Blog del Direttore

L' Amministrazione blog Gruppo 3D spera di tenervi aggiornati con la società e novità del settore oltre a dare una panoramica in ciò che accade dietro le quinte di quarti 3D gruppo di testa .


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT


It’s been a while! I apologise for the lack of directors’ blog posts over the last couple of months! I’ve got lots of news to tell you so I’ll not waffle on and jump straight in!



Welcome back Martyn!

If you cast your minds back to my last blog post a few months ago you’ll remember that our technical support guru Martyn had to undergo surgery at short notice. All of us here at 3D Group are now delighted to say that he is back at work and has recovered well. Martyn is now taking on a more office based role managing our technical support department as well as helping us research and develop new products. Martyn’s years of auto locksmith experience means he’s the ideal person to assist with any technical difficulties our customers might be experiencing and now that he is office based he will be able to respond to e-mail support enquiries much quicker.


Research & Development

Martyn and I have been working together testing a whole host of new parts and tools so that we can be sure of their quality before we release them for sale.

One product that flew through its testing phase was the new Ford PIN-Code retrieval tool for the SKP-900. This nifty gadget is now for sale on our website here, it connects to the OBD port of the vehicle as well as the SKP-900 machine and provides the PIN-Code in a matter of seconds. It’s so easy to use and such great value for money. Martyn’s full product review will be featured in the latest 3D Group e-mail newsletter and more information can be found on our website. Hopefully we will also be releasing a Nissan version of this tool in the near future. It’s currently being tested and much like the Ford version it will connect to the SKP and read the NATS code eliminating the need for code retrieval from another source. We’ll let you know as soon as this is available for purchase.


Another product that recently passed our rigorous testing procedures with flying colours is the 884 Mini Decryptor key cloner. Martyn was amazed at how easy this product was to use! In case you missed the email you can read Martyn’s full product review here . The good news is that we have held the introductory offer price so it really is great value for money and a great key cloner that will pay for itself within just a few jobs. Find out more about the Keyline 884 Mini Decryptor here.


We develop our own 3D Group range of after-market products and those that we have released already have been received very well. We aim for these products to be as good in terms of quality as the OEM version, however in the last few weeks we have received a complaint about one particular product and that is VGB1. The customer reported that he had a few cases of this particular blade snapping at the point where the groove can be found at the top of the blade. We have retested this product and found that there is a fault when excessive force is placed on the blade, therefore we are changing the design of this product and future batches of this blade will not have a groove at the top. This groove provides no particular function it is purely cosmetic, so removing it will simply remove the weak point in the blade and should improve the products quality.


We are also in the process of developing our own 3D version of NR9 - the Nissan remote. Unfortunately this has had to go back to the manufacturing factory due to it failing our test procedures on one particular vehicle. We realised that this problem vehicle is not available in the manufacturers’ country and so couldn't be tested which explains why we only realised we had a problem when it reached us. We have worked around this issue and final testing is now being done. Once this product has the green light and we are certain it will work on the full range of Nissan vehicles it will be available for sale.


New members of team 3D
I’m pleased to tell you that we have a couple of new members of staff that have joined us in the last few months. Matt is now well and truly settled in our sales department and you might have already spoken to him on the phone. We recruited Kristina as Matt’s replacement in the warehouse, her previous role was working in the Marks and Spencers distribution warehouse so she has plenty of experience and she has filled Matt’s boots well. She’s also over 6 feet tall so reaching the top shelves isn’t a problem for her and this quality has come in quite handy!

Developments within the company and the speed at which we are growing has meant that I am not able to dedicate as much time to the development of the new 3D Group website as it needs. I have waved the white flag and admitted that I need help so this week we have welcomed Istvan to the 3D Group team as our new web developer. Having Istvan on board should mean that we are able to release our new website sooner, as well as having the expertise in-house to potentially develop new projects too. The only problem is, with the new building still in development and the need for more office space for new staff, we have had to convert our stationary and filing room into a new office! This new office will also be the temporary home of a very exciting secret project that we are currently working on that will be coming to the UK next year! It’s all very hush hush at the moment and we are all sworn to secrecy but we are really excited about it and can’t wait to be able to tell you more in the New Year!

The Big Build

Speaking of the new building extension, things were going well. We had finally received approval and planning permission and we were excited to begin transforming the old building next door into our new office and warehouse extension. The plan was to remove the top floor of the old building but keep the external walls and remodel the internal structure so that we could align doorways etc with our current building and knock through. But the buildings inspector paid us a visit to see how the demolition was going and threw a spanner in the works! You can see the progress in this video.




The MLA


This year was the first year that 3D Group exhibited at the MLA Expo. Thank you to those of you who took the time to pay our stand a visit. Our stand was a lot smaller that we usually have at the likes of ALEX and LOCKEXPO but the introduction of a new touch-screen ordering system meant that not as much space was needed and it made it easier for customers to take advantage of our huge trade show offers. Our small stand proved effective and the show was a successful one for us. I hope if you visited, you enjoyed the MLA Expo too. This coming year we are increasing our presence at industry trade shows and will be adding a couple of new exhibitions to our repertoire so we look forward to meeting more of our customers face to face.

Customer Service

We are keen to provide the best customer service that we can and we try our best to monitor how well each department works. In our warehouse department our main target is to dispatch all orders as efficiently as possible with zero mistakes. Mistakes do occasionally happen, although very rarely and there has been a couple of instances where customers have received the wrong product. In order to try and iron out these errors our warehouse department has altered the way it picks products and we hope that this will increase our accuracy. Add to this the new systems updates that will be occurring with the launch of the new website and I hope we will be able to get the number of mistakes down to the bare minimum.

Reward Scheme Success



It’s just over three months since we launched our Reward scheme and it seems to have proven a hit! In the last three months we have given away thousands of points and you have treated yourselves to thousands of pounds worth of free products! We are delighted with the schemes success and hope that you are enjoying reaping the benefits of the orders that you place with us. If you have been saving those points to treat yourself to something extra special why not take a look at the new products we have recently added and see if anything takes your fancy? Keep your eyes peeled for some special rewards and offers appearing in the run up to Christmas too!

So, there’s the highlights from the last couple of months here at 3D Group. As always, keep in touch and up to date by following us on social media and registering for our newsletter if you don’t already receive it. Have a great week!


Dean

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6 GOLDEN RULES - HOW TO CONVERT MORE AUTO LOCKSMITH ENQUIRIES INTO PAYING CUSTOMERS

Over the last 2 years I have invested a lot of my time utilising many free forms of marketing and also investing a large proportion of my marketing budget into paid for marketing channels for 3D Autokeys, the mobile auto locksmith brand. I have found it very rewarding to see my hard work resulting in increased enquiries. However, as any business owner is aware, the hard work does not stop here, as a business you’ve now got to convert these enquiries into booked jobs. 

I’m hoping that you have read my previous blog post ‘Top 6 ways to market your business for free’ and have had some success in implementing these methods. If so, you should have seen the number of enquiries for your services, whether by phone or email, increase for very little cost. But has your number of booked jobs also increased at the same rate? This is something that all small businesses struggle with. Many auto locksmiths work alone or in a small team and perhaps you are required to wear several ‘hats’ in your business; locksmith, marketer, sales-person, accountant, admin assistant. Chances are you are a trained locksmith and more than likely you don’t have a degree in marketing or any sales training and yet you have to wear these hats possibly on a day to day basis because that is the nature of your business.

I can imagine most of your business enquiries go a little like this;


(Ringing Phone)

You: Hello, Auto Locksmith, Can I help you?
Customer: Yes, I need a spare key for a XYZ vehicle. How much do you charge?
You: That would cost £XXX
And then you hear the dreaded;
Customer: OK, thanks, I’ll call you back later.

Do you ever hear from this customer again? I would bet in 90% of instances you don’t, and here’s why.

Think about how much that phone call has cost you in time and money: Advertising, website development, building a good reputation, your time to answer the call, it all adds up. In the above example you may not realise it but you have automatically made several assumptions about your customer. 

You have assumed:
That they know exactly what they want.
That they know exactly what they need (two very different things).
That they fully understand the service that you offer. 

If the only information you offer them is a price, then that’s all they have to go on in order to make their decision of which auto locksmith to book. We are all aware of what a competitive market the auto locksmith trade is. The customer is likely to be sat with the yellow pages or a website directory in front of them calling around several of your competitors and you need to stand out from the crowd and sell yourself and your company to that customer. With this in mind you should follow my 6 golden rules for converting that enquiry into a paying customer.


1. ANSWER THE CALL!

This might be an obvious one, but I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to contact a company to enquire about something and they never pick up. After this unanswered phone call, a customer that is eager to buy is likely to call a competitor and probably never try your company again. 

1st impressions count for a lot and a phone call that just rings out says to that customer that you don’t want their business. Ask yourself how many calls you have missed in the last week and how fast you answered the calls. How can you speed this up? 

As a one-man band it is inevitable that you will miss calls – whilst you are with another customer for example. However a simple solution would be to record a professional sounding answer phone message that apologises for not answering, asks for contact details, and promises to call the customer back within a reasonable timescale. 

If you often miss calls whilst you are driving from job to job then I would consider in investing in a good quality hands-free kit for your vehicle. This will allow you to answer the call and at the very least explain to the enquirer that you are currently on your way to a customer and you will call them back as soon as you arrive. You should always give the customer a timescale that you will call back in. This way, even if they call your competitors it is likely that they won’t make a decision until they have heard back from you, and this gives you the opportunity to swoop in and seal the deal.

Most importantly if you promise to call a customer back albeit via a voicemail recording or verbally over the phone, make sure you do return the call within the promised time. If you are late returning the call it doesn’t instil confidence in the customer that you would arrive on time if they were to book you.


