After twenty-five years in the locksmith business, I can assure you of a number of things about making money installing deadbolts.
- You do not have to be mechanically inclined to do this. If you can believe it, I taught a man with a doctorate in theology to do this; and this man had the softest hands you had ever seen. In fact, he was the least mechanically inclined person I have ever met. What I am about to show you will give you all of the know-how needed in order to trade deadbolts for dollars.
- You can make a nice amount of money even doing one job every two weeks! That’s right. You can install deadbolts, or replace your customer’s existing ones, and walk away with anywhere from $100 to $150; and that’s for starters. If you install three or more deadbolts, you will do better. Even if you work a full-time job doing something else, wouldn’t $100 or more every two weeks be great?
- You will not have to worry about making the keys for the deadbolt match the customer’s doorknobs most of the time. I will show how to deal with that in this book.
- You can get nice, wholesale deadbolts to keep on hand in a variety of finishes. You can get them through a locksmith distributorship or you can call me. I can get you the special four way bolts to fit most any application you will encounter. Or, if you want to be lazy and not stock anything, that can work, too!
- People will hire you because a friend of yours recommended you. Drumming up business is easier than you think among friends and associates.
- The start-up costs for this business are negligible. I will tell you what you need and where to get it. Most of the items, however, are available at your local hardware store. Others are available only through special outlets. If you own a nice electric or battery- operated drill, you are well on your way to being equipped for installing deadbolts.
What I will show you in this book and how I will proceed.
- I will show you the tools you need and where they can be purchased.
- I will show you a step-by-step, fully-illustrated deadbolt installation.
- I will discuss problems you may encounter in the installation of deadbolts, including door and jamb material types and common pitfalls you can avoid when working with various materials. This will include contractor errors that you will find in your customer’s deadbolt installations which you can get paid to correct. We will look at sagging doors and strikes that do not align with the deadbolt bolts and also look at a number of reasons and remedies for deadbolt and doorknob failure. Here, we will also explore reinforcement techniques you can sell to your customer, even though she already has deadbolts!
- I will show you how to offer a knob and deadbolt package at fair prices that will excite your customer. Included here will be some sales techniques for approaching realtors. This will be an eye- opener for you! Also, I will show you how to make money even when the customer already has deadbolts.
- I will show you the simple business side of what you are going to do. We will look at advertising, business cards, invoices, warranties, and other issues that may confront you.
Real Deadbolt for Dollar Scenarios (Do read this!)
- My most memorable deadbolt installation took place in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about 18 years ago. A client called and asked me to secure the doors to her business. She worked out of a model log home. After I had installed four deadbolts, I began on the fifth. I drilled the door and then drilled the door jamb. When the spade bit punched through the jamb, it caught onto an electrical conduit pipe which ran from the bottom of the jamb to the top. Instead of simply just stopping the spade bit, the spade bit grabbed the conduit and ripped the pipe and the jamb facing completely out of the door opening in a shower of wood splinters. Knowing that this type of thing was not standard in modern homes, I told the client, “I am sorry, but that is a problem I am not responsible for.” Of course, I said it nicely; and she agreed to have a carpenter and electrician take care of the problem.
- One job that has not recurred very often is the job where the edges of the doors are made of a papery, cardboard-type material. You can drill beautiful holes through it; but, when you chisel it, it tears horribly. When I see these kinds of doors during my drilling, I use what are called “drive-in” bolts that eliminate the need for chiseling.
- Another type of door you will rarely find on homes today is the door that is completely wrapped in metal. There is wood beneath this metal, of course. But, on the edge of the door, you see metal and a seam running from the top to the bottom of the door. When I see these doors, which is becoming rare, I use a drive-in style bolt.
- Once I quoted a job. When I got to the job site, I found that the doors were fiberglass on the face and on the sides. Fiberglass does not chisel easily or efficiently on the door edges. It is a disaster. I did not have drive-in bolts on hand. I had to chisel; and it took me three to four times as long to do the job.
