Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Customer Tip: Ensure Your Key Control Doesn’t Take a Holiday

Businessman handing keys to colleague with Christmas lights in backgroundAre you planning a vacation this holiday season? Make sure your key control doesn’t also take time off by completing the following tasks before you leave:

With these precautions, you can rest assured that your keys are secure and accounted for while you’re enjoying your time off with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How to Make Your Security Measures More Effective

Using keys to open a doorWhen you think about security threats to your business, do you think about somebody smashing a window and running off with a computer? What about a mysterious hacker from a distant country holding your proprietary data for ransom?

While those two scenarios are certainly risks you should prepare for, oftentimes the biggest security threat to a business is far less obvious and rarely prepared for. Did you know that employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion a year? In fact, privilege abuse and human errors are among the leading causes of data breaches.

Locked doors, gates, and security cameras are great first steps toward making your facility more secure — whether it's a single office building or a sprawling complex — but lacking the ability to hold your employees accountable will still cost you in the long run.

Here are some steps you can take to improve the security of your business that go beyond the basics.

Establish Security Protocols

Security cameras and access-controlled doors and gates are great, but they can also be rendered meaningless if they aren't used correctly. For example, how easy is it to get into your secure buildings during regular working hours? Could somebody who isn't employed by you follow an actual employee through an open door and easily gain access to valuable assets or information?

That's why it's important to have established security protocols and best practices. Access to secure areas should be restricted to only those who need it and using identification badges would make it easy to identify people who don't belong in certain areas. Also, consider securing building, equipment, and vehicle keys when they're not in use in a locked box or electronic key control system to prevent misuse or the potential loss of a key.

Foster a Culture of Security

Like basic physical security measures, new protocols will only be as effective as the employees who stick to them. If your employees are unaware of the new rules or simply don't practice them, they leave the business and their fellow employees at risk of theft or violent attacks.

Be sure to regularly train your employees on new security practices and emphasize the importance of adhering to the protocols. You must foster a culture of security if you want your measures to work, and employees need to understand they'll be held accountable for any security breaches.

Maintain Access Logs

Knowing who accessed what and when is a critical part of holding employees accountable. For example, poor key management could lead to an unauthorized person using a company vehicle with no oversight. If that person was in a wreck, your business could then be held liable for not restricting that employee's access to the vehicle. And if your access logs don't show the keys every being checked out, how could you defend yourself?

Whatever security measures you take, be sure you have a way to accurately track access to keys and secure assets and areas. Use an electronic key control system to automatically log key activity, prevent key misuse, and hold employees accountable.

For more tips on protecting your business, check out our eBook "Five Steps to Make Your Facility More Secure."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Finding Success When the Automotive Market Is Down

Hand holding up lightbulb in front of chalkboard reading 'New Mindset, New Results'
Since the Great Recession, the automotive industry has been on the upswing, but the tides are turning. In 2019, unsold vehicles hit a 10-year high, with automakers and dealers holding on to a 78-day supply. This comes amidst other industry challenges: job cuts, a shortage of skilled technicians, the prospect of self-driving vehicles upsetting vehicle ownership, rising interest rates, and more.

In response to this market shift, dealers are feeling pessimistic about what the future holds for the industry. If you’re in that camp, it’s not hard to see why you feel this way. For a successful 2020 — regardless of what the market does — start with the strategies below.

Look for Untapped Opportunities to Save Money

When you’re strapped for cash, even seemingly small costs can mount quickly. Take the time to evaluate what unnecessary costs or inefficiencies are cutting into your profits. One dealership made the decision to simply offer customers paper cups they could fill at the water fountain rather than providing bottled water, saving $6,000 per year.

If there are tools available to help you address inefficiencies, weigh the investment against the money it’ll save you in the long run. For example, having a documented key control process and using an electronic method for tracking keys can help cut down on the cost of replacing lost or stolen key fobs or even vehicles.

In some cases, you might not need to make any changes to your operations to create more room in your budget. Dealer reimbursements are a great way to recoup money for something you’re already doing. Let’s say your service department offers transportation to customers bringing their vehicles in for warranty work. Some manufacturers, such as GM, will reimburse a few dollars each way for shuttle rides. If your manufacturer reimbursed $5 per ride, that’d be $500 for 100 shuttle rides a month, or $6,000 a year.

Whatever changes you make to help your bottom line, be sure they won’t be detrimental to the customer experience.

Address Threats to Your Revenue and Reputation

Don’t let thieves help themselves to your hard-earned profits or hurt your good name. Protect your business from common types of theft. Some examples include the following:

  • The Craigslist scam, which involves a thief posting a vehicle for sale in an online marketplace and then stealing it from a dealership’s lot once the crook finds a buyer for the vehicle.
  • The key-swap scam, where someone swaps a vehicle’s original key fob for a dummy fob, returning later to steal the vehicle.
  • Organized theft rings, which often target dealerships that keep keys in vehicle-mounted lockboxes or other easily accessible places.

Even if you’re never the target of theft, the benefits of investing in prevention measures such as employee training and secure key control far outweigh the consequences of dealing with the aftermath of stolen keys or inventory.

Stay Positive

You can’t control the market, but you have a say in how you respond to it. In fact, it’s imperative that you stay upbeat in less than ideal conditions. Being positive has a neurological impact, which in turn can increase job performance and employee morale.

In a Stanford University study of how being positive affects children, the lead researcher commented that positivity is as important as IQ to academic success. The group of children who participated in the study were better able to answer math problems, retain memories, and solve problems when they practiced being positive.

Only 25 percent of job success is related to IQ, and optimistic employees have clear advantages over cynical ones:

  • They recognize potential even in a less than ideal environment.
  • They’re motivated to work harder to overcome obstacles.
  • Their creativity flourishes, helping them come up with creative ways to reach their goals.
  • They inspire coworkers to be more successful at their jobs.

To encourage a positive culture, start by increasing employee satisfaction by making sure employees have access to the tools they need to do their jobs successfully, celebrating successes, and leading by example.

What changes will you make to increase your dealership’s success?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Don’t Let Employee Turnover Sabotage Your Key Control

Resignation letter in employee's box of belongings
Employee turnover is a topic you’ve likely heard a lot about recently. The total turnover rate — including terminations and voluntary departures — across all industries nationwide has increased each year since 2014. In 2018, the turnover rate reached 19.3 percent — up from 15.7 percent in 2014. In fact, the voluntary turnover rate on its own was at 14.2 percent in 2018.

While it isn’t impossible to reduce turnover in your organization, it can feel like fighting an uphill battle. This isn’t good for businesses, as it costs anywhere between six to nine months’ salary on average to replace a salaried employee.

However, the effects turnover has on businesses is more serious than you may realize. In addition to being expensive, attrition can also create holes in your organization’s key management practices. Here are the three main ways that turnover will sabotage your key control.

Former Employees Retain Key Access

When employees who had access to keys leave the company, failing to revoke access privileges and collect all keys in their possession immediately after they leave is a major risk to your facility. Imagine the damage they could do with a key or two — or even a couple hundred, like a man in North Dakota, who managed to steal 200 apartment keys, as well as 38 garage openers, master keys, and nine vehicle keys from two separate former employers.

While this may be an extreme example, it’s worth mentioning because it illustrates the potential consequences of not having the necessary tools or policies to secure your keys. An electronic key control system would be able to deter ex-employees from stealing your keys, thanks to features like biometric logins and a secure drawer that can only be opened by authorized users.

Once you have a system in place, it’s important to make sure you collect any keys in an employee’s possession when they leave, as well as strip any access they had to the keys on all systems to protect your organization from security risks related to former employees.

Experienced Employees Take Their Knowledge With Them

Another potential problem that turnover causes for key control is when your key control officer/administrator or other experienced employees leave your organization, taking valuable knowledge with them.

Whether an employee had valuable experience and detailed knowledge of key security policies, losing them hurts. But you can do multiple things to help overcome the loss.

One of these things is to document all key control policies, which helps new employees you bring in as replacements (more on that later). To encourage employees to follow policy, you can use an electronic key control system to help enforce your key management protocol. You could start by assigning user access levels for each employee. That way, anyone without access for certain keys won’t be able to sign them out — or steal them.

One final way to ensure you aren’t left out to dry when experienced employees leave is to assign more than one person to be in charge of key control. If possible, you should look at people with more than one year at your company and who are familiar with how things are run.

New Employees Aren’t up to Speed

When you experience turnover and replace the old employees with new ones, the new staff members lack the knowledge about the way your company runs and won’t be familiar with every policy right away. This lack of knowledge may cause them to make mistakes or be slow with decision making. Once again, this is a great example of why you should document all policies and ensure employees are familiar with them.

If you do have an electronic key control system in place already, new employees may experience a learning curve as they familiarize themselves with how your business uses the system. To make this process as smooth as possible, take advantage of all training resources your key control provider offers. These may include best practices guides, live video training, and phone support.

Experienced employees leaving and inexperienced ones coming in make the job of protecting keys a little more difficult, but it doesn’t have to be so hard. If you take the necessary precautions, you can stay on top of the key control game. Just because your employees are leaving doesn’t mean your key control has to go with them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stop Wasting Time: Simplify Property Management With Key Control Technology

Collection of clocksAccording to the National Apartment Association, property management executives reported that one of their goals for 2019 was to use technology to increase efficiency, allowing employees to spend more time with customers. The year is winding down, but if your properties are still struggling with being bogged down with administrative tasks, it’s not too late to kick off the new decade with a fresh start.

Here are our top tips for using key control technology to put more time back in your on-site personnel’s days.

Manage Keys Electronically

The most obvious application of an electronic key control system is to manage keys. If you’re using an outdated method of managing keys, such as pegboards and manual logbooks, implementing electronic key control systems will save employees as much as two or three minutes to retrieve a key and document the transaction. It might not seem like much, but that time adds up from day to day. That’s not to mention the time they’ll save looking for lost or poorly labeled keys as well.

Collect Prospect Data by Scanning Driver’s Licenses

How much time do leasing agents spend entering prospect data when someone wants to tour a property? Cut down on that time by enabling employees to scan the prospect’s driver’s license to automatically capture a record with their contact information. Agents can then add notes about the floorplans prospects were interested in, which lead sources brought them to your property, and more. When it comes time to follow up, agents can automatically import prospect information into a follow-up message.

Automatically Notify Residents to Pick up Their Packages

Dealing with the sheer volume of packages that land in your leasing offices is a herculean challenge. There are plenty of solutions hitting the market, such as lockers and off-site storage facilities. However, if you’re looking for a time-saving solution that doesn’t involve sacrificing valuable office space, or if you don’t want to force residents to add one more stop in their already busy lives to pick up their packages, there are other options for handling deliveries more efficiently.

For example, a package logging application that uses a handheld barcode scanner and digital signature capture pad allows on-site personnel to scan packages when they’re received and automatically notify recipients by text or email when their packages are ready to be picked up.

Consolidate Applications

Using a single system to combine tasks such as updating employee time clocks, checking out keys, and managing work orders reduces the total number of applications employees have to interact with on a daily basis. This helps with the onboarding process as well. For example, a new employee needing to learn how to check out keys, clock in, and check on a work order would only have to learn their way around one software program rather than three separate ones to complete those tasks.

In addition, you’ll save time by being able to get a high-level view of each property by running reports on key activity, employee work schedules, and work order statuses.

Don’t waste any more time — learn what to look for in an electronic key control system.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Client Spotlight: Hendrick Automotive Group

Robert Taylor, vice president of IT, Hendrick Automotive
Robert Taylor, vice president of IT, Hendrick Automotive Group
When thieves broke into one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s dealerships, they stuffed 200 keys into a pillowcase, then ventured out to the lot and drove off with six or seven cars.

The theft shook up the dealership’s operations. As Robert Taylor, Hendrick’s vice president of IT, explained, “The worst part about it really wasn’t that they took six or seven cars. It was that they took 200 keys.”

As a result, 200 vehicles had to go on stop sale because the OEM didn’t have enough key fobs to replace the stolen ones — nor did it have enough vehicles to replace the unsellable inventory.

To prevent similar scenarios from occurring, Hendrick’s executive team wanted a key control solution that its dealerships could use in sales and service to protect each dealership’s inventory as well as customer vehicles being serviced.

The problem was, the group’s dealerships stored keys in a variety of places, including in boxes, vehicle-mounted lockboxes, offices, and other locations throughout the dealership. That made it difficult to audit key control practices across multiple dealerships.

“We’d have to call a hundred dealerships and pull a hundred different reports,” said Taylor.

The Hendrick team didn’t have to look far for a solution. “We had multiple versions of KeyTrak,” said CEO Ed Brown. “Here we had a great solution that wasn’t being implemented consistently across the company.”

To learn more about how Hendrick Automotive Group worked with KeyTrak to create an enterprise solution to solve its key management and reporting challenges, read the full case study.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How Secure Are Your Patrol Cars With Shared Keys?

Patrol cars
Without asking your department fleet manager (or checking your records, if you are the fleet manager), do you know how many vehicles in your patrol fleet share the same key? Can officers access and drive multiple vehicles with a single key?

Maybe your cars came with matching keys from the manufacturer or the upfitter. Maybe your department likes having shared keys because it makes it easier for officers to take a car and go when they need one. But is that convenience worth the security risk represented by shared keys?

Maintaining a patrol fleet with keys that match multiple vehicles (or even all of your vehicles) can turn into a far bigger nightmare than your officers being delayed by a few seconds to check out a key. Let’s take a look at some risks you should be aware of when it comes to shared keys.

Ease of Access

The ease of switching from car to car might be one of the biggest benefits of sharing patrol car keys across models. If officers are going out on patrol or need to change cars quickly — especially if they just dealt with a detainee’s mess at 3 a.m. — shared keys make it easy to get going quickly without dealing with a key management officer or a key/vehicle check-out procedure.

However, that ease of access for your officers is also ease of access for anybody who finds a key. If one of those keys lands in the wrong hands, the holder would have access to any number of your cars or even patrol cars in other jurisdictions. The vehicles could be taken and misused, or items inside the cars such as radios, weapons, or computers could also be stolen.

If multiple officers have matching keys with minimal oversight, your department also lacks accountability to manage how the officers are using those keys or if they’re ever returned when they’re no longer needed. Consider the question we started with: Do you know how many shared keys are floating around your department? Do you know where they are?

Rekeying Cars and Replacing Keys

Recall that even one missing key that gives access to multiple vehicles could be a major security risk for your fleet and other department assets. Once you’re aware that a key is missing, what’s going to be your response? Will you simply hope that the key turns up or that it will never be misused by whoever finds it?

You’re more likely to spend a lot of time and money on rekeying portions of your fleet to protect it from theft and misuse. One police department spent $140,000 on rekeying its entire fleet because it thought two sets of keys were unaccounted for — even though the keys were ultimately found. Also consider that you’ll have to replace the keys themselves, and modern key fobs carry a hefty price tag.

So what can be done to protect your department’s fleet?

Use Unique Keys and Fobs for Individual Vehicles

Sure, rekeying your entire fleet to unique keys for each vehicle is going to be a big expense, but it’s the best method for avoiding escalating costs as shared keys go missing over time. For some departments, replacing a single vehicle could represent a large portion of the total budget, and leaving vehicles at risk with shared keys shouldn’t even be an option.

In addition, would you rather scramble to get your fleet rekeyed after a missing key incident, or be able to plan it and work it into your budget over time? Protect your fleet with unique and properly managed keys.

Take Advantage of Key Management Systems

So you've rekeyed your fleet and now you have several unique patrol vehicle keys that need to be managed. It might seem like a headache on the surface, particularly for your key management officer. Somebody has to make sure keys are where they’re supposed to be and that logs are being properly maintained. However, key management doesn’t have to be a nightmare — even for a large fleet.

Consider using an electronic key control system that secures keys in a central location and gives officers a quick and easy way to check out keys without a management officer present. Such a system should track exactly who took keys and when, give administrative staff a verifiable audit trail, and hold officers accountable.

Your patrol vehicles play a critical role in your department operations. Whether you share keys across vehicles or not, it’s important for you to take steps to protect against the loss, theft, or misuse of keys. What have you done to make sure misplaced fleet keys don’t crash your department budget?