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Rated Locksmiths Founder Al Lijee is Connecting UK Homes a…


Founded in 2019 by tech entrepreneur Al Lijee, Rated Locksmiths is an online platform for finding qualified, local residential and commercial locksmiths in the UK.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

Pretty much all of my professional background is in online sales and digital marketing, going all the way back to the early days of the internet before those terms were even commonplace. I spent nearly a decade working in IT and internet marketing back then and when Web 2.0 rolled around and the landscape changed with new names like Google, it was only natural that I transitioned to digital marketing.

While working for a major web hosting provider in the UK, UKFast, I spent my days working and saving up while my evenings were spent working on side projects. Naturally, the skills I had developed in my professional career were extremely beneficial for my side projects, which even back then were imagined as online platforms and marketplaces.

For the past decade, I’ve been a proud business owner and entrepreneur with a number of successful platforms launched in the UK and in the US, such as, myWindscreen, myWindshield, and Auto Locksmiths.

What sorts of skills did you develop as a tech entrepreneur?

I guess the first thing I’d have to say is that being an entrepreneur, whether in tech or otherwise, is that you’ve got to love what you do or at least have some passion for it. Why become a pizzamaker if you don’t like kneading dough or seeing happy customers taking a hot, fresh slice to enjoy? In tech, this is especially true since the finished product is digital and you usually don’t see immediate recognition for your work (and it takes an awful lot!).

I know a lot of young folks want to get into entrepreneurship, perhaps with dreams of dollar signs in their heads and perhaps with some romantic ideas of quick success. While I wouldn’t want to dissuade young people from becoming entrepreneurs, I do want to caution that it will almost always take a lot of hard, unpaid work before you see the fruits of your labor. This goes back to what I just said, that you’ve got to love what you’re doing.

Lastly, whether you’ve got experience in marketing or if you’re more of a technical type, you really need to take a step back every once in a while and think “is this really what a customer wants?” If not, then how can you cater to your customers and give them something that adds value?

What exactly is Rated Locksmiths and what is the target audience?

Rated Locksmiths is a platform for anyone in the UK looking for affordable, reliable locksmith services for their home or business. Our target audience is, therefore, the general public, including property owners, letting agencies, tenants, shop managers… basically, anyone that needs a residential or commercial locksmith for their property. There are some niche segments of the audience as well, such as bailiffs or police constables that need lock replacement for evictions, burglaries and so on.

I’d say the average user of Rated Locksmiths tends to be someone that accidentally lost their house keys or locked themself out of their property, which happens quite a lot. Emergency lockouts are some of the most common services requested by customers, but some of our member partners (the locksmiths) provide other common services such as key cutting and duplication, lock replacement and upgrades to British Standards locks, as well as other home and property security solutions such as CCTV & alarm system installation, electronic access control, safe installation, opening, and relocation, and much more.

Tell us a little about the locksmith niche in the UK

Well, locksmithing is one of those services that – more often than not – people need urgently and unexpectedly. I mean, you probably don’t intentionally lock yourself out of your home, so you typically need a dependable and affordable locksmith straight away and not tomorrow. Our platform tries to make the process simple, easy, affordable and trustworthy for anyone that needs lockout services as well as less urgent services.

One reason why this niche is in demand is that locksmithing is unregulated in the UK so anyone can claim to be a locksmith. While this can be great for lowering the entry barrier and stimulating competition, it also attracts a lot of scam artists posing as locksmiths. This unfortunately causes some distrust and we believe that property owners deserve better, more reliable and trustworthy locksmithing services from genuine and legitimate locksmiths we work with.

What is the unique selling proposition (USP) of Rated Locksmiths

We try to provide value both to customers as well as to our locksmith member partners by operating a simple, straightforward platform with a laissez-faire attitude towards how the locksmiths operate, so long as they are operating legally and meet our quality standards during the approval process. This ensures that we’re only listing genuine and honest locksmiths so that customers can rest assured they aren’t working with scammers, but it also lets the business do what they do best on their own terms so long as they are in agreement with the customer. To achieve this, we ask that every locksmith provide customers with a free quote before engaging in any work.

For the locksmiths, we add value by offering superb digital marketing and SEO to increase the visibility of their business without asking for hefty per-lead fees like a lot of other competitors do. Our membership is very affordable, which helps out small businesses and lets them remain competitive price-wise whilst benefitting from the increased visibility online and in search engines.

Are there any future plans for Rated Locksmiths?

We’ve recently been touching up the look and design of the homepage and our service pages, adding new content, and putting greater focus on providing informative content for users and locksmiths. While this helps with our own page’s domain authority, it’s also done to keep the website clean and to provide a user-friendly experience while also adding free and hopefully helpful information for homeowners, locksmiths, or anyone else with an interest in the industry.

For the future, we’re hoping to onboard new locksmiths in the UK and to continue growing the platform.

This content is brought to you by Noen Noah

Photos provided by the author.

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