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Building a business of UPVC lock repair

With approximately 15 years experience in the locksmithing industry, Craig Andres has been building up his expertise in the hardware and security industry since he was a teenager. With a genuine love of locks and in particular, a passion for picking; the thrill of a challenge is something that has kept Craig’s interest over the years; spurring him into learning new skills and acquiring more tools for every eventuality. With new and improved safety and security standards plus a plethora of manufacturers on the market, UPVC lock repair and replacement has fast become one of Craig’s busiest branches of his Bristol business AA Lock and Key; even earning him the nickname of ‘door man’ in his local area…

“Around 90 percent of domestic entrance doors are UPVC or composite now,” begins Craig. “In layman’s terms, most people think a door will last about 8-10 years, yet it’s impossible to measure the lifespan of a door in terms in time like this, as door manufacturers know and understand. The amount of people coming in and going out of a door, how and when it is locked, closing it softly or slamming it – there are so many factors to take into account; and most often these are taking a toll on the hardware rather than anything else.

“As an emergency locksmith, I have been called out for so many different reasons and have seen almost every different type of lock. Across the main hardware manufacturers, there are more than 320 different lock mechanisms. When it comes to the equipment required, 3-star locks naturally require picks that are equally sophisticated and specialist.

“But it isn’t just lost keys or changing locks after a house move or break in that keep me busy, people have now started to realise that if a door isn’t opening or closing properly, or sitting ‘just right’, it means that it may need realigning or hanging, rather than requiring the purchase of a new door. Likewise, in the past customers might have called a joiner to try and rectify this problem, but UPVC locksmiths are perfectly capable to solve an issue like this. In fact, I added a page to my website with all the common questions that customers ask when something is ‘wrong’ with their door ( Indeed, as we all know the door itself is seldom the issue – these things are built to last – and if kept serviced and maintained, just as we would for a car, you can not only extend the lifespan of your door but keep it working just as well as it was the day it was fitted.

“At the start of lockdown last year, I invested in a new van and re-organised the way I kitted in out.  Even though I scaled down some of the tools and stock in it however, I made the decision to invest in all new picks for the main UPVC lock brands such as Brisant, Ultion and Avocet, as the past few years before that had proved to me that these tools were absolutely essential for my everyday job. On top of lock repair and replacement however, there is a further advantage to being a specialist in this field, and that is the upselling opportunities.

“When I fit a new lock for a customer, especially if it’s after a house move for example, it’s quite common that this leads to a new handle – perhaps in a different design or finish – then comes the letter plate and anything else in a hardware suite. Of course, houses have at least two entrance doors, and in many cases, even more now when it comes to extensions, out buildings, garden rooms etc. For this reason, I also make sure I have a selection of suites readily available but also keep my eye on what’s available – hardware-wise – so I can pass my recommendations on to customers.

“Spotting the growing need for UPVC repair and replacement got me started in this area, the fact that no two jobs are ever the same got me hooked, and the vast volume of work and ability to make a decent living from it has made it the area that my business is now built on.”