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Car Lockouts - Dealing with No-Shows 😬

How to deal with no-shows? If you've been in the industry for any manner of time, you have had to deal with no-shows. Getting a call, going out there, and no one's there. It's just a fact that we have to deal with. How do you deal with it, and how to prevent them? Hear it from the experience of the LockFather and Kip Bateman

PJ: Is it safe to assume that you have gotten a call to go do a lockout?

Kip: Yeah. It's happened a time or for a few. Not too many times, but occasionally, it happens. It's part of the business, unfortunately.

PJ: Yeah, and how many of those did you have to deal with before you were like, "You know what, I need to figure out how to make this not happen again."

Kip: It took a few because I figured, and they weren't all piled up once, obviously. It takes a while, and you start thinking, "Man, this is like the fifth time this has happened to me. Like, something's got to change because I'm getting irritated." You know, if you're lucky, you're on your way to another job and happened to be right down the street from it. So, you know, "okay, it's not a huge loss." It's still irritating. But, you know, if it's middle of the night or something, then that was it; not a good time.

Pete: I've had a lot over the years. When it's me, okay, but once you get employees, you're paying them, where you can send them on a different job. And it gets irritating, and if they're a long distance away, 30 miles or more, we make them, give us a credit card, and they're hesitant to give us a credit card, and we tell them, we're just going to charge you for a trip charge but when we get there, do whatever. We'll charge you the rest of it.


PJ: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Which kind of brings me to the point of what I want to talk about, which is, what are the best strategies that you have in making sure you don't find yourself showing up to a supermarket and dragging around, can't find them, you call them, no answer, and when you leave, it cost you money, right? It's cost you your time, the gas, and maybe a potential loss of other jobs, so I'm curious about what strategies you have to prevent it?

Pete: You try. I mean, you get the type of vehicle. A house lock or auto lockout doesn't make a difference. What make, what model, what color and get their phone number and most of the time, they're using the grocery store's phone number because their cell phones are locked in the car. So you deal with that so that you can do it.

Kip: Yeah, and I think Pete can probably attest to this. After a while, you start to get a nose for it. Like you start to get a feel for the conversation on the phone that something might not be... they might call somebody else, or they might find the coupon or something. That helps cause it's weird. You get like an instinct for like, yeah, something's up there, and then you start asking more questions, or for a card upfront, or maybe a picture ID with their address on it. I've done that before. Yeah, you kind of get a feel, but I tried. Like, if I'm in text contact with them, and they're constantly answering me and everything. I'm pretty sure I'm good. "Hey, I'm 20 minutes away; you still there? You're going to be outside, you in the inside?" You engage them, so they know that you're on your way. And that you're actively... you haven't forgotten them because I'll get that too. "Hey, it's been five minutes since I called you. Are you here yet?" It's like, "Okay, you know, calm down. Traffic." So that helps if they're in constant contact, but at some point, there's nothing you can do. Hope for the best.

PJ: I'm guessing you can kind of gauge based on like, if they're like, oh, yeah, no problem, or I'll call you back.

Kip: Yeah, yeah. And it's like, "No, you won't." That's what I usually say when I hang up the phone. And that's fine, you know?

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: But I would rather than not call me back than to go out there and not...nobody be there.

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: So.

PJ: Absolutely.

Pete: Yeah.

PJ: Is that's similar for you?


Pete: Yeah. And, you know, as a matter of fact, Kip has shown up on the same job. They call multiple locksmiths. Whoever gets there gets the job type thing.

PJ: Okay.

Kip: I agree. I have a rule about that.

PJ: Oh, you do? Okay.

Kip: I refuse to step on another locksmith's toes. I don't care who you are. If you were there for first, you get the job, but if I gotta walk away. I got, I have to walk away cause -

Pete: But we still -

Kip: No reason to have bad blood with another locksmith.

Pete: Right.

Kip: So many need to get paid. And if he was there first, he gets the show. That's the way it works.

Pete: And I still try to get my travel time, if you can. Because, you know, again, it still cost both of us money to get there.

PJ: Yeah.

Pete: And it just, first one gets there, gets it but the customer then, you know, you say stuff to the customer, and I've asked them. Now, you've only called us when it's late at night? Because I don't play those games at night.

Kip: Yeah, I would agree with that. I haven't done that, but that's a good idea. So there are plenty of times where it hasn't gone well. When you show up, they either say they can't pay you. Sometimes, they'll be there, and they can't pay you or give you a hard time because you weren't there in 30 minutes; you're there in 32 minutes.

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: I've had that one.

PJ: Really?

Kip: Oh, yeah.

PJ: Okay.

Kip: Yeah.

PJ: Yeah, okay. I mean, hey, we're making a lot of ground here. That's another great point. So you're saying is that if you show up second, or third, you're just going to leave and kind of -

Kip: Yeah

PJ: I mean, frustrated?

Kip: A lot of times, they'll be polite and give me $20. I am so sorry; I forgot to cancel this guy. They'll give me; they'll offer me something. I won't squabble with them if they offer me because they offered first.

PJ: Yeah

Kip: But I'll say, hey, I need to get a trip charge for me because you didn't bother to tell me somebody else is coming out.