- A man built a very expensive house that included a $3,000 front door. He tried to put the deadbolt in without knowing what he was doing. He called and I showed up. I took one look and then told him I could not help him. I drove off. This guy really messed up his nice door. With the kind of money he must have had, he should’ve called me to begin with. I knew that this was the job to run away from. This has happened to me one other time. But, on the second time, the contractor put the deadbolt in between where the deadbolt and doorknob should have been, leaving no room for a proper installation. I refused to take the job for reasons of self-protection.
- Once, while drilling the deadbolt hole for the jamb, I found I was on a huge knot. Such a knot can seldom be chiseled out. I did the best I could and told the customer that she needed to apply wood putty and paint.
The Tools You Will Need
- You will need the basic tools that every homeowner already owns.
- Claw Hammer
- Number 2 Phillips Screwdriver
- Slot Headed Screwdriver for slotted screws
- Small Nail Set for finishing nails that may pop out of the door trim or facing
- Drill – If you wish to use a battery operated drill, be sure it is an 18 volt or higher rated drill. You will be drilling 2 1/8 inch holes in wood and metal-faced wood core doors. A smaller battery operated drill will not be able to hold up under the kind of strain a 2 1/8 hole saw will produce. At 2013 prices, you can expect to pay at least $275 for the appropriate drill. However, you can use an electric heavy-duty drill and spend a fraction of the price you would for the battery operated one. I carry both. Just speak to the knowledgeable salesperson at your local hardware store. Be sure to get the ½ chuck drill and steer clear of the compact drills altogether. You need
a beefy drill. I am using Home Depot’s Ridgid brand with a lifetime warranty. See figure 1 below. Ridgid also offers a refurbished line of electric and battery operated drills. No, Home Depot is not paying me for this endorsement.
- Hole saws – You will need a 2 1/8 inch diameter hole saw with the arbor. I like the Ace hardware hole saws. The ¼ inch pilot bit (See figure 2 below) comes separate but will fit into all of their differently-sized hole saws. You will also need a 1-inch hole saw for doors with metal edges or jambs that are metal. See Figure 3 below. There is really no need to buy a whole kit. If you buy a brand other than the Ace brand, you will have to buy an expensive arbor and pilot bit; and that just becomes more work and expense for you. The Ace system is just too hard to beat! Simple and inexpensive!
Figure 2 – 1/4 inch pilot bit
Figure 3 – Hole without pilot bit
- Spade bit – You will need the 1-inch spade bit. While you are at it, get two, as you will occasionally hit staples in wood/metal doors that will reduce the bit’s cutting ability. See figure 4 below. I have used Irwin spade bits with great success.
Figure 4 – 1 inch spade bit
- Deadbolt installation template – Every deadbolt comes with its own template and is usually made of stiff paper. However, Dewalt makes a door lock/deadbolt installation jig (Figure 5 below) that comes with the jig and the 1-inch hole saw. Kwikset also makes a great jig as well. The template I use later in the book is a plastic template I purchased from McDonald Dash Locksmith Supply in Memphis, Tennessee. It sells for under $10 and is marked for one of two backset lengths — 2 3/8 for homes and 2 ¾ for businesses. You will note the two holes on the face and two holes on the side. More about that later. (See figure 6 below.) However, you would be wise to purchase a lock jig in the event you need to turn an older 1 ¼ inch
deadbolt hole into a 2 1/8 inch hole. There will be times you will need to modernize a customer’s knob and deadbolt holes. The Kwikset jig is more expensive but is very well made. It is my jig of choice. Granted, you will use your jig rarely; but you will need it eventually.
Figure 5 – Dewalt Jig
Figure 6 – Template from McDonald Dash
- Kwikset Mortise Tool – This tool will be seen shortly in the installation section. You will need to ask your locksmith supply store for the Kwikset latch face mortise tool. This tool marks out the area on the side of the door where you will cut out wood in order for the deadbolt bolt to fit flush. (See figure 7 below for an example.) Kwikset has larger mortise tools for strike plate installations as well. You may consider buying these with the entire Kwikset lock installation jig set. You can get this at McDonald Dash, US Lock Corporation, or IDN Armstrong’s. Or, you can ask your local hardware store to order it.