2. BE HAPPY!

Quite often, price is not the only factor that a customer will consider when buying a service or product, especially when it comes to something as important as their vehicle security. They want to know that the person they hire is trustworthy, professional and knowledgeable. With this in mind you should always answer any enquiry on the phone or by email in a happy and cheerful manner ensuring that you sound professional and knowledgeable. Customers don’t want to hear the robotic tones of someone following the usual sales patter like they are on auto pilot, so make sure you sound interested in their wants and needs and sound personable. Which leads me on to golden rule number 3…



3. ASK OPEN QUESTIONS.

Most of your enquiries will start with a question; 

Customer: Can you tell me the price of XYZ?

Customer: Do you do XYZ? 

As I’ve mentioned before, if you simply respond to this question with the information that is asked of you the customer remains in control of the conversation and can easily end the call with the dreaded “I’ll think about it and call you back.” Your aim is to secure the enquirer’s business on this first phone call to prevent them from going to a competitor and to do this you need to gain control of the conversation. 


The key to gaining control is to respond to the customers’ initial question with another ‘open’ question. An open question is one that requires more of a response than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Typically, questions that begin with ‘Who’ ‘What’ ‘Why’ ‘When’ and ‘Where’ will give you the opportunity to gather the information that you require, and will also make you sound friendly and interested in your customers situation. 

Here’s an example;

Customer: Can you tell me the price of a key for a Vauxhall Corsa?
Locksmith: I’d like to give you a quote specific to your needs and this will depend on several factors. Can you tell me a little more about your situation please? Why is it that you need a key?

If for example the customer then goes on to explain that her keys have been stolen, this gives you the opportunity to be sympathetic and reassure her not to worry;

Locksmith: That’s terrible, I’m sorry that this has happened to you. Try not to worry, I offer a mobile service which means I can come to you and get you a replacement key sorted quickly. I can also prevent any previous keys from being able to be used with your vehicle so you can be sure that it is secure for the future. (The customer may not have even thought of this.) 


From asking this one open question you have taken control of the conversation and you are able to tell the customer about your unique selling points (In this example - You are mobile and can respond quickly.) You can then go on to gather the information that you need such as the vehicle registration number, location, and customers contact details. This line of questioning means you sound knowledgeable about your products and services and this reassures the customer. It might also give you the opportunity to upsell your services. For example in this situation you could ask the customer if they own a spare key and if not ask them what they would do if they were to lose their only key. You can then explain the benefits of having a spare and possibly offer a deal on the price if they were to purchase two keys from you.

Give the customer your price and explain comprehensively what this includes and perhaps reiterate your unique selling points. 


4. ALIGN YOURSELF WITH THE CUSTOMER

Every customer is different and you will need to adapt your techniques to suit each one. Each customer will have different wants and needs and they will also vary in their knowledge of your product and services, not to mention that they could be at any stage of the buying process. Your job is to use the open questions I have mentioned in step 3 to ascertain where this customer is in the buying cycle and how much they already know. 

You could be the first locksmith they have called and although they know that they need a car key they could be completely oblivious to the difference between a basic ignition key and a remote key. They might not be aware of the procedures or technology involved so if you were to go ahead and cut straight to the price the customer would be shocked at the expense and immediately decide to terminate the call. By asking the open questions you can establish a little more information about the customer and advise them accordingly. 

Customer: Do you do keys for a Vauxhall Corsa?

Locksmith: Yes I can supply a replacement key. Do you know what type of key you require? If you could give me a little more information about the vehicle I can explain the options available to you. 

The customer is then likely to give you an indication of how much they know about vehicle keys. If they respond by telling you they need a ‘three button remote flip key’ you can assume that they have done their research and know a little about the service you are offering. If this is the case you can explain what you can provide concisely and without boring the customer with too much detail. You can then ask if they have any questions and if need be fill in the blanks. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have already had quotes from elsewhere because if they have it gives you the opportunity to explain a special offer you might have or your price match promise (if you have one). Whatever you do, do not bad mouth your competitors to the customer. This simply comes across as unprofessional.

On the other hand you might have a customer respond by saying “I didn’t realise there were different types of keys.” You can then go ahead and explain briefly and in layman’s terms the technology involved and the types of keys available to the customer. Ask more open ended questions such as “what do you require the key for?” You can then use their response to advise them of the best product and service. They will be grateful that you have taken the time to explain the options without being patronising.

Give the customer a quote and fully explain what this includes, now that they are aware that it is not as simple as cutting a household key they might not be as shocked when they hear the price.




5. ESTABLISH THE NEXT STEP

All customers that contact you will be at a different stage of the buying cycle. The key to gaining more conversions (The act of converting an enquiring customer into a paying one) is to establish where the customer currently is in the buying cycle. You can normally establish this quickly by asking the open questions that I have mentioned in rule 3. If they mention that their keys have been stolen and they have no spare you can be pretty sure that they are ‘ready to buy’ as soon as possible. If the customer mentions that their son or daughter is currently taking driving lessons and they would like a spare key to give them when they pass their test, then you can assume that they are at the stage where they are evaluating their purchase options and probably won’t book immediately, they are simply ‘data collecting’. 

The key here is to use your precious time wisely, after-all ‘time is money’. A data collecting customer should be treated professionally as you would any other customer but it would be more valuable for you to get their contact details and tell them that you will email their quote across. This way you have cleared your phone line for the next possible ‘ready to buy’ customer whilst simultaneously collecting the customer’s contact details that you can then use to send them their quote in writing so that they don’t forget. You can also perhaps send them a special offer in a months’ time when they are more likely to be a ‘ready to buy’ customer reminding them of your services. 

Once you have asked your open questions and qualified where they are in the buying cycle, you’ve told your customer your unique selling points and given them the price, you will need to establish the next step. With any luck the customer will say “That sounds great, when can you book me in?” and in this case the next step would be to confirm the booking. Happy days!

However, even at this point if the customer doesn’t seem like he/she is ready to buy you should never allow the customer to put the phone down or walk out of your store without establishing the ‘next step’. 

Perhaps the mention of a limited time offer at this point could sweeten the deal?

Locksmith: Just so you know, we have a special offer of 10% off all bookings made before the end of this week. 

Remember you need to keep control of the exchange so perhaps this could be the promise of a follow-up call within a reasonable time frame, but make sure you don’t make it sound too pushy and perhaps ask the customer when is the best time to call. Even the promise of emailing the information across to them so that they have it to compare to other quotes whilst reminding the customer of your price matching policy is a great second-best follow up.


6. FOLLOW UP!

Whatever the enquiry method, if you have promised to call back - make sure you do! Always try to give a timescale for your follow up and stick to it. 


When it comes to email enquiries, the quicker you respond, the better conversion rate you are likely to see. Ideally you should be attempting to reply to the customer’s email within an hour but if this is not realistic, at worst you should be replying the same day. If the customer is ‘ready to buy’ then they will want to implement the purchase as soon as possible and you wouldn’t want to miss out to a competitor. Smart phones with their email function offer the best way to respond to emails quickly and could be well worth the investment.

Follow-up phone calls can be difficult, especially if you get the answer machine. Be prepared to leave a concise voicemail message should this happen. Refer to your previous contact in your message and make sure you repeat your phone number clearly and slowly twice giving the customer chance to jot it down. There’s nothing worse than a mumbling voicemail message that you can barely understand concluded with a telephone number spoken at the speed of light that requires 10 replays to understand! (We’ve all been there!)

Here’s an example script that you could use;

“Good Afternoon Mr Smith, It’s Gary calling from the Auto Locksmiths. As promised I am just following up on the conversation that we had regarding the replacement car key for your Vauxhall Corsa. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0115 9522 772, that’s Gary the Auto Locksmith on 0115 9522 772. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that I can be of assistance.”

In my opinion, you should follow the rule of three. Attempt three follow ups, perhaps the first by phone, if you have no response you could try sending an email the following day. If you still get no response, I would advise that you try one last phone call and if you get the answer machine leave a message along the following lines;

“Good evening Mr Smith, It’s Gary calling from the Auto Locksmiths. I was just calling to check if you have received my quotation on email or if you have resolved your car key issue.  If I can be of further assistance please don’t hesitate to call me on 0115 9522 772, that’s Gary the Auto Locksmith on 0115 9522 772. Many thanks”

This way, you remain polite and professional. You have relinquished control of the exchange to the customer and if they wish to take you up on your offer they will call. If on this occasion all of your best efforts haven’t come to fruition and the customer has decided to go with a competitor you are letting them off the hook and you can concentrate your time and efforts on other ‘ready to buy’ customers. You win some you lose some!


CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the 6 Golden Rules to convert an enquiry into a booking are:

1. ANSWER THE CALL - Never miss an opportunity, answer all calls and respond to all emails. 

2. BE HAPPY! - Make sure you sound happy and professional in any exchange. 

3. ASK OPEN QUESTIONS - Ask the customer open questions in order to gain insight into their knowledge. Remember the 5 W’s - Who, What, Why, When and Where.

4. ALIGN YOURSELF WITH THE CUSTOMER – Use the open questions to discover what stage of the buying cycle the customer is at and respond accordingly.

5. ESTABLISH THE NEXT STEP - Always keep control of the exchange and never allow a customer to leave without establishing the next steps before they go. 

6. FOLLOW UP - Try to complete a transaction in the first conversation but if this is not possible always follow up with the customer.

I hope you can see the benefits of using this style of exchange with your enquiring customers. I can hear you thinking, “How on earth am I going to remember all of this?!” but trust me, when you start to implement these suggestions you will soon begin to use them naturally.

Immediately after the next customer’s telephone enquiry that you answer, re-read back through these pointers and identify where you could have improved the interaction and try and implement them the next time. It will soon become second nature and you should be encouraged when you begin to see an increase in the number of bookings you are putting in your diary! 

