Keep Good Notes

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

One of my all time favorite motivational speakers was Zig Ziglar. I still have his Biscuits, Fleas and Pump Handles talk on cassette tape; but no longer have a cassette tape player to enjoy it on; but it’s available via other means thanks to the internet.

He mentioned his brother who said he was going to have his ‘best year ever’. Zig asked a simple question, “So, how much did you do last year?”, a natural response. If you’re going to do more than you did last year you have to know where to set the bar.

Clearly his brother had no idea how much he’d done gauging from the rest of the story.

Zig then instructed his brother to take good notes; how many people he talked to, how many items were sold and so on. He was to write this information down daily so he’d know exactly how much effort was required to obtain those results.

If memory serves, since I haven’t listened to that presentation in well over 20 or so years, his brother had a phenomenal year. He did that in spite of several set backs to include a death in the family.

Keeping good notes is part of being successful in any endeavor.

In the locksmith business I’ve put this to use in a couple of areas. I keep a daily record of phone calls that come in requesting service along with the dollar amount that will be added to the monthly figures. In this way I know how much money is available to pay re-occurring bills.

But that’s not why I’m writing today…

This past week one of my regular car dealerships called to restore keys for an older Ford pickup truck; the service manager had lost the keys. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article Ford only has access to key codes for the last 10 years of their own vehicles because they throw away anything older so obtaining a code was not an option…or was it?

Upon fitting the door key and entering the vehicle one of my habits kicked in; I looked in the glove box to see if my ‘mark’ was there. I’ve been recording my efforts for quite some time and put my mark where it’s not too bold and yet easy for me to find. If you’re working on cars and trucks, what’s already been supplied? The Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is an excellent constant reference point.

In fact I’ve recorded so many vehicles in my personal data base that it reached its capacity and I had to start a second file. I call them Allcodes (VIN) and Allcodes One (VINI) and they can be summoned easily upon demand from my laptop.

One of the locksmiths I trained used to laugh upon opening a glove box on a vehicle I’d worked on previously, “Hey look, it’s Vinney”, a broad smile finding its way across his face, “We’re done!”

On this particular Ford truck my mark was clearly visible so I looked for it in the most recent data base and was surprised that it wasn’t to be found there. Upon looking at the mark I realized that this vehicle had been recorded in the first Allcode data base. Sure enough, there it was.

Most of today’s vehicles have only one external lock to work from (or NO external locks) so it makes good sense to record the information gained from your efforts. Crooks like to attack door locks with a variety of tools; their favorite seems to be a large flat blade screw driver slammed into the lock by a fairly large hammer.

If you produce keys for smaller car dealers or ‘note lots’ that cater to folks who have a higher probability of repossessions then keeping good notes becomes a cash cow in time savings alone. I’ve replaced keys several times for the same vehicles placing them into a special category, “career vehicle”.

The best part about having good notes on vehicles is being able to recognize the ‘moment’.

For example, walking up to the door and observing that the lock has been destroyed usually means a lot more work to figure out how to generate a key. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you already knew what the key was supposed to look like?

I’m getting to be an old crank, a level of locksmith which is achieved through age and the school of hard knocks. I don’t like pulling door panels or getting up under dash boards near as much as I did when my knees worked and my arthritis didn’t hurt so much.

I’ll explain to the manager of a small car lot that I can restore the key; but let his mechanic or general purpose body ‘fixer upper’ pull the damaged lock. I’ll gladly match up a new ‘in the package’ replacement lock to the original key and hand it over to them to install. Like I mentioned, I’m getting to be an old crank.

So today’s lesson; take good notes. There’s easy money obtained for just a little extra effort.

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”

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