Champion Locksmiths: Keeping the Big Apple Secure
Back in the 1990s we had a partnership with a New York City-based firm called Champion Locksmiths. I’ve looked them up and don’t think they’re trading any longer.
In 1996 we paid them a visit and our boss wrote a big report on what we can learn from them. The truth is, though, that the cities are so different from one another that it’s not necessarily easy to ‘copy and paste’ their approach this side of the Pond.
Geography and Population Density
London is an enormous, sprawling mess, spanning a vast 607 square miles. Driving from one end to the other will take forever.
By contrast, the Big Apple is pretty much exactly half, at 304 square miles. This means that the average distance between call-outs in NYC is likely to be significantly shorter than the distance between jobs in London.
Then add in population density. London houses 13 600 people per square mile, where New York crams in twice as many people, a whopping 26 400 people per square mile.
So not only is New York much smaller and therefore much easier for a tradesman to get from job to job, there will also be twice as many jobs per square mile in New York than in London.
Manhattan is extremely dense
What does it all mean?
The compact shape of New York City meant that Champion needed fewer engineers to cover the city: you don’t need to employ somebody who lives in the furthest reaches of the city, because it’s probably not such a schlepp to get to the distant corners of NYC. For us in London, though, we do need local coverage in all parts of London.
The density of jobs in NYC also means that, at the time, Champion Locksmiths was able to give their engineers jobs at short notice. Planning was much easier.
You know that, wherever on Manhattan Island an engineer is at any given time, the average distance to the next job would be, say, 20 minutes. In practice, this meant that the office gets a new job and just tells the locksmith “When you’re finished, go to this job”.
In London, it’s much harder to do that. As the crow flies, it’s not so far to get from Piccadilly to Regent’s Park, but in practice it takes ages. Plus one is in the congestion charge area, while the other isn’t. Plus parking in Piccadilly is terrible, so that the chances are you’re parked miles away from the job.
What’s good about London, then?
These geographical quirks that London has makes it much harder to be a tradesman than in New York City. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily horrible to be a locksmith in London.
London’s sheer size means that there are plenty of places that are far from the intense hustle and bustle of the city centre. Working in Soho, with all its parking restrictions, congestion charges and all the other limitations, can be extremely stressful, time-consuming, and ultimately tiresome and joyless.
The ability to work in lovely Richmond, or Streatham, or Enfield, or Ealing is a pleasure that the Manhattan-based locksmith doesn’t have.