Car key cutting is a business that can be run by one person. Here are the various different types of car keys and what to focus on. Start your own business making duplicate and replacement car keys.
Different types of car keys
Car keys fall into two broad categories: non transponder and transponder aka “chipped” keys. I will focus on non transponder keys as it requires less capital and skill to get started.
Non transponder keys come in a few varieties: standard flat key, computer cut key and the less common tibbe key. Standard flat will be your bread and butter in lower income areas as it is the most common key. But I would encourage you to focus and grow into the computer cut market as the profits are higher. A duplicate standard flat key sells for under R50 while a duplicate computer cut key will cost R100 to R150 each. Even though you are not making transponder keys you can still cut a laser cut key and put transponder internals in a new key casing if the old key is damaged. Or even put a working key with damaged casing into a new casing to make extra money.
Depending on your skill you can also replace lost keys, as the margins are really good. But then not only do you need to know how to make a replacement without the key. You would either need to tow the car to you or go to the car, remove the ignition and cut the key to the ignition. This takes more skill than simple duplicates but has a very high fee.
To get into this business an automated key cutting machine is recommended. Depending on your budget two popular ones are the Miracle-A9 or the Chinese SEC-E9 (the Miracle-A9 is double the price of the SEC-E9). These machines will allow you to cut car keys, motorcycles keys, truck keys, household keys, punch keys, dimple keys, tubular keys and tibbe keys. It will also allow you to cut keys by bitting number.
As discussed above it is a major schlep to replace a lost key, one of the marketing ideas, is to encourage people to also have a spare key made they can keep at home, so if they lose their key they can call someone from home to bring it to them. This will not only cost R100 for a duplicate instead of R1000 without a source key but save time and convenience. It is always easier to have a duplicate key made while you still have a key for the vehicle you should suggest to people that they should have a duplicate made before it is lost.
This business can later be grown to produce transponder keys which are pricier but also require more expensive equipment.