Figure 7 – Kwikset Mortise Tool
- Latch/Strike Locator – This is great for locating where on the door jamb to drill your 1 inch spade bit hole. You just insert it into the bore on the side of the door, close the door, and push it against the door jamb. When this is done, it leaves a nice hole marking the exact location to drill the strike or bolt hole in the jamb. This is made by Kwikset (see Figure 8). You can get it from your locksmith supply house for a few dollars.
Figure 8 – Kwisket Strike Locator
- Here is the whole kit. (See figure 9 below.) I know, the DeWalt bits are upside down. But, hey, you are getting 25 plus years of experience for a few bucks!
Figure 9 – Most of what you will need less the jig!
- You may also want to consider getting the Kwikset reset cradle for when your customer scrambles the “customer rekeyable” Kwisket locks. It is easy to use and costs less than $30. Your hardware store can get this for you and it comes with easy-to-follow direction. Buy the cradle, buy a Kwisket SmartKey lock, and practice. You will be surprised how easy it is to do and, yes, you will make good money offering this service!
Figure 10 – Kwikset Reset Cradle
What Deadbolt Should I Use and When?
In most homes, I install deadbolts with a key on the outside and a thumbturn on the inside. These are known as single deadbolts. In the event there is a fire in the home, people need to be able to leave the house quickly. If you install deadbolts with a key on both sides (known as double deadbolts), people exiting the premises will have to find a key.
However, there are times when you must use a double deadbolt. If you are installing deadbolts on homes with doors with single-pane glass, then you need the doubles. That is because somebody could easily knock a hole in the glass and reach in and open the deadbolt. If you have double-pane glass, use single deadbolts. Also, if there are small children in the home who could escape, or dementia patients living in the home, offer double-cylinder deadbolts to the homeowner. Although codes often allow for only single deadbolts, common sense says that there are times when the codes are
wrong. Just be sure to note why you are installing double deadbolts on the doors and have the homeowner sign off on your remarks.
When should you use a drive-in bolt? (See figure 11 further below.) In the event the door is very thin (less than 1 3/8-inch thick — though you can still chisel these with care), you can use a drive-in bolt. If your door edge has a papery feel to it (check the knob latch, maybe even remove it, and see if it looks like cardboard; this is rare, however), you can easily drill the 1-inch hole, but you will often tear it while chiseling. Avoid that by using a drive-in latch. If the door has
a metal edge, use the drive-in latch.
A Note about Deadbolt Brands and How They Fit, Or Don’t Fit
The Kwikset and Schlage products are widely used in the United States. If you go to Lowe’s, you will see that these two brands take up the lion’s share of room on the shelves in their respective departments. A few other brands you will encounter are Callin and Weiser. Callin, however, has issues with their latches, especially when the installation carpenters forget to drill the strike holes to the proper depth. If the strike hole in the jamb is not deep enough, the traveling bolt bottoms out in it, putting undue stress on the inner
workings for the Callin bolt. The result is that the gear in the bolt shatters. Callin, though, does make very nice-looking locks.
The problem with Kwikset, Schlage, Callin, and a host of other “over- the-counter” locks is that they are designed to fit the 2 1/8-inch diameter cut out on the door. This is because they include a lip on the outer armor of the deadbolt that fits snuggly into the 2 1/8-inch hole. Now, this is not a bad thing. In the event a person takes a hammer to this kind of deadbolt, the deadbolt will have more
support. But there are other makers of locks that make standard sized deadbolts that will fit into cut outs that are smaller than 2 1/8 inches. In fact, these deadbolts will fit holes as small as 1 ¼ inches in diameter. This will come in handy in the event you need to upgrade deadbolts in older homes where you do not want to rebore the doors to take the 2 1/8 diameter locks. To date, two companies offer these. You can buy the grade 3 deadbolts from IDN Armstrong or US Lock Corporation. The IDN Armstrong’s LSDA brand deadbolt comes with a bolt that can be converted to the 2 3/8 or 2 ¾ sizes easily. The bolt is also easy to convert to drive-in! The bolt is called the four-way bolt. When ordering from US Lock, you must request the drive-in bolt in place of the standard bolt. I will say that I like the US Lock bolts better; but the LSDA is just fine and, obviously, is
more convenient. Another great thing about these deadbolts is that, because it has a flat armor shell, it can be moved around on the door to cover a deadbolt hole that was accidentally drilled improperly. Of course, this will hold true only in cases where the hole is off by just a little.
