Jay Sofer runs a locksmith business in the New York City area where he operates in not only a big and competitive city but also a very competitive industry. Jay adopted using Yelp quickly after her started but has since branched out to focus on many other online opportunities.
Looking for the articles we mentioned?
This episode and interview however don’t focus on any of that, it focuses on how to unlock and build trust with people offline and online.
Matt Siltala: [00:00:00] Welcome to another exciting episode of the business of digital podcast, featuring your host, Matt and Dave roar. Hey guys, excited to have everybody join us on another one of these business of digital podcast episodes. And we have a treat for you today. I know that we have Dave here with us. How’s it going, Dave?
Dave Rohrer: [00:00:21] It’s going, it’s going.
Matt Siltala: [00:00:22] We also have a long time. Friend and bud of mine. And, uh, I’d like to introduce everybody to Jay Sofer, Jay, how’s it going? But
Jay Sofer: [00:00:32] Hey man. Good to be with you guys. Thanks for having me
Matt Siltala: [00:00:35] now, just to give everybody a little bit of an idea, when you, when you start to talk, I’ll let you share any information, URL, whatever you want to everybody.
But, uh, uh, Jay and I go back a long way. Um, Jay actually was one of my first clients way back in the day. And, uh, basically I guess the simplified way of putting it J as your a, a East village or a New York city, a locksmith [00:01:00] that the easiest way to put it, um, you know, for on, on my end. And so, uh, we were talking about just the kind of trust that it takes to be able to go into someone’s house.
And when you do that kind of work and, and Dave had this idea too, To have you on and talk about them. So I kind of want to like let Dave position it, but before he jumps into it and starts asking you the questions, can I give a little bit of your background, Jane, let everybody know who you are.
Jay Sofer: [00:01:29] Yeah, sure thing.
So Yemen, we do go back a long way. I mean, you, you meet right, right. When I got my start, you know, and, and, uh, I, I love the theme of this podcast because, you know, the way I became your client was because I trusted you and, you know, I was. Trying to have better exposure on the internet via search engine optimization and the decent website.
And I was, I don’t want to even say a fish out of water. I, I, I wasn’t, yeah. Even a fish and I didn’t even know what water was, [00:02:00] you know, I mean just a complete deer in headlights and, you know, that’s how, I mean, people hire me because they don’t know what they’re doing. Why, why, why would I be relevant then if they did, you know, and you know, to, to gain someone’s.
Trust, you know, Ty for me to be hired and invited into your house where your kids live, you know, where you keep your life’s work into your business, you know, where you have all your sensitive information he needs. It means a lot to me. And it’s, it’s a big responsibility and I, you know, not only do I want to earn your trust, you know, online, that’s sort of the first that’s like you kind of walking into my virtual store and, and, and, you know, being received well and, and establishing trust from that point.
But then when I show up, you know, so. I learned this job as a kid. And, um, you know, part of, part of my intro to trust was just to see how old school businesses work. I mean, my dad had a shop for 43 years. You know, in an old school neighborhood, in New York city? Um, my, my first job was actually with, uh, one of his friends who had, uh, a shop for, uh, just about the same [00:03:00] time.
I mean, I think I was about 13 or 14 years old and this guy was about 80, I think, at the time. And yeah, so like, I, you know, I got to learn from like the oldest school, like, like the school before the old school, all New York, old school. And, um, you know, that shop. That my dad had. And
Matt Siltala: [00:03:20] this was thinking about a 13 year old blockbuster in New York
Jay Sofer: [00:03:23] city.
I mean, I learned, I learned all the do’s and don’ts, it’s like, you know, how to, how to sweep a floor and carry a toolbox and make coffee. And, uh, and, uh, you know, they, everyone knew everyone in the neighborhood, you know, half the people that came in the shop were just to say, hi, And, and, you know, the shop owners there, they knew your name.
They, they knew my dad, you know, they knew my, they knew my sisters, you know, by name. And, uh, it was just a, it was a great, you know, neighborhood. And, uh, you, you generally catered to the people that you were going to see again every day. So, [00:04:00] you know, to be a member of the community was vital to your success and to your longevity.
So I got to see. What just being a part of the community was like, and that was my incidentally. My first exposure to business was very small neighborhood businesses. So, um, you know, I wanted to duplicate that somehow without a brick and mortar, uh, location. And how do you establish that online? I mean, you know, you were a huge help.