PJ: Yeah, exactly.

Kip: That's 50/50. That can go either way

PJ: I mean, how, do you think these people have some like anxiety when they've called, everybody on the Google listing, and they're, like, I'm going to have to hurry and get this car on, like, the first person who needs to get it done quickly because I must get out of here. You know, like, you imagine it's not a peaceful time for them?

Kip: No, all of them are panicky, and they're not thinking straightly, which I get that. Like, you have a mom with kids in the car, as though all three of us know dealing with a mom with a kid locked in the car. All she wants is her kid out of the car. She's not thinking about who she called, what time, where; she wants them out.

PJ: Yes.

Kip: And you better get there quick. So I'm willing to be understanding.

PJ: Yeah

Kip: For something like that. But, some guy who decided, hey, let's have a competition. I have no sympathy for him, and that's usually where I'll stand my ground and be like, you know, I'm not doing it. You need to pay me so-

PJ: Yeah. And so, you're kind of the thing like, if you're first, of course, you're probably there doing the work, but if you're second or third, you're like, hey, I'm getting paid as you called me. We have a phone contract trial agreement.

Pete: Right. They say, well, you haven't done anything. I said, Yes. I've come to you. There's the cost to that - my time, the vehicle, the whole bit, and I expect to be paid.

PJ: And what's the outcome of that? Like, what percentage would you say that you get something?

Pete: 50%. Kip and I've known each other for a long time because he used to work for me.

Kip: Yeah.

Pete: And, you know, there's no hard feelings or anything. We treat each other with respect. You're professional. I mean, if he has a problem, he comes talks to one of us, or if we need something, we might call him.

PJ: Sure.

Pete: But there's no sense of having rivals as they call it in the locksmith industry because we're all in the game together. There's more than enough work for all of us. We, you know, if you do it well, do it professionally. That's what I care about.

Kip: Yeah, right. It's a brotherhood. It is, you know, trying to watch out for each other, especially in this day and age. 

PJ: Absolutely

Kip: It's not worth a dollar to me to squabble over if somebody got there before me. It's just bad, bad policy, I think.

Pete: And the same thing about sharing parts.

Kip: Right

Pete: You know, if he doesn't have it, he might call us, if you didn't have it, you know?

Kip: Yeah.

Pete: I say hey, yeah, we got one come, replace it.

PJ: Sure

Kip: I've done that. I've had to stop by the shop. And it's like, please tell me you have this, and I know you guys if anybody has it, but I don't.

Pete: Right.

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: And it's worked out most of the time.

PJ: Yep.

Kip: So, yeah.

Pete: But you got to work together and, you know, like I say, be professional and, you know, customers don't always understand.

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: They don't understand the cost either, the crew of things you don't get money back on.

Pete: Right, and some locksmiths go well. They don't want to be in a relationship with another locksmith because I got the parts. Why do I give them to him and let him in again? I got everything.

Kip: Yeah.

Pete: Well, that's the wrong attitude to look at.

Kip: Yeah.

Pete: But, you know, lockouts all the time. That's hot and cold.

PJ: Absolutely. Kip, you made another point there towards the end. Well, I can't remember what it was all of a sudden, but it was good.

Kip: I don't know. I probably lost it myself. But well, mainly the professionalism of working with each other. That's a big thing. If I need a key, I will stop by the shop and grab a key; that's probably the last thing that I said was, you know, or some special part. Hey, do you guys happen to have this part? I'll buy it from you because you never know. Maybe you guys are short on something, some technical part. You never know when the tables turn.

PJ: Yeah

Kip: That's the way I look at it.


PJ: Yup. So I mean, I think if we were to take all of a conversation we've had here and kind of bottle it up a little bit is what I'm hearing from both of you who have a lot of experience in the locksmith industry, to - start to kind of feel out those phone calls. It gets your spidey sense. And, if you hear little things that make you question to sort of dig in a little bit, maybe we get a credit card as payment and let them know that hey, if you cancel, it's going to be 50%, to get them to commit. Right? And then, come up with some strategy that if you show up to a job with another locksmith already there, don't just like lose your mind, right? And go all emotion, like figure out what's acceptable to you and try not to blame the first guy there because he has no idea most likely. Like, 99.9%. He's just there doing his work, and then it's just as awkward for him as it is for you when they show up.

Kip: Yeah, they give you a look like if you show up second, it's just like, Oh no, there's another locksmith. This might go bad because if they don't know me, they don't know Pete, they don't know anybody, they're going to like, man, is this guy going to tear me to pieces? Is he mad? And usually, it's fine.

PJ: Yeah.

Kip: It's like, Hey, how's it going? So -

Pete: Yeah. I've had a few in the past, but it didn't go real smooth with the other locksmith. But, yeah. So far, you do the best you can.

Kip: Yeah.

PJ: Well, great. Well, thank you both. Thank you to both of you for coming on and talking about it. I think it's helpful for people. And I think a lot of times, if you're in an area where you don't have a lot of other locksmiths, or you've had the problems, it just feels good to have a conversation about it.

We love to know your thoughts, strategies, and experience in the comment section. Thank you, and we'll see you all next time.

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