Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Padlocks, Lowes, & How People Make Their Lives Too Hard.

Here is a post that I wrote a month or so ago, but, didn't post. Enjoy. It's along the same lines at this post, but with a much more unfortunate ending...

As a small time landlord, I have a lot of interesting interactions with people that often leave me baffled. Today was no exception; when offering a piece of advice that would not only have made a fellow landlord's life easier (and actually, would make the vast majority of home owner's lives easier) I was totally ignored.

It happened when I was standing in the return line at my local Lowes store. I overheard a conversation at the return desk. A man was talking to the cashier about how a Master Lock brand padlock had rusted up on one of the sheds at a rent house he owned. As a result, he wanted to exchange it for one that was of better quality.

Hearing this, I thought "Hey, this is something that I actually know a lot about... maybe I can help this guy out..."

I decided to open up a conversation with him as he was waiting for the cashier to finish the return:

Me: So, it sounds like you are having a time with that lock at your rent house...

Him: Yeah, look at this; the thing rusted up in just a few weeks on me. I need to get a new one.

Me: Yeah man, I can relate, I've got some rent houses too... What I have done with all of my padlocks, is gotten really nice almost totally weatherproof padlocks that are made to be keyed with a kwikset style key, rather than the ones that Master has which you lose all the time. I have had real good luck with them; I think that they would really help you out.

Him (looking really excited): Oh, really? What are they?

Me: They are made by Abus and like I said, the best part about them, is that they use a kwikset style key (here are the ones for Schlage, if you prefer a slightly nicer setup), so, I can key them to the same key that I give to the tenants, or, I can key them to the master key that I use for all of my properties... (pulling out my surprisingly small key ring for effect) Here is the master key that opens every lock that I have; and I can key them so that the tenants each have a different key too... Like I said, it's pretty conveinient to not have to keep track of a bunch of keys.

Him: Are they weather-proof?

Me: Yeah, pretty much. They are plated in a heavy duty chrome... I have had really good luck with them so far; if you really like the Master brand, they make one that is coated in a heavy plastic. But, you have to go to this place down the road for them. They are great; much better than anything they sell here; I have gone through quite a few from here, due to the same problem you had, actually.

Him: Well, I was just going to go to the hardware section here and ask them what they recommend...

Me: Ah. Ok. Well, have a good one, man.

He then turned around and walked to his fate... To be doled out by a person who is paid to sell him on what Lowes sells- not what is best for him.

So, here is what I find interesting. I basically told this guy how to not only get a lock that would preform better than what he was going to buy (I challenge ANYBODY to cut through one of the Abus locks with bolt cutters- I don't see how you could do much to them short of using a bad ass sawz-all, and even then, it would take a decent bit of work, I would bet that any thieves would be better off to cut through the latch itself), but, I also gave him a way to consolidate his rent house keys and save him a ton of money (not to mention, time) so that he would never have to pay to re-key his houses ever again. Furthermore, I was going to gain absolutely nothing (other than the utility I gain) from helping him... If anything, I was helping out a competitor of mine.

And what did I get in return for this free and help filled advice? He more or less brushed what I said off, gave me a terrible look at the end of the exchange, and went about his way, making his life much more difficult than it needs to be. For example, if he would have been inquisitive enough to ask about my master key system, he would have found out that rather than pay a locksmith $15 or $20 bucks a lock to get them rekeyed, you can buy a rekeying set for under $40 bucks and rekey dozens of locks to any key that you want in less time than it takes to drive the locks to your local hardware store. Plus, you get the add on of being able to have a master key for everything! (I went with the cheaper set, though, I wish I would have paid the extra money for the one that is color coded... trust me, color coding is a really nice thing when dealing with parts that differ in size by less than a millimeter)

Some might say that re-keying is hard to figure out... False. You can learn how to take the locks apart on YouTube. Hell, I learned how to rekey the locks while I was recovering from a pretty major surgery; it isn't like there isn't a PDF on the internet to show you how or anything... Literally, I was so worn out and drugged up on Roxicet during my recovery that I passed out sitting at my uncle's kitchen table while learning the trade. If I can do so just a few days after having a surgery that would warrant that sort of reaction, then anybody can.

Getting back on track...

I think that this lesson can be applied to investing. Often times, people don't want to do any leg work of their own, and as a result, lead a much more challenging and less rewarding life. Along these lines, I was, and to some extent, am still surprised that nobody had ever published the information that I did in regard to Syms' real estate (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the post and majority of the research were done while recovering from the same surgery that I mentioned earlier). This type of thought is also evident from a post I made a while back on people watching a series of Warren Buffett videos.

Maybe his lack of faith in my suggestion that I was relatively wet and covered in mud from doing some work to correct the problem of a water logged crawl space. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't shaved in a few weeks due to "Movember". Maybe it was the dirty and old clothing that I wear when I work on houses, which I know makes me look like a bum. Maybe it was the fact that I am a pretty young guy...

Who knows.


Oh yeah, if you hate keeping track of keys for your padlocks and just want the lock on your shed, garage, crawlspace entrance, barn, bike lock, or whatever (I even use them to chain my canoe to trees when I'm making my way around the Kentucky River) to be keyed to the same thing that your house is, use the links I posted and go buy some! Yeah, I get a little bit of the sale price, but it doesn't raise the price you pay by a cent. Plus, the least you can do is use my link, as I did turn you on to something that will likely make your life a bit easier.
Disclosure/Disclaimer: I own no financial instruments in regard to any of the companies mentioned. As things may go sour between you and somebody that has a key to your house, they might use your key to steal your lawnmower or something, so, I can't say that this is advice... But then again, you probably shouldn't have picked such a shitty person to give your house key to. Always do a ton of your own research before contemplating anything that I say, do, write, or so much as think about. If you buy any of the things that I link to, I will get a small commission, but, it doesn't raise the price you pay by a single cent.


Anonymous said...

Great post!

Josh said...

Hey Jeff,

I really enjoyed this post. It's amazing how you can tell someone a great idea, that took you a good deal of time to figure out, and they still don't follow through with your advice.

My Aunt decided to buy all the Netflix she could in her 401k six months ago. When I found out and I tried giving her reasons why I thought it was a bad idea. (price, competitive business where the main reasons) Yet she wouldn't hear of it and kept with her original plan.

Really interesting learning about retooling and padlocks. I don't have any rentals, but maybe I will one day. Arizona has some ridiculously cheap houses. My parents house was just foreclosed on and sold at auction. Originally the house went for 400,000 and was sold at auction for 162,000. My parents had also put an additional 5,000USD in the house/backyard.

Currently my parents are renting a house for 1,200USD a month, for a house with a market value of 140,000.

I'll be clicking back on your amazon links if I ever pick up my landlord hat. =)

Keep up the posts!