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Don't let a Crash, Wreck your Locksmithing Business!

Open up a bottle of Topo Chico as you read the Post of the week, Comment of the week, and a good storyline for you with Chris. For those of you who do not know Chris is the owner of a local locksmith business, River City locksmith. It is located in Pacific Northwest. He also has a fundamentally locksmith derived apparel novelty, everything about locksmithing that's called Lock Jaw. If you want to check their product here is their Instagram account: @lockjawMFG or you can visit at


This was sent by upgradeguylocks. He got his orders and blew away by the speed. We try to get every order out and gets placed before 3pm. It looks like FedEx did their magic.



Looks like Edward M signed up and became an MX13 dealer. You can see the Lock Boss hat in the background, a couple boxes of keys, a bunch of cylinders, and a Big Bro mat underneath there. That's good stuff.



That is a great question. Kind of like when I would ask one of my ex-girlfriends in high school, like if we're gonna stay together, and she pretty much said it's complicated. But, it's complicated and what I mean by that is I talk a lot about how stuff can be like more true than untrue. This is one of those cases, depending on the vehicle, where some can be redone to a completely different vehicle. They're reusable.

Chris: Some manufacturers are reliably going to allow for that. Like, if you take your H92's, I can take it from a 2005 to a 2015, no problem then there's some manufacturers that will not allow that if it's a prox, if it is a push start so who made it? You got your super chips, there's a million ways it can go. So, the answer, I guess, is maybe.

PJ: Maybe, and that one might be kind of a fun video to kind of like I've done all the different, transponder videos, but it might be fun, just to like,

Chris: That's a lot of research to get all those pieces of information down.

PJ: Yeah, might turn into a PDF because some of them it's like, well, yes if...

Chris: If you bought it from this manufacturer, OEM will yes and aftermarket will, which aftermarket won't do this? Is that this kind of board?

PJ: I mean, yeah, I mean, it's one of those. It's like a rabbit hole, where it's like, okay, how can we take enough information out to be accurate, but you're also realizing that you have to leave some parts out, which is why a lot of times in the videos when I do a transponder key, I don't mention it and the reason I don't is because it depends. And so yeah...

Chris: It's never like a car has ever had a problem program and key it. So there's some cars that you know, are gonna be no problem, you get some cars like I did a 99 F was a Mustang or a 99Ranger, one of those very few older Ford's actually required it. There's always a problem with a lot of vehicles and not to say that the keys may not work with another version of it. It just it goes back and forth. There's just really no solid answer.

PJ: And depending on your technical expertise and equipment, you can unlock them.

Chris: Yes, you can. There are chips that can or there is a cloneable. If it's cloneable, yes, you can go to different key. There's 1000 ways.

PJ: There is, right? And so I hope that kind of helps. That was probably not the answer you're looking for but that's kind of the reason why, like my ex-girlfriends used to say, it's complicated. The only difference is you still have a chance to do it. I didn't. That was fine.


PJ: All right so, all right so Chris, it's time to kind of get into a fun story here for a few minutes.

Chris: Story time, yeah.

PJ: So did you like the title I came up with?

Chris: I did. I liked that, I saw that on Instagram. I was like that's spot on.

PJ: Yeah, it took me a while to come up with something fun, but the title was, if you get into a crash, don't let it wreck your business.

Chris: Obviously, as a dad and you as a dad, we can thoroughly enjoy puns, it's inherited at certain point.

PJ: It is. It really is. So you got into a accident and do you want to tell the story first or you want to share the pictures first?

Chris: You must show the pictures first, because picture's worth 1000 words.

PJ: They are. Okay, so, let me get this pulled up here and I'm gonna go through and we'll show you the pictures and then you'll hear the story. So, Chris, this is the vehicle -

Chris: - that is the Beagle to hit me. The 2014 Chevy Sonic and if you're familiar with a Chevy Sonic, it's about 99% plastic so don't think that this vehicle received a lot of damage, it just pretty much crumbled like it was supposed to and no one was hurt except for me probably, time will tell that's kind of backwards and forth but at the same time, that was the drivers vehicle. They ran a red light, they're probably on their cell phone who am I to decide? And yeah, I feel bad because that is obviously what they try and get home with now.

PJ: Yeah, as lock mechanic says, just put some dirt on and it'll buff out. When you sent me these pictures, I mean, I was like this one like you send through me like immediately this one came to my ones.

Chris: Yeah, this is a very deceiving picture.

PJ: It really is.