I’d love to hear how you get on and your thoughts on my suggestions. If there is a particular area of marketing that you are struggling with and would like advice on, please get in touch via social media (FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn) or email and I will attempt to write further blog posts to help you.

Good Luck!

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3D GROUP REWARDS - NOT JUST A TOKEN GESTURE...


Dean
For some time now we, as a company have been thinking of ways to reward our customers for ordering from us. Some companies give away free gifts, discounted gym memberships or vouchers in exchange for new account referrals, but we felt that these were all token gestures that didn't really hold any useful value to customers and even if they did, it was short lived. 


We wanted to devise a reward scheme that was simple for customers to get involved in and offered beneficial rewards that customers could truly see the value of. 3D Group Rewards was born, read on to find out more!


3D Group Rewards

3D Group has been exclusively providing auto locksmith parts and tools to trade for over 8 years. As a company we are eternally grateful to our customers for making us their choice of wholesaler and wanted to reward every one of our customers for their loyalty.

July 18th 2015 saw the launch of 3D Group Rewards. This reward scheme has been designed to offer our customers a valuable reward that is worth receiving and not just a token gesture. Customers will earn points automatically on every order over £100* that they place with 3D Group. The number of points earned is depicted by the value of each order and can be as much as 3 points for every £1 spent. Customers will bank their points in their online rewards account, with no limit to how many points they can bank and no expiry on when these points have to be redeemed. 


Points hold a value of £0.01p discount off a future order with 3D Group and can be redeemed as and when the customer chooses. Points can be redeemed against almost every product on the 3D group website which means that customers can use them to treat themselves to that luxury tool they’ve always wanted, or save them up throughout the year and purchase that top of the range machine they’ve coveted. Alternatively they can redeem their discounts on their usual order every month to simply reduce their costs.


In addition, 3D Group will hold special reward events at various times throughout the year when the number of points earned on purchases is increased or even the discount value of the customers’ banked points is doubled! Keep your eyes peeled on 3dgroupuk.com for these special events!

To celebrate the launch of 3D Group Rewards, 3D Group has secretly been crediting all existing customers’ reward accounts with points since Monday 13th July. If you’ve placed an order on or after the 13thJuly simply log in to your 3D Group account now to see how many points you've already got banked and to discover how much discount is already available to you.

Code Service




We also launched our new online code service a month or so ago and we are delighted with its success so far! Initial user figures are better than we had ever hoped for, proving that the convenience of an online service is useful to today’s auto locksmith. If you haven’t yet tried it, you can visit www.3dgroupuk.com/codes and test the service for yourself. We credited every account with 5 free tokens when we launched the service so if you haven’t used them already you can try it for free!






Website development

I appreciate that it’s been a while since I mentioned the new 3D Group website that’s in development so I thought I better give you an update. The new website will be a complete re-fresh of our existing website. 



As 3D Group’s web developer I have been working non-stop to develop the functionality of the new site. It will be easier to navigate, easier to manage your trade account online and feature a superb search function. We are also completely modernising the way that the website works and communicates with our warehouse and dispatch systems in order to further improve the level of customer service that we can offer you.  

Unfortunately this does take time, so in order to speed up the process so that you can benefit from the developments sooner we have contracted a graphic designer to assist in the project, ensuring that the new website has a brand new modern and fresh look as well as being functional.


New Building


Our rate of expansion never ceases to amaze me. In the last few years as a business we have grown at an exponential rate. As I mentioned at the start of the year, we are quickly running out of space in our warehouse for new products! The building next door was purchased just after Christmas and since then we have been liaising with the architect to develop and plan how we will combine the two buildings. It will be quite a project but we are so excited for the final result. 

The new building will allow for a huge expansion of the warehouse space, along with extra offices and a dedicated workshop for our retail auto locksmith brand. A purpose built training centre will also be included in the new plans so that Martyn can expand his training packages. The demolition of the current internal structure of the new building will begin in the next couple of weeks and fingers crossed the development will run smoothly and to plan, with minimal impact on the operation of our current premises.



Staff

There has been a few staff changes at head office in the last couple of months. Rachel our new warehouse assistant has settled in well and is holding her own with the lad’s banter! (An important personality trait I feel!) We have welcomed Louise to our sales office so you may have spoken to her on the phone already. 



Unfortunately we have had to say goodbye to Nathan from the sales office as he has moved on to his dream job in game design, however this has meant that Matt from our warehouse department has been able to continue his 3D Group career development and will be transferring to replace Nathan in the sales office very soon. Matt has worked in our warehouse for over 3 years and has a wealth of product knowledge that will stand him in good stead for dealing with customer enquiries and orders. This creates a vacancy in our warehouse department that we are currently advertising. If you know of anyone that may be interested there are further details online here






Martyn has performed many roles since he first started with 3D Group way back when he was a teenager! For many years he has worked as an auto locksmith for our retail brand as well as providing the technical support and training for the wholesale side of the business. If you have ever completed any training with 3D Group it is highly likely that Martyn was your trainer. Unfortunately several weeks ago Martyn had to undergo surgery on short notice and this has meant that he has been unable to return to work for several months whilst he recovers fully. We are pleased to tell you that the surgery was successful and Martyn is on the mend, we really do wish him a speedy and successful recovery. The office just isn’t the same without his huge personality and sense of humour! 

We look forward to seeing him back in the office once he is fully healed and ready. The exciting news is that when he does return Martyn will be taking on more of an office based role and will be able to provide faster technical support. He will also be heavily involved with product research and development alongside developing his own training courses and packages once the new facility is complete.

Blog Posts

Our last blog post ‘Free Ways To Promote Your Auto Locksmith Business & Increase Enquirieswritten by Rebecca to help auto locksmiths better promote their services with next to no expenditure has proven incredibly popular! I’m almost a little offended! Ha! 


Rebecca’s blog post broke our records for the highest number of views of all the posts we’ve published on this blog. I’m hoping that those who have read it have found it useful. Perhaps coincidentally we have noticed an increase in the number of auto locksmiths active on twitter which is great! Please get in touch and tell us what you thought of the post and tell us of any results you’ve seen by implementing any of Rebecca’s suggestions. 

Fans of Rebecca’s post will be pleased to hear that she will be putting pen to paper again very soon. Following on from telling you how to increase your enquiries, Rebecca will explain some of the best ways to then convert those enquiries into booked jobs in her next blog post. If there are any topics that you would like to see covered in future blogs, please get in touch!










Dean

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Free Ways To Promote Your Auto Locksmith Business & Increase Enquiries


Introducing Rebecca...

We thought we would give you a bit of a break from ‘the norm’ in this instalment of the Directors blog. 3D Group have experienced great success over the last few years and we thank our customers for that entirely, but when we started out as a small company ourselves it became apparent very early on that promoting your small business with little to no marketing budget is an incredibly important but also a difficult task. If you want the customers to keep coming your way, you need to get your name and brand ‘out there’, so for this instalment of our blog I am handing the reins over to our marketing assistant Rebecca. Rebecca has helped us to promote all of 3D Group’s brands over the last couple of years including our local auto locksmith service 3D Autokeys which is currently thriving. I have tasked Rebecca with explaining her top 6 tried and tested ways to advertise your own auto locksmith service for free (or relatively low cost) so that you can increase your customer base and hopefully the number of enquiries you receive without much expenditure at all. Enjoy! - Dean

My Top 6 Ways To Promote Your Auto Locksmith Business For Free

Do you have a comfy chair and a cuppa? I’ll pre-warn you that this is quite a lengthy article, however I have written it as an overview that I hope you can dip in and out of and will refer back to as and when you have the time to implement any of these free forms of marketing. I also hope that you find my suggestions valuable and that they help to increase your businesses presence within your local service area, so it’s definitely worth a skim read.

The internet, love it or loathe it, is now instrumental to most industries and you certainly cannot escape or ignore it. The internet has so many uses and is now integrated into so much modern day technology that many people would find it hard to go a full day and not ‘connect’. There’s even washing machines with wifi and an app

It will come as no surprise then that when it comes to promoting your auto locksmith business for ‘free’ or at a low cost, the internet is invaluable, and it features in all of my top 6 in some form or another. 84% of British households now have the internet so I’m going to take the liberty of assuming that you yourself are one of those 22 million.

1. Optimise your website.

I am of course assuming that you have a website for your business. If you don’t, I would certainly look into getting one. 74% of adults now buy goods or services online and with the majority of mobile phones now being ‘smart’, having a mobile friendly website is a must. A website can be created with zero technical coding knowledge using online services such as GoDaddy.com1&1.co.uk or Weebly.com. Of course, if you have the coding knowledge then Drupal is a great platform to create your own website.

Google Search Results
Once you have an online presence for your business one of your main aims should be to appear in the Google search results and preferably on the first page as few people will look beyond that. It is worth spending some time racking your brain to come up with a list of phrases (also known as keywords) that you think your customers will search for. There’s going to be the obvious such as ‘auto locksmith in Nottingham’ but you’ll be surprised at the suggestions you will receive if you ask friends and family what they would search for if they lost their car keys. ‘new car key for Ford’ ‘Replacement Key fob’ etc. 
Once you have a list of these keywords you will need to integrate them into the content of your website. Try using the most popular keywords in the titles of the relevant pages as well as the main paragraphs of text on your website, a little repetition helps but be careful to make sure that it still sounds natural and not forced.
Example of Keyword Placement - www.3dautokeys.co.uk

Your content should be interesting and well written and be informative to your prospective customers. Google crawls through the content of your web pages and uses its algorithms to decipher if your website is worthy of being displayed in their search results, but there is a fine line and if you over-step it with your keywords the Google gods can view that unfavourably! For more information about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) take a look at this article.

