The latest Interview with a Locksmith is with Craig Andres who is the owner of AA Lock & Key Ltd who are MLA approved locksmiths in Bristol. We asked Craig six questions below about his background, life as a locksmith and his future….
Company Name: AA Lock and Key Ltd
Website: AA Lock & Key Ltd – Bristol Locksmiths
Years Trading: 10 years working as a locksmith with the last 5 years owning my own business.
1.So tell us a little bit of a back story about yourself, when did you become a Locksmith and how long have you been a Locksmith?
I am 27 years old. My career in locksmithing started when I asked an MLA approved locksmith if I could work with him during my work experience for school. At the time I was 15 and I really enjoyed working with my hands and from a very early age I used to take things apart and rebuild them again. I thoroughly enjoyed the work experience and the locksmith I worked with was extremely skilled and professional. Once work experience was over I continued to work with him in the school holidays. I left school and went to college to continue with education. After college and my exams, I asked the locksmith if I could work for him and this was the start of it all. My duties were: stocking the mobile workshop, learning the job, part numbers, answering the phone. I really enjoyed all of this. I took my Master Locksmith exam when I was 21 and I believe I was the youngest fully qualified locksmith in the country. Little did I know that in 6 years time I would be the owner of my own locksmith business and have approved company status. This was then part of another journey into the world of being a Mobile 24 hour Emergency Locksmith in Bristol.
2. How did you originally get into Locksmithing and Why?
I wanted a job where I could do something different every day and locksmithing ticked all the right boxes. I enjoyed getting out and about and alot of the customers were really interesting. It was also something I didn’t know that much about but I really wanted to give it a go.
3. What advice do you have for people wanting to become a locksmith?
I would not advise to get into locksmithing because you think or have been told it is quick money! There is more to locksmithing than lock outs. I would recommend going on the MLA General Locksmithing course to start with and then work as an apprentice or with someone to further your knowledge. Locksmithing is a great career and business but you have to be interested in it and be prepared to put the hours in running your business and keeping your skills fresh with bench work and continual progress and development.
4. How has being a member of MLA helped you as a locksmith?
Being a member of the MLA and an approved company helps with being a professional locksmith in today’s market, as customers big and small feel more comfortable knowing the locksmith attending their job has the required skill set to carry out the job to a high standard and they have recourse by means of our registration number. I think it also shows that you are serious about what you do and you are at the highest level achievable currently in your profession. I always make a quick point to customers look for the logo and it is proudly displayed on advertising paraphernalia and the mobile workshop. The MLA also produce keyways magazine with new products and information which is also another great bonus.
I have also utilised in Bristol the powerful network we are as MLA approved companies. I regularly pass safe work to a bigger MLA approved company and very often receive lock out work in return and it works very well for AA Lock and Key, and I will try to keep this partnership running.
5. How has business been since the recession hit, hiring a locksmith is not something that cannot be avoided when you are locked out..so have people gone the locksmith way in hard times or tried to do the job themselves with a ‘custom’ locksmith job?
Since the recession hit the job has got harder as people generally want to spend a lot less, however I believe that if you offer a great service and keep promoting your Business in the right way by offering high standards of work and skill, word of mouth awareness and reviews do help. I regularly attend jobs where a customer has had a go to repair or rectify a problem and sometimes made the situation worse. I try to enforce the fact that AA Lock and Key locksmiths are a business but we are also professional locksmiths and here to help with our wealth of product knowledge and professional locksmiths stock range we can definitely help. Very often it is amazing how many of these customers or family members return in the future to then take advantage of our services.
6. What are your plans for the future?
I plan to take AA Lock and Key as far as I can. My business has grown steadily in the 5 years I have been trading. I am well known in Bristol for my top quality locksmith services offered and onsite problem solving capabilities. I plan to grow the business but also enjoy the job and evaluate where I am regularly and keep looking forward. I would like to believe that in the future I will be the proprietor of the market leading locksmith business in Bristol still maintaining high standards of workmanship and skill level.