I mean, the work we did, you know, it was the catalyst for all that. I don’t even think I had. I mean, maybe I had 50 reviews, 60 reviews at the time. I think, you know, maybe less. I don’t, I don’t remember. I was just getting my start, but I was already. At that point, pretty highly regarded. And I just needed some rocket fuel behind it.
We definitely took it to the next level, but, uh, but yeah. Yeah, that’s my start. I mean, old school, New York, small business background, and, uh, you know, needed to, um, you know, well, like every other kid growing up in an industry, I wanted to get the heck out of it. You know, when I grew up in, uh, the recession in [00:05:00] 2008, boomerang me right back in it, you know, I had to drop out of school and I lost my apartment, moved back home with mom, but you know, I had this profession to fall back on by, and I didn’t think it could work without a brick and mortar shop, but, uh, I think you did a good job convincing me otherwise.
Matt Siltala: [00:05:14] That’s awesome. I appreciate you sharing that background and getting everybody the, uh, The scoop on it. And so, uh, I don’t know, Dave, go ahead and, uh, and, uh, do your magic thing.
Dave Rohrer: [00:05:25] I don’t, I don’t think that could have come up with a better intro segue. You, I mean, you talked about the old school, you had, you know, the storefront and, you know, people come in and just say, hi, you can’t do that.
Not just your business, but just with online stores with online businesses, you don’t have a storefront, or if you do have an office it’s. In San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, you know, Nashville, upstate New York, downstate New York somewhere, but it’s not river you are interacting from. And so how do you, Jay [00:06:00] now online work and get trust?
Jay Sofer: [00:06:06] Like what
Dave Rohrer: [00:06:07] do you do now to get people to initially trust you? I guess is what I’m asking.
Jay Sofer: [00:06:12] Yeah. No, you don’t. That’s a great question. It’s not like I ever gave it a thought, you know, prior to, to starting a business, I just have a way that I talk and interact with people. Uh, there’s really never any implied goal.
You know, my, my job is, is to help people, you know, it usually out of a sticky situation. And, uh, I had, I had the best of examples ever, you know, being in a, those local storefronts, but to your question, You know, I actually feel like I have more of an advantage now. Um, people don’t have to walk blocks over, you know, in the rain or in the cold to see me, you know, with the question Mark above their head and then for a shop owner or anyone working there to gain their trust.
[00:07:00] You could just text me from anywhere, you know, any five boroughs in Manhattan or in New York, any, uh, any area close by in New Jersey, you know, or you could shoot me a text message. You could shoot me an email. Uh, you know, we can talk on the phone. Uh, I have a lot more avenues and can spread a lot farther and to, uh, initiate communication with people.
And, uh, I think the same sincerity can come across in a text message and an email, you know, that could come across in a conversation. I mean, I’m old school, you know, I’ve of course I’d rather be face to face. But, uh, you know, people aren’t stupid and they’re sure as heck are not stupid. You know, these days with all these lines of communication, I think people can see through BS, you know, very quickly and maybe even more alert to scans and, and, and disingenuous, uh, actors, um, just because there’s more outlets, you know, To do so there’s so many [00:08:00] avenues of communication now.
And for me, I just find that to be a plus. I love it. I want, I encourage people to text me and the fact that we can, um, get on a video call and almost like a virtual tour of your office. And I can see what’s going on. I mean, for me, I can, I can give you guaranteed. Price quotes and eliminate any ambiguity, you know, over the phone, uh, uh, before I even set foot into your place.
So, you know, what’s coming before I even get there.
Matt Siltala: [00:08:29] It’s amazing, Jay. Like, that’s something, that’s an aspect that I hadn’t even thought of. Like with, you know, obviously the text messaging, making it easy, but I hadn’t even thought about the whole video side of it and being able to have someone, Hey, just walk me through it and I can give you a PR, like that’s.
Jay Sofer: [00:08:44] That’s pretty cool. Oh, thank you. You know, what, why don’t I just give you an example from today? Um, this guy called me, uh, uh, two days ago and, uh, he’s the building manager and he’s got to get the, okay. You know, from the people that sign the checks, you know, his main office. So [00:09:00] he finds me on Yelp, you know, reads the reviews, but he has to give detailed information to, to his bosses.
So we get on the video chat, uh, you know, he sends me a recording of what’s going on with the lock and, you know, complete transparency. I, let me tell you what the worst case scenario would be. So, you know what? Max amount you’d be paying. If everything went to hell. And about, I’d say about the eight parts that we’re working on.