A couple of other ways to optimise your website is to make sure your customers can navigate around the website and find the information they need easily. The main aim of your website is to increase the number of enquiries that you receive so your preferred method of contact should be highlighted on every page. This should also include what is known as a ‘call to action’, a phrase that encourages customers to contact you. E.G. ‘Get a free quote now’ or ‘Call Now To Book’. A great tip is to ask family and friends to take a look at your website and to try and use it as if they were looking to use your services. This might flag up navigation issues or places where you could do with highlighting your contact details.
Optimising your website does take time and the results are not instant. It can take weeks, sometimes months to see the fruits of your labour but you will see a dramatic increase in enquiries if you can reach the Holy Grail that is the first page of the Google search results. It’s well worth doing a little optimising, as often as you can, when you have a few minutes.

2. Get Listed!

There are some great online directories on the internet. The problem is, if you aren’t listed in these directories your competitors will be being promoted over and above your company. If you search Google for the phrase 'Auto Locksmith in <enter your town here>'. 9 times out of 10 there will be a result on that first page that takes you to the online version of the Yellow Pages Yell.com

There are several other big players in the online directory market, such as FreeIndex and Yelp. It is free to list your business on these directories and you can often include images, a link to your website and in some directories previous customers can review your services so that prospective customers can see how reliable and professional you are. When you list your company on these sites be sure to include as much information as possible, alongside the usual contact details and opening times there is often an area for you to write about your company. Use this to sell yourself, include unique selling points such as quick response times or how many years’ experience you have; anything that will make your business stand out over and above the competition. 

I hate to keep harping on about Google but they are the gods of the internet and they have a little tool called ‘Google My Business’. This is Google’s business directory and claiming your listing with them should be a priority. Chances are they already have your company name on their list already, they are simply waiting for you to claim it as yours. You can use their business search to look for your company and if it isn’t there you can add it manually. It will take you through a step by step guide to add your company and you may need to go through a simple verification process to prove that you are the business owner. Once your Google Business listing is live and is linked to your website it will please the gods and will also improve your website’s Google search rankings. This is well worth taking the time to do and it is entirely free!



3. Be Social

Social Media is huge at the moment. It’s difficult to find an adult that does not use some form of social media. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, post pictures of your dinner, find funny videos of cats etc but it is also a brilliant free tool to promote your business and increase your online presence. The list of social media websites and apps is ever growing but the major players are currently FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram. Each of these ‘networks’ differs in the way that they function and share information, but ultimately they can all be levied as tools to get your message in front of a huge audience for free! 

The best way to utilise social media for your business is to be active, post quality content and post it frequently. This can be anything from handy hints and tips, customer testimonials, how to’s, special offers, to blatant brags about your business., but remember it is meant to be a social platform so share others posts that you think your followers might be interested in (like this one perhaps?) as this will help to build your number of followers. Respond to all comments that are posted on your content but ensure that you do it in a professional manner but remember that you aren’t just replying to the person that commented, your reply is public! Never use social media to moan about an awkward customer or to berate your competition as this is likely to escalate and cause serious damage to your public persona. 
It is a well-known fact within social media users that posts with photos get a higher level of interaction so get your smart phones out and take some pictures whilst you’re out and about working. Even a picture of a brilliant view or of traffic on the M1 can be shared multiple times and get your company name in front of thousands if posted in the right way.
If you need inspiration for the popular things to post or the right hashtags to use, search for your peers within the locksmith industry and see how they utilise social media. It’s also worth taking the time to search for any local social media accounts that will be willing to re-post local businesses posts. Local ‘Spotted’ pages on Facebook or local Twitter accounts that automatically retweet tweets that hashtag the postcode are often useful. You can find these by searching the first part of your postcode with the ‘#’ symbol before it e.g. #NG1. 

Downloading the app onto your smart phone can make the time it takes to post a lot quicker and more convenient. Many social media sites can now link to others and automatically duplicate a post across several networks simultaneously, saving you time. Don’t forget to cross-promote your social media channels on your website, online directory pages and business cards etc as this all helps to grow your ‘following’. It may take a little bit of time to build your following but if you get into the swing of posting frequently you can reap the rewards. 43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product or service when learning about it on social media.

4. Expand your network

Join Your Local Business Networking Event
Are you involved with your local business community at all? Most towns and cities will have several business associations that meet regularly and discuss the local issues that impact on local businesses. Often regular local networking events are organised where you can attend, have a coffee and meet other like-minded local business owners. 

I’m not simply suggesting these gatherings to make new friends, although this can be a welcome bi-product. If you think about it, there are very few businesses out there that don’t own at least one vehicle, whether it be for business purposes or simply the owners’ personal car. At the other end of the scale there are several types of businesses that own a fleet of vehicles; local van hire, rent a car, car dealerships, delivery companies, taxi firms etc. These are all local businesses that could pass regular work your way, and potentially a lot of it. As a business owner yourself, who are you more likely to contact? A faceless service that you have found in the Yellow Pages or that lovely professional chap that you had a coffee and a chat with at the recent networking event? Exactly! For the sake of an hour of your time and the price of a coffee you can network with all of these potential customers and hand out a business card or two! 

Now here’s where the internet comes in to it, search for your local networking events online, you’ll be surprised how many there are. Findnetworkingevents.com is a great place to start.

5. Shout about it

Do you often have a read through the local paper and see those articles about the local business that has just opened a new office, or the local company that has just won an award? Do you wish you could be featured too? Think of the huge audience your company name will be put in front of! How do the journalists hear of these local companies’ triumphs? Because those local companies tell them about it! 

When you have something to shout about, albeit a nomination for a local business award or a new apprentice/ employee, write a press release about it! The phrase ‘press release’ can sound a little daunting but actually writing one is pretty simple. There are several free templates that you can download from the internet to make it easier for yourself.  Make sure you attach a relevant photo that you would be happy for the paper to print and send that press release off to as many local papers as you can. The press office contact details can usually be found on the papers website easily. 

You might not think your story is particularly news worthy, but if the paper is short on content for that week, or if there is a bigger news story that is relevant to your business featured, they might just print your story or even contact you for your opinion and then you get free advertising. Just imagine, if the paper is about to print a story about a spate of car key thefts in your area and an already written article from an auto locksmith company lands on the desk surely that would make great column inches?

6. Word of Mouth

As I’m sure you are already aware, there are many vehicle owners out there that have no idea how to go about getting a replacement car key for one that has been lost or stolen. Where do these people go to for advice? The internet possibly, they’ll search in Google, but if you’ve followed my #1 suggestion you should already have that covered. They are also likely to ask their friends, work colleagues and family for recommendations! 

There is no better recommendation than one a person receives from someone that they trust. So what can you do to make sure that yours is the company on the tip of their tongue? The answer is simple, ensure that every job you complete is done in the most professional way possible with excellent customer service. For example, keep the customer in mind all the time, a courtesy call when you are 5 minutes away from them costs you very little but it could make a huge impression on the customer. That call says to them that you are organised, that they are important to you, and that you care. Arriving looking smart and in a clean, well-kept van makes an excellent first impression and reassures the customer that you are going to do a quality job and take care of their vehicle. It will be the customers that receive this level of excellent service from you that will shout about it. Studies show that a happy customer will tell 2-3 people about their wonderful service, but on the flip side an unhappy customer will tell on average 8-10 people about their negative experience and with 92% of people trusting recommendations from friends and family over any other type of marketing you can see how this can affect your business.



So there it is, my top 6 FREE ways to market your auto locksmith business. I hope that this has given you a few ideas. This article was written to offer suggestions and I really have only scratched the surface of all the ways you can promote your business for free, there is a plethora or articles on the internet that can help you with this and I would advocate taking the time to read around each of the methods I have mentioned and implement as much as is possible in any spare time that you have. It might be a slow build but you will begin to see the rewards in the future if you invest the time. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, if you know of anyone who might find it useful please feel free to share it and if you've tried any of the suggestions and they've worked for your business I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Good Luck! 
Rebecca

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NEW OFFERINGS

There’s one thing that can be said for working in the auto locksmith trade –‘there is never a dull moment’. You really can’t rest on your laurels in this industry, at the moment it is forging ahead and developing at a rate of knots. Largely led by the technological advancements in security it seems that if you blink, the next piece of programming equipment has been developed or the latest remote product has been released. This ever increasing range of products that is available to this market means that price is key, and one thing that we do here at 3D Group is continuously aim to get the best possible price from our suppliers so that we can pass those saving on to you, our customers.

We realise that we need to stay competitive as a wholesaler just as much as you need to when competing with other auto locksmiths within your service area. One area of 3D Group that we had recognised as needing improvement was our code retrieval service. It had been some time since we had researched the market and assessed how competitive we were on price and service. As I’ve mentioned in the past I am currently working on redeveloping the 3D Group trade website and when I arrived at the part of the process related to code retrieval, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to do the necessary market research. Having identified price as an area we could improve upon I asked Kerry, our sales supervisor, to negotiate the best possible prices for the codes that we offer. This led to us bringing a new code supplier on board, allowing us to lower prices on selected codes, speed up response times and add more brands and models to those that we already offered.

3dgroupuk.com/codes
Although the rest of the new website is still a way from being ready for release, I realised that the section I had re-developed for the codes service could in fact be launched early as a separate section of the current website. We knew that having this service online and making it mobile friendly would make requesting codes quicker and easier for many of our customers, so the decision was made to put it into testing early and get it released months before initially planned. As a result our new code service is now online and active for you to use. Simply visit www.3dgroupuk.com/codes and log in as usual. You can complete the online form within seconds (we know, we tested it with a stop watch! Our best time was 17 seconds) and submit your code request. You can even keep track of your previous requests online and see where they are in the process before receiving your code via your chosen response method, either e-mail or text. We launched this service on the 23rd April and we've already had great feedback about it which is encouraging as this is just a small part of the new website that is yet to come so please don’t just take our word for it, give it a try yourself!



