Tuesday, May 22, 2018

[Customer Tip] This One Item Improves the Way Your Dealership Stores Smart Keys

Keyless entry systems are all about convenience, but are they making key control more complicated at your dealership? They can be bulky, cluttering up your key control system. In addition, many smart keys (e.g., Toyota, Dodge, BMW) have a built-in valet key that can be separated from the body of the fob.

The problem with this design, as one dealer discovered, is that salespeople can remove the fob from their KeyTrak system while leaving the valet key attached to the key tag in the drawer. When a user doesn’t follow the proper checkout process, there’s no record of the key being removed, which can result in mystery miles and increase the dealership’s liability risk.

Fortunately, you can simplify smart key storage with one simple item: a key fob pouch. Here are the top three reasons you should use them for all your smart keys:

  • Less Clutter in the Drawer — When KeyTrak drawers are full, having the smart key and its pouch attached to the key tag prevents fobs from jostling in the drawer, helping to keep it tidy.
  • Added Security — The pouch containing the smart key is attached to a key tag via a KeyTrak fastener that runs through the top of the pouch, ensuring the valet key and fob stay attached to each other until the vehicle is sold. The fastener also prevents users from removing the fob from the drawer without going through the standard checkout process.
  • Fewer Scratches on the Key — The pouch protects the key from getting scratched so the key stays looking as new as the vehicle. The clear front allows salespeople to easily see and press the fob buttons.

Key fob pouch
  Key fob pouch with KeyTrak fastener

If you’re a current customer, you can purchase the pouches from our supplies catalog or call 1.800.541.5033 (option 2).

Monday, May 7, 2018

Are Your Dealership’s Sales and Service Departments in Sync?

You probably recognized long ago how your dealership sales and service departments can work together to generate revenue for your dealership. The sales department can offer service contracts on new or used cars, while the service department can refer customers to sales when vehicles start reaching their end of life.

Car salesman holding car keys
However, at many dealerships, the communication between departments stops there. You might not realize how important it is for these two separate departments with different operations to work and communicate with each other to keep your entire dealership running smoothly.

For example, consider what happens one department takes a vehicle key from the other and doesn’t properly log the activity or even tell anybody they have the key. A customer walks into your showroom and requests to test drive a specific car in certain interior and exterior colors. They’ve been searching the internet for weeks for this particular combination and you’re the only dealership in the area with their dream car.

Your website and CRM indicate that the car is on the lot, but the sales rep is unable to find the key on the pegboard. The rep checks with multiple people in your sales department but is still unable to find the key. The customer refuses to test drive a different car since they came for that specific vehicle and leaves after an extensive wait.

Later that afternoon it’s discovered that a service rep had taken the car to the back for routine service and failed to mark it in the key log. This lack of communication lost you a sale.

Just as your various departments can work together to make sure everybody is making money, you can see they also need to communicate in order to not lose even one customer.

Carl Sewell, a successful dealer in Texas, once wrote that one of his customers is worth $517,000 over their lifetime. How much is each of your customers worth to you? What can your dealership do to keep a careless mistake from costing you a long-term loyal customer and revenue source?

Knowing who accesses keys and when isn’t just a good security practice; it’s also a way to keep your dealership operations running smoothly and to give your customers a better, quicker experience. If you’re looking for an electronic key control system, be sure you choose an option that logs key access automatically and can give you a complete picture of where a key has been anytime you log in.

In the situation we described earlier, the sales rep would have instantly known who had the key when they made the request. The car would have been found, the customers likely would have bought it, and you would have been one step closer to having a customer for life.

Whether you have a single lot or a sprawling family of dealerships, knowing where keys are is crucial to making you money. How many times have you lost keys due to poor communication between departments?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Does Your Business Have a Data Recovery Plan?

Computer error
Have you ever gotten a new smartphone and gone through all the setup steps only to discover that your entire contact list from your old phone wasn't backed up properly? If it was a business phone loaded with vendor and customer contacts, how big was that headache?

Of course smartphones aren't the only electronic systems you use to conduct your business. You have computers, tablets, copy machines and maybe even an electronic key control system. All of these things store important data, and suddenly losing that data can have serious consequences.

Data corruption, security breaches, power loss, backup power failure, user error and hardware or software failure are all major causes of data loss and can happen at any time, no matter what steps you take to protect yourself.

If you use an electronic key control system for securing and tracking keys at your business, what would happen if you suddenly didn't know where your keys were in the drawer, which keys were checked out and who had them last? Losing key control system data would create unnecessary work for your employees, who must now figure out what keys go where, creating liability and security risks in the process.

