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Boom, boom, boom

By Victor Southern, Lockdecoders

As we know the economy reopened in full on June 21st and every forecast from every authority says we are in for such rapid re-growth that it will be a boom, a serious boom.

Some economists are talking about even 7.5% increase in GDP. The amount of business that our family firm, Lockdecoders Ltd, has done is witness to that. We have had a pretty good four months since Christmas, despite the lockdown, and April was about our second best month ever for equipment sales. I am writing this at the end of that month. Other firms in our line of business tell us pretty much the same story so there is money there waiting to be spent.

I suppose that the lockdown problems have affected our shop-based locksmiths rather more than those who are purely mobile and it is no wonder that those shops will see the most positive increases. Others who may score well are those involved in physical security as schools, colleges, universities reopen in full and hospitals can pay attention to something other than Covid-19.

The Chancellor has introduced a “super investment allowance” from 1st April and that allows “structured businesses” to claim investment tax relief on equipment purchases at 130% of the cost. So, if you pay tax at 20% (dividend taxes will now be higher), a £5000 machine purchase will count for tax purposes as £6500 and that means your year-end liability will reduce by £1300. Speak to your accountant about this. I am not sure whether van purchases will count in this way but they will.

The unspent cash stored up during lockdown plus pent-up demand will be realised and that benefits all – more money in circulation, more jobs, more tax for the Exchequer, more money spent on holidays, in pubs and restaurants and even theatres will gradually reopen our amazing entertainment industry. And, all that means more jobs for you, the locksmith.

Now, a word of caution. A lot of spending habits have changed as we all know. Many retail outlets will find that their market has gone to online sellers but you are selling an actual personal service that can hardly be reproduced online. Your potential customers need to know that and know that you are there; and the range of services and goods that you supply.

Those of you with shops that remained open were pretty well forced to change procedures and that involved smartening up at the same time. All of you need to think smart and act smart and look smart. Your shop should be inviting, clean and with attractive window displays. Your van should be washed often and look good with equipment and stock laid out in such a way as to look professional and up-to-date.   First impressions are important and remain.

A major irritation for potential customers is poor phone service and broken promises to return calls. You know that because it annoys you when it happens to you. Don’t answer your business phone with “Hello”. That sounds dodgy and shifty. Instead – “Good morning, Super Locksmiths here, Fred speaking, how can I help you?” That sounds business-like and inviting. Your caller knows they have dialled the right number, who you are, and that you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, anxious to do business. Next, note the caller’s name or ask for it, then use it several times in the conversation. It personalises your service.

Sometimes you can’t help personally so say so, “Mr. Warburton, I am sorry the boss is not in, please let me check your number and I will contact him to phone you direct”. Or, “I am sorry Mr Warburton, that is not a service we can offer but if you hold for a minute or two, I will check which locksmiths may be able to help you. Whereabouts are you?”

It really works. Really.

But, (there is always a but), you need to balance your time on the phone with the needs of the customer right in front of you in the shop. They are the most important person at that time. So, if the phone rings while you are serving him ask if he minds if you take this call. If it goes on a bit look directly at him occasionally and smile or shrug – get him on your side over the delay.