No one wants to need a locksmith, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Perhaps you’re locked out of your car or lost your house keys. A locksmith will be your first call, but which one do you choose? With so many companies offering pick lock services, it’s important to know how to select the best one. Our tips on hiring a pro locksmith company will help you choose the best one and save you the headache of learning the hard way.
Tip 1: Hire a Local Locksmith
When you start to search for locksmiths, specifically look for locksmiths in your area. The benefit of hiring a local locksmith is not only the fact that they can reach you quicker if you have an emergency lockout situation, but also that their insurance and licensure will be valid in your area. Particularly if you live near the border of another state, hiring a locksmith based elsewhere may mean that their license and insurance does not cover your location and, therefore, you’re left vulnerable.
Tip 2: Look for Family-Owned and Operated Locksmith Companies
There are certainly some corporate locksmith companies that are reputable with great customer service, but choosing a family-owned and operated locksmith has a couple distinct benefits. First, working with a family-owned business means you receive services from a professional who is personally invested in the company. Additionally, supporting family-owned businesses means you contribute to and strengthen your local economy.
Tip 3: Choose a Certified Locksmith
You wouldn’t choose a physician who wasn’t licensed to practice medicine, and you shouldn’t choose a locksmith who isn’t certified. Locksmith certifications, offered by Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA), are only awarded to professionals who have proven knowledge in various domains of locksmithing. There are multiple certifications offered by ALOA, and attaining any of them means a professional has demonstrated adherence to the latest standards of locksmithing practice and technical proficiency.
Tip 4: Select a Licensed Locksmith
Currently, only 15 states require locksmith licensing. These states include:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
If you reside in one of these states, ask for a locksmith’s proof of current licensure before services are rendered. For customers living in a state not listed above or who are unsure of a company’s licensure status, experts recommend checking with the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and online complaint sites to see if there are any complaints lodged against the company. Also, see our last tip to review the ALOA’s scam checklist.
Tip 5: Check for Current Insurance
In certain situations, damage can occur to your car, home, or business during a lockpick job or after security solutions are installed. In addition to licensure, current insurance is an important thing to check for before hiring a locksmith. An insured locksmith is able to provide proof of insurance and, should damage occur to your property, offers coverage that protects both you and their company.
Tip 6: Hire a Specialized Locksmith
Once you find a locksmith provider you like, you want to be able to go to that company for all your locksmithing needs and not just emergencies. The best locksmith companies will offer additional services, such as commercial and residential high-security lock installation, wall and floor safe installation, and key duplication. Look for locksmith companies who offer a variety of specialized services even if you don’t need the services right now.
Tip 7: Talk to Your Friends and Neighbors
If you’re not experiencing an emergency lockout, take the time to ask friends and neighbors if they’ve worked with local locksmiths who provided great service and reasonable prices. You would be surprised how often locksmiths are needed! Often, you’ll find that simply asking people you know for recommendations can be a great way to locate professionals in any industry. If your friend or neighbor has had a bad experience with a company, find out ahead of time and save yourself the grief.
Tip 8: Look for Professional Associations
Professional locksmiths spend a long time practicing their craft before going into business, so they’re motivated to be active members of industry associations. In addition to participating in local locksmith societies and your local Chamber of Commerce, locksmiths also belong to professional organizations like the Associated Locksmiths of America, the National Safeman’s Organization, and the Safe and Vault Technicians Association. Ask your prospective locksmith if they are affiliated with any of these organizations.
Tip 9: Check Online Reviews & Listings
Your fellow consumers are great resources when it comes to determining which locksmiths are reputable and which should be avoided. First, check to see if available locksmiths can be found on industry-specific directories like 1-800-Unlocks. Reviews and listings on 1-800-Unlocks can be trusted as our staff routinely verifies the accuracy of listings, checks whether locksmiths who advertise insurance are in fact covered by current insurance, and features companies that only offer up-front, honest pricing. Additionally, search for online reviews on their Google My Business listing and Facebook business page.
Tip 10: Learn the Locksmith Scam Warning Signs
The primary reason we’re sharing our tips for hiring a pro locksmith company is that customers across the country have been victims of locksmith scams. All professional locksmiths and 1-800-Unlocks are doing their part to make sure consumers are informed and vigilant in choosing a locksmith. The Associated Locksmiths of America offers some great tips that will help you determine if a company is professional or a potential scam:
- False advertising. Some locksmith scams falsely advertise that they belong to ALOA or 1-800-Unlocks. Always double-check with 1-800-Unlocks or ALOA to ensure the company is actually listed.
- Generic greetings. If a locksmith company answers the phone as “locksmith service” instead of a business name, this may indicate they operate under a number of aliases. Always ask for the company’s legal name and cross-check their name with reputable organizations, like ALOA and 1-800-Unlocks.
- Unfamiliar with your location. Most locksmith scams know that customers want to work with a company in the area, so they may claim they are local when they really are not. This is evident because when you describe your location or landmarks, they ask for more detail or are completely unfamiliar with the area.
- Service vehicles. Professional locksmith companies have a designated fleet of vehicles that respond to service calls, which often feature branding, logos, and license information. If your locksmith arrives in a personal vehicle or unmarked van, it’s recommended that you seriously question their credibility and request further proof that they are professional locksmiths.
- Identification. Security is a highly sensitive business. Professional locksmiths also get scammed by “customers” who call to get a car unlocked when the customer is not the property owner and has malicious intent. This leads professional locksmiths to ask for identification and proof of ownership before providing services. If a locksmith does not ask for this information, you should question whether they are in fact, professionals.
- Pricing. Professional locksmith companies provide detailed written estimates and obtain the customer’s written agreement to pricing before performing the work. Be skeptical of any locksmith who asks you to agree to a blank invoice or doesn’t provide a clear answer as to the cost of services. Consider choosing a different locksmith if you experience either one of these warning signs. Locksmiths do not charge exorbitant prices. In fact, you can research just how much an average locksmith is earning to fully understand that service pricing should be reasonable.
Make the Right Choice
When it comes to your security, you never want to choose just anyone; you need to be able to trust your locksmith. By following our tips on hiring a pro locksmith company, you can guarantee your locksmith will be licensed, insured, local, and family-owned, which means they’re reputable and available when you need them.
To browse 1-800-Unlocks’ list of trustworthy, reliable auto locksmiths, click here to find a company near you.