Case Study – Lemon Locksmith

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When did the business start trading:

February 2020

Who started the business:

Andrew Dunn

Tell us what you do and how you do it:

I run a locksmith service in the Leeds & West Yorkshire area. This involves helping people to get into their properties when they have lost their keys. Sometimes this involves picking locks, which is what most people think locksmithing is about. However in reality a large amount of the work is actually repairing damaged doors and locks. If a lock is damaged, or seized up, then no amount of picking will open it. I can now gain entry to and repair most door locks.

I have now also expanded into providing an auto locksmith service too whereby I can now open up most cars if the keys have been locked inside or been lost. The auto locksmith industry is a bit of a minefield and requires much more knowledge, I expect I will be learning this for most of 2023. I have also expanded into repairing more advanced doors such as large glass & aluminium doors for high-street shops in Leeds.

Who buys your product / service:

The people who use my services at the moment are your everyday regular people! Local people in West Yorkshire who have problems with their doors or locks. I have recently obtained my MLA (Master Locksmith Accreditation) and I am now slowly starting to receive more commercial work from places such as schools that need a larger number of doors fitting with a master lock system, if I could get more commercial customers it would greatly excel my business.

What makes your business stand out from your competitors:

I have recently completed my MLA accreditation and become what’s known as a master locksmith. This took me over 3 years to achieve. Various exams and tests had to be done in order to achieve the master locksmith status. Such as picking open a lock in a certain amount of time and making a key by hand to work an unknown lock. Should you wish to check my MLA profile out see here: Lemon Locksmith & Security – Master Locksmith Approved (MLA) (locksmiths.co.uk)

What are the main strength/s of your business:

I believe the main strengths of my business are my knowledge and my branding. I see many locksmiths who have either one or the other. I see fantastic locksmiths who can open doors, safes, and even old bank vaults, however, they struggle as nobody knows they exist! They have a boring company name with no branding. I’ve spent time building up what some people would call a ‘funny’ brand as well as building up my skill base. I may not be as skilled as some locksmiths, but I know how to get the work ?

What are the values that drive your business:

I believe in providing a proper and fair service for my customers. If the customer has not lost the key and it is locked inside then I will usually pick the lock so that the customer and still use the lock once they have their keys. Many locksmiths will drill the lock out as standard, this way they can charge the customer for a new lock also to add more cost to the job.

What’s your favourite business book and why:

Duncan Bannatyne – Anyone Can Do it. I liked this book because Duncan started out from a very normal background like me, not the son of a billion-pound company. But someone who started with an ice cream truck and expanded into a massive empire. Also because Duncan didn’t immediately get into business. He spent a long part of his life working for other people as did I. It resonates with me and I hope to be like him.

What is the most useful lesson you’ve learned through experience:

My most useful lesson would be to find a mentor. Not just any ‘business mentor’ or ‘guru’. Find a mentor specifically ‘in your area of business’. Also, I’ve found that the best mentors don’t charge a penny, they help because they enjoy talking about the industry! I found another locksmith who was from another part of the UK (so not a competitor). This way he felt no threat from me and was happy to share with me potential pitfalls to avoid and costly mistakes which he had learnt along the way.

What is the main mistake to avoid in future:

Avoid waiting for the work to come to you. After I completed my first locksmith training, I set up my site and waited for the calls, then nothing! Many locksmiths (and business owners) fail at this stage. It’s easy to make a site and a pretty logo, but that won’t make the phone ring. Get out there and find the work, personally, I drove around to various estate agents and gave them my card and a ‘chocolate pizza’ (they exist) to make them remember me.

Which business success are you most proud of:

My number one success is being able to now work for myself as opposed to a subcontractor. When I first started I had to work for national companies who subcontracted me out and took 50% of the pay from each job. At each job I went to I gave my business card out and said ‘next time call me’. Now I have my own customers. I’m also proud of my business’s charity work, I often raise money for various local charities by donating a week’s worth of ‘late-night lockouts’ to charity. ?

What are your future ambitions:

I wish to grow the company into something larger as opposed to being a small sole trader forever. I will be aiming to set up a larger company which is related to the field I am in for example a security company. I already have another business which secures vacant properties (old pubs) etc and boards them up so I could merge these, perhaps I could call it the Lemon Group!

Lemon Locksmith provide a service in the West Yorkshire area helping people to get into their properties when they have lost their keys
Stellar Garlands

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