Q. 1. Please give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located in, and if you have any other offices in multiple locations/ cities?
A. We are The Flying Locksmiths of Los Angeles. We are part of a national locksmith company that was started 70 years ago. The sons of the founder still operate the original location today. Our motto is “If it touches the door, we install or repair it”. We do your traditional locksmith work; re-key locks and install new deadbolts, but we also do electronic access control systems, panic devices, and intercom systems. You can see the full list of services we offer on our website. Our office is located in Santa Clarita, CA and we service North to Palmdale/Lancaster, South through the San Fernando Valley, all the way downtown along the 5 and 101 corridors and as far west as Oxnard/Ventura.
Q. 2. Please give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements)?
A. I am Canadian and I grew up in a small town, Langley British Columbia, which is a border town. I attended a small Canadian University where I studied Computer Science and Business Administration. I moved to the United States in 1995 to pursue a consulting career. I did that for 8 years before being recruited by Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2003. They offered me an executive position in their IT department where I worked until 2016. I left Warner Bros. in April of 2016 to pursue a new career as a small business owner. As for accomplishments: As an independent contractor, back in 2000, I architected and developed a school administration software that is still used today by many schools on the east coast. I would have to also add that I am pretty proud of the state-of-the-art integration system I implemented while at Warner Bros. Entertainment.
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
― Thomas A. Edison
Q. 3. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
A.1. First and foremost, you must chase your dream of what you want to do.
2. Make sure you do your research on the requirements to start the business you want to start; whether you are buying a franchise or starting a business from scratch there are a lot of details, especially in California, that you must sort out before you open.
3. Have fun; if you aren’t having fun you chose the wrong business.
Q. 4. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A. I don’t believe this is a “one size fits all” answer. Everybody is different and brings different skills to the table. What you need to be able to do is recognize what your skills are and then make sure you hire to support where your skills are not. When you first open a business, as the owner, you are responsible for everything. You need to be an accountant, making sure invoicing is taken care of, accounts payable are paid, books are kept up-to-date, payroll is executed, if you have inventory, you must manage that as well. You are also the sales person, you are responsible for building the business and this requires sales! This means getting out and networking and meeting people. You are also “the boss”. You need to make sure you hire good people and manage your workforce.
Q. 5 How many hours do you work a day on average?
A. Probably 50 – 60 hours / week
Q. 6. To what do you most attribute your success?
A. I would have to say just hard work. The old saying, hard work pays off is accurate. But beyond that, it is all about customer service and repeat business. You need to interact with your customers, you need to provide high quality services and you need your customers to come back to you time and time again.
Q. 7. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A. There are many ways to market and advertise a business. Our vans are very unique looking and one of our best forms of advertisement. If someone sees a “Flying Locksmiths” van on the street they are not likely to forget it! Additionally, in today’s digital age, hiring a digital marketing firm is a must. We have partnered with Four Chord Digital Marketing and they have been an excellent business partner for us in the digital world. Beyond that, it is all about getting your name out there and name recognition. In my world, when someone needs a locksmith, it is all about them knowing about “The Flying Locksmiths”… when that happens then you know you have arrived!
Q. 8. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A. I have self-funded this venture.
Q. 9. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A. Quality work, quality customer service and repeat business. That is the secret sauce in one statement.
Q. 10. Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A. I have a long-term plan, I would like to grow the business to 8 technicians by then. We currently have 2.
Q. 11. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A. I would have to say my father’s company. He built a business from scratch and became a successful builder, priding himself on honesty, integrity and customer service.
Q. 12. How important have good employees been to your success?
A. Obviously, this is very important. For me, it is extremely important because I am not a locksmith so I have to rely on my employees a great deal for the actual delivery of our services.
Q. 13 How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A. There is no magic number for this question. It truly depends on the idea and what you are trying to accomplish. Something like a marketing idea, you try it once, if it is successful then you implement it time and time again. If it isn’t we call it a “one and done” and you move on. But other ideas, like a product idea, you might pursue it once and maybe it doesn’t fly but if, in your gut, you know it is a good idea, you might go back to it after some time and give it another go so it really depends on the idea and what you are trying to accomplish with it.
Q. 14. What motivates you?
A. There are several factors to this. The obvious one is money, we are all in business to make money and create a comfortable lifestyle for ourselves. However, that isn’t necessarily the number one source of motivation. There is pride, pride in doing a good job, building long lasting relationships with customers and customer satisfaction. When someone writes a nice review of you on-line after completing a job for them it is a very satisfying feeling.
Q. 15. What are your ideals?
A. I believe in being an honest business person with integrity and excellent customer service.
Q. 16. How do you generate new ideas?
Ans. This happens in various ways. Research, the locksmith industry is changing rapidly, there are new products coming on the market all the time and you must stay on top of this. For my business, another great source is the larger Flying Locksmiths community. We are up to about 65 locations and growing every month. As much as each location is independently owned and operated, we also communicate regularly with each other and share ideas amongst ourselves.
Q. 17. How do you define success?
A. I believe there are 2 key measures in defining success. The first is your P&L. You must be profitable to stay in business and that is an easy measure to stay on top of. The second measure is much harder to measure and more of a “feeling” but it is how you are accepted in your community. Do you have a happy customer base, are you delivering on your customer service promise, are you getting repeat business, are you getting positive reviews written about your work? If you can strong P & L and you can answer “Yes to the intangible, though equally important, customer service oriented questions”, then I think you will have a successful business.
Q. 18. How do you build a successful customer base?
A. It is all about networking, building relationships, being honest, having integrity and delivering on your customer service promise.
Q. 19. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A. Being your own boss is a very nice feeling. After spending so long in corporate America it is enjoyable being part of a “small family”.
Q. 20. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A. A young business and so far, I would have to say my most satisfying moment was when I signed up my first “repeat customer”.
Q. 21. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A. If there is any one answer to this question I would have to say drive. You have to be driven to start a business and that isn’t really a quality required to work for somebody.
Q. 22. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur?
Q. 23. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
A. Honestly, I am very proud of my career, each step has built upon the one before it. I don’t think I would do anything different.
Q. 24. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A. I don’t think it really has.
Q. 25. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A. Since we are still in the start-up phase, I suppose the greatest fear is not being able to grow the business to where it needs to be to be profitable. I manage that by staying on top of the business, making sure we are sticking to the business plan and really just staying positive about each day.
Q. 26. How did you decide on the location for your business?
A. Since we are a mobile business the location isn’t that important. However, for me, the office needed to be within 15 minutes of home so I wasn’t wasting time commuting.
Q. 27. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
A. Again, it comes down to hard work, honesty, integrity and delivering on customer support. If you can do these successfully I think you can be a successful entrepreneur.
Q. 28. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A. Thomas Edison, one of the smartest inventors and entrepreneurs of all time.
Q. 29. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A. My Father
Q. 30. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A. I can’t say I’m really inspired by books. I love to read fiction. If I had to pick one book as my favorite it would most likely be The Lord of the Rings.
Q. 31. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A. Mistakes are inevitable, but I really prefer calling them “learning opportunities”. “Damage control” is all about making things right by the customer, even if you end up not making any money on that specific job. If you do make a mistake but retain the customer than you have done everything correctly. Then step 2 would be not to make that mistake again, hence the “learning opportunity”
Q. 32. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A. I like riding my bicycle and playing hockey. I also enjoy spending time with my fiancée and our kids.