When the hole has been improperly bored, the Kwikset and Schlage armored collars will have to sit where the hole was drilled and they will seat into that hole exactly as dictated by that hole. That means the tailpieces of the deadbolt will not line up perfectly with the deadbolt activation gear. The tailpiece will instead be set at a slight angle. This means that the deadbolt key will turn with some
difficulty. Again, the LSDA or US Lock deadbolt can be shifted in the hole to a number of positions, thus allowing it to work properly in the event a hole is improperly cut.
Beware that there are a few doors around that have 2-inch
backsets. The backset is measured from the edge of the door to the center of the deadbolt hole in the face of the door on the outside of the door. You cannot buy 2-inch backset bolts from the hardware store. Call US Lock for the only deadbolt available for this type of backset. It is very pricey, so do not stock this. I have sold only three in my entire life. If you encounter a door that uses 2-inch backsets for the deadbolt and the knob, and both locks are broken, advise the owner to buy a new door.
Preliminaries to Installing the Deadbolt
Here are some things to look for before you begin your installation.
- Is the door wood or metal? If the face is metal, is the edge of the door a wooden strip? If so, this is the most common scenario. Look at the knob latch. Is the material white and hard? It may be fiberglass. Is the door edge a papery, cardboard type of material? If you encounter fiberglass or the papery stuff (I think this is disappearing), then use the drive-in bolts. If you have an all-metal door with a seam running through the middle of the door edge from top to bottom, you will need to drill a ¼-inch hole first and then follow up with a 1-inch hole saw. You will then need to install a drive-in
bolt. Most doors will be using the standard bolt. (See Figure 11 for a drive-in bolt picture and Figure 12 for a standard bolt.) Remember that the LSDA brand packages have a bolt that can be converted to fit any installation. The standard bolt, however, is the one to use for the strongest application.
Figure 11 – US Lock Grade 3 Drive-in Bolt
Figure 12 – US Lock Grade 3 Standard Bolt
- Check and make sure that there is enough room for a deadbolt installation. 99.9% of all doors have room; but sometimes you will note that that hole you will drill in the face of the door may clip a window frame in the door. This is okay. Just double check and make sure the home owner is aware that, if she wants a deadbolt,
you will have to clip part of the window frame. Generally, you will not see this. If there is a removable set of louvers on the door, remove them.
- Make sure there are no shoes lying near the door. Metal burrs will certainly land in the shoes. Remove any pet food bowls and
door mats from the area. Anything that can collect burrs must be far away from the door. Make sure your customer is not standing near you.
Let’s Install the Deadbolt!
- Locate the spot on the door where the deadbolt is to be installed. If there are deadbolts already installed in other doors, measure from the center of the knob keyhole to the center of the deadbolt keyhole. This will be the measurement you will use. Do note, however, that a deadbolt offers more protection to the homeowner when it is installed higher up on the door. Of course, you can get ridiculous with this and place it at the very top of the door, which would look silly. But the fact remains that this would be the best place for it.
Ask the customer if he would like the deadbolts installed 12 inches to
20 inches higher than the knob. Such an installation would provide greater protection against a kick-in attack.
- Get your template or jig. In figure 13 below, I am using my plastic template from McDonald Dash Locksmith Supply. Make sure to check the backset of the existing knob. Is it 2 3/8 or 2 ¾ inches? Some homes do use the 2 ¾ inch backset which is more commonly found on commercial structures. Measure from the edge of the door to the center of the face of the knob or lever. Take the template from the lock package, or use your plastic one, and mark the appropriate hole on the face of the door and on the door’s edge. In figure 14,
you will note that I marked both places in the template for the bolt hole on the edge of the door. Once I remove the template, I will then choose which hole is nearer the center of the door edge. Sometimes, I find that neither hole is exact and I eye-ball the area where I need to drill.