Those two doors. I told them that I’ll do my best to salvage all of them, but the most you’re looking at is this, but we’re going to try to repair everything. And it came out to like about, let’s say worst case scenario is about 800 bucks to work on those two doors. If everything went to heck and it turns out out of the eight pieces.
Yeah. I was able to salvage five of them and the job came out to 300 bucks. So, and I got to show him a couple of cool maintenance tricks there while, while we’re at it, you know, since he’s the building manager and seemed pretty mechanically inclined. So, you know, what did I just do there? Honestly, I just did what, you know, what I saw my dad do, you know?
So, you know, [00:10:00] the people that, that I learned from do, and, uh, I just made a friend and a client for life, you know, he’ll recommend me to his network. And because of all these avenues of communication, You know, your network there. Isn’t, isn’t your three block radius, you know, it’s, it’s your, all your friend group on Facebook and the Yelp friends and blogs and you name it.
So, and there was no implied goal there other than, Hey, man, I’m going to tell you that I want to repair stuff, but he was able to know exactly what would happen through video and text and a phone call before I even showed up. So I love it.
Matt Siltala: [00:10:33] Awesome. Sorry in front of you there, but
Jay Sofer: [00:10:37] no, no.
Dave Rohrer: [00:10:38] There’s um, I’ve seen other businesses do it now, especially with, even before contact lists, you know, but now that seems to be in a lot of advertising.
It’s a, you know, if you have a plumbing issue, if you have an HVAC issue, if you, you know, water heater’s bad, we can jump on a video call, you know, click the button and contact us and we can do a video call [00:11:00] to come in and we can do that
Jay Sofer: [00:11:01] free appraisal
Dave Rohrer: [00:11:03] without. And then for me, it’s interesting because that opens up, if you can do it.
And Jay, you know, there’s an article that will drop into an entrepreneur that came out a couple of months ago, that was almost walking through this kind of trust. And, you know, you’re being unlocking trust with your customers and clients, but I think that opens up those that can do it and move forward and jump at opportunities to do that video stuff.
Is that something
Jay Sofer: [00:11:31] that you came up with
Dave Rohrer: [00:11:32] or. Where did that come from the video?
Jay Sofer: [00:11:36] Yeah. Great question. I mean, my business evolved, uh, from the time, you know, I started getting work to the time I began working with Matt, you know, till now. Um, so to give you an idea, Uh, I started lock busters with an 80 and T prepaid GoPhone that I used to fill up $10 at a time on a line and Kmart in the East village.
[00:12:00] And, uh, by the time I met Matt. Yeah. Yeah. By the time I met Matt, I think I was on an LG flip phone. And I think I got, Oh, no, I’m sorry. I had a Blackberry. And, uh, if I could be getting that wrong, but the point is I didn’t have anything super fancy yet. And Matt introduced me to square. And I think that little square toggle that you put in the phone, Jack just came out and it blew my mind.
And I thought, okay, this is this is it because I, I, it would, you know, clients would always ask me if they could take credit card. And this is, this is going to be a bigger answer than, than, you know, you, uh, you bargained for here. But you know, the reason why that was so important is because the same device that would allow me.
To communicate with clients efficiently through video, through text message, phone calls, uh, you name it, video chat was the same one that I could accept credit cards with. So [00:13:00] smartphone technology just propelled my business to, to not just the next level, but levels, levels, levels. I mean, when you, when you have computing power in the Palm of your hand, that’s more than the rocket ship.
They sent this face in the sixties. It’s pretty good, man. You know, you’ve got a lot of outlets there and the reason why I like it so much is because. There, you could train a monkey to use this thing. You know, they make it idiot proof and they definitely had this monkey in mind when they made this. So, so if somebody, he doesn’t want to use it or, or doesn’t feel like it should be a part of their business, that is actually suspicious to me.
Like we have so many avenues of communication now. There’s no, there’s almost, there’s almost no excuse. You know that. I mean, they, they, they, they did the hard part. You know, the easy part for me is to communicate to the client that. You know, based on what I see, this is what I think, and let’s see how we can save you some money or let’s see what we can do for you to secure your place.
And, um, I get about [00:14:00] 99% of the information I need through the Palm of my hand.
