Thursday, September 19, 2019

Are You Overlooking This Security Gap on Your Campus?

Professor speaks in college lecture hall
If your college or university receives federal funding — which many major public and private universities do — your public safety or campus police department is hopefully putting the finishing touches on your annual security report (ASR) as required by the Clery Act.

ASRs must be published by October 1 of each year and must include campus crime statistics for the previous three calendar years, steps your institution has taken to improve campus safety, and police statements regarding:

  • Crime reporting
  • Campus facility and security and access
  • Law enforcement authority
  • Incidence of alcohol and drug use
  • Prevention of and response to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, and a stalking

Not only do on-campus crimes affect the personal safety of your students or staff, they can also hit your university's pocketbook since failing to report certain crimes in your ASR can turn into major fines. As of February 2019, the minimum Clery fine is $57,317 per violation, and penalties can reach much higher figures. One state university, for example, was fined $4.5 million for its failure to protect students from sexual abuse.

While we can't help you with adhering to the Clery Act or completing your ASR, we do have some ideas about why having a secure campus is critical to your university's long-term success and how you can improve your security measures to keep your students and staff safe.

What are the consequences of security gaps?


Fines shouldn't be your only concern when it comes to adhering to the Clery Act. After all, the real point is to protect your students. Better security measures discourage crimes, hold employees and staff accountable, prevent internal threats, and promote good security practices on campus.

Of course, fines can be a major headache for your university, but they pale in comparison to the ramifications of a crime. Not only are your students and staff at risk of physical or sexual harm as the result of such crimes, a high level of incidents reflects poorly on your university. A hostile environment discourages students from attending your university, deters organizations from interacting with your institution and holding events on your campus, and indirectly affects the availability of grants and research opportunities.

What should you do to improve campus security?


There are obvious security measures that have likely long been a part of your campus security strategy — door locks, security cameras, patrol officers. But those shouldn't be the only steps you take to prevent crimes. Having a way to hold university staff and outside vendors accountable for their access to various areas on your campus is critical to providing a safe and secure environment.

Every day, your campus probably sees anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people pass through its various doors. Locks are great, but how useful are they if your keys — even electronic access cards or fobs — are poorly managed? How many of your campus keys go missing each year? How much have you spent on rekeying doors because keys given to fired staff members or recently graduated student workers weren't turned in? What happens when a master key goes missing?

That's where key control can make a difference in your campus security strategy.

How can key control close the security gap?


Whether key are needed for short-term work, such as an outside vendor providing specialized maintenance in a secure building, or for long-term issue to university staff, you need to know exactly who has keys and when they took them.

Consider using an electronic key control system that secures keys and automatically tracks user access, holding employees accountable for what happens to keys they're responsible for. The system should be able to send management alerts when keys aren't returned in a given time, helping you respond quickly to a potential security vulnerability.

You should use your electronic key control system to manage long-term issue keys as well since even one unreturned key could fall through the gaps and be misused by a fired employee — even two years later. Be sure to run routine reports on key activity and perform audits to make sure long-term issue keys are still with the people who are supposed to have them and keys that should be returned are tracked down.

As you prepare your Clery Act ASR, are you confident that your campus already does everything it can to protect its students? Take your security strategy to the next level by better managing your keys.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Cost of Losing Your Dealership's Keys

Updated September 10, 2019

Keys are on ground with car in background
On a normal business day at your dealership, keys pass through dozens of hands. They're passed back and forth between salespeople, sales managers, porters, and service technicians, which can quickly lead to disorganization.

If your dealership is still using pegboards or other manual methods to account for vehicle keys, there’s not an accurate way to determine how long someone has had a key checked out or even who checked it out. When keys go missing, the costs mount quickly.

The Cost of Replacing Keys


Not only is mismanaging keys unproductive and frustrating for employees, it leads to unnecessary expenses. In an informal survey of representatives from seven dealerships and automotive groups of various brands, we found that the cost of replacing keys ranged from $12 to $220, with an average cost of $84. The cost of replacing fobs was anywhere from $49 to $550, with an average cost of $191.

Respondents reported that each month, they lost anywhere from one to 60 keys, with the average being nine and the most common response being one to five. If your dealership lost five sets of keys and fobs at an average total replacement cost of $275, that’s $1,375 a month and $16,500 a year. That’s less the average of nine sets, which would amount to $29,700 annually!