If you can think of any improvements we can make to the service please let us know by commenting on our social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn or by emailing marketing@3dgroupuk.com

New 3D Group Catalogue
The new catalogues have arrived! As I mentioned earlier, this industry moves so fast that they are already out of date! We supply the printers with the artwork in a matter of days and when the artwork leaves us it is bang up to date with the latest products, however in the time it takes to be printed, bound and shipped from China to the UK we’ve already had another couple of hundred new products added to our stock range! Unfortunately until someone develops instant point to point travel this just has to be, but we think that the new catalogues look great. The little tweaks we have made to the design have paid off and they are now being distributed for free with all of our customers’ next orders. We’ve had some great feedback so far and we really do hope that you find them useful to have in your shop or van. Just remember that for our latest stock and prices you can always check our website too.

We have sourced a new supplier of Porsche parts and this is great news for our customers. It means that we will now be stocking a number of Porsche remotes and also improving the price of special order Porsche keys.

For a while now 3D Group have been developing our own range of aftermarket products in response to the often poor quality ones that are currently available on the market. We have strived to make these remotes and cases as good as the originals but with an aftermarket price tag. Products such as FOR3c, NRC1 and VXRC3 have proven very popular with our customers and people are pleased with the quality of them. As a knock on effect to this, a number of European distributors have started to take notice of our perfect quality cases and have requested distribution rights across Europe. This is great news and means that our cases will start to be sold across Europe through authorised dealers.

Ben
3D Group is still a growing and developing company, we are proud of our staff retention and many people who work for us have done so for years. Usually when someone leaves us it is with great sadness that we wave them goodbye and wish them well for the future, but in the case of Ben one of our warehouse operatives, it is a different story! Ben has worked for 3D Group in the warehouse for a little over 2 years and has proven to be a great asset to the team. He has decided on a different career path and that his time in the warehouse must come to an end… the good news for us is that his chosen career is as an auto locksmith and he has moved over to our retail brand 3D Autokeys in order to complete his training. So happily it means we aren’t waving him goodbye at all, but we still wish him all the best for the future.  Ben’s development has left an opening for someone in our warehouse and after a week or so of interviews we are delighted to welcome Rachel onto the team. Rachel has plenty of experience having previously worked at Screw Fix and we hope that she will be happy here at 3D Group.

So there it is, we have several new offerings for you; a newonline code service, a new catalogue, and new products! We hope that you give all of these a try in the coming weeks and as always we are grateful for any feedback you can give us as this only helps us to improve our service to you. Don’t forget to follow us on all of our social media channels FacebookTwitterGoogle+ or LinkedIn in order to keep up to date on any developments and to feedback your comments. Wishing you a great and prosperous week ahead.










Dean

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, I know it’s been a while since my last blog post so let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year! I hope that you had a great Christmas. From a family point of view we had a lovely Christmas, plenty of family get togethers and plenty of food and chocolate. It certainly made the first full week back to work in January a struggle!


It was also a brilliant Christmas from a business point of view. Our special Christmas offer of 10% discount seemed to be happily received by customers with December sales up 40% compared to the previous year. The skeleton staff that worked across the Christmas period worked incredibly hard and despite several courier issues that were experienced the orders were still all dispatched to our customers quickly. Royal Mail let us down despite the best laid plans. Prior to the Christmas break we spoke to Royal Mail to ensure that we had collections scheduled however they didn’t arrive to collect the parcels at the pre-arranged time on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and several hours were wasted chasing them in order to get the situation rectified. FedEx also caused us a few headaches in the Christmas week. Our usual collection slot is late afternoon in order for us to get as many orders dispatched the same day as possible. Unfortunately throughout the Christmas week the driver collected at 11am every day which put Richard under pressure to get as many orders picked and packed as he could before 11. Luckily the snow fall that we experienced on Boxing Day didn’t seem to cause too many delays with customers receiving their parcels.

As if the first week back at work after the best part of two weeks off isn’t bad enough, I injured my ankle playing 5-a-side football on the Wednesday evening and after spending several hours in A&E (luckily it’s not broken) I had to come to work wearing only one shoe and hopping for the rest of the week! It was a little awkward when I had to meet a business associate for the first time and start the conversation by explaining that ‘I do normally wear two shoes to work…’. I’m pleased to say that this week is a massive improvement thus far, the swelling and bruising on my ankle has subsided and I can now wear two shoes to work (always a pleasure) and it was my Birthday yesterday. Everyone seems to have settled back into the swing of work now and things are returning to normal although the office does look bare without the Christmas decorations!

This year looks like it’s going to be another exciting one for 3D Group. We have several new products in the pipeline along with tradeshows and expanding the warehouse. Of course we will also be continuing to do what we do best, great products with great service. One service that we have offered for a while now but you may not be aware of is an EEPROM service. We can provide a programed chip, PIN code or programmed remote for a vehicle when keys have been lost.

The customer simply needs to send the unit from the vehicle to our support department via an insured shipping method. Include your company details, the full vehicle registration or chassis number and a request for the programmed items you require and we will do the work and aim to return the unit and programmed products to you within 48 hours. We will return items via an insured next day signed for delivery service so that it is fully secured. For examples of what we can do please see the EEPROM Worksection of our trade website. Alternatively give our customer service agents a call and they will be able to answer any questions you may have on 0115 941 5333.

One of our first new releases for this year is the new 2015 3D Group catalogue. The printing process is almost complete and we are hoping the shipment will be on a boat and UK bound within the next two weeks. Our aim is to begin distributing them at the Lock Expoin March if all goes to plan. We are constantly adding new productsto our range and this means that a catalogue can never be entirely up to date however we appreciate that people like to have a reference point that they can keep in the van or office and quickly flick through when needed. Our website is always the most up to date resource you have to hand and will always display the latest product information that we have.

We often post about our latest deliveries and new products on our social channels so if you don’t already, it’s certainly worth following us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ , Linked In or you can watch our videos on YouTube to keep informed of the latest news.

I wish you all a prosperous 2015 and look forward to continue working with you over the following year and beyond.








Dean

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IS THE SKP-900 ADAPTER AN AUTO LOCKSMITH’S NEXT MUST HAVE GADGET?

I think everyone is on the countdown for Christmas now and it’s a busy time for all, whether you have a shopping list as long as your arm to complete or you are trying to get as much of your work done before everywhere closes down for the Christmas holidays, not forgetting the odd Christmas party to attend. Along with the Christmas festivities December inevitably brings with it a flurry of illness. It seems that there are several bugs doing the rounds at the moment and this week we've suffered a number of staff shortages thanks to the winter germs and viruses. Unfortunately as a business director it’s something to be expected, but not something you can prepare for, as it can strike at any time. One thing we are proud of at 3D Group is our team of incredibly hard working staff and when the company experiences staff shortages everyone pulls together and works twice as hard to cover the extra workload without moaning.

As always we have another new 3D Group own brand product in the pipeline and it’s getting close to being ready for launch. This particular product is our own remote testing machine. Today I have finalised some artwork for it.The new remote tester will come with a 2.8 Inch touchscreen, have RF and IR testing functions that automatically work out the frequency and it will also allow you to test specific RF ranges. This remote tester has an accuracy of measurement +/- 10 kHz and also provides a dB graph on screen.This remote tester should be on sale before Christmas! Why not add it to your Christmas wish list or treat yourself to an early Christmas present?!


I am sure that we have mentioned before that 3D Group will not release a product before thoroughly testing it ourselves first. One such product that we have been testing over the last few weeks is the SKP 900 adapter. Our support team has been putting it through its paces on real life auto locksmith jobs and familiarising themselves with the product so that they can confidently offer support should the product be released for sale. The adapter claims to be able to read a vast array of chips as well as being able to write them when connected to a PC. It states it can copy chips, unlock them and create special chips amongst other uses. Several customers have been asking when we will be selling it and we are aware that some of our competitors already are, however the results of our testing process haven’t quite been up to scratch so I’ll let our Head of Support Martyn explain why 3D Group will not be stocking the SKP-900 adapter just yet. 


The Positives
  • There is certainly potential for this machine in the future as it could be used for pre-coding.
  • It is not required to be connected to a PC in order to work, simply connect it to the SKP.
  • The ability to read transponder chips and some proximity remotes is a good function to have.
  • The idea to include PC software to write and edit chips is a good addition.
  • The key maker function does have the potential to use it for EEPROM work but it’s not quite there yet..
  • The unlock function is useful to be able to reuse transponder chips.
  • The copy function is helpful for the ability to clone a key from a working key.

The Negatives
  • All of the functions mentioned above show great potential but in reality their current usability is poor.
  • The PC software is inadequate as it comes with no instructions, and looks part finished in poor English.
  • The key maker function comes without instruction so it is all guess work. It doesn’t currently come with an application list and therefore I wouldn’t trust this machine for EEPROM work.
  • The copy function cloned fixed transponders with no trouble, however it wouldn't clone an ID46, and again there are no instructions and the onscreen English translations leave something to be desired. It did manage to Clone an ID60 after 4 attempts though.
Martyn's Verdict

"Although the SKP900 adapter has great potential, it really isn’t in a state where we can support and sell it with confidence without doing a lot more work with the manufacturers. Unfortunately 3D Group would not work in that way with Super OBD because of their distribution policies, which is a shame because there is a lot of potential in some of their products. We hope that small improvements over time will enhance the product so that we can reassess its viability in the near future. - Martyn"

We know that unlike many industries and services the auto locksmith trade doesn’t shut down over the Christmas period. In fact many of you will experience a busy couple of weeks with the increased risk of people losing their keys whilst out shopping and partying and the cold weather causing your customers all kinds of issues. To help make Christmas that little bit easier 3D Group will be open as much as possible over the Christmas period. Here are our festive opening times;


But we didn’t want to stop there, we would also like to offer all of our customers 10% off all purchases made online. 10% discount will be applied to all orders over the value of £150 + VAT placed via the 3D Group trade website between 2am 24th December 2014 and 3pm 31st December 2014. 10% Discount will be applied to all products purchased within the order as long as the total spend is above £150 before VAT or delivery is added.*

How to get your discount...
Place an order as usual on-line. You will not be able to see the discount on screen. Checkout as usual and when our sales staff process your payment they will deduct 10% should the order qualify.

*The 10% discount offered is valid between 24/12/14 - 31/12/14 inclusive. Discount is available on all products available from 3dgroupuk.com excluding the Silca Futura (MS63) Offers are subject to availability and are at the 3D Group Managers’ discretion. 3D Group reserve the right to retract offers from the public at any point. No voucher or code necessary.

We wish you all a great Christmas and a very prosperous new year!








Dean



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CHANGES ARE AFOOT ...

It has been an exciting couple of weeks in the 3D Group offices with plenty of changes occurring and it feels like we are continuing to move onward and upwards, which is a rewarding and pleasing feeling.

Dan and I have not long returned from our business meetings in Europe. I know that I mentioned this trip in the previous blog and promised to tell you the outcome. Just to recap, as a result of the feedback we gathered from the ALEX show one thing that became apparent was that you wanted to see a bigger range of locks available. So Dan and I set up a couple of meetings with suppliers to discuss how we can improve this.
One of the major issues for us at the moment is warehouse space! Things are getting a little tight in the warehouse and every inch of space is very quickly filling up and we are even using the space under our desks for emergency overflow storage! To combat this, we have purchased the premises next door and in the New Year work will commence on connecting the two buildings and expanding our warehouse and offices. The outcome of these recent meetings is that we will soon be stocking a large number of genuine lock wafers, springs and more … just as soon as we find the space to store them! 

Ask anyone in the office and they will tell you that I dislike having time away from the office with a passion. I very rarely take annual leave and will work through pretty much any illness. Even the times when I have to be away I am always on the other end of the phone. It comes hand in hand with being a director of a family business and I really wouldn’t change it for the world. Obviously there are times when being away from the business is necessary and these recent meetings were one of these situations. It is s*ds law that within this week issues would arise in the office!

David kindly handled these issues in Dan and I’s absence however I always like to look into any issues myself so that I can fully understand them and resolve them where I can. One of the issues that arose concerned the new Lishi KeyCutting machine. As with most new to market products you can experience teething problems and even Silca aren’t immune to this. It seems that there are a few software issues that Lishi are currently working hard with their Chinese counterparts to resolve and a number of issues have boiled down to calibration of the machine. It’s a good feeling to know that all these issues are being resolved so quickly by the manufacturer as they are out of our hands. I have spoken to Lishi and have been told a new manual is being written to help all users with the machine.


Another issue that arose this week was as a result of a customer complaint. Here at 3D Group we do take the few complaints that we receive very seriously and always do our best to resolve the issue for the customer in question but also to put measures in place that ensure it will not happen again. For the second time this year we have had a customer report that one of our VXR9va Blades has broken their cutter. The first time that this issue occurred we tested the blades that came with the remote and it did not cause an issue when cut with our Silca Viper. We concluded that it might have been a rogue blade and agreed to monitor the situation.

However as a 2nd customer has now reported this to us we have opted to replace all of the blades in the VXR9va we have in stock to our own branded blade that we can be confident is a good quality metal and will not damage cutters. Any future stock will also have its blade changed and we are pleased that we have found a permanent solution to the issue.


We manufacture a lot of our own parts and we have recently made the decision to move the production of our 3D brand blades from the current source to a new factory. We have parted company with the previous factory due to a number of issues over the past year that have caused several headaches for myself and Richard but we hope things will be plain sailing from now on.

Another change happening in the 3D office is a change of staff in our sales department. This week we say a fond farewell to Alesha who is leaving us to embark on a new career and we wish her the best of luck for the future. Alesha has spent her last few weeks passing her knowledge on to her replacement and we would like you to join us in welcoming Nathan to our sales team.

One change that some of you may have already noticed is that we have launched our new-look front page for the 3dgroupuk.com website. We are currently in the process of developing a whole new trade website for you to enjoy however we needed to launch the pre-login part of the site earlier. In the past we have had to keep our sister company 3D Autokeys’ information on our 3D Group website until our SEO had improved on our 3dautokeys.co.uk domain. It’s been a long year for Rebecca in our marketing team pushing our 3D Autokeys SEO however thankfully our 3D Autokeys website is now self-sufficient and we have been able to alter 3dgroupuk.com to be entirely dedicated to our wholesale business. As I’ve previously mentioned, this is the first step of a number of improvements over the next year or so to our trade website. Rest assured that we will keep all of our product prices and descriptions exclusively for trade customers’ eyes only as we feel that it is detrimental to locksmiths for the trade prices to be available for public viewing.

The Super OBD SKP-900 Key programmer continues to be a popular product. As promised, Super OBD are staying true to their word and releasing regular free software updates. They have just released information about the next update planned to be released very soon which I’m sure will be very popular with customers.

SKP-900 V2.9 Update Plan:

1. LINCOLN MKZ Smart Key Program 2010-
2. LAND ROVER Range Rover sport Add system update 2 (434MHz)
3. Fiat 500 Remote Key Program 2011-
4. JAGUAR XF ADD Smart Key 2014-
5. Porsche Cayenne Read PIN Code & Remote Key Program 2004-
6. Add menu LINCOLN Key Program with HEC ID-4C (1999-2004)
7. Add menu LINCOLN Key Program with PCM ID-4D (2002-2004)

We are also waiting on the arrival of the new 46/4D/48 Adapter Plus tool that connects into the SKP, for Reading, Writing, Imaging, Unlocking, Coping and more. After some testing from our Geekey advisors more information about this product will be released.

Christmas is creeping up quick and we have now finalised our special offers for the Christmas period. These offers were incredibly popular last Christmas and more information will be included in the next 3D Group newsletter. We are aware that unlike many other industries the auto locksmith trade does not close for Christmas and therefore we limit the time that 3D Group is closed as much as we can. Our office will only be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Years day, on all other days (Mon-Fri) we will be open to take your order over the phone. Alternatively you will be able to place your order via the website 24/7 and your order will be despatched as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that Royal Mail delivery times tend to slow down throughout December and orders may take a little longer to get to you should we experience adverse weather.

I’m looking at the word count of this blog and thinking I should probably leave it there for now! There’s plenty more I could write about but I will have to save it for the next instalment! Please let us know what you think of the new website via our Facebook page and Twitter account, and I hope you have a great week!

Dean

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NORMAL...WHAT'S NORMAL?!

So the madness of the ALEX show and the aftermath that ensued has now died down and we can all get back to a bit of normality…or so you would think!

I predominantly manage the retail and development side of the business and I have a great team of auto locksmiths and administration staff that help me. We are like one big family really and the 3D Autokeys family has just got a little bit bigger! Lee, one of our locksmiths and his wife Holly have just welcomed baby Phoebe into the world. She came a little bit earlier than expected but mum and baby are doing really well and Phoebe is beautiful.

Phoebe’s early arrival meant that Lee understandably went on paternity leave a little earlier than expected but in true 3D style we all pulled together. This meant that I was able to go back out on the road as an auto locksmith which is what I enjoy doing the most, serving customers, testing new products and topping up my experience.


Back in the early days of 3D Group I was the only mobile auto locksmith we had and I would be out in my converted Smart Car serving the good people of Nottingham which is why our old logo included the smart car image. How things have changed! We now have 4 fully kitted out vans and 5 auto locksmiths working for us.

Meanwhile back in the office, retail admin assistant Kelly has braved the Stoptober challenge. If you have never heard of this, it is where you have to quit smoking for the month of October (and beyond ideally). As I write this, it is now the 30th October and Kelly has done really well. Despite it being a busy and stressful month in the office she has managed to go the whole of October without a cigarette and without any major mood swings! We are all really proud of her and we hope she can keep it up.

Obviously with me being out of the office on the road it has meant that the new products which have successfully passed our testing procedures have been sat on my desk waiting patiently to be uploaded to our website. So now that Lee is back I’ve spent this last week adding loads of new genuine Toyota remotes, Lexus remotes, a Smart car remote& Mini CAS remote to the website. All of these are now live and ready to purchase.

Dean and I are off to meet with suppliers to discuss some potential new product lines to add to our lock range this week and we will be able to give you an update of this in our next blog post. Have a great week!


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AFTER ALEX ...

This year is going by so fast, I can’t believe it is only 10 weeks until Christmas! 3D Group has been so busy that the weeks are just flying by! Let me apologise for our lack of blog instalments over the last couple of weeks, we were all so busy getting ready for the ALExpo at the Belfry hotel in Nottingham. We are lucky that this key trade show occurs so close to home as tradeshows are really hard work and it’s nice to be able to go home to your own bed at the end of a busy day on stand. What customers may not realise is how much hard work goes into the organisation of 3D Group’s presence at the ALEX show, most departments are involved in some way. It begins with the marketing department booking and designing the stand along with designing and arranging advertising and e-newsletters months in advance. Then, when the weekend of the show comes around, the sales team and tech team get involved by working the weekend manning the stand and serving customers. After the tradeshow weekend the dispatch team then have an incredibly busy few days dispatching all of the orders placed at the show.


This year for the 3rd time running we decided to discount every product (with the odd few exceptions) sold at the show. Every time we have run this offer in the past our customers have been pleased with the substantial savings they have made. We also introduced a short questionnaire this year to ask customers that we met at the show. It was only a few short questions but it provided us with some great feedback about our customer services and products.


Although tradeshows are hard work, we actually love talking face to face with our customers. Our Geekey advisors love talking to others that are just as Geekey as them and many a long discussion was had over the course of the weekend. A big hit at the tradeshow was the Lishi cut to code machine. We had a demonstration model on stand at the show and these sold very well, largely due to the great discount that was offered on them. It was a last minute addition to the stand as it was only released the day before the show. Despite the machine being new to us, Martyn from our Geekey advice team did his best to show everyone how it worked and did a great job.

Another great seller for us during the show was the SKP-900. We sold out of the stock we had on stand as well as the remaining stock in the warehouse! Thankfully we’ve been able to replenish this stock pretty quickly.

We hope that everyone is enjoying their purchases as well as the huge savings they made. I almost had a heart attack when the final figures came through, the discount value for the weekend was over £10,000! Overall it was an incredibly successful show for us and plans are already underway for the Locksmiths Exhibition in March so we look forward to seeing you there!

After analysing the results from the customer feedback questionnaires, one product range that several customers suggested we could improve was our range of ignition locks. With this in mind, Dan and I are off for a number of meetings with suppliers abroad at the end of the month with a view to discussing the potential to expand our locks range. We’ll keep you updated on any advancements. If ever you have any suggestions on how we can improve, we are always keen to hear them and you can get in touch in several ways; phone, text, email or via our social channels, we will always take your comments on board and we are pleased to receive them.


Today I have been very excited to see a new stock range come into the office after a 5 month wait since ordering them. Over 25 newToyota remotes have arrived and after they have been through our quality control checks they should be active on the website in a few weeks’ time. It means 3D Group will be the biggest stockist of Toyota remotes in Europe (other than Toyota themselves).




5 Weeks ago you may recall that Richard and I were interviewing for a new job opening in the warehouse department and this week sees the start of Mike our new stock room assistant. He seems to have settled in really well with all the staff and is learning the job quickly which is a massive help to our warehouse team as it seems they have been non-stop for months now!

We will blog again once we are back from our supplier meetings in Europe with an update for you on the exciting new range of ignition locks we will have hopefully secured. You never know, we might even have a few surprises for you! We should also have an update on our warehouse and office expansion as plans are currently being finalised by the architect. Wishing you all a great week!

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PURCHASING PREDICAMENTS

Now don’t get me wrong, I love working for the family business. It’s very rewarding to look around and to see how much we’ve achieved in a relatively short space of time. I get a huge sense of pride when we receive great feedback from customers and it’s great to know we are moving in the right direction, but every so often you have one of those nightmare days. I work predominantly in the purchasing department and between myself and Richard it is our responsibility to ensure a constant supply of products at great prices. Unfortunately in this trade it isn’t always as easy as it sounds, and more often than not it is supply issues (for one reason or another) that cause me headaches!

A number of you may have noticed a massive shortage on FOR3FOR11 & FOR12 recently and this isn’t for want of trying to buy more stock in. For weeks we’ve been struggling to get hold of these remotes. It is common for the supply of vehicle remotes to sometimes dry up for a short period of time and occasionally the supply never returns, however on this occasion I have been informed that the delay is due to a small fire in the Visteon factory in china. This has caused delays on FOB8 as well. Hopefully FOR3FOR11 & FOR12 supply will be back to normal next month, with news that around 2000 will be available in the coming weeks. I will do my best to secure as many of these remotes as I can!


When it comes to the supply of auto locksmith parts it can be a bit of a rollercoaster! You could have a constant flow of a product for ages and then it can all change within a month. This is often due to the dealership networks putting a stop to factories selling the remotes via other means, and as a purchaser this leaves you in a constant quandary. When the stock is there to purchase, should we buy the full quantity available just in case they won’t be available a month down the line? On a number of occasions we have had to take massive risks, paying tens of thousands of pounds for stock that will just sit in our warehouse for a number of years. For example the JR2 Jaguar remotes, some of you may remember that for a time we were selling this product at a great price of roughly £25. This was down to mass of surplus stock that Jaguar had in their factory. We bought all 3000 remotes available at a great price and passed these savings on to our customers. Unfortunately the 3000 remotes we purchased had to run out at some point, and although we’ve been able to purchase more stock we’ve never been able to get it at such a low price again. Luckily we can still get these remotes but there are some products that are just impossible to get unless they are pre-coded to the chassis number. This gives myself and the purchasing department a headache!


Recently we have been developing an aftermarket version of the FOR3 to sell alongside our genuine product. The aftermarket version will be priced at half that of the genuine one but will be almost identical. We have had this product in development for almost 8 months already and we’ve recently received our 3rdsample from the factory and have requested one final improvement that will make it one of the best aftermarket versions in the industry. We felt that although the remote was already better than those currently available, the buttons were not as strong as we would have liked so once this final tweak has been approved, we can get them into production and make them available to purchase!



One of our biggest marketing expenses is our presence at the industry trade shows. We feel that trade shows are a brilliant way to meet our customers face to face and they give us a fantastic opportunity to gauge customer feedback. It is important to us that we show ourselves to be the professional, knowledgeable company that we are so a lot of thought and planning goes in to the design of our stand, the marketing of the brand, and our show offers. Over the last few weeks our marketing assistant Rebecca has been planning our stand and offers for the ALEX show this weekend (4th/5th Oct). We have updated our stand design, we will be selling the SKP-900 key programmer machineand we will be offering discounts of up to 50% across the majority of our product range! These amazing discounts will only be valid on orders placed at the show so make sure you pay us a visit on stand 12A.

One advantage that 3D Group has over many of our competitors is our sister company 3D Autokeys, our mobile auto locksmith service that covers Nottinghamshire. There are 4 Auto locksmiths working for 3D Autokeys with over 60 years’ experience on the job between them and their experience makes them a wealth of auto locksmith knowledge. We decided to put this expertise to good use within 3D Group and last year we launched our GeeKey Advice service. This is our dedicated impartial support service that is free for all of our trade customers. Our auto locksmiths really are vehicle key geeks, we sometimes worry for their wives and girlfriends to be honest! However their geekiness provides our trade customers with the answer to pretty much any auto locksmith related question you can think of. As they are locksmiths themselves they will offer completely unbiased advice on anything from how to complete a particularly tricky job to what machine you should consider adding to your arsenal next. Our geeks are definitely worth a shout if you have a dilemma!

The GeeKey Advisors will be on stand at the ALEX show on the 4th and 5th October. It has been a popular service at every tradeshow we’ve taken it to, so if you have an auto locksmith related question you would like answering why not book an appointment with our GeeKey Advisor by e-mailing Rebecca at geekeyadvice@3dgroupuk.com


Last week may have been taxing to say the least but it ended on a high when my brother and I were invited to a corporate track day at Silverstone. We got to drive a Renault Megane sport 250 cup at high speed around the Silverstone track and a Ford Fiesta ST rally car around the rally track. We reached speeds of 140mph+ behind the wheel. It was a first for both of us and a great experience that we hope to repeat one day in the very near future.

Well I better go and finalise the discounts that we will be offering at the ALEX show, I really hope to see some of you there. Both myself and Dan will be on the stand along with Kerry and Ian from our sales team, Rebecca from marketing and Martyn our GeeKey advisor. We’re a friendly bunch and love to put faces to names so come and say hi!

Dean

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THE MAN FROM RENAULT, HE SAY ....

There never seems to be a quiet week in the 3D Group office at the moment! This last week we have taken delivery of quite a few new products in the wholesale department, we’ve had a busy week of sales and we’ve dealt with it all whilst the dreaded lurgy has spread around the office!  

Whenever we receive a new product we put it through its paces before we list the product for sale on the trade website. 3D Group pride ourselves on the quality of our products, as well as our service, and in order to maintain the excellent quality that we have become known for we insist that we test every product that comes into our stock room. The one advantage that 3D Group has over many other auto locksmith wholesalers is our sister company 3D Autokeys. 3D Autokeys is a mobile auto locksmith service that covers the local Nottinghamshire area. As the trade half of the business 3D Group uses the expertise and knowledge of our 4 trained and experience locksmiths at 3D Autokeys to test products and machinery in proper situations before they are released for sale. We test remote cases for build quality & durability; we test Key blades for the quality of metal, and how accurately they cut; we test programming machinery on the vehicles it claims to apply to so that we can vouch for its usability. This all takes time but ensures that we can be confident that the products we sell to you work.

I couldn’t possibly go through all of the new products that we have here in this blog or you would be sat here for hours! The easiest way for you to see them is to take a look at the new products section of our website. One product that we are pleased has finally come in is our own Blue Ford horseshoes. If you have read our previous blog posts you will be aware of the palaver we have had with these, but I am pleased to announce that the first correct batch of FOB3cb have arrived they have been deemed to be in full working order and they are now on sale and selling very well! Another new product that we are now stocking is the CityRover immobiliser box. 3D Autokeys has received several enquiries from customers requesting replacement of lost CityRover vehicle keys. The problem is how to get the vehicle running when the remote or keys have been lost. The newCityRover immobiliser box will make the car run without a remote making the auto locksmith’s job a lot easier!

It’s been a busy week in our sales department! 3D Group has seen a very healthy increase in sales consistently for the last few years and this week has been no exception! It’s a bit of murphys’ law that one of the busiest weeks should coincide with several key staff members falling ill or being on annual leave! 2 of our sales assistants, Cory and Alesha have been ill whilst our sales manager Kerry was busy sunning herself on the beach! However in true 3D Group team style the remaining staff members have all pulled together and coped incredibly well with the added workload.

To follow up on a topic raised in a previous blog post we met with the head honchos from Renault France this week. The meeting was incredibly productive as we demonstrated that their genuine key cardscan be programmed using a variety of machines and not just by Renault: This was something that they did not believe was possible. Security was Renault’s main concern, as they believe that one of the reasons that their cars are in lower insurance bracket is due to the fact that you must order a Renault key to a chassis number. We explained the benefit of having a wider network of auto locksmiths that are able to supply replacement keys to the Renault managers. Currently to order a replacement key through a Renault dealership the customer would have to tow the vehicle to their nearest Renault garage and wait at least 10 days for a replacement to arrive. It is a benefit to their customers if they removed the chassis number restriction on the supply of their keys and made it easier for their customers to get a replacement vehicle key the same day, at a convenient location through a mobile auto locksmith. We gave Renault a lot of information which they now need to take back to their head office and digest. We are waiting to hear their thoughts on the information we presented to them but we know that this could take a while.

3D Group is a family run business and when things in the office are as manic as they have been it’s easy to let family occasions slip by unnoticed. It was my father’s birthday last week and as a birthday present to him and an opportunity for some quality time with our dad, myself and Dean took Dave to the golf course for the day. Anyone in the office will tell you how competitive our family are when it comes to sports! However we are all complete novices when it comes to golf so there were a few frustrated expletives uttered as we worked our way around the course but it was good fun and I think Dave enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to this week. Myself and Dean have been invited to a corporate day at Silverstone for a track day which should be a great experience and a good chance to network with other company directors. I’m sure our competitive nature will shine through … It can’t be all work and no play can it?....

Dan

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REGULATION FOR THE AUTO LOCKSMITH TRADE?

Debate seems to be the word of the week in the 3D Group office this week! We do like a good natter and there’s been some interesting topics of conversation being bandied about with a mixture of opinions.

Besides discussing the latest Xfactor contestants, and the great changeable British weather, one of the main work related topics that we’ve discussed is the availability of auto locksmith information and tools to every Tom, Dick and Harry. We aren’t talking about the experienced, qualified auto locksmiths here, we’re talking about Joe Bloggs off the street. Any criminally-minded person could quite easily get their hands on lock picking and key coding information and ‘how to’s’ on the internet. And then there are those suppliers and websites that would sell a programming machine to my gran if she said she wanted one! A recent example of this is Amazon.co.uk quite happily selling lock pick sets to anyone who wants one!

Making these products readily available on popular non-trade websites is only benefitting the consumer making them easy to buy and cheap. It is doing nothing to protect legitimate businesses that are currently operating within the industry and ultimately the consumer willexperience the negative side with higher risk of break-ins and car theft.
 I think we could probably all agree that it does need to be regulated in some way. The major debate occurs when you start to discuss who should be the governing body if one were to exist. Should it be the government? Should it be an organisation such as the Auto Locksmith Association or MLA? My argument would be that the government could do a lot more to restrict machine and tool imports from Europe and the Far East and ensure that machinery and tools being imported into this country are going to legitimate wholesalers like ourselves. There are some countries that already class locksmith tools as military tools. Maybe the UK should adopt this approach as it would make it harder to import machines, which protects the consumer and automotive locksmiths already in the trade. It would then fall to authorised wholesalers such as ourselves to ensure that we only supply these machines and tools to legitimate auto locksmiths and this is something that we already try to do.
We have the opinion that trade should be trade and we try and do everything in our powers to make sure it stays that way; we don’t sell on eBay, we don’t sell to anyone unless they have experience of some form in the trade or they are willing to provide a start-up plan of their automotive locksmith business. This would be made a lot easier if there was one governing body that auto locksmiths had to be registered with in order to operate in the UK. This would work in a similar way to gas engineers who must be ‘Gas Safe’ registered in order to work legally.
In the way that the industry currently operates, the only real winners are the manufacturers in China and the Far East. These companies are copying tools and machinery and making them so cheap that kids could buy them with their pocket money! This is making it very difficult for those that are trying to progress the trade legitimately. No sooner have you developed a new machine or product, then China come along and clone it! When thousands of pounds are put into the development of a new machine, to see it cloned and sold at an 8th of the true value is disheartening to say the least!
Anyway, I’ll get down off my soapbox for now. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts and opinions on this matter, so please feel free to add your comment underneath this blog post.

On a more positive note, two years ago we felt the need to set up a meeting with Renault France after they halted our supply of Renault cards. Renault believed that only Renault machines were able to programme these cards and decided that supplying to us was a security issue. In this initial meeting we showed Renault that there are several machines that can program their Renault key cards such as the  Truecode. We explained that if they stopped supplying the genuine cards the Chinese aftermarket versions would become dominant in the market and in the long run Renault would lose out on sales of key cards. They agreed that it was in their best interests, and that of security, to continue the supply but they were in disbelief and seemed a little unsure that we were capable of programming the key cards. Fast forward to today and we have confirmed another meeting with Renault France. The main aim of this meeting is to prove to them that there are a number of machines that can program their cards (demonstrations in suits will be required I’m sure!) In return for our expert knowledge, we are hoping that we will be able to talk to them about fast tracking our supply chain. Fingers crossed!


Today is another day of coding for me. As the main website developer for 3D Group I am continuing to develop our new trade website. This system has already been in production for a year and it is taking a lot longer than expected. Our full system including our picking and packing, invoicing and stock control systems are being rewritten to improve the overall experience for our customers and our staff. When we ready to unveil our new look website we will be shouting it from the roof tops so keep your ears peeled for our dulcet tones!

With the ALEX exhibition fast approaching our marketing department is currently finalising our exclusive show offers and finishing the design of our exhibition stand. Keep your eyes on your email inbox as you will shortly be receiving further information but we can tell you that we will be offering discounts on almost all of our stock range on orders placed at the show. We will also be running our GeeKey Advice service on stand at ALEX as we did last time, so if you need any unbiased auto locksmith advice please book your appointment with one of our experts as soon as possible by emailing geekeyadvice@3dgroupuk.com

Well, this new website isn’t going to code itself, I best get back to it! My collegue Dan, another director here at 3D Group will be penning next week’s blog and we should hopefully have news from the Renault meeting to tell you about.

Dean Sanderson

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A HECTIC WEEK IN THE OFFICE!

The 3D Group head office feels like it’s gone into over-drive in the last few weeks. We have so much happening at once in various departments that the office is a bustling hive of development.

To give you a taste of some of the exciting, if not a little stressful developments happening here at 3D Group HQ, myself along with the other directors are going to try and submit weekly blog posts for you to read. Our aim for this blog is to give our customers a little insight into the inner workings of the company and to keep you up to date with industry news and developments.

Due to a number of reasons which we felt were impacting on our International customers’ experience when purchasing from us, we have chosen to ‘consciously uncouple’ 3D Group from our original courier TNT. We have chosen FedEx as our new international courier service as they seemed to offer services and more importantly prices that we felt would suit our customers’ needs better. I took the opportunity over the quiet bank holiday weekend to integrate the new FedEx system with our trade website. This has now been completed and International customers should be able to view live quotations for their orders in checkout.

We have been in the process of redeveloping our own version of the aftermarket Vauxhall/Opel remote cases (VXRC4 & VXRC5). We were unable to control the build quality on the previous versions and to rectify this we have decided to manufacture our own. We are at the point in the production process where we have received samples and we have instructed a slight amendment to the mould in order to create a stronger seal when the two halves of the case are clicked together. These will then be ready to go into mass production and will be available to purchase soon.

Several weeks ago we used our Facebook andTwitter accounts to get our customer’s opinions on the black Ford blade horseshoes. We have always been a little miffed as to why Ford have never produced a blue version to match the remote, so we got onto our product team and 4 weeks ago we approved a blue horseshoe blade sample to go into mass production.

We were as excited as kids at Christmas when the first batch of 3000 arrived at our head office this week only to be bitterly disappointed when they failed our quality control tests and after a little investigation it seems that they are different to the confirmed samples! Back to the factory they go and in order to fast track delivery of the first batch we have asked our manufacturer of the black versionFOB3C to change the colour and quickly produce 1000 blue ones which should be delivered in 10 days’ time. I can hear you questioning why I didn’t just use this manufacturer in the first place, the simple reason is we have so many products already in development with this factory that they can’t possibly accept any more orders from us. In order to speed up the manufacturing process we were hoping to split it across two factories. Luckily they are able to help us out with a smaller quantity for now.
Another new product to add to our ever expanding catalogue is the Super OBD SKP-900 key programmer. Having tested this machine ourselves we believe that this is an ideal machine for new start-ups or perhaps as a secondary machine for an established auto locksmith. Having received our delivery of the SKP-900 we felt that the supporting documentation and information was not clear enough due some minor translation issues so our marketing and GeeKey advice team has got together and re-written the supporting information and application lists which will be free to download from our websiteonce the machine is available for general sale. For more information about the SKP-900 take a look at our website here.

We moved into our current warehouse and offices a little over 2 years ago and with all of these new products that we are developing we are quickly outgrowing the space we have! Our chief director David Sanderson has an eagle eye for a good bit of real estate and has the ability to see past a dilapidated shell so last month he completed the purchase of the neighbouring property with a view to knock through and extend our current warehouse and office space. Plans for redeveloping this run down property are already underway so watch this space (or the space next door to be precise!)

I suppose business expansion and increasing workforce go hand in hand and new employees are becoming a regular thing at 3D Group. This week, along with our warehouse supervisor Richard, I’ve had couple of mornings full of interviews in order to increase our warehouse staff numbers. We’ve had 70 applicants and the candidates have been varied but there have been some promising hopefuls, the next step is to get a select few in for a trial day and see how they cope. I’ll update you when we have found ‘the one’!

I could also tell you about confirmed meetings with the lovely people at Renaults’ head office in France, the development of the new 3D Group trade website and our preparations for the upcoming ALEX exhibition in addition to the new products, new premises, and new staff that have occurred this week but I’m conscious that this is turning into War and Peace so I’ll have to save these little nuggets of information for the next instalment. Right now I think I need to go and have a calming cup of tea before my next meeting!  

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