Monday, March 23, 2015

The Top Four Key Control Reports You Should Be Running

Report buttonNow that you have wisely implemented an electronic key management system to securely store your business's keys, it’s time to take full advantage of your investment.

Below are four of the most important reports you should be running on a regular basis.

Transaction Report

What it is: This report lists the details of each transaction performed in the system. The report shows who took which keys, why the keys were checked out, what time the keys were removed and if/when they have been returned.

Why you need it: With a verifiable real-time audit trail, it's easy for management to hold employees accountable.

Checkout Report

What it is: This report displays a list of all keys checked out, as well as the reason for the checkout.

Why you need it: This report is useful for eliminating end-of-day worry by detailing which keys are currently checked out by each user.

Overdue Report

What it is: This report includes a list of all keys that have been issued to employees and are overdue for return.

Why you need it: It's essential for management to see which keys are missing and should have already been returned.

Access Level Report

What it is: This report displays a list of authorized users and their access level assignments.

Why you need it: This report helps management monitor their employees’ access to keys of various levels of importance.

Are there other reports that you use to make the most of your electronic key management system? Sound off in the comments!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tighten Your Dealership's Key Control to Help Secure Your Vehicles

Every business owner dreads the news that their business has been burglarized. Unfortunately one dealership owner in Roscommon County, MI received this news when two brothers committed back-to-back burglaries at his used car dealership.

lot of carsThe boys broke into the dealership and gained access to keys, which enabled them to steal several vehicles and take them for joyrides. After repeatedly crashing the cars into each other, the younger brother got trapped underneath one of the cars and had to be airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

The dealership could have prevented the thefts and reduced liability with stronger key control procedures. Keys should be stored in a secure cabinet or drawers, preferably electronic, so dealers can control who has access to keys. By setting up access levels, selecting authorized users and implementing key alerts, dealers can tighten the security of their assets while creating a more organized environment.

To determine whether or not you need to update your key control, read our post “Are You Adequately Securing Your Dealership's Keys?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stolen Keys Lead to a Series of Police Chases

Car chase
A set of stolen keys has been a thorn in the Wentzville, MO police department's side for weeks after the car the keys belonged to has been involved in at least six police chases since the theft.

The suspect entered Century Dodge Chrysler Jeep on February 14 and asked to test drive a gray 2009 Pontiac G8. After a brief wait, the suspect took the keys and stole the car off the lot.

To avoid key thefts, it's important to maintain control of your dealership's keys at all times. An electronic key control system can limit key access to only authorized users, requiring employees to log in by entering a passcode, swiping a proximity card or using a biometric fingerprint scanner. This will keep unauthorized users, even within your company, from reaching keys that they shouldn't have access to and will keep your assets safe.

Once the key is beyond the security of its drawer, text and email alerts give you an added level of protection and can improve your response time to a theft. If a key isn't returned to the drawer within a specified window of time, you will receive an alert on your phone or computer.

Want to know more about protecting your lot? Here are some things we learned from dealership vehicle thefts in 2014.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Can You Account for All of Your Keys?

keys left on a deskAll of your keys are securely stored in your electronic key management system. You’ve set up authorization levels for your employees. Every employee has been trained on your key control procedures. But are you absolutely sure all of your keys are accounted for? 

You’ve put in a lot of time and effort into securing your keys. Here are a few things you can do to make sure it hasn’t been in vain.

Take Advantage of System Reports

If you’re going through the expense of using an electronic key monitoring system, you should be running reports to make sure all your keys are always accounted for. Running reports is a quick way to find out what keys are checked out, who checked them out and when. The most efficient way to keep a handle on your keys is to set up reports to automatically run at an interval that is convenient for you, such as at the end of each day.

Stay Alert

Even though your employees have been trained on the key-in and key-out procedures, you need to ensure that your staff is following protocol. Choose a system that offers the option for text or email alerts. You can receive immediate alerts on any phone number or email you choose if a key is overdue, someone attempts to log on to the system with someone else’s password or if someone takes an unauthorized key.

Get Your Keys Back

Every business has some turnover. If former employees neglect to return issued keys, your business becomes vulnerable to theft and other crimes. In October 2014, a Maryland couple was able to steal and heavily damage a $106,000 school bus because a spare set of keys was left in the glove box by a former driver.

Taking advantage of both system reports and email or text alerts can help you avoid this costly scenario by reassuring you that all outgoing employees have returned any issued keys or assets.

What else are you doing to account for your keys? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Key Control Best Practices for Colleges and Universities

University CampusColleges and universities are often responsible for keeping track of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of keys. Student dormitories, classrooms, faculty offices and laboratories all have keys that need to be managed.

Below we have outlined four best practices to remember when implementing your college or university’s key control policy.

Store Keys Securely

Office drawers, pegboards and an unmonitored lockboxes are all methods for storing your school's keys. But are these methods secure? The answer is a resounding no. Keys could be easily stolen by anyone who gains access to the area in which they are contained.

Instead, consider storing keys in a tamper-proof electronic key management system. This will greatly reduce the chance for key theft and enhance the overall security of your keys.

Establish Access Levels for Users

Securely storing your college or university’s keys is only the first step in key management. Do you want every user to have access to every key in your system? For instance, would an English professor need the chemistry lab key?

