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Key Programming Tips | Start with the Basics (3 Tips)

Sometimes, things seem easier on the internet than in real life. If you're starting in key programming, or maybe you've been doing it for a while, there's a lot of information that you have to dig your way through. What's essential and what's not essential. It can be challenging, and it can be a little overwhelming because when you start key programming, it's like, "I want to do everything, I want to do it all." And it's not that simple. But what I want you to do is start at the ground level and start building up your knowledge. That is why I'd like you to learn from two guys who have a lot of information about key programming. Learn from both Brook and Tony, I've known them for a long time. They were working in Advanced Diagnostics, they've seen a lot, and I'm excited to get them to share their perspectives with you.



Brook: Well, hello, my name is Brook Francisco. I work for Advanced Diagnostics in Kaba Ilco on the tech support side; I answer the SmartPro, T-code, and programmer calls. I'm a practicing automotive locksmith also. I've been doing that for about 12 years, I get to use the machine, and I get to support support. So I see both sides, and kind of the focus of this thing we're doing today is to focus on just some introductory issues that I see people having with the machine and hopefully, make it easier for you to get started with it.

PJ: Absolutely, Brook. So I mean, for the amount of time that not only you've been practicing automotive key programming, but tech support. I imagine you've seen a lot over the years.

Brook: Yeah, I mean, it's. It seems a lot more people are doing it. In the beginning, it was focused on a few guys that would do automotive. Now, we're seeing many more people who do other forms of locksmithing in other industries that may be using the machine. It's just kind of a much larger user base. The other flip of the coin is we've seen that the manufacturers are making it much, much more difficult. As the technology advances in the vehicles, the key programming is getting more and more advanced, more advanced.

PJ: Absolutely. Yeah, it seems, you know, I think a part that kind of gets missed in the aftermarket world. Sometimes is the simple fact that as that technology changes, like companies like Advanced Diagnostics, have to wiggle their way around, figure out how to do it and technology today is quite advanced.



Brook: I mean, when you think about it, in 1998, I think Ford had one or two transponder keys that would cover the entire line. Now, I mean, you got to look at probably 300 SKUs, for each different kind of fob or prox, design key, or whatever. And that's just on the forum side. I mean, there are tons more parts; they don't always interchange, the programming has gotten advanced. There's just a lot more to it now. Yeah, so basically going to, initially when these guys get the machine as a user, the first thing you're going to have to do is get it registered and get it loaded, which you know, which, especially with updates, we recommend doing that about twice a month. Essentially, there are two ways to do it. We recommend the initial way through the PC loader and then the other way, which is quicker and easier, and you'll also need this in the field, sometimes it's through the WiFi. So initially, when you get the machine, I would highly recommend checking out our in our videos that show how to use the PC loader, installing it from our website, and doing the initial registration and update through the PC once that's done. The machine should be up and ready to use. If you can do the initial registration through the WiFi, we sometimes have more issues with that. So it is essential to be familiar with the PC loader. Sometimes, if you're having issues with the machine, you may need the PC loader to try to do a recovery or other ways to remedy issues with the machine versus the WiFi.

PJ: What I hear you saying is you essentially can't use the machine until it's registered, right?

Brook: Exactly. Yeah, when you get it you need to do the registration; it serves a couple of purposes. If you purchase the machine on subscription, it'll start; it'll load the subscription. The subscription doesn't start until you go to a vehicle, but the other important thing is it kicks off the warranty. So that the machine may have, you know, been on a distributor shelf for a couple of months, you don't want that. You don't want that time coming off your warranty time, so the initial registration kicks off the warranty.

PJ: Yeah, and I think that's a good point because, I mean, like, when I get a new fridge or a new washer dryer, like, I never register. I'm like, you know you should, but you plug them in and start using them, right? And I think that's something that someone can do when they bought their SmartPro; they got it, then let's plug that sucker in and see how it works. And you're going to get stopped in your tracks on that.


Brook: The next biggest thing we see is, where do I get information about the cars? And that what we've decided is the way we're going forward with that is we don't have a manual any longer. We're using an app, which is the MYKEY'S PRO app, and this app, I mean, I use it all the time on tech support. Once you get it installed on your phone, or however, you're going to use it, they have a desktop version, it's great. It basically will tell you which vehicles are covered, key blanks, it'll give you pictures of the connection, you know, additional hardware, all that kind of nuts and bolts information that the locksmith will need when he's taking the job. And essentially, it ties in a little bit to another issue that we get a lot of, which is additional hardware that's not sold with the kits that these guys need. The two biggest ones I hear of are the two Chrysler cables, the ADC 2011 and 2012. The kits are generally not sold with these, but if you've got a good distributor when they sell the machine, I highly recommend including those with it. On those Chrysler vehicles, we get many people that, they've had the machine, they've done a couple of jobs, they'll go out to a 2020 Ram or a Pacifica, and they won't have the cable to interface with it. The other big one is the pre-coding aerial, which is not as big a deal. It's a little more expensive, it's a little more advanced tool, but you will need some vehicles to complete the job and again, that information always, in MYKEYS PRO.

PJ: Absolutely. And I think it's kind of a learning process. Especially if you have a little bit of experience of programming some of the older vehicles, and all of a sudden, like the new stuff and how much is involved with that now, and like, I know when I go out and program keys for the different videos that we do, I'm on the MYKEY'S PRO app, look at it, right? I mean, like just knowing where, I mean after a while, you start to get an idea of where to put the prox key for programming, right?

Brook: Right.