Figure 13 – Note the two holes for the face of the door and the edge.
Figure 14 – Door is marked! I mark both holes on the edge.
- Now that the door is marked, take your 2 1/8-inch hole saw and drill your hole to the point that the pilot bit begins to punch through the other side of the door. When you punch through the other side of the door, begin drilling through that other side. This is important especially on wooden doors. If you do not do this, you will splinter the door facing. By cutting from both sides, your cuts will be clean. If you are drilling through a metal door, or a door with metal facing over wood, be sure to hold your drill tightly. Sometimes the metal door will grab the hole saw and stop with a violent jerk that will twist the drill in your hands and possibly hurt you. Also, in the event that you are drilling close to a sheetrock wall, the handle of the drill can fly up and punch a hole in the wall. If your hole saw is sharp, you can cut gently, thus reducing any chance that the hole saw will grab the metal facing. If the hole saw does grab the facing, it can jump out of the hole and make a horrible scratch along the door facing. Just go lightly and give your saw a chance to cut. See Figures 15 –
17 below. Complete the drilling and finish the hole.
Figure 15 – Started hole outside, removed metal facing.
Figure 16 – Remove metal piece from hole saw.
Figure 17 – Continue drilling on the inside.
- Your 2 1/8-inch diameter hole in the face of the door is
complete. Now it is time to drill the bolt hole with your 1-inch spade bit. This will be done on the edge of the door. See figure 18 below.
Figure 18 – Note the wood strip between the two metal faces of the door.
Just select the mark that is closest to the center of the door’s edge. Before we proceed, a few remarks must be made here. Make sure you are using a sharp spade bit. Allow the drill to do its work and be careful that you drill straight and level. Sometimes, when I am in a hurry, the bit shoots through the door’s edge, angles off to one side, and mars the outer metal rim of the door face. Usually, this is not anything to worry about. Also, it is entirely possible, though rare,
that you will find you are drilling through a knot in the wood. If you find this to be the case, just continue drilling. Also, if this is an all- wooden door and it appears to be 1 3/8 thick or less, drill carefully and slowly. If the spade bit grabs in the half-drilled hole, it could
jump either right or left and crash through the thin wooden door. If, when you are finished drilling, it looks like there is just too little wood left to the right and left of the hole, consider using a drive-in bolt. That way, you can forget chiseling the door edge. See figure 19 below.
Figure 19 – Finished hole on door’s edge.
- Now, insert your Kwikset jamb hole locator into the hole you just drilled. See figure 20 below.
Figure 20 – Note the awl tip on the locator.
With the locator pushed all the way into the hole on the door edge
(the bolt hole), close the door. See figure 21 below.
Figure 21 – Marking the hole for jamb.
With the door closed, push hard on the locator so that it pierces the jamb. This will mark the exact center of the bolt hole you will drill with your 1-inch spade bit. Here is another tip. After you push on the locator, hold it in place, turn the knob, and pull the door so that
the locator makes a small hole and mark. By doing this, the hole will be more visible to you. When you have finished, remove the strike locator. In the event you do not have a locator device, you can make this hole last, after you have installed the whole deadbolt. Once the deadbolt is installed, you can place Vaseline on the tip of the bolt, close the door, turn the deadbolt thumb turn until the bolt hits the jamb, and the Vaseline will leave a smudge at the center point.
But, if you are using the locator tool, and after you have marked the spot on the jamb, drill the hole with your 1-inch spade bit. Make sure you drill it 1 inch deep because that is the farthest the bolt will travel when the deadbolt is locked. You will find that in most modern
homes today, this hole is only a half inch deep. That means the bolt only travels half way into the jamb and that the bolt can be pried back. More on this later. (Your neighbours need this problem resolved and this is a good lead-in to make some money from people who need this job done right.)
