The Solution to a Problem I Didn’t Know I Had



My kids keep locking themselves out of the house.  It’s because we have those crazy locks, the ones where the door always turns on the inside whether it’s locked or unlocked?  So, about half the time when they take the dogs out in the morning, Mrs. JK and I would find ourselves being woken up to a banging at the garage or a doorbell being run out front.  So, we needed a solution.

Like many of you out there, we quickly came up with the old “Hide A Key” solution.  I won’t divulge where or how it’s hidden (although it probably doesn’t matter, given that I have a tendency to forget to lock the doors anyhow from time to time), but suffice to say it’s a place the kids can find but a typically burglar may not look.  The only problem is we can’t find the key (I think my Dad may have it, but that’s a whole separate issue).

So, I went this weekend to get new housekeys.  Two of them, in fact.  And, I had two VERY different experiences.  First stop – The Home Depot.  I had to find someone to tell me where to go (the tool department), then someone to help me, and then waited about 10 minutes while he made the keys.  Combined with a 10-minute checkout line (it’s busy at those places on a Saturday afternoon – who knew?), it ended up being about a 20 minute experience and cost me about $4.  Which proved to be incredibly disappointing when I came home and the keys didn’t work.  Upon closer review, it appears that a similar but not exact template was used to copy the keys, and it was therefore not a match. 

So, on Sunday I tried again.  This time I went to Lowe’s.  Where I was immediately greeted by MinuteKey (pictured above).  I inserted my key, and within 5 minutes (and for about the same $4) I had two keys – and this time they actually worked.  The machine took my credit card, and send me a receipt via email (or text, if you prefer).  I didn’t have to talk to a single person or wait in a single line.  Problem solved.

Two very different solutions to the same problem, and it made me wonder why The Home Depot doesn’t have the same solution in place?  I would guess that there may be a number of different business reasons for not having MinuteKey (maybe it’s expensive to lease, or maybe that company gets the revenue, or it could have an exclusive deal with Lowe’s) but all of them can likely be overcome when you’re talking about a business at the size and scale of a Home Depot. 

Not sure exactly what the lesson is here, but it’s one more reason that I’m more likely these days to shop at Lowe’s over Home Depot.   Maybe the lesson is “when all things are equal, I’ll go with the more convenient solution”.  And as a marketer, that’s a good lesson to keep in mind.


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