The best thing you can do is have a recovery plan to help you continue operation during a data loss event. Here are some steps you can take to help you mange your keys if your system fails.

Use Reporting Features

Knowing who has keys and when they took them is a smart security and liability-reducing practice. It's also likely a big reason why you chose to implement an electronic key control system at your business. However, the ability to track key activity would be severely hampered if your system failed and you didn't have a contingency plan in place to continue operations.

That's where having a recent key inventory report can help you know what keys go where and manage key activity during the downtime. While not as efficient or secure as a fully operation electronic key control system, the ability to log key access manually with a recent report can help you continue operating and make sure keys are where they are supposed to be when the system is brought back online.

Perform Routine Backups

Just as you should pull reports for your system on a regular basis, you should also routinely back up your entire system to an external media device, such as a USB memory drive. It's a backup best practice to back your data up to an external location rather than the system itself.

If your server is still operational after some sort of outage or data loss, a recent backup can help you quickly restore the latest backed-up data and allow you to resume operations with minimal long-term disruption.

Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, even best-laid plans can still be spoiled if human error leads to a backup not being performed as scheduled or if your external storage device becomes corrupted. That's why you should choose an electronic key control system provider that can offer you a cloud backup solution.

An automatic off-site backup to a secure cloud gives you an added layer of protection against serious downtime. If your server is completely debilitated by an unexpected incident, such as a coffee spill or a pipe burst in your office, your latest backup can be loaded to a replacement server and promptly shipped to help you get your system running as soon as possible.

How have you prepared your business to recover from a data loss scenario?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Are You Neglecting This Important Aspect of K-12 Campus Security?

K-12 schools across the country have been rocked by recent events that highlight a need for greater security. Because of these events, you may be looking at updating current security policies and procedures, as well as implementing new ones.

School hallway of lockersOne security issue that hasn’t received significant public attention is key control. Implementing effective and secure key control procedures entails several variables, including who will manage keys, how many faculty members will have access to them, how long faculty can keep certain keys, and so much more. All of these factors contribute to the struggle you may be facing when trying to put your key control policies into practice.

Unfortunately, this security gap puts your students and your campus at risk. For instance, police were investigating a bomb threat at a school in Massachusetts when they discovered a 16-year-old was carrying a school master key. Although the teen wasn’t connected to the threat, it’s concerning that he was caught with the key. What was he planning to do with it? Had the school realized the master key was missing? How did he get it in the first place?

These are questions that no school should leave unanswered. Fortunately, there’s a secure and effective solution for managing your campus keys. To learn more about how you can improve your key control practices, check out our white paper.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Client Spotlight: Electronic Key Control System Helps Sprawling Dealership Family

McGrath Family of Dealerships
Source: McGrath Family of Dealerships
The drive from Marion, IA to Dubuque, IA is more than 65 miles each way, making the round trip almost two and a half hours. That's a long time for an employee to be in a car during business hours, let alone when a customer sale is hanging in the balance.

That drive is something employees at the McGrath Family of Dealerships occasionally have to deal with when they need to retrieve a car from a Volkswagen store in Dubuque for a sale in Marion. When a dealership group has multiple stores spread across a region, trips like this are simply a reality of the business. They can also turn out to be a huge waste of time and money.

What happens if there is a miscommunication about the car being in Dubuque? Does the dealership even know where that car's key is? What if the car was sold the day before and the CRM wasn't updated in time? Even if the rep calls ahead, does the Dubuque employee know for sure that the car is still on the lot?

Wasted trips helped McGrath recognize that it needed a better solution for managing its inventory and its keys across its multiple dealerships. That solution needed to track who has keys and when they took them across multiple locations. By ensuring inventory information was centralized and kept up to date, employees would no longer have to make long, pointless trips to stores in Iowa City, Dubuque or Grand Rapids.

McGrath found an answer in KeyTrak. The dealership began installing the electronic key control system at several of its stores in early 2012 and has continued to install systems at every new store it has acquired or opened since.

There are now 21 KeyTrak systems storing more than 3,500 keys across McGrath's multiple dealerships, covering sales and service departments alike and keeping everything running like a well-oiled machine.

"When a key is checked out, we know who has the key," said Orrin Smith, director of sales for McGrath Family of Dealerships. "We chose KeyTrak for how the systems integrate with each other and how they can communicate with all departments at multiple locations."