- Now, we have to mortise the edge of the door. This is the hardest part; but it really is easy. For this step you will need a 1-inch chisel and a hammer and the Kwikset mortising tool. See figure 22 below for the mortising tool.
Figure 22 – I have inserted the mortise tool.
After you have inserted the mortise tool into the bolt hole, hit it squarely with a hammer a few times. It will cut a rectangular pattern into the door edge, which will make things easier for you when you begin to chisel. See figure 23 below and note the marks left by the mortising tool.
Figure 23 – Marking with the mortise tool. How easy is that?
Next, take your 1-inch chisel and carefully outline the marks you see so that the cuts become a little deeper. Be careful on the right and left edges because, as you can see, there is not much wood left between the metal door facing and the wood. TIP – Sometimes these edges just sheer off because the grain is running in a certain direction. Sometimes you cannot avoid snapping these pieces off. Here is what you can do. In the event
you notice that your chisel work is messing up the edges, just take your chisel and cut the TOP line left by the mortising tool all the way across the door edge. Do the same on the bottom. Then, when you chisel out the wood to accept the faceplate of the bolt, there are no sides to worry about. If, however, you notice just one small piece of wood with a crack, just try to work with what you have. On the installation above, the upper left hand edge cracked upward and to the left. I chose to leave all of the edges intact.
Now, take your 1-inch chisel and begin to chisel. The beveled, or sloping face, of the chisel goes against the door so as to limit the amount of material you can take off in one slice. You certainly do not want to take out too much. But, in the event you do take off too much material, you can always use small washers to keep the bolt level with the edge of the door. See figure 24 below.
Figure 24 – Beveled edge against door!
Place the chisel half-way between the hole and the top mark left by the mortising tool. Angle the chisel so that it will remove material. Just guesstimate! Tap the chisel with the hammer until the chisel butts up against the top mark, even though the chisel is now under the surface of the wood. After you do this, and if the piece you just chiseled does not fall out, use the
chisel to deepen the top mark once more. The piece will then fall out. Now, turn the chisel towards the hole, angle it to remove material, and remove more wood. See figures 24 -26 below.
Figure 25 – Chiseling the top.
Figure 26 – Chiseling down towards the bolt hole.
Figure 27 – Completed mortise job. Note crack in upper left corner.
You can practice mortising on a two-by-four piece of wood. It really is not very difficult to do.
- Now, take the bolt and check for proper fit. If the bolt does not sit flush, remove a little more wood. See figure 28 below.
Figure 28 – The bolt fits perfectly.
- Now, install the two sides of the deadbolt per instructions provided by the manufacturer. Do note that when you install the deadbolt front, where the key hole is located, turn the tailpiece to the correct position. Just grab it and rotate it towards the hinge side of the door. See figure 29 below.
Figure 29 – Note the armor on this deadbolt. Turn the tailpiece counter-clockwise on this job.
Figure 30 – Line up the thumbturn with the tailpiece and insert the screws.
- Now, let’s check how the bolt slides into the jamb. Although you drilled perfectly, it seems that the strike hole is always a bit off. With the deadbolt in the unlocked position, close the door and lock the deadbolt. Look into the door gap. Then, pull the door towards you and see how far the door travels. Make a mental note where the strike plate is going to be installed based upon what you have observed. Open the door, place the strike in the jamb and mark the holes. Then, using a small bit, drill pilot holes. Use short screws and attach the strike plate. Then, close the door and test the bolt travel. If it is not where you want it to be, try repositioning the plate.
When you are finished, install the plate with 2 to 3 inch sheetrock screws or other long screws with a chisel. This finishes our installation.
Figure 31 – Lining up the strike.
I will admit that, on this install, I was off on the strike so much that the bolt wouldn’t engage. After 25 years, you still can miss it. So, I simply adjusted the strike plate back towards the weather stripping.
Because the door in our example had a wide enough gap, I surface-mounted the strike plate. If the door is tight, just trace around the strike plate and then mortise it out
What Are Some Other Services You Can Offer?