Chris: And next one

PJ: And like sincerely, I was like, I kind of stopped and I was like, okay, Chris is sending these to me so that he must be okay. You know what I mean? Because when you look at that picture, it's like, oh my gosh, something bad happened.

Chris: Yeah, someone did, just not for me entirely.

PJ: So is the other person okay?

Chris: Yeah, other person was fine. Airbags went off obviously, they got out, it was a pretty slow area. I think 30-35 is what they're doing but everyone, everyone lived.

PJ: Okay, cool. That's good. Next up, the white gorilla there.

Chris: This you would think that, that is horrible piece of damage, and it was a lot more than the surface but luckily, I caught them out a corner my eye is I was going through intersection on my green light and they were kind of blown through the red light. I caught them on the corner of my eye and I hit the gas, because if I didn't, that would have been the site right there by the driver's door so they essentially turned my rear axle into a giant spring and it just kind of stuck at the intersection like a pinball so I was able to drive home, I'll be it not at the same speed I would normally have liked but I did live at home and that kind of goes to tell you the difference between a full service, you know, E250, versus a plastic hatchback car. One of them's gonna walk away and obviously it wasn't them.

PJ: So let me toggle between these here for a second. Because when you see this, you're not expecting to see that.

Chris: My insurance adjuster did not believe me when I called them. I said, I call them the next morning. Here's the situation. Here's the pictures and they said, Okay, but what part of the car got hit? I was like, this is the part that got hits. They said no, we need to see the part they got struck by it. This is it. This is what happened so it was a little unbelievable but there's definitely some transition with the rear axle and I need to brake lines, and there's definitely something needs to be done, it's not on the surface that you're not going to see.

PJ: Yeah, I mean, I kind of view this picture as like, you know, someone like they'll get into an accident or like this terminal hit them and they look fine from the outside, like maybe a little but they have internal bleeding going on and that kind of seems like that's what's happening to your van here. Right?

Chris: Let's get into the inside pictures?

PJ: Yes. I got this coming so let's just toggle one more time because it's so unbelievable for me. There's the vehicle that hit him, the person driving is okay. That's the damage left. That's crazy.

Chris: That's why this is the Vanilla Gorilla. It is, it just took that hit and it just kept moving.

PJ: Yeah, that is unbelievable. I mean, from this picture, it looks like a tank.

Chris: Yep, that's what it felt.

PJ: I mean it's a tank so let's look at the inside now. Here we go. All right, look at these two pictures here. So as you can see, you got shaked.

Chris: Yeah it tossed the interior of my van like a salad. Luckily, all my equipment was there to absorb the impact so that's good. It definitely took me about two days to kind of getting cleaned up, took a million pictures for insurance. I had some equipment they got easy, my lovely Schlage punch right there on the ground rather than on its side.

PJ: I know and it's so sad looking, isn't it?

Chris: And it still works though because hey, it's a solid piece.

PJ: As in a bat, I was like, man, that thing, I mean like, I mean you could use that as the base of a jack to jack your truck up and it still work.

Chris: That you could video

PJ: That would actually but yeah, wow -

Chris: It probably hurts a few locksmiths out there to see this video or these pictures.

PJ: We're back. Here we go. Yeah, that, so you got stuff. I mean -

Chris: Everything's got turned, turn over I lost a few bins up on the top over there, and if you've ever been in a vehicle full of small metal key blanks gets hit, they were all over the floor as I finding boxes overturned. A 250 KW1 pack on the ground is dumped upside down. I'm still trying to figure out there's any major damage to anything but I think I will recover as far as equipment supplies -

PJ: Yeah, okay, so someone asked, OBstrickler says did the pinning kit explode everywhere?

Chris: No, the pinning kid did not because I was smart and I actually bolted it down to a tool chest which is bolted down to the cabinet which is bolted down to the frame so the pinning kit receive no damage

PJ: And you had it latched I'm guessing?

Chris: Oh, yeah so it takes you one time to make that mistake, you never do it again.

PJ: That is the truth, isn't it? That is the truth. Man, wow!

Chris: Yeah, it was a little hectic. The next day I was very adamant about taking inventory, seeing what was broken. I think doing actual major equipment that is gonna probably take awhile to get back is I have a Cronos EPG electric pick gun. It comes from Germany and so you can't just get it overnight and so that's the one thing, it just stop working so that's really I think the main thing that is a part that need to be replaced.

PJ: Okay, that's crazy, Chris, first of all, thanks for coming on and talking about this and sharing those pictures because this detail if you had any sort of mobile business, which essentially every locksmith business is.

Chris: A drywall or a painter, electrician, plumber, whatever, yeah.