Dealership Key Loss Graphic

The Trickle-Down Effect of Ineffective Key Management


Key replacement costs add up quickly, but that’s not all you have to worry about. Often, lost or unidentified keys results in impatient customers waiting for test drives, affecting the customer experience.

So what can you do to minimize the impact of missing keys? The first step is to make sure you know where your keys are at any given time and ensure only authorized employees can access them. If a key does slip through the cracks, have a system in place to be alerted that the key hasn’t been returned so you can look into the situation further.

It might not seem like a big deal to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a missing set of keys every now and then, but consider the long-term effects. If missing keys are costing you sales, how much is a solution for that problem worth to you?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Five Tips for Training Millennials on New Technology

Group of multi-ethnic people in board room
Millennials are now the largest segment in the workplace. Since most of the employees you hire are going to be millennials, you’ll need to know how to train them effectively when your business implements new technology systems — especially with customer expectations at an all-time high. Employees who don’t know (or don’t care) what they’re doing will struggle to provide a good experience, and you’ll start to see the ill effects that untrained workers can have on your business.

Here are some tips to help you train millennials effectively on new technologies.

Keep It Flexible


Millennials like to believe they’re in control. They want to be able to do what they want, when they want to do it. More and more, this group of employees is demanding flexibility in the workplace, and that includes training. One way to avoid frustrating them is allowing them multiple time periods to train, with the ability to choose what works best for them. Putting them under time constraints or offering training at inconvenient times make them lose their sense of freedom.

Keeping training flexible is one of the keys to a millennial’s heart. But this recommendation isn’t just for millennials – trainees of all ages can take advantage of flexible training options.

Stay on Topic


Because the average attention span of millennials is 8 seconds, you need to avoid getting off topic. If you go at a slow pace or spend too long on one subject, you could lose their interest. When employees are disinterested, they won’t learn the necessary information to do their jobs. Additionally, sitting in training for too long makes the mind wander, which results in less learning.

Any extra information that isn’t considered essential to use the new technology shouldn’t be included. If any of your employees need extra assistance or further training, don’t make the ones who don’t need help sit there too. Make sure those who need it know who to contact if they have questions, need help troubleshooting an issue, or need additional training. If your tech vendor offers extra support resources, give employees the information they need to utilize these resources.

On the other hand, if you don’t spend enough time on training to make sure trainees have a good grasp on the technology and how it’ll help your business, they might not meet your expectations. Either way, your business will see poor results if you don’t find the sweet spot for training time.

Break It Up


You can help employees stay focused on training by separating trainees by job title. For example, salespeople might not need to be trained along with managers. By separating training sessions, you can ensure that only necessary information is being shared with each trainee.

Another way to keep boredom from setting in is allowing for frequent breaks. Sitting in one spot all day learning the ins and outs of a new technology isn’t considered fun (most of the time). Using short breaks lets your trainees stretch their legs, check their phones, or eat a snack.

Never Stop Training


Just because your employees are done with official training doesn’t mean they should stop learning. Millennials are more likely to be disengaged with their work – the Gallup Organization reports only 29 percent say they’re engaged with their work – so it’s important to keep their jobs interesting and fresh.

You can check if your technology providers offer training, and if they do, encourage your employees to take advantage of it. Your vendor may have written tutorials, phone training, or prerecorded videos to choose from. For your convenience, some companies offer on-site training at your facility or consultations via webcam. Helping your employees learn more about the technology and systems they work with will not only improve their job performance but also fight apathy.

Give Valuable Feedback


One of the most important parts of life is communication. It doesn’t matter how old people are — if they don’t communicate, they won’t get along. Millennials are no exception. Setting clear expectations and goals is key.

Make sure they understand what’s being asked of them, and return later with feedback on how they performed. Be honest with them, and they’ll respect you and appreciate any advice you give them. This gives them the opportunity to learn and improve, which is one of their biggest goals.

Millennials are taking over the workforce, and the sooner you know how to manage them, the sooner your business will start reaping the benefits of the valuable skills they bring to the table. If trained correctly, they can unlock the full potential of themselves and your systems.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Challenges to Managing a University Fleet

Fleet of vans
Universities utilize a large number of vehicles every day for various operations. Whether a vehicle transports students to and from campus or carries vital maintenance equipment, each one is extremely valuable both in purpose and replacement cost.

However, meeting maintenance schedules and keeping the fleet running aren't the only challenges. Depending on how many vehicles are in your fleet, you could be dealing with hundreds or even thousands of keys. Having a system in place to assist with key management is critical to keeping vehicles secure and preventing misuse.

Let's go over some of the specific challenges you'll face when managing your fleet's keys, and how you can overcome them.

Dealing With Misplaced and Unreturned Keys


Any time you give keys to an employee, there's a possibility that those keys will get misplaced or stolen. Whether an employee forgets a key on a bench or a stranger swipes it from an unsuspecting staff member, the end results is a vehicle — or even an entire fleet — left exposed. Your department is then faced with buying an expensive replacement key or having the vehicle rekeyed completely (more on that later).

The potential for losing a key could be compounded by student workers who have access to fleet vehicles, such as campus buses. Studies have set the average attention span of Generation Z, which makes up the bulk of your student workforce, at around eight seconds. From smartphones and social media to class schedules and projects, your student workers already face a number of daily distractions that could lead to a misplaced key. It's important to keep them on the right track and ensure the keys they use end up where they belong at the end of their shifts.

Replacing Locks and Keys


Like we mentioned earlier, when keys are lost or stolen, you may have to pay to get one or even all of your vehicles rekeyed.

Though it wasn't a university fleet, the Anchorage Police Department found out the hard way that the price for rekeying vehicles can get extremely high. The department paid $140,000 to change the locks on all of its patrol cars after it suspected that keys were taken during a robbery at a local tire shop. The department discovered that certain keys could start any patrol car of the same make and model, prompting the massive key change.

While vehicles in your fleet might not share keys across multiple cars, you could still incur substantial rekeying and key replacement costs if even one key were to go missing. Replacing modern key fobs can be expensive, with costs ranging anywhere between $50 and $400, depending on the vehicle brand. But that's for the fobs alone since programming will be an additional price of $50 to $100. How many locks and keys can you replace before making a serious dent in your budget?

Keeping Your Campus Safe


Unnecessary expenses aren't the only thing your department faces when keys are lost. Even if you think you have the best policies for managing your fleet, poorly secure keys leave your entire university and students at risk.

Stolen vehicles can be used in criminal activities or lead to traffic collisions, affecting students' lives and your university's safety reputation. That's in addition to the potential that your university could be held liable for damages resulting from the misuse of a stolen fleet vehicle if your key control practices are ruled inadequate.

Finding a Solution


Controlling your fleet keys doesn't have to be a nightmare. Consider using an electronic key control system that secures and automatically tracks access to keys to mitigate security risks and remove uncertainty about who's using your vehicles and why.

Limit the risk of full-time or student employees misplacing or losing keys by holding them accountable for what happens to keys they're responsible for. An electronic key control system should be able to alert a manager if a key isn't returned within a set amount of time, giving you the ability to react quickly and know exactly who should have the key. This encourages employees to practice good stewardship of keys.

Key management might be the last thing you worry about when it comes to your university fleet of vehicles. But when a key gets lost or stolen, you'll wish key security had always been at the top of your mind. Get ahead of the risk and use an electronic key control system to manage your fleet's keys.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How to Make Your Multifamily Property Appeal to College Students and Their Parents

Young woman with mother moving into apartment
Shared bathrooms. Crowded laundry facilities. Cinder-block rooms the size of a postage stamp. These are just a few of the realities of dorm living that drive 36 percent of private-university students and 60 percent of public-university students to live off-campus.

Some higher education institutions that are experiencing a shortage of on-campus housing are even offering students incentives to find alternatives to dorm living.

If your multifamily property is located near a college or university and would like to increase occupancy, targeting these college students could be the answer, even if your property isn’t a dedicated student housing community. The key is appealing to students and their parents.

Attracting Student Residents


When looking for off-campus housing, students have fairly practical expectations. They want basic amenities such as computer/printing stations, high-speed Wi-Fi, in-unit washers and dryers, and parking.

Students also tend to be budget conscious and appreciate value. Living in an off-campus apartment might not be much more expensive than living on campus (in fact, it might even be less expensive!). The national average cost of room and board in a dormitory is $8,887-$10,089, which averages out to $987-$1,121 each month for a nine-month school year. For an apartment shared with a roommate for a 12-month lease, the average cost of rent, utilities, internet, and groceries, amounts to $895 a month.

While basic amenities like internet access and a convenient place to do laundry might not seem like huge selling features, be sure to highlight them when marketing to college students. To emphasize affordability, be upfront with all costs (rent, fees, etc.) and show cost breakdowns for the various floorplans you offer. Bear in mind that this tactic is likely to be less effective if you’re located in a more expensive city such as New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, or San Francisco.

Appealing to Parents of Students


When it comes to getting college students to sign a lease with your property, getting parents on board is critical, especially if they’ll be the ones writing the rent check. Research by Conversion Logix found that while 18-24-year-olds searched the most for student housing, there were a significant number of 45-54-year-olds searching as well. This indicates that parents are on the hunt for apartments for their college students.

When parents help their children select a college, safety is a top consideration. In a Wearsafe survey, over half of parents said they were “very concerned” about their child’s safety while away at college. If you want your property to appeal to parents of prospective students, security is a key selling feature to build a good reputation for your property and put parents’ minds at ease.

While you likely already have security measures in place, such as lighting or gated access, don’t neglect one essential component of a safe community: measures to control employees’ and contractors’ access to keys. Put yourself in parents’ shoes. How would you feel about an employee or contractor having access to a master key for the apartment in which your student lives?

Unfortunately, misuse of keys can easily go unnoticed if employees or contractors have a legitimate reason to be using them. For example, maintenance personnel need access to keys in order to address maintenance issues. But what happens if someone begins using these keys to unlawfully enter units? What if contractors are given access to keys without adequate oversight?

To hold employees accountable and mitigate security risks, implement a process for creating an verifiable audit trail that shows who checked out a key, when they used it, and how long they had it. If you use an electronic key control system that allows you to receive text or email alerts for overdue keys, take advantage of that feature.

By balancing college students’ and their parents’ expectations, you can present your property as the ideal place for college students to call home.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Stop Tool Theft From Wrecking Your Service Department

Open box of mechanic tools
With competition from independent shops, increasing adoption of electric vehicles, and the specter of self-driving vehicles, dealership service departments have a tough road ahead. Despite these challenges, one thing remains true: Fixed ops is the backbone of the dealership.

There are ample opportunities for increasing revenue in the service department, but there’s one issue that hurts profits and could even contribute to employee turnover: tool theft. Let’s examine how this problem affects your service drive and technicians.

Dealership-Owned Specialty Tools


If you buy a lot of specialty tools, you know that tool costs can skyrocket, especially if your shop does body work and you’re required to purchase duplicates of tools from specific brands to meet various manufacturers’ certification standards.

A rivet gun, for example, can run $8,000 to $12,000. If you own a certain brand of rivet gun and a manufacturer requires a different one, you’d have to fork out another several thousand dollars just to be able to work on a specific make of vehicle.

If you had even one $8,000 tool stolen, how long would it take you to recoup that cost?

Employee-Owned Tools


Staff attrition is one of the biggest threats to the auto mechanic industry, with 30 percent of dealership technicians leaving their jobs each year. Some even leave the field altogether. It doesn’t help that fewer people are graduating from postsecondary tech training programs.

One of the major factors deterring people from the field is the cost of purchasing tools, which sources estimate is anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000. Some technicians incur debt to pay for these tools, which takes a toll on employees’ career satisfaction.

Imagine how demoralizing it would be for an employee to have invested tens of thousands of dollars in these tools — their livelihood — only to have them stolen. Unfortunately, there have been several reported cases of this scenario happening at dealership service departments over the years:


One insurance executive suggested that businesses offer tool insurance to technicians as an employment benefit. An even better perk, however, is to help avoid tool theft in the first place.


Preventing Tool Theft


Regardless of who footed the bill for the tools in your service department, thefts will put a dent in your profits. By the time you tally up opportunity costs, insurance deductibles, and employee turnover, you’re looking at an expense that’s substantially more than the actual price tag of the equipment. To prevent tool theft, start with the tips below:

  • Require employees to lock up dealership-owned tools.
  • Encourage employees to lock their tools away in a secure location at the end of each workday.
  • Secure keys to tool chests, cabinets, or rooms where tools are stored. If you’re already using an electronic key control system in your service department to protect customer keys, consider using the system to manage tool storage keys.
  • Consider storing diagnostic scanners, tablets, and other small tools in electronic lockers that can be controlled with your electronic key control system.

By taking steps to protect the tools in your service department, you’ll not only protect your hard-earned investment but show your employees you value them. Looking for more ways to maximize your profits in the service department? Check out “How Electronic Key Control Can Help Your Service Department Get Reimbursed for Shuttle Rides.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Human Side of Poor Key Control

Man with head in hands
Would you want to be known as the organization that allowed a thief to pilfer the property with a master key? What would you say to the media if someone stole a vehicle from your organization and used that vehicle in another crime? How would you rebuild trust with customers if an employee abused their key access to steal someone’s personal information or assets? How long would it take you to recoup profits lost from reputation damage?

There are real business consequences to poor key control. But what you might not have thought about is how misuse of keys and other assets negatively affects people’s personal lives — perhaps even your own or your loved ones’ lives.

For example, lost or stolen keys waste employees’ time and inconvenience customers who have entrusted their personal property to your business. In extreme situations, mismanaging keys can even put lives at risk, such as if an intruder steals an apartment key and hurts a resident or if a thief is involved in a fatal accident while driving a vehicle stolen from a dealership.

That’s why it’s vital for your organization to secure keys and reduce security vulnerabilities. Let’s take a closer look at how poor key control impacts employees, customers, and the community.

Employees


As mentioned earlier, when keys are lost, employees are forced to spend time dealing with interrupted operations, rekeying, and more. If unsecured keys are stolen, that can spell additional trouble for staff.

For example, after a car was stolen from a repair shop in Michigan, employees were concerned that  insurance costs would increase and the repair shop would lose credibility, hurting employees’ ability to provide for their families. At a Georgia prison, mishandled keys endangered corrections officers (COs) by enabling an inmate to swipe a key and open other inmates’ cells.

Customers


Customers and stakeholders also face the consequences of poor key control. In the automotive industry, there are plenty of horror stories involving customers whose cars were stolen while they were being serviced. After one man’s vehicle disappeared from the service drive, management told the customer that if they couldn’t locate the vehicle, the customer would be stuck replacing it himself.

Just as mishandled keys in a dealership’s service drive leave customers’ vehicles at risk, improperly secured and tracked keys at multifamily communities, assisted living facilities, and college dorms leave people's homes vulnerable.

If keys aren’t stored in a secure location with proper checkout methods in place, employees, vendors, or burglars can use these keys to enter a resident's home without authorization. There are countless headlines about intruders stealing cash, prescription medications, or other personal items. Although less common, there have also been cases of violent crimes against residents.

Additionally, ineffective key management can expose customers to data breaches and identity theft if employees abuse their key access to obtain devices holding confidential data. That was the case at a medical facility where a former IT employee stole a hard drive containing sensitive customer information and sold it online.

The Community


In some cases, the effects of unsecured keys can extend beyond employees and customers to the broader community.

One common way an unauthorized key user could put the community at risk is by driving a vehicle without permission, whether it’s a company fleet car, dealership inventory, a delivery truck, or a government vehicle. If that driver is involved in an accident, they could harm pedestrians, other drivers, or city infrastructure. In one Oregon town, for example, a car struck a power pole, leaving the entire town and surrounding areas without power.

A rare, but still concerning, scenario is a prisoner using a key to escape from prison or jail, posing a danger to society. At a New Mexico jail, an inmate swiped a key that had been left hanging in a lock. He then used the key to access an area containing housing pipes, where he and three other inmates — a group that included a convicted killer and murder suspect — escaped through a hole in the roof.

While everyone is responsible for their own actions, you can take steps to avoid putting your employees, your customers, and the wider community at risk. Investing in an effective key control system is one of those steps. Most, if not all, of the examples mentioned here could have been avoided if keys were securely stored in a way that only authorized people could remove them.

When deciding how you’ll secure your keys, considering the implications to your organization is important, but don’t forget to consider how people’s personal lives could be affected by your decision.