Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How to Improve Security When the Campus Is Empty

Empty lecture hall
When is your university campus empty? As a campus law enforcement or safety administrator, you’d probably say never.

Whether your university is in the midst of spring break, winter break, or even a pandemic shutdown, your officers and staff still play a critical role in maintaining the security and safety of university property and assets when students are mostly gone.

As such, those periods in which campus is “empty” certainly aren’t times to relax or let basic department practices fall to the wayside. You must remain vigilant while taking advantage of the relative quiet to improve your department and other campus security measures.

Here are some steps you can take to make sure your campus remains safe until — and even after — students return.

Encourage Preparedness

If you have the benefit of knowing ahead of time that your campus will be closed for a period, such as for spring or winter breaks, be sure to communicate with students about the importance of securing their belongings before they leave. Campus-wide emails and flyers can help remind students to lock dorm or apartment doors and windows or secure personal property like bicycles.

Perform Routine Audits

Once students are gone, you’ll likely have fewer emergency calls to respond to. While your officers should already be checking doors around campus during this time, it’s also a good opportunity for you to audit campus keys and other security equipment you might oversee. If your audit process for keys takes days rather than minutes, consider using an electronic key control system for managing and tracking key activity. The quicker audits can be performed, the more time staff will have for other tasks.

Prioritize Training

When your campus is a bustling hive of activity, it’s probably difficult to squeeze important training into your daily activities. From threat response drills to leaning how to use a new tool or process, quiet times on your campus can be used to prioritize training. Taking some time to catch up on training will prepare your officers and staff to be more effective and efficient when campus is full.

Review Processes

It might be difficult to do when operations aren’t moving at full speed, but the slower pace of a break also represents a chance to review your department’s processes as a whole. Do certain tasks make parts of your department less efficient? If a particular staff member is out sick or on vacation, does that limit your department’s effectiveness? Look for areas that make life more difficult for officers and consider options that can eliminate bottlenecks and obstacles.

While an empty campus might seem like a great time to kick back and relax, it’s certainly not. It’s a time to be vigilant and an opportunity to improve and make your campus a safer place. If your campus is already starting to open up following COVID-19, consider these tips for keeping your key control running smoothly and cleanly in the face of the new normal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Key Control Is Key to Safely Reopening Your Multifamily Community

Hands unlocking door
As much of the country begins reopening after the shutdown from COVID-19, leasing offices across the country are preparing to resume something more like business as usual. Of course, there will be adjustments: social distancing guidelines, mask wearing, increased sanitization procedures, etc.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cleaning guidelines and the National Apartment Association (NAA) COVID-19 Operational Best Practices offer some helpful guidance for transitioning employees back to the office and reopening to the public. In addition to those guidelines, consider making adjustments to your key control process. Keys and key control systems are high-touch areas that are sometimes handled by multiple people each day, so it’s important to implement protocol to protect your employees, residents, and property.

Start with the following tips.

Keep Vendor Traffic Flowing

Whether it’s carpet cleaners, pest control, painters, or dog walkers, you have any number of vendors each day needing access to apartments. The moment a vendor arrives on-site, it’s important to quickly locate a key and give them access to the appropriate apartment(s) as soon as possible.

Having contractors and vendors stacked up in the management office waiting for keys isn’t the appearance you want when you’re trying to impress new resident prospects and lease apartments (not to mention it makes social distancing more difficult).

In addition, many of the vendors and contractors are on the clock the minute they arrive on the property. Your property is wasting money if vendors are standing around waiting for keys.

To find keys quickly, ensure you keep them in a secure location, such as an electronic key control system, and make sure keys are returned at the end of every day (an electronic system can notify you automatically if a key isn’t returned).

Minimize Contact With Prospects and Customers

Also minimize the time people need to spend in the leasing office. This requires being able to find keys quickly. You could have them wait outside to enforce social distancing, but it’s not good customer service to make them wait for an extended period of time while you look for keys.

