By Chris Shope
High-security cylinders and padlocks have millions of usable combinations, and are available with or without master keying.
The typical self-storage owner may think of padlocks and other security locking devices as profit-making items that help renters lock their units. Locks are heavier and more expensive than boxes, but are sometimes viewed as just another ancillary product, something to put a few bucks in your pocket.
For the past three years, I have been actively making sales calls on self-storage facilities from coast to coast. The first question I am usually asked about locks is the price. Very few people ask about usable key codes or the actual quality of the locking systems at first. In the beginning, this was difficult for me to comprehend.
We entered the security industry with a full line of locks developed for the casino-gaming, vending and amusement industries. With the distinction of selling security products to these industries came the responsibility of manufacturing a line of locks that could compete with companies such as Medeco and Abloy. Like these companies, we take an active roll in new-product development and maintaining the integrity of our trade, which is why we don't consider locks an ancillary product.
In the early '80s, the self-storage market was not consumed by low-end lock and security products, but still was focused on high quality and inventive ideas. In the past decade, the market has become price-driven, but with this trend comes a problem: You cannot keep reducing prices without diminishing your quality and features. Hence, a lower-end line of locks emerged to compete with some ancillary companies' products, but there are still products available tailored to companies with security in mind.
Many of the new, state-of-the-art facilities and some older facilities have moved from padlocks to more enhanced security systems. Modern facilities, as well as retrofitted older facilities, are using extra security measures to enhance their marketing programs. Our hand-assembled locking cylinders are unquestionably still our biggest selling cylinders. And with the increasing problems of theft, chemical storage, drug labs and other criminal activities on the rise, the number of master-keyed facilities has increased.
Believe me, I know what you are thinking: Master-keyed facilities--I can't do that. Well, you will be surprised to learn that some cities and municipalities now require master keying for fire codes. And none of the facilities that operate with our master-keyed systems have been compelled to drop their operation. Since 1985, when we developed this system, we have had no security breaches or legal problems, and we have sold over a million of these cylinders, all of which are still in operation.
We all can see tremendous change happening in the industry. There is a marketing advantage in promoting a high-security facility. Look at your entire facility, from the surveillance system to your gates, and build a system that complements your surroundings. Locks are part of that system. When you promote security, your customers will not only appreciate your efforts, they will have a superior level of confidence in your facility.
Chris Shope is the national sales manager for L.A.I. Group, which manufactures a complete line of security locks and custom-designed security hardware for the self-storage and other industries. The L.A.I. team is committed to taking knowledge gained from other security industries and applying it to the self-storage market. For more information, call (800) 422-2866.