PJ: But if it's a vehicle you haven't done before. Going and looking on the app and seeing exactly where to put that prox is just a time saver. You're not guessing; you're not doing random Google searches. You're able just to kind of get to work. Now, Brook, I have a question for you. Something that got me was I had someone who watches our YouTube channel point something out that I never thought of, and I'm just curious, since you also program car keys, how do you handle this? So often, when you're programming a prox key, right? Like you technically only can have the one you're trying to program in the vehicle, the other one you have to get out. Now, I, for the longest time, was opening the door, setting it on the ground, knowing that's a bad practice, but you're in the middle of programming, so you know, you're just doing what you're doing, and someone recommended getting one of those signal hiding pouches. Do you use whose?

Brook: Yeah, the Faraday bags or whatever they call, yeah, I don't personally use them. I usually will take it out, but they do work. What some other guys do is they'll take the battery out and key when they're doing it, but I think the Faraday bag is like the best - one of the best things to use for that because you can zip it up, and it hides a signal, so it is a way to go.

PJ: Now, if you like videos like this and want to see more like them, go ahead and hit that like button and let us know you want to see more.


Brook: A lot of these beginner guys know your key supplier. I mean, that's huge. These guys will get the machine, they'll start landing jobs that they maybe haven't done before, and then a lot of them are these customer-supplied or Amazon keys that they don't know where they come from, and they fail. So that's my big thing is, know your distributor, you got respectable distributors like CLK, other big-name distributors that sell - that sell the parts that work. I mean, this offshore stuff works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it causes issues with the car, and then other times, they may come back two weeks later. We've got customers out there that are using their tokens, their time on customers parts that don't work, you totally can do that, but you have to charge for it. We have guys calling and saying, Hey, I waste the token on this. We tell him, you know, it's like, don't base your business on customer supplied parts, you have to charge regardless, get quality parts when you're doing it, you can use their stuff they want to use because you can't turn the business down but, you got to be prepared to charge for that. That's the last big issue that I see with the beginners, you know?

PJ: Absolutely. I think that's a great point. We live in this like, world of key supply that has mass saturation, entirely, right? And it's like, it's challenging to really, we can talk about FCC ID numbers and that sort of thing, but it's like, on the surface level, they all kind of look the same.

Brook: Yup.

PJ: Right. And it typically takes programming one and having the customer left, and then come back or call you in an emergency at a grocery store. You know, before you're like, Oh, wow. Yeah, maybe there was a reason that one was $5.

Brook: Right. Yeah, so that's one, but we have quality supplies. And, you know, I mean, unfortunately, in this world, I mean, you can't run a business, denying customer supplied parts, but if you're going to do it, you have to charge regardless of the outcome


Tony: From the aspect of customer service and sales side of it, number one is Brook made an excellent comment about being linked to a good distributor, make sure that you're getting quality products. And again, CLK, I think, is right at the top when it comes to that being proactive, being knowledgeable in helping the end user, set them up so that they don't have these situations in the field is very important. So what you're doing daily, PJ, with CLK group, and these podcasts that people can learn from, the services you provide, and the type of product lines you carry is essential. We're a partnership as manufacturer and distributor to bring the best service quality and knowledge to the end-user, so I think that's very important. Other aspects too, that, again, with the SmartPro, being a leader is what defines the leader. And the first thing I always say is that we have the broadest coverage, pretty much any equipment out there today. So at 74-75, loads of software, soon to be more, we have several in the pipeline right now that are being tested, that puts a stamp on where we're going, where we've come from, where we're at today, and where we're going tomorrow. We also have in place for those who have been with us for a while. We may still be operating with an older piece of equipment, aggressive exchanges, to bridge them from old to new. We also offer, which has probably died off a little bit in interest, but I think there's still an opportunity out there. Especially for those who like to manage, buy software, and own it. We have the software; we call the software kit options covering the seven-vehicle lines. They put Toyota and Subaru together, so seven-vehicle lines are involved in that kit option pricing that allows a customer to aggressively top-up or add to their software. And again, the key for the end-user is to be able to do the job, be able not, you know, be in the position to take the job on. You guys covered some great points about the accessories like the Chrysler cables. You have to define everyone's territory: end-users territory, what they're going to see most days in and out, what vehicles they're going to be dealing with. Whether it's domestic or a mixture of foreign domestic, high-end, low-end, older, newer vehicles, so they have to make sure that they talk with their distributors or talk with us even. I take a lot of calls from end-users every day, and we have discussions about how are you set up? How are you managing your equipment? And that's very important, and I think that's done too at CLK, so hats off to you, PJ, and your group for what you guys do on a daily routine.

PJ: Yeah, absolutely. I think, there's been a lot of great points made and it's really, I think the undertone of everything we've talked about today has been just like, take a minute, get prepared and don't just, you know, like, all of us have been there, right? We've all gotten a call to do a program, a key or a job or something, and next thing you know, we're flying down the road pumped up, all excited, and then, you get there, and it's just like this big mess, and you're like, oh, my gosh, I don't have the right key. Can I even find one around here right now, and all that other stuff, so taking your time, being thorough, being very familiar with that MYKEY'S PRO app honestly, like that's something for me. I was a practicing locksmith today, and someone called me to program a key to a vehicle. Now, unless it's one I'm very familiar with, I would have the app up, and I'm looking at it. I'm like, okay, what exactly is it going to take to program this, and can I do it today? Well, Brook, Tony, it has been an absolute blast having you both on here hanging out. And I appreciate it.

That was a whole great conversation. Brook, Tony, thank you so much for coming on and sharing some of your knowledge. It's always fun hanging out with you. For all locksmiths out there, I would love to know your thoughts and what kind of questions you have? Please put it in the comment section of our YouTube video and make sure that you include the #LockBoss to automatically get entered in to win one of five free prizes we give away every week on Tuesday. Thank you for watching, and we'll see you next time!

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