The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Locksmiths: A Dealer's Secret Referral Weapon
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month we feature Michael Karch, Owner and President, Floyd Total Security
Karch's BIG IDEA:
“Become a Full-Service security company”
ICHAEL KARCH’S name may not be familiar to readers of this column. It should be. He
is a powerhouse in the industry and is the owner
and president of Floyd Total Security in Bloomington, Minn. Karch is kind of a low-key guy,
couldn’t care less about getting his picture in a
magazine, or for use with my column, and has
built one of the more successful, full-service security companies in North America. It does residential, commercial, DIY and, by the way, is the
oldest full-service locksmith in the area.
As it turns out, Karch is also an old friend of mine, probably going back 50 years or more. We kind of lost touch over the past decade or so, and then just recently he called, just to catch up. If you could have been an eavesdropper listening in on that phone call, you probably would’ve gotten insights into one of the best, firsthand success stories ever to be written in my column.
All of Floyd’s divisions are successful, both numerically and financially. But most people in the industry would not guess that his locksmith business is probably the most successful, simply because in addition to selling and installing locks,
the amount of referrals the company gets from this activity is almost astounding. In fact, Karch believes that a good part of the success the company has achieved has been because of the lock division.
Interestingly one of the most successful businesses in America, located just about 300 miles south of Bloomington, is ADS in Aurora, IL. Its president, Bob Bonifas, has always believed that his lock business (still operating) is probably
one of the biggest lead developers in the security industry. We have many other stories about alarm dealers that have used their locksmithing business as an entrance into the full security spectrum. Anyway, Karch and I talked so long that I forgot to ask him my signature question: If you had just one really great idea to share with the industry... etc. Instead, I got answers to a whole plethora of great questions. So here they are.
Karch started his story by saying that Minnesota was really ready for a full service security company like the one he took over from his family. Interestingly enough, he followed up that statement with another, “If you’re going to ask me if I would’ve done anything differently, the answer would be simply, ‘No.’” Karch is a man who, along with his top-notch management team, has built a great company and still loves it. He enjoys going into work every day. He enjoys the interchange between all of his employees and himself.
He enjoys meeting and talking with customers. And since our conversation took place during the height of the Coronavirus outbreak, he let me know that 43 of his people were working from home, and that didn’t slow down new sales and installations in the slightest. Although he had to adjust one of his skills, using the Internet, for better communications. Also, during that time there was no greater percentage of cancellations than at any other time in the year. And somewhere in the conversation he mentioned, somewhat casually, that the credit department was instructed not to cut anyone off from service as a result of not paying bills during this crisis.
All of the divisions in the company were still busy, particularly his locksmithing company. I had the feeling that Karch feels that this was really the foundation for his success. Is there a lesson here for today’s alarm dealers? Is there something to be learned? I believe so, since most of the people I have talked to in the locksmithing business have told me that the business is a natural lead-in to all security products, and many have said that it has been the singular reason for the company’s success. It might not be a good time to start a locksmithing business, but it could be a good time to buy one, if there are any available in your market.
If not, why not approach some existing locksmith and talk about a joint venture? That could be just as good as having your own locksmithing company without the headache of starting one up. When I asked him about the future of his business (and thus, the industry), he responded very quickly and without hesitation: “The future
looks great.” He feels that more people are going to do more to protect themselves in the future, and based on what he’s done in the past, I don’t believe he’s wrong. Karch is one smart guy, and I’ve been fortunate to call him my friend.