I know that you thinking that everybody you know has deadbolts, right? But that is not going to be a problem for you. Why? Because door locks need periodic maintenance and adjustments. Deadbolts do break. Doors sag. Hinges come loose. When these things happen, the homeowner must have them repaired. Also, home builders never drill out the strike holes to the necessary 1 inch depth. Rejoice! There is plenty of deadbolt work you can do.
- Contractor mistakes. When you are at a friend’s home, look into the deadbolt strike holes. Are they deep enough? Usually they are at the factory half-inch depth. In order for a deadbolt to “DEAD BOLT”, the bolt must be fully extended. Go look at your own deadbolts. Open the door, engage the deadbolt and look at the latch. Try to push it in. It will not go in, will it? Now, extend the bolt only half way and then try to push it in. Get the picture? Your friend’s house is vulnerable. You can flat-rate the job or charge by the door. You can get a service call of about $45 and then $20 per door. Your friend has five doors. Does this look attractive to you? Just show him his problem. “Hey! Your deadbolts aren’t locking! Come see. I am doing deadbolt repairs and installations to earn income for (name the reason). Can I quote you on doing your repairs?” Now, I know you are thinking that you should not charge friends; but you are wrong! If they expect it free, they are slapping you in the face. Now, if your friend is disabled or a poor person then, yes, do it because you are decent human being. But if you are struggling financially, make the point that you need the income to help with your bills. Real friends are willing to hire real friends.
- Door sag. Over time, all doors sag. Many doors, when they do sag, do not lock properly. In order to check the lock latch and bolt alignments, close the door and watch where the latch and bolt are hitting or entering the strike plates. The knob latch strike will show a nice wear pattern. Is the pattern high or low? All you have to do is to raise or lower the strikes. Often, you will need to remortise the area and drill the holes out more. Just use your common sense. Another way to see if a deadbolt is misaligned is to look in the strike hole. Is there a gray or dark streak showing on the wood? This is where the bolt has been rubbing the wood. If the doors are sagging, you can check the hinges to make sure the hinge pins are seated tightly. If the hinges are worn, you can replace them. Most of the time, you can take 2-inch sheetrock screws and replace the old hinge screws on the jamb facing. This is as easy as can be.
- Broken bolts. Often, the bolts break on deadbolts, especially if they a Callin. But, over time, all of the brands suffer from bolt breakage. You can usually get Kwikset and Schalge bolts from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Many of the off-brands will accept the US
Lock and LSDA grade 3 bolts. Do not be afraid to use another manufacturer’s bolts for a job. If the bolt works, it works. Install it and check the operation.
- Keys will not go in and the bolt turns hard. WD-40. Spray it on the bolts and into the locks.
- Old locks. People who buy new homes often want the locks rekeyed anyway. You can have the customer go out and pick up the color and style they like and you can install them. But, be aware that, sometimes, the customer wants you to get the products. Just ask what color they want and whether they want levers or knobs. When you go to Lowe’s, tell the salesman you want locks keyed alike. When you pick up a lock package at Lowe’s, you will see a “keyed-alike” number on the package. Just match the numbers on the packages and you are in business.
- Realtors. Realtors want to sell houses. I will tell you that there is nothing like clean, shiny locks on the front door of the house. Not only do they look good, but they feel good and operate easily as well. The front door lock is the first handshake between a house and its buyer. You can make a sales package out of this concept.
- Homes with children and dementia patients. Whenever you do work in a home where there are people who cannot be allowed to escape, suggest double-keyed deadbolts.
- Life safety locks. Exit Security Inc. sells what is called the Ring Bolt. This bolt costs less than $15. When people are in for the night, this lock, which is easily installed, can withstand over 800 pounds of kicking force. You can install these for $39 each. You can offer these to every client.
- Kick-in attacks. If the truth be known, deadbolts can be kicked in with a little effort. I know, you thought you were safe behind your deadbolts! You can purchase reinforced strikes at Lowe’s. You can also purchase Don Jo door wraps that strengthen the doors themselves.