PJ: This really brings us to a really sobering point here. And that is when this happens, you at least temporarily, don't have a lock van.

Chris: If you're a strictly mobile person like I am, you can't just say hey, come to the shop. That just happened because there's no shop but it's important to know a couple of terms if this has all been very eye opening for me because I'm an unfortunately a good driver. I don't have any speeding tickets and like 20 years nothing, nothing on my record. So when I'm going through the process doing insurance and obviously it was you know, I was not at fault for anything, there's a lot of doors opened up for you, including the most important one which is loss of use. So if you get into an accident, and you are Hey, my Toyota Corolla I can't use it because it's going to be in the shop right now. Those give you another Toyota Corolla. You cannot rent a fully stocked and serviceable locksmith van because insurance cup or rental companies are gonna say, yeah, we're gonna take our 2022 van and gutted, run the wiring, put cabinets, put benches and stuff, they don't want that. So loss of use is a term of finding out that insurance will pretty much have to take care of my business until I'm back on the road, which is good and bad because I got stuff, I need to take care of your home but the same time, you don't want to tell your important clients, hey, sorry, I can't help you because parts are on backorder, bodyshops on delay right now so you're looking at about two to three months, which sucks but at the same time, it's been a summer so take some vacation. Don't take it easy.

PJ: Yeah. Okay. So can we unpack this a little bit?

Chris: Absolutely.

PJ: Okay, so through your insurance, this is not financial advice so go ahead and contact your existing or different insurance agent, whatever that might be. So on your policy, you had this.

Chris: So the opposite person's policy will have to cover everything because it's their fault so one of the things you can request is a loss of use, meaning that they'll take your taxes from the last several years divided by 365 and that's what they pay you every single day until your business is back up.

PJ: So is what I'm hearing is that because you had this piece of insurance in place, now, did you intentionally set up for this or did you just kind of hit the jackpot when you got your insurance?

Chris: So if you have a business vehicle set up because you have commercial vehicles, and you have a commercial policy, so a commercial vehicles gonna be GVRW over what 16,000 pounds or something like that so that's going to be like your freight liners, your big rigs, and then you have a commercial vehicle, you can take a Toyota matrix hatchback, and make it a commercial vehicle if it's being used in a commercial setting so if you have a vehicle that's in a commercial setting, it has commercial indemnities that come with that and one of those is being able to say, hey, this vehicle is a money producing vehicle. I'm not using it to go to my office and come back every day so now it qualifies the loss of use falls under a commercial, it's like if someone were to blow up your building for your business, that's essentially what happened.

PJ: Yes and so, I think the biggest point I'm hearing is, hey, for all of you out there who are using a vehicle for doing your work, your locksmithing work, I know it's cheaper to get insurance as just a person, because commercial insurance is more, however, this -

Chris: Great example, why you have it?

PJ: Yes, if you would have done that, it would be a lot different.

Chris: It would have probably still worked out, but it would have been a lot more hoops to jump through and have to prove it's a business vehicle and if you've ever dealt with insurance companies, they are very quick to take your payment, but at the same time, waiting two weeks for a call back on you know, When is this gonna happen? Who's gonna be dealing with this? Who's the person I have to call and deal with this? Yeah.

PJ: So it's really important for all you out there, make sure you have this coverage and make sure that if you're using your vehicle for commercial work, that you're getting it insured as a commercial vehicle. I think that's a big nugget takeaway here.

Chris: That's a huge. That's the whole reason I'm here today to tell everyone out there, get commercial insurance or vehicle or review your policy with whoever you have an insurance and have a backup plan. If you have a secondary vehicle, great, you can do that. If you do not have those qualifying factors for insurance, ask why not because if you're a mobile only locksmith, and you have a situation like this, you want to know that you're gonna be taken care of.

PJ: So if you don't mind just, so I really appreciate you talking about that. I want to kind of dive into this a little more. We didn't prep these questions so if I say something you don't want to answer -

Chris: I will get up and walk out.

PJ: Yeah, or dump your Topo Chico on me and whatever, you know. So right now, while your van is getting fixed, like how long are you out of a van?