Matt Siltala: [00:14:03] I think businesses that have embraced that led you and yours, like they’re thriving, especially during this time with a lot of the stuff that they mentioned too with contactless, but because I just go back and I think a lot of the, you know, the thing about Dave, some of the conversations we’ve had about local businesses and like what drives us nuts when you, when you leave a message or when you research that and you’ll find them and it takes them like, Four days to get back to you or they don’t get back to you at all, or they get back to you in the following week.
Like, I don’t know how businesses are surviving, especially during COVID times or whatever you want to call it. Like, this is just like, um, I dunno, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t know how they’re, how they’re gonna, how they’re going to survive, versus those that are embracing it, doing stuff like
Jay Sofer: [00:14:48] this and are thriving.
Yeah. You know, I never, I never thought that answering a text message. You know, and being kind to people was going to be a differentiating factor with [00:15:00] my competition. Know what I mean?
Matt Siltala: [00:15:02] Like,
Jay Sofer: [00:15:03] I mean,
Matt Siltala: [00:15:03] who am I to get business here? I
Jay Sofer: [00:15:05] mean, it’s incredible. Like I started, you know, now we’re in, we’re in, we’re in difficult times.
We know which makes, you know, everyone that walks through your virtual door or calls you or texts you. You know, so much more valuable because you know, everything is, is, there’s just a huge question, Mark, you know, over everything. Are we going to lock down again? You know, is this thing coming back? You know, even stronger, we, we just don’t know.
So everyone’s doing what they can. I mean, this is familiar waters for me. Not, not, not, not the pandemic. But I started this business in the recession. You know, I got my incorporation papers in October, 2008. I was anybody that needed help for any little thing. Oh my goodness. Are you kidding me? I would’ve, I would have cooked them food.
You know, I don’t get how people don’t don’t value that. And like, to your point. I mean, if somebody is going to answer your email after two days, I mean, for [00:16:00] me two hours is too much. I have, I tried to get back through email when I can, between 20 and 30 minutes, because I feel like that there, I’m not the only game in town.
There are other options in the city. This person really needs me. And if I don’t get back, you know, in a timely manner, I mean, and if I can get back sooner, I will, I just don’t want to let it go that much longer. And if I see if I miss something, it’s like, Oh, damn it. I’m very sorry. I apologize for the delayed reply.
If you still need help, what can I do for you? That’s how I would answer. And we’re not talking about two days. That’s like two hours. I’m going to apologize because there’s, there’s just no excuse for that when it’s dinging in your hand, or in my case, in the back, in the back of my back pocket. Well, it’s
Matt Siltala: [00:16:40] amazing to me to think about too, because I remember we’ve done this exercise before where, you know, anyone that pulls up a Google maps and types in New York city locksmith or whatever, it’s like cockroaches on the back, you know?
Jay Sofer: [00:16:54] Good Lord. Good Lord. It’s like cockroaches in your favorite restaurant in New York. I know. [00:17:00] Yeah.
Matt Siltala: [00:17:04] Well, Dave, did you have any more, any, uh, follow up questions to that
Jay Sofer: [00:17:07] for Jake?
Dave Rohrer: [00:17:08] Yes. So how are you translating
Jay Sofer: [00:17:11] your
Dave Rohrer: [00:17:13] care and your personality and just everything about your business to your online? Personalities or,
Jay Sofer: [00:17:24] yeah. Um, you know, I love engaging with people, you know, I think New York is a crazy place and you’re even crazier for wanting to move here and I love it. And I want to hear your story. Uh, cause I have one too, you know, and you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a great thing to just engage with people and you know, no one, no one moves to this.
City, you know, just to get by and when it’s coming here with some unique ambition. Yeah. And I just love being here, small part of their, of their journey. And they’re usually very eager to tell, you know, tell me their [00:18:00] story or you know, where their business is at. Um, so, you know, just engaging with people and, and that, that goes back to my small business upbringing, you know, that goes back to, uh, the way I saw it.
Neighborhoods, you know, neighborhood shop owners run their show. And a light, like to give you an example in my dad’s shop, there were a polar, there was a, there was a wall with Polaroid pictures of some of the clients’ pets because they’d come in with their dogs. So there were just pictures of dogs and like, you know, dogs would like birthday hats on and dogs playing in the, in the mud or just so it’s like, they was just such a great neighborhood feel.
So, you know, I was going to treat people the same way that I saw clients being treated. So. That’s that’s that’s one. Another thing is that, you know, people get to read about me online prior to that. So they know my work with animal charity and they want to ask me about it. Um, they see some of the more colorful reviews and they want to hear a story, you know?