- Door wraps. In the event a door is vandalized, you can buy Don Jo door wraps which are designed to cover and repair break-in damage. These can be bought at McDonald Dash and just about any other locksmith supply house. These are made to fit doors of different thicknesses. The standard sizes are 1 3/8 and 1 ¾ inches.
- Other breakage. Kwikset deadbolts have an occasional problem in that the “C” clip that attaches the tailpiece to the key cylinder comes loose or cracks. You can buy extra parts from your local locksmith supply house. Other brands that use the flat style tailpiece have different problems. These tailpieces are held on by a threaded nut. Sometimes the tailpiece shears off where the nut meets the cylinder. One problem that you will find is that, when the bolt hole is not drilled deep enough, the bolt travels into it and bottoms out on a 2-by-4. The customer will often try to force the bolt further and, as a result, twist the tailpiece as one would a metal twist tie used to seal a plastic garbage bag. When this happens, you will need a small pair of vice grips. Just untwist the tailpiece. Sometimes, the deadbolt will need to be replaced.
Advertising in 2013 is in the toilet for all of the small guys. I do not care what service you offer. No longer are the Yellow Pages worth the money, and pay-per-click on the web is too pricey. Besides, the scam service companies have lots of money and you will be hard pressed to outbid them on Google. So, what do you do? The same thing that I am now doing. (I remember when $1,000 per month spent on Yellow Pages generated $10,000 per month!)
- Avoid Hibu, YP, and all of the other wannabe aftermarket advertisers. Since you are specializing, you need to target specific people.
- Get the business cards and website at Vista Print. You can get a website that is easy to build from their existing templates and
pay very little for it. If you cannot figure out how to design it, your neighbor can show you. I hate computers. But I have done it.
- Send hand written notes to realtors and offer them a price break for what you are doing. You will want to find cheap knobs and deadbolts in keyed-alike packages for their needs. You can
offer new locks at cost plus whatever you would like to make. But do tell them about the “first handshake” thing I told you about. They will agree. The owners of the home may want new locks because the originals are ugly and the keys do not work properly!
- Hand out the cards! I cannot stress this enough. Trust me — do this. People at your church will never know you can help them unless you tell them. Create a card with a coupon on the back. Everywhere you go, hand out the cards!
- Check into insurance. Mine is around $400 per year for 2 million in coverage. I know, this is pricey for struggling people.
- Get a three-part invoice printed up with your business name. Or use blank invoices which you can find at your local stationery store. You can always buy a pre-inked stamp with your name and address, and stamp each invoice.
Do this right. No, you are not going to show up, install a deadbolt, and come home with $20. If you do this, you are simply not thinking. You are being stupid. You have tools to buy and maintain, gas to burn, drill bits to replace, deadbolts to buy, insurance to pay for, etc. Where I live, a person charges a $55 service call and about $75 for one deadbolt. That is $130 for one deadbolt. The gross take-home amount is $130 minus the cost of the deadbolt. So, let us say that I take home $115 for that one deadbolt. Now, if you install two or more, you can come down $10 per deadbolt.
Sometimes, if a customer needs all three doors serviced with new deadbolts and knobs, I will charge the customer a $50 service call,
$40 per door, plus my cost for all the parts. Even that is too low. But, because I am fast (my fastest deadbolt install was 4 minutes), I can charge that amount.
Pricing door repairs is different. You can charge a $50 service all and $30 or so to replace the hinge screws, realign the strikes, etc. You may want to add a peep hole for $40.
If your customer wants the high-end Schlage deadbolts, you have to charge carefully. Some of these locks may cost you over $50 each! Plus, the strikes are more involved and difficult to install. You may want to charge at least $100 for each installation, plus your service call.
Whatever you do, do not grovel in order to get the job. Do not let the customer talk you down on your price. If you do, you will look foolish in the customer’s eyes and you will lose credibility.
You can offer a 60-day warranty on your services. In the event a lock goes bad after 60 days, you can decide to do what you want.