Chris: So right now they're estimating, they'll start the work about mid June and it takes about four weeks for the repairs and that's not including what they find on the mechanical side of it. That's just the bodywork. So when they get up underneath it, they say, oh, you know, that differentials blew, the pumpkin on the back of your axles is blown up, you need to have a new rear axle, or alignments. So I'm expecting about six weeks once it's a shop but in the meantime, I did start out once upon a time in a truck, that was 10 years ago, almost. Now I'm back in my truck, the same truck. My Dodge Dakota, just kind of taking care of my main accounts and some people might say, well, you should just take the time off and relax. You have a counselor, depending on your property management, companies, banks, all these facilities, it's easy to go rekey and work on locks when you already know what the keys are going to be. If you're switching from a WR5 to different WR5, it's easy enough to do. It's the random stuff that cold call customers that say I need 10 locks rekey, none the keys match, that can be anything. I can be go and making trips back and forth and you can only fit so much in the backseat of a truck right now. So right now it's very much just prioritizing my important accounts, and the cold call stuff just kind of waiting on the sides.

PJ: Okay, so the cool part is, is that of course, you've spent all of this time, energy and effort. You have a reputation in your communities, right? And you of course want to keep all of that the best you can.

Chris: Imagine someone asked you say hey, hey PJ, I need 150 SC1, oh, you know what? I'm not shipping right now, call me in six months from now, they're not going to wait six months, they need to take care of a lot sooner than that.

PJ: Very true.

Chris: So they're going prying up going somewhere else for that. That's why it's important to make sure I take care of those important accounts that I've had working relationships with for years, they know me, I know them, I'm there once or twice a week. It's still important and one of the things I did is when this all happened, I got a hold of all these different accounts that I have and say, Hey, here's a situation. If you have anything that's going to be exceeding basics, I need some advance notice, so I can make sure I have the right products and materials for this. So there's no surprises, the less surprises, these are just we're gonna handle it right now.

PJ: Yeah, that's good. So in the meantime, you're also getting paid by the insurance company? So you went from a situation like, tell me if I'm wrong here, okay. But you went from a situation that could be really bad.

Chris: Correct.

PJ: Okay. And really, by all accounts, it could be a death blow to your business.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

PJ: Yeah. To no fault of your own.

Chris: Right

PJ: Right? To no fault of your own, you didn't do anything wrong yet you could be in a situation where all of your hard work is in jeopardy.

Chris: Over the course of 90 days, you can lose it all if you didn't set up correctly.

PJ: Correct, right? But instead of that, you figured out a way to keep your customer base happy. You can keep serving them. Is it a little less convenient for you? Absolutely.

Chris: Oh yeah, you spend so much time in a van that it's almost like a second home. You have everything you like the way it's set up. You have your equipment set the way does your key machines, everything and then you go from that to I have about a 90% reduction available services, that changes things.

PJ: It does and so but instead, you're doing all right.

Chris: Oh, yeah

PJ: Probably there's probably a part of you that's like, you know, it's kind of nice.

Chris: It's kind of like being paid to go on vacation when you didn't want to go but still having to work a little bit at the same time. It's really weird, just some silver linings because like I said, someone's coming up, the kids going to school, the weather's nice, it's nice time you spend more time with them. I mentioned a couple months ago as we do in my sighting and one of the projects I'm working on so now I have an opportunity to work on some smaller stuff at home, get caught up, I got an old truck I'm restoring, there's more stuff to do than I thought I was gonna need to do but at the same time, I'm kind of being pushed into like take some time for work. Also, I'm not sure what's even happened with...I got like, like a bulging disc from a now and there's just things like time will tell how it's all gonna play out but for now, I just got just kind of keeping mellow. Just don't go too crazy, just holding them in accounts.

PJ: That's great.

Chris: Everyone's happy so far so-

PJ: That's great. Well, Chris, thank you for coming on and talking about it. I think this can be so beneficial, especially for anybody who's watching or listening to this. At some point that is not, that does not have that correct insurance.

Chris: We can always talk about how you cut keys, how I do this, but the business aspects of it but these are also very important things because when your business gets pretty much knocked out of the water, and you have no control over how it happened, when it happened, what didn't seem to be corrected, you have to make sure you have all your ordered cards are on the right places, because you have to have a contingency plan for this kind of stuff.

PJ: Absolutely. Well, that's great you did and I'm glad you're doing good and you're okay, you know?

Chris: I'm in good spirits. I've been working a lot less obviously, which is good for the stress values.

PJ: Especially, you know, when you're, you know, the type of operation you have, I mean, you have to grind it out. Right? You have to go through at least seasons of grinding it out so this might actually be an opportunity for you to, like reset a little bit.

Chris: A little bit like I get more time to work on lock jaw, I guess more chances to market with that and work on new designs and it's really cool. I'm not stopping my work. I'm just changing my workflow.

PJ: Yeah. That's great. Good stuff. Well, man, I'm really happy to be talking about this, not your bad situation but the good part of it. 

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