks Â£50 approx each
overlifting picks Â£35 approx each
Key cutting machine and blanks if you wish but not essential to start with Â£500+ ( look on ebay for deals)
3 Stock and sundries etc
This list will vary a lot depending on what sort of work you doing on a regular basis and what sort of locks people are using and used to in your area. Ie you may encounter a lot of upvc so need a lot of euro cylinders or you may get a lot of commercial work and need a lot of different stuff like adams rite etc. Again this is just a guide you will need to find (through experience) what is ideal for yourself.
Cylinders brass and silver/nickle ie yale etc Â£2 +
Cylinder deadlocks and deadlock cases only Â£4 +
2/3 lever mortice locks Â£3 + a few sizes and faceplate types
5 lever mortice locks Â£5 + a few sizes and faceplate types
BS 5 lever locks Â£8 + a few sizes and faceplate types
Spare levers for the above to key alike etc
Euro cylinders you will need a large selection of these to cover most jobs as there are so many different sizes. Also you need both nickle and brass plus thumbturn ones as well. Â£2 +
Bolts and general ironmongery like latches,door chains etc 50p +
Cam locks Â£2 +
digital locks Â£ 30 +
Various escutcheon plates 50p +
There is a lot lot more stuff you can stock and you really only find out what you need when you havent got one for the job required.
If you are starting up have a word with the supplier and negotiate a discount for a big first order also some suppliers do starter packs for people starting up. A Â£1000 will get enough of a basic selection to start with but you will soon start adding to it.
4 The boring stuff
A van to put to everything in Â£ 100-20000 its up to you really
Insurance for the van Â£500+
Insurance for the vans contents (goods in transit) Â£250 +
Van sign writing Â£150 +
Van extra security alarm, deadlocks etc Â£150+
Van bulkhead ply lining and racking/shelving Â£100+
Public liability insurance Â£80 +
Advertising Â£1 + This i feel is a subject in its own right as everybody is competing for the work.
Yellow pages is the main one everybody knows so lets start there. A basic non colour ad 2x2 ad is about Â£800 for 2 areas the first year.Yellow pages will give you a 50% discount the first year and they also do 10 months interest free credit. The locksmith section is dearer than some other sections in the yellow pages. This advert alone will not provide enough work to live off, be under no illusions. Look at the adverts in the yellow pages and check the registered addresses and you will see you are competeting against people and companies placing a few adverts in one edition and spending thousands on them.
118 -24-7 (talking pages) aprox Â£500 for 2 areas with the 50% discount.I havent had much from this but the ones i have had have been higher priced jobs.
Local papers are quite good but not always consistant and can work out dearer in the long term but are a good low priced starting point.
Scoot is another option, not sure of their prices.
Word of mouth -the best in my opinion
Website and internet advertising Â£10 +
Basically you can spend as much as you want on advertising and it is a big expense
Accountant , bookkeeper or accounts software
Credit card machine Â£ 500 - 800 approx
stationary, receipts etc
business account - shop about you can get 18 months free banking
A big one is CASHFLOW - when you start out you wont be able to get a credit account at most suppliers until you have done few orders with them, also the biggest catch is that most require 2 references to companies you already have a credit account with so it can get tricky. If you spend enough with them over time they will probably offer it to you at some point but "if you dont ask you dont get" as they say.
Take advantage of a company credit card to begin with.
You will probably need to sub contract at the beginning and it doesnt pay that well BUT it will give you experience, get your company known and provide that all important cashflow. The money may not get paid straight away so be ready for this.
Contracts are definately the way to go for regular work.
Most of all the biggest thing you need is determination and perseverance , these are both free so use them.
This forum has helped me loads and provided some great contacts all over the world now so dont forget this excellent resource.
Please feel free to add to this guide as im sure i have left out loads but if it helps others then great, im happy
This guide is not a complete business guide but a pointer to what you could need to start up as a uk locksmith. Prices are all approximate so please no pms about where do you get this or that for that price etc.
THIS NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED ON EBAY IT IS FOR THE USE OF LOCKPICKING101 ONLY AND IS A FREE GUIDE
Mods feel free to move this post to another section like the faqs and information section, i just posted here as i couldnt in the other section