[00:19:00] And, and, um, you know, it’s, um, what, when, when it’s a, when it’s that transparent online, and now that people really get to have the luxury of learning, almost everything about me before I show up at their door. You know, that’s so valuable and everyone’s endorsement that proceeds me is so valuable. Well that, you know, I, I, I, I start off on the best foot.
I mean, you know, people greet me with a smile and, um, my, my, my story is already, is already out there and it’s definitely part of their decision making process. Um, you know, it’s, let’s put it this way. It’s for me to ruin. All right. It’s, it’s, it’s everything there is fantastic is for me to screw up. And there’s no reason for me to, I mean, someone hired me because of what they read, you know, now, now, now for me, it’s like, all right, get, you know, get the job done and make them happy.
You know? It’s like, it’s, it’s that simple. They called me because they are, they already trust me. And that means everything to me.
Matt Siltala: [00:19:58] Very cool. [00:20:00] Well, Hey day, I think we’re getting close to the end of it. So. Um, why don’t you, do you have a final question for Jay? And then we’ll wrap this thing up.
Dave Rohrer: [00:20:10] If there was one thing you, if someone was starting a new business and there was one thing that they were going to do, whether it’s.
Whatever online. What would be that one thing you would tell them to try to help instill trust?
Jay Sofer: [00:20:24] Uh, yeah, that, that’s, that’s a great one. I, I think that, you know, um, put your, put yourself in the client’s shoes and then go with, go through all the steps that they would take when they’re, when they’re looking at your business.
So, you know, who’s answering the phones and emails and how fast are they answering it? You know? Like you gotta see it through the client’s experience. Um, you know, you don’t don’t, uh, and, and get, get your friends who, who, you know, don’t know your business. So you don’t have like, basically this, this bias, you know, of like what, what you think would be, would be the, the right thing to do, as opposed to, you know, what a stranger’s feedback would be, or just someone who doesn’t, it doesn’t have [00:21:00] to be a stranger.
Just someone who doesn’t know. No, that’s why it was great working with Matt. It was like, Oh cool. That’s an interesting perspective. I didn’t think of that. And the reason I didn’t think of that is because I’m knee deep in it. How am I supposed to think of that? And, um, you know, there’s actually two things.
It can’t be one that’s one, actually you have a damage control policy. And, and most people don’t think that they think like, Oh, I want to. Get online and I’m just going to get all these crazy reviews because I’m going to put on a dog and pony show. No, no, no. You’re going to screw up. Um, and if you have a good damage control policy in place that shows the client that you’re actually sincere about correcting a mistake, brother, that is that’s your secret sauce right there.
Matt Siltala: [00:21:39] Very cool. You know, Jay, I still think one of the, uh, one of the greatest shows that’s never going to air on TV. Is a crew following you around just the, I know that, uh, I know that we’ve come close. You’ve talked about how there has been production crews before, and that’s just never happened. Or, [00:22:00] but, uh, just based on some of the reviews that I’ve read, the stories that I’ve read, I have been told by you and just, just knowing you.
Uh, I just, I think that would be one of the greatest shows ever error
Jay Sofer: [00:22:15] in uni or wherever. Oh, thanks man. I mean, look with your encouragement and all that. I mean, I probably have to get it off the ground myself, maybe do a podcast. I’ll I’ll call it story time with Jay. So at least everyone could, they, they could, they could tag along that way.
Matt Siltala: [00:22:33] I would subscribe to that in a heartbeat.
Jay Sofer: [00:22:35] So,
Matt Siltala: [00:22:37] well, I really appreciate you taking the time because like, if there’s anyone that, so anyone, you know, anyone that’s in local or local business or mom and pop, whatever you want to call it, there’s anyone that they can learn from it’s you, when it comes to, you know, just how you handle your customers, how you get reviews, all this stuff that you talked about today.
And so I really do appreciate you taking the time and. And [00:23:00] sharing some of your insights with us. So thank you, Jay.
Jay Sofer: [00:23:03] Oh, no. Thank you for having me. Thank you. Thank you, brother.
All right. Well, if you guys, I appreciate everyone that has listened to this episode. Um, for Jay and Dave, I met SOPA and, and give you guys one final reminder.
We’re on iTunes. Make sure you guys go and. Give us a five star review and see again, you know, we’re talking about reviews, we like them two guys. And so again, thanks all for joining us and tell each other the next one. Bye. All right.