How much would having key systems that communicate across your several dealerships help improve your processes?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Three Easy Fingerprint Scanner Tips

Fingerprint being scanned
According to one Boston Globe correspondent, fingerprints are unlocking the future. As criminals exploit weak passwords, people are turning to biometric authentication to improve security. Because everyone’s fingerprints are unique, it’s much more difficult to bypass biometric authentication. Plus, fingerprints are easier to keep track of than complex passwords (although for added security, you might choose to combine a password with a fingerprint).

Whether you’re using a fingerprint reader for your key control system, your child’s school or even your computer, here are some tips for getting a successful scan.

Position Your Finger Correctly

Place your finger flat on the sensor. The arches, loops and whorls that distinguish your prints from others’ are in the pad of your finger, not the tip. Also make sure that you position your finger on the scanner the same way each time. Apply light pressure — pressing too hard can distort the ridges in your skin.

Prevent Dry Skin From Affecting Your Scan

Fingerprint scanners feature a silicone membrane that relies on the skin’s natural oils to detect a fingerprint match. If you struggle with dry skin during cold weather, it may take a couple tries for the reader to recognize your fingerprint. To redeposit natural oils, try running your finger along the back side of your ear before placing your finger on the sensor. You can also regularly moisturize with oil-free lotions, but ensure your hands have plenty of time to dry before using the scanner to help prevent residue on the sensor.

Don’t Clean the Device With Any Kind of Liquid

You might be tempted to give your fingerprint reader a good scrubbing with warm soap and water or an all-purpose cleaner, especially during flu season. However, using any type of liquid or cleaning chemicals could damage the device.

Instead, clean the scanner with office tape about once a week. Simply press tape to the surface and lift; the tape traps oils and clears the surface. A soft, dry cloth works as well.

By following these simple tips, you — and you alone — will be able to log in to your system in no time.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

How to Remain Competitive During a Multifamily Boom

Housing construction
The recent tax reform bill will bring changes to many Americans' taxes, but certain provisions of the bill could be a boon for real estate investors, landlords and the multifamily industry in general.

The bill will reportedly make it more profitable to own income-generating property, such as apartments and condominiums. Experts say this could result in an increase in multifamily construction, meaning there will be more properties competing for your tenants very soon.

As the competition heats up, it won't be enough to simply offer competitive rates and nice amenities to your prospective tenants. You need to have a smooth and easy leasing process, a staff that you trust to take care of your tenants' property, and a way to protect yourself from liability in the event that keys are stolen or go missing.

Here are some ways that hitting those key performance points will give your tenants an excellent, secure living experience and help you compete against newer properties.

Improving the Leasing Process

Nobody likes to wait. Everybody has been frustrated when they get put on hold by a customer service representative. How would it make you feel if you were forced to wait while a leasing agent struggled to find a key for a model unit or an empty apartment? Prospective tenants who are left waiting around the leasing office are already developing a negative opinion of your property before they even see the units.

Does a maintenance technician have the key you're looking for? Has it been misplaced or stolen (more on that in a bit)? A lack of awareness of where your keys are isn't just a security issue. It can leave your leasing agents unable to perform their jobs and send prospective tenants elsewhere. You need a system for keeping track of your keys to be sure one isn't missing when you need it. Either maintain a written access log, which has its own problems, or use an electronic key control system that logs activity automatically.

Holding Employees Accountable

Protecting your property against break-ins and robbery is hard enough without employees abusing their access privileges. How much do you trust your employees to not steal from your tenants? Many properties have struggled with this liability. Some tenants have even taken the matter into their own hands to prove that employees were accessing their apartments without proper notification and stealing money.

Just as knowing who has keys and when can help you improve the leasing process, it can help you hold employees accountable. If a tenant complains about stolen items or access, can you answer them honestly and correctly? A system that automatically tracks key access will let your employees know that you take key security seriously. This will make them think twice before doing something foolish.

Reducing Your Liability

While making sure your employees aren't misusing keys is important, making sure keys don't fall into the wrong hands outside your company is a much bigger issue. It's not just about giving your tenants a place to live that they feel is safe and well secured. Your company could be held liable if a key is stolen and used to access an apartment, especially if it leads to a robbery or a violent crime. It's your responsibility to ensure access to your apartments is properly managed.

Keeping keys secure in an electronic system that notifies you when a key is missing can help you react quickly to a potential issue. Knowing a key is lost can let you change locks before a key is misused. Reduced liability and insurance costs can then be reinvested in the property, helping you remain an attractive property in a competitive market.

How do you plan to keep tenants coming to your property during the coming boom?