Establishing access levels ensures that users can only take keys that are essential to their job functions. To enforce access levels, consider an electronic key security system that requires users to enter a unique password or scan their fingerprint to retrieve keys. This non-replicable access information ensures that only authorized users can take certain keys.

Keep an Accurate Log

One of the pitfalls of using a pegboard or lockbox to manage keys is that transactions are recorded in a manually updated log. The problem with this method is that it’s difficult to enforce the proper checks and balances for checking out keys. If employees do not sign out or sign in the keys they use, locating the unaccounted-for keys and updating the log becomes an administrative headache and, even worse, a liability for the campus.

To alleviate administrative challenges and reduce your campus’s liability, implement an electronic key control system that provides a verifiable audit trail of key activity. Choosing a system with software that captures a video each time a key is checked out will deter deliberate key theft.

Set up Alerts

With manual key control processes, how do you hold users accountable for key usage? How do you know if a key is missing? There’s no way to know if a key hasn’t been returned until that key is needed again, nor is there a way to know if an unauthorized user attempts to access a key.

Solve all of these issues by setting up alerts on your electronic key management system. Alerts can immediately notify system administrators when keys have not been returned or a user attempts to take a key to which they do not have access.

Have some best practices that your college or university uses with its key control policy? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Do 2014 Dealership Vehicle Thefts Reveal About Key Control?

Woman dangling keys out of car window
In 2014, more than 180 unique vehicle theft incidents affected dealerships throughout the U.S. We track these types of incidents in the news, so we heard about several of them as they occurred.

Toward the end of the year, we wanted a comprehensive look at how dealerships were being affected by theft incidents and how much of an issue inadequate key control practices are. So we did some informal research into dealership thefts involving vehicles (we didn’t account for stolen tires, equipment, etc.). Our data is taken from published news stories and police blotters.

Here are some of our observations:
  • States with the most unique incidents: California and Florida
  • Most active months: September-December
  • Average cost of reported incidents: $80,846
  • Most expensive incident: Over $1 million
  • Most vehicles stolen at one time: 9
  • Average number of vehicles stolen: Two
  • Percent of incidents involving stolen keys or keys left in ignition (as opposed to vehicles stolen during test drives, etc.): 41 percent of incidents where the method of theft was reported
  • Percent that were inside jobs: Up to 4 percent

(NOTE: Monetary figures, vehicle counts and incidents involving stolen keys are based on the total number of incidents in which this information was available, so our calculations are modest. The actual numbers are likely higher.)

The Takeaways

As we move into 2015, there are a few key insights you can take away from last year’s bouts of vehicle theft: 
  • Do your research. If your area has a high vehicle theft rate, make sure your vehicles and keys are secured, particularly if you sell a commonly targeted make or model.
  • Be aware of when theft is most frequent in your area. You should always exercise sound security practices, but extra precautions might be necessary around times when crime activity is high.
  • Keep your employees accountable. Employees aren’t always responsible for theft. However, if they were the person who handed the keys over to the thief (as in cases of identity theft or identity fraud), they can provide vital information about the circumstances surrounding the theft. Having a verifiable audit trail showing who checked out a key will help you expedite this process.

To see if you’re putting your inventory at risk, read our post “Are You Adequately Securing Your Keys?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Multifamily Key Control Systems: Best Practices for Maintaining Residential Data

By Mark Briles, KeyTrak Sales Support

The last thing you want as a property manager is to find out that your key management system is being misused or improperly maintained. Managing residential data within the key control system is key to ensuring audit trails are up to date and accurate. To simplify the process of maintaining your key control database, use the guidelines below.

Determine the Events That Trigger Database Updates

Stack of boxes
The first step to keeping your key control database current is to determine what events typically trigger updates in your property management system (e.g., when a resident moves in or out, changes their name due to marriage or divorce, purchases a new vehicle or starts working for a new company).

It’s extremely important that the information in your key control database mirror the data in your property management system. If a key control system report is found to be inaccurate even 1 percent of the time, your business can be negatively impacted. Here are a few specific examples of scenarios in which having up-to-date data is important:

  • Your key control system sends email notifications to residents when keys to their apartments are accessed. Resident files must be updated in the key control system regularly in order to make sure you have current email addresses for each resident.
  • Your business periodically conducts audits of the key control database. For the audit to be effective, residential and key usage data must be accurate.
  • Your key control system uses package tracking software that sends residents email notifications when their packages are delivered. System data needs to be up to date to ensure emails are sent to the correct resident. Otherwise, packages might not get delivered correctly or on time.

Sync Database Updates

Visual representation of data systemNext you should assess whether or not you need to streamline the update process, especially if your property managers are spending too much time updating residential data and key control reports are becoming less accurate.

To sync data, see if your property is able to network your key control system to your management firm’s local area network (LAN). Some key control companies can facilitate this process through integration software that automates the residential database file update.

If networking isn’t possible or is too complicated, your key control provider should also offer the option to use external media such as thumb drives to mass import residential data from your primary database to the key control system.

Create a Written Policy for Updating Your Key Control System

Once you establish the types of events that trigger database updates and decide on a method for syncing data, create best practices documentation that addresses proper maintenance of the key control database.

When it comes to managing your residential databases, remember that simpler is better. Each of these steps exists to help you reduce the time spent and errors made while updating and maintaining key control data.

For more multifamily key control best practices, download our white paper "Six Common Key Control Mistakes Property Owners Make."