Keeping keys in a convenient yet secure area, like in a key control system designed for front-desk use, and ensuring keys are returned promptly when someone is done using them (through text and email alerts, for example) helps make sure keys are there when you need them.

Clean and Disinfect Keys and Electronics Regularly

Keys are high-touch surfaces, so be sure to disinfect keys, key tags, smart tokens, key control systems, and other devices regularly using EPA-approved products. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s guidelines for any electrical components. If you have an electronic key control system, print a copy of our key control system cleaning guidelines and keep it near your system for quick reference.

Encourage employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer every time they handle keys or other high-touch surfaces.

As we’re learning in these times, keeping your community and residents safe isn’t simply about physical security measures. These tips give you a few more ways to protect the health of your employees, residents, and anyone else passing through your leasing office.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Three Tips for Reducing Correctional Officer Stress

Inmate takes keys from guard
Correctional facilities are stressful places. Correctional officers (COs) must deal with the worst society has to offer on a daily basis and face one of the highest rates of nonfatal workplace-related injuries in the nation. Though pay rates have improved in recent years, they still lag behind the national median.

These things contribute to high turnover and chronic understaffing — and stressed COs. Excessive stress can be detrimental to professional performance and personal lives. And of course mistakes inside a prison can have dire consequences.

For example, a key left unattended can be quickly and quietly swiped by a passing inmate. Depending on what that key goes to, that inmate could have easy access to a cell, a medicine cabinet, or any other number of mission-critical assets that can be used against a CO.

Managing stress can improve your staff's effectiveness and prevent mistakes, helping to make your COs happier, healthier, and safer.

So what can be done to prevent mistakes and reduce stress? Here are some tips.

Automate Processes

One of the simplest ways to make life easier for COs and prevent mistakes is to take a look at your current operating procedures. Many of your processes were probably set in stone years ago and haven’t changed much since. Are you certain those processes are the most efficient way for your COs to do their job today? There are tools available to help you automate certain tasks, giving your COs a break and making your facility more secure.

One area you can automate is securing and checking out keys or assets like radios. Using pegboards or cabinets with paper access logs can lead to big headaches when the logs aren’t being completed correctly every time. Consider using an electronic key and asset control system that automatically logs every time a CO accesses a key or an asset secured in a connected locker, preventing mistakes and giving supervisors a quick and easy way to run audits and know exactly who has items.

If you do introduce a new tool for improving operations, be sure you keep staff trained to get the most out of it, which brings us to the next tip.

Offer Targeted Training

Training plays a critical role in everything that happens at a correctional facility, but unfortunately the immediate need for guards has sometimes led to extended training falling to the wayside as COs are rushed into duty. Training must continue after orientation, especially if new policies and procedures are introduced.

If you bring a new tool into your facility, be sure the vendor offers a way to keep staff trained on the system. You also need buy-in from your supervisors, who will make sure the tools are being used correctly and in a secure manner. Failing to use a system’s features, such as alerts when keys or assets aren’t returned in time, can still leave you in a dangerous spot if a key were to go missing.

If you aren’t addressing your staff’s needs, including training on new processes, you’re simply setting yourself up for more turnover.

Promote Staff Wellness

Hollywood’s depiction of COs is often that of a tough and burly man who doesn’t back down from anything. While your COs are certainly tough for dealing with what they do day in and day out, they are still human. Stress and pressure can get to them as much as anybody else in any other line of work.

If possible, offer further training courses on managing stress and de-escalating problems with other people, including inmates and fellow staff members. The more effectively people can work together, the more efficient your facility will be. Also consider coordinating discounts with local gyms or health spas to promote a healthy and well staff.

Correctional facilities can be a tough place to be every day, but you should keep an eye toward make life easier for your COs. Tools that work for them and not against them, proper training, and a focus on improving general wellness can equip your COs for a safer and more enriching job experience.

Read our whitepaper “How Key Control Helps Corrections Staff Cope” for more information on improving your guards’ lives inside.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Do your base housing key control practices make life difficult for staff and soldiers?

Soldier sitting on dorm bed
Being a soldier isn't an 8-5 job. Even on stateside military bases, soldiers often have overnight guard duty and training missions or provide mission-critical support for operations on the other side of the planet. At your base's unaccompanied housing (UH), soldiers are in and out of dorms at all hours.

However, day-to-day management of your unaccompanied housing certainly is an 8-5 job — or at least you have an office with set hours of operation. So what happens when a soldier is locked out after hours? Who is responsible for making a late-night trip to the base to let a soldier in or check out a spare key? What happens when that spare key isn't where it's supposed to be?

Key control is a 24-hour mission, and even one misplaced key or after-hours trip can cause a litany of headaches for several people. While you've probably taken some steps to manage keys, whether with a pegboard or a locking drawer in your office, these practices do little to make your staff's lives easier, whether during office hours or late at night.

Here are some ways modernizing your processes with electronic key control can help improve your management office.

Run an Efficient Office

Whether your UH office's employees are non-commissioned officers (NCOs), civilians, or a mix of both, virtually all of them have job duties that aren't specific to maintaining a key cabinet 24 hours a day. Even if you do limit key management to one employee, every time someone needs a key, the key manager must stop whatever else they're doing to check it out. And who has that responsibility when that employee is out sick?

Key control doesn't have to be a tedious process for all involved, disrupting productivity every time someone needs a key. If you're looking for a better way to manage keys, consider an electronic key control system that restricts access to authorized user with proper login credentials. Such a system should make the key checkout process quick and painless, freeing up employees to focus on other tasks rather than constantly monitoring a pegboard.

Know Where Keys Are

Regardless of how you manage the keys in your UH office, you've certainly had to deal with a situation where a key that should have been on the pegboard or in the cabinet wasn't there. If you use a paper access log for tracking key use, it might indicate that the key wasn't checked out, but it's clearly missing. How many staff and soldiers would you have to question to find the key? How long would it take to find it?

You can eliminate the need for tedious and often flawed paper access logs by using an electronic key control system that automatically tracks every transaction in the system. A simple report should tell you exactly who took keys and when, giving you a verifiable audit trail and preventing employees from wasting time on a wild goose chase to track down a key. You should also use automatic alerts to let managers know if a key hasn't been returned to the system in a reasonable amount of time, ensuring keys are where they belong at all times.

Reduce After-Hours Trips

Now consider the scenario where a soldier is returning from an evening training operation and is locked out of his or her unit. Not only is that soldier going to be stuck waiting for an office employee to drive to the base to check out a key, that employee must also take time out of their personal life to take care of the problem. Does that sound like the model of an efficient military operation?

Equip your UH residents to help themselves in a secure way by using an electronic key control system that offers a total lockdown solution for every key in the system. Using a secure biometric fingerprint reader gives soldiers access to the system, while the total lockdown capability limits their access to their specific key only, protecting other units in the building. This eliminates the need for office staff to make a late-night drive to the base and gets soldiers in their units in a timely manner.

Key control doesn't have to be a headache for your office and can even be used to give your staff a break. Visit our website for more information about choosing a key control vendor or how electronic key control helped the housing office at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Best Practices for Dealership Key Control During the COVID-19 Crisis

Person wearing protective gloves and disinfecting a car key
In a dealership, keys change hands frequently between sales consultants, managers, and of course customers. But as the world is faced with the rise of COVID-19, businesses everywhere are implementing new prevention measures to protect both employees and customers.

If your dealership is still able to continue operations in some capacity, integrating recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) into your key control will show customers that your business prioritizes their health and safety.

To ensure your key control systems remain secure while keeping your employees safe, here are tips you can follow:

Minimize Contact With Customers

When recording a buyer’s information, take a picture of their driver’s license rather than scanning or photocopying it. This will prevent possible contamination of your hands and various surfaces around your dealership.

In the service department, encourage staff to wear gloves and masks when interacting with customers and handling their keys and vehicles. (Be sure to follow best practices for personal protective equipment use or else they won't be effective.) Before returning a customer's key fob, disinfect it and place it in a sealable bag (see the sample customer letters in NADA's "20 Group Best Practices: COVID-19").

To further reduce customer contact, some dealerships are providing touch-free pickup and drop-off services for test drives, vehicle purchases, and service appointments.

Link Your Key Control Data to Customer Records

Automatically linking key control data to customer and prospect records by integrating your key control system with your DMS allows sales associates and management to see which cars are off or on the lot. Associates can confidently practice social distancing and allow prospects to take solo test drives, while still maintaining accountability and security of the keys.

If you’re offering any kind of vehicle delivery service, it’s important to secure customer keys and maintain a record of who handled each key and when. Unfortunately, thieves in some areas are exploiting the coronavirus situation and stealing keys and vehicles from local dealerships. Taking steps to protect the keys in your care and keeping an accurate audit trail will help prevent theft and protect your dealership from liability.

Set up Remote Access to Your Systems

If you’re working from home, don’t forget to set up remote access to your key control system so you can manage user access and view various system reports. For example, key activity reports will provide a picture of what is happening in the dealership, and keys out reports can alert management to any problems.

Disinfect Keys and Hardware

Using EPA-approved products, disinfect keys, key tags, and key control systems before and after each person touches them, or at least every hour. Please check the manufacturer’s cleaning and disinfecting instructions for electronic key cards, fobs, and hardware. Print a copy of our key control system cleaning guidelines and keep it near the system as a reminder.

For key control systems that use a fingerprint scanner for user authentication, consider temporarily switching your login method to a fob and/or password. While fobs, keyboards, and fingerprint scanners are all high-touch surfaces, you can use a broader range of cleaners and disinfectants on fobs and keyboards. If you do use a fingerprint scanner for system access, make sure you follow proper procedures for cleaning the device and wash your hands thoroughly after each use.

Doing your part to protect everyone during this time will build trust and confidence in your employees and customers. Improving your dealership’s preparedness against widespread illness will not only benefit your business but your customers as well.

For additional guidance, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about adapting your key control practices during this time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Three Reasons Your Assisted Living Facility Needs Key Control

Man in wheelchair with nurse
If your parents or grandparents moved into an assisted or senior living facility, what level of care and safety would you want them to receive? You shouldn't go to bed at night worrying about an employee of the facility using their access to steal from your family members.

Yet, we repeatedly hear stories in the news about assisted living employees taking advantage of our loved ones.

Take, for example, the employee at an Alabama senior living facility who was charged with stealing drugs and other items from the facility. Or the employee at a Texas senior living facility who misused a key to access a resident's room and steal cash. At the Texas facility, the family wasn't notified of the theft and an arrest wasn't made until three months later!

Elder abuse is a serious crime, but as you can see, some facilities still fail to provide residents the level of safety and security they deserve. When you can't hold your employees accountable for their access, you put your residents and your business at risk.

Here are three reasons your facility needs better key control.

Managing Your Reputation

In an age where everybody has a smartphone and a social media account, how the public perceives your facility is incredibly important. Don't fall for the idea that the elderly don't have smartphones or use them to talk about their experience on social media — many do! Even if they don't, they will certainly complain to relatives, who will take to social media and review sites to vent their frustrations.

If your employees are abusing their access or your facility isn't safe, the internet is going to hear about it. Key control isn't simply about keeping keys secure. It helps you provide a safer and more secure living experience. Using an electronic key control system that automatically tracks access will hold your employees accountable and ensure that keys are returned promptly. Such systems should also be capable of notifying those smartphone-using residents or a family member when a key is checked out, giving them peace of mind and the knowledge that you respect their property.

Reducing Liability Risks

When something goes wrong at your facility and you can't hold your employees accountable, residents will hold your business responsible. An employee might be arrested for stealing from a resident, but the lawsuits will follow if you didn't do enough to prevent the employee from abusing their access.

You must take steps to better control your keys and track employee access to residents and their rooms. Manual access logs are often rife with errors or ignored outright, and keys left on a pegboard are not much more secure than leaving them on a desk. An electronic key control system will give you a verifiable and accurate audit trail, helping you reduce risk and know exactly who is responsible for a key at any given moment.

Keeping Up With an Evolving Industry

The landscape of senior and assisted living is evolving, giving people a number of options outside of traditional nursing homes. It's more important than ever for your facility to provide top-notch service and be a safe and secure place for your residents to live.

The industry has recently seen the growth of home healthcare options, as well as the emergence of multi-generational housing, senior-friendly neighborhoods, and senior cohousing. While you provide an important service to our society's elderly, the reality is it is still a business and you must remain competitive with the variety of options available. When you make your facility a safe place to live with employees who care about your residents and respect their property, you'll be able to set yourself apart.

Don't the residents of your assisted living facility deserve the same level of care and safety you'd want for your own family members? The industry is changing, and it's time to step up to the plate for all your residents. Take a look at our eBook "5 Steps to Make Your Facility More Secure" to learn more about key control.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

How does your dealership find value in tools that don’t directly generate revenue?

Price vs. value scale conceptIf you spend $1,000 on training and it helps your sales team generate an extra $2,000 in revenue, most people would agree that the training was a good investment.
There are a lot of tools, services, and other investments your dealership can spend money on that will have obvious returns. There’s training, marketing, salaries, dealership management systems. You can usually correlate such investments to sales figures, reinforcing why you made the investment – or why you shouldn’t have.

But what about those things you pay for that don’t have an obvious ROI?

For example, consider the new coffee maker you purchased for your service lounge. Can you put a dollar figure on the ROI of a new coffee pot? Probably not. But it does have subtle value to your dealership.

Like a mini-fridge stocked with bottles of water, that coffee maker gives your customers an extra little perk — pun not intended — for spending their time and service dollars with you. This improves their experience and their perception of your dealership, making them more likely to return for future service or even to buy a car.

Consider also your employees who get their day started with a little coffee. That coffee maker helps them attack their day feeling more alert, efficient, and productive. That’s a win-win for your staff and the dealership.

As dealership profit margins tighten and you look for ways to cut costs, you might look to avoid purchases of tools, services, and other items that don’t directly affect your revenue. However, while making healthy budget decisions is always a smart move, you should consider what such purchases would mean for your dealership.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before moving forward:

Does the tool or service make your dealership more efficient?

Recall the coffee maker? It might not seem like it on the surface, but that purchase can help your employees be more efficient. You could see a similar boost to efficiency with other tools, such as an electronic key control system that secures keys and keeps employees from wasting time tracking down missing sets. Tools that automate processes and smoothly integrate with other systems in your dealership would also save employees time, allowing them to focus on their core jobs. Make sure the tool or service you’re purchasing actually makes your dealership better, even when the dollar ROI isn’t obvious.

Does the tool or service improve the customer experience?

Some purchases you make, like back-end software or an electronic key control system, won’t even be obvious to your customers, but those tools and services can certainly affect how the customers feel about your dealership. The more efficient and effective your sales and service teams are, the happier your customers will be about their experience. Just as the dollar ROI won’t be obvious on these purchases, the effect on customer experience won’t be either. Be certain that the tool or service actually helps you serve customer needs better.

What kind of support does the vendor provide after the purchase?

Many vendors will promise you the world then disappear after you sign on the dotted line. In order for a tool or service that disrupts your processes to really serve its purpose, you’re going to want continued engagement with support and training professionals. Avoid being left twisting in the wind and make sure the vendor can help you get the most out of your investment. Your success with the tool or service should be as important to the vendor as it is to you.

If you’re considering a big purchase for your dealership and you’re questioning the ROI, review these questions before you make a decision. The tool or service you’re evaluating might not have an obvious dollar impact beyond the cost, but a more efficient workforce and happier customers will pay dividends in the long run.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

IoT and Smart Locks in Multifamily: 10 Statistics to Think About

Mobile phone controlling a door lock
With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) — everyday objects that are connected to the internet — physical security and cybersecurity are intersecting. Smart locks are a prime example of that. In the multifamily industry, IoT-enabled locks are joining properties’ list of amenities. Before your property trades in its traditional locks, take a look at the following statistics and consider whether smart locks would be an asset or a liability.

The Growth of IoT

1. IoT devices will generate up to $35.6 billion in revenue by 2028.
2. By 2025, there will be an estimated 75 billion IoT devices worldwide.
3. Approximately 127 new devices connect to the internet every second.
4. IoT household penetration is projected to increase from 7.7 percent in 2019 to 18.1 percent in 2023.

People’s Attitudes Toward Smart Locks

5. 65 percent of baby boomers and 86 percent of millennials would pay more for an apartment with intelligent upgrades, such as locks.
6. 61 percent of millennial renters look specifically for apartments with smart locks.
7. 72 percent of smart device owners say the technology makes them feel safer.


8. 63 percent would move out of an apartment due to lack of security.
9. 43 percent of households experience internet outages at least monthly, which could affect smart lock effectiveness.
10. 64 percent of IoT networks in a study had unencrypted passwords traversing the network.

To help you in your decision about whether or not to implement smart locks, download our whitepaper “Are Smart Locks a Smart Move for Your Multifamily Property?

Monday, February 24, 2020

Preventing Food Contamination: Who Has the Keys?

Ice cream factory tankManagers in the food production and processing industry already understand the importance of preventing contamination. It's not simply a case of complying with federal and international regulations. Even one injury or illness that's traced back to one of your facilities can have a long-lasting impact on your business.

There are, of course, the financial implications of having a facility shut down for extensive cleaning and repairs, or the variety of legal settlements and court cases. It could also take years for a brand to recover from the loss of public trust after a recall or other incident.

That's why it is imperative for food production facilities to operate at peak safety performance at all times and to take all reasonable steps to prevent contamination — incidental or not. Especially the not.

Whether it's perpetrated by a disgruntled employee or a foreign terrorist, intentional adulteration is a real and terrifying concern in the food industry. Government regulations are leading businesses to beef up their security as plants put locks on tanks, install more surveillance, and invest in security training.

However, one area that many in the industry might be forgetting is how these extra locks and keys are being handled. Locking up an easily accessible liquid tank is a great step, but who holds the keys? How many copies of that key are floating around your facility? Do you know when the tank was accessed? And who did so?

Here are some ways an electronic key control system can help you make your facility more secure and mitigate the risk of intentional adulteration.

Controlling Access to Sensitive Assets

Access control is the front line — and sometimes the last defense — of security for your entire facility. A gate manned by a guard, an exterior door unlocked by a key, or a storage tank secured with a padlock are all examples of controlled access. However, many businesses fall for the dangerous mindset that once somebody is inside the facility, that person must belong there and whatever they're doing is acceptable. Of course that's not always true.

Vendors and other approved guests might have basic access to a facility, but that doesn't mean they should have complete freedom. Likewise, not all employees inside the building need unrestricted access. A custodian shouldn't be able to open a locked food storage bin, for example.

That's why it's important to take your basic physical defense measures, like security gates and locked doors, a step further by controlling who has access to keys. When granting user permissions in an electronic key control system, only employees who need access to certain keys to perform their jobs should be authorized to use such keys. If the system locks keys down individually, employees who use the system can't take keys they're not supposed to have. This better controls access to sensitive areas and prevents inappropriate key use.

Holding Employees Accountable

Brewmaster checks tanks in a breweryDespite all your best efforts, mistakes happen. In fact, human error is often cited as a cause of all sorts of business headaches — data breaches, damaged equipment, and even food recalls. Even when somebody is doing their best, trying to make sure your company is performing at peak efficiency and meeting federal regulations, a key can still be misplaced.

The important thing is how you react to a missing key, if you know to react at all. Replacing a padlock might be inexpensive, