Start a Business
Installing Anti-Burglar Devices

(Last updated: April 27, 2010)

This page shows how to start a business installing anti-burglar devices.

Use this information together with the Business Plan for Simple Services page.

You are assumed to have the skills and equipment needed to perform this service. You may have performed this or similar types of activities in the past. Thus, you may have learned the skills and accumulated most of the required equipment from those prior tasks.

The methods and procedures described on this page can be used to help satisfy your needs, and the needs of likely customers.

Here are the topics:

Introduction to idea
Estimated startup costs
Putting idea to work
Main procedures

Other useful information

The Vital Guidelines for Novices page helps beginners who want to start a business. These guidelines provide focused advice and useful insights.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to start a business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer

Introduction to idea

This topic provides an overview of the business idea so you can decide if it suits you.

Basic idea

Owners or tenants pay you to install devices to help protect their homes against burglars.

This service increases the safety and value of homes. It is a service that owners or tenants may not have the skill or time to do themselves.

Getting these jobs usually is just a question of making yourself known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job.

This activity is performed by the job. Once one job is finished you will have to find another job. However, if you do a good job for a large property owner, you may be called back when other units need these services.

This is an indoors and outdoors activity that can be performed year round (roads and weather permitting).

Suitability of idea

This idea is best suited for people who are physically fit and enjoy working with their hands.

Skills and equipment required

Primary skills -- You must have handyman skills that allow you to do a good job installing these items.

Other skills -- You must have driving skills and a valid driver's license.

Equipment owned -- This business idea assumes that you own the following equipment:

Pickup truck or van -- You will use this vehicle to travel to job locations and haul any equipment, materials, supplies, and protective gear needed to perform the work. Also, you may have to haul trash away from the job site.

Job equipment -- See the typical equipment needed for this service.

Protective gear -- Typical items needed: Goggles and work gloves.

Other items -- You need to own or purchase other items, such as office equipment and job supplies. These items are listed under the startup costs on the next topic.

Also, you will need to purchase some or all of the materials needed for each job. The customer will repay you for these materials when you finish the job.

Profitability of idea

In order to show a profit, you will have to sell enough of your services to cover the startup costs, job costs, and operating expenses. The more income you collect over a certain time period the larger your profits. Therefore, you want to have substantial sales, along with low costs and expenses.

The fees you charge pay for your labor, job materials and supplies, use of your equipment and vehicle, and your ability to perform the work in a professional manner. You might charge an hourly rate for your services, or a lump sum for a particular job. Your fee also should include any miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses you have, such as dump fees.

How much should you charge for your services? This depends on how well off the customer is and how anxious both you and the customer are to make a deal. The economic conditions of the local area might also influence these negotiations.

See the Setting the Sales Price page in another section for more detailed information.

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Estimated startup costs

This topic discusses the estimated startup costs for this business idea. Startup costs are what you need to pay in order to be ready to begin business operations. The amount of these costs also helps you decide if the idea suits you.

List of items in startup costs

Note: I am only showing one month for certain expenses. You should be able to get your first job or two in a month. Then these items become operating expenses, not startup costs.

The assumed startup costs for this business idea, using a frugal style of business operations, consist of the following items:

Advertising and promotion (1 month) -- Small classified advertisements or flyers delivered to likely neighborhoods.

Business insurance (1 month) -- Business liability insurance. (Talk to a local insurance agent to see if you need this coverage.)

Governmental requirements -- Local fees and business license. (Note: You might also be subject to state and federal deposits and registration fees, but these will vary. So I have not included them in these startup costs.)

Job supplies -- Marking pen or pencil and trash bags.

Office equipment -- Business telephone; desk accessories (stapler, paper clips, pen and pencils, etc.); and listing adding machine.

Office supplies -- Check blanks for business checking account, file folders or large manila envelopes (for filing papers), lined writing tablets, pads of accounting journals and ledger, and pads of standard job bid forms.

Other operating expenses (1 month) -- Business telephone expense.

Reference book -- Bookkeeping for Dummies (Paperback) available from Amazon.com or other online bookstores. (Note: The "for Dummies" series of books are easy to read manuals for normal people, not dummies.)

Dollar amount of startup costs

Here are the dollar amounts for a frugal business operation:

 

Estimated Startup Costs

  Advertising and promotion (1 month) $ 75
  Business insurance (1 month)   50
  Governmental requirements (local fees and business license)   50
  Job supplies   15
  Office equipment   120
  Office supplies   100
  Other operating expenses (1 month)   50
  Reference book   15
     
       Total estimated startup costs $ 475

Note: See the Planning costs and expenses subtopic in the Business Plan on another page for ways to reduce these startup costs.

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Putting idea to work

This topic satisfies the Starting business operations subtopic in the Business Plan page.

Preparing for business operations

Completing the startup requirements -- This is the last step needed just before you start business operations. See the Listing the startup requirements subtopic in the Business Plan for the items remaining to be completed.

As a minimum, you should have discussed the business idea with your family, set up your business entity, and satisfied all governmental and insurance requirements.

Local information needed -- You need the location of local dumpsites, fees charged for dumping, restrictions on materials allowed to be dumped, and rules for hauling trash.

Check with your local building inspector for any rules about installing locksets, deadbolt locks, and window protections. (There may be rules about required fire escapes.)

You also need to see if a building permit and/or contractor's license is needed before you start working on a job in your local area.

Operating the business

Soliciting customers -- Place classified advertisements in your local newspaper and/or the newsletter of the local property owners association. You also might want to deliver flyers to likely neighborhoods (where rich people live). Use a simple, honest description of your services. Once you become well known in the community, you should benefit from word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers.

For additional ideas on soliciting customers, see the Sales Methods page in another section.

Getting jobs -- Hopefully, some of the people who read your advertisements will inquire about your services. During this initial telephone conversation, you should determine if you are willing and able to provide the desired services. If so, you may want to discuss the tentative cost of the job. However, in most cases you probably want to inspect the job site before quoting a price.

I recommend that you meet with customers in their homes or offices, or at the job site. Your neighbors may object to having a stream of strangers arriving at your home. Also, meeting with customers in your home may violate the zoning rules in your town or city.

See the preceding Profitability of idea subtopic for my thoughts about setting your fee.

Job procedures

Preliminary job activities -- After greeting the customer at the job site, you should do a walk through to see the risks and note the possible counter measures. Then you can agree on what the customer needs.

The customer may be in a hurry and want you to work on a holiday or weekend to get the job done soon.

You can use your job bid forms to estimate the costs of installing the anti-burglar devices. The cost of the required devices can be estimated, subject to actual retail cost. This bid should include the fees for any extra services to be performed, such as working on weekends or at night, and hauling away any trash. The bid probably should include a completion date, subject to availability of materials. If the customer accepts your bid, you both can sign the bid form.

Obtain any needed building permit or contractor's licenses before doing any work.

If doing the work later on, you need to set the time and date, and arrange for access to the property. You also may want the customer to pay you for part or all of the estimated costs of the devices before starting the job.

Main job activities -- See the Main procedures topic below.

Final job activities -- Inspect the premises to verify you have finished all required tasks. Remove all your equipment and supplies. Gather up all the trash.

Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul the trash away, if part of your agreed upon services.

Other information

Job equipment -- Typical items needed: aluminum step ladder, assorted drill bits and screw bits, assorted screw drivers and nut drivers, broom and dust pan, claw hammer, crescent wrench, electrical extension cords, heavy-duty 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch electric drills, lock installation kit, pliers (regular and side cutting), portable work light, stud finder, tape measure, utility knife, and water container (for drinking).

Job materials -- Typical items installed: "burglarproof" lockset and deadbolt lock for exterior doors; Charley bar for sliding doors; extra long strike plate for exterior doors; latch or lock for sliding doors and windows; protection against window breakage (polycarbonate panel, security film, or a window gate); and wide angle viewer (peephole) for exterior doors.

Related activities -- Surveying homes and apartments for needed protection against burglars.

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Main procedures

Allowing for fire escape -- Fire departments usually recommend that locksets and deadbolt locks should not require a key from inside the home. (If there is a window close to the lockset or deadbolt lock, the glass should be protected against breakage. This will keep burglars from using an inside thumb latch to open the exterior door.)

Installing anti-burglar devices -- You should install the various anti-burglar devices using the manufacture's directions.

Lock installation kits -- A jig or kit makes easy work of positioning and boring holes in doors for locksets and deadbolt locks.

Protecting exterior doors -- Let's say the home has a good locking doorknob (lockset) or deadbolt lock. A thief can simply kick in the door. The wooden doorjamb on the locking side will easily give way. (The holes drilled into the doorjamb for the strike plates actually weaken it.)

The solution for this problem is a special strike plate. This plate extends for almost the entire length of the doorjamb. You use screws long enough to go through the doorjamb into the 2x4 stud behind it. You also should put one long screw through each hinge. Now the door probably cannot be kicked in. An example of this special strike plate is the StrikeMaster II manufactured by Safe Homes International.

After installing this special strike plate above, you can install a "burglarproof" lockset and deadbolt lock. (A deadbolt lock provides much more protection that using only a lockset.)

Protecting interior doors into garages -- Garage exterior doors can be easily broken through. The solution is to treat the door from house into the garage as an exterior door. Thus, it requires the same safeguards as other exterior doors.

Protecting windows -- Let's say the windows in a home have strong latches or locks. A thief can easily break the window glass with a hammer or other heavy tool.

The solution is to install either iron bars (window gate), polycarbonate panels, or a security film.

Note: There is no way to make any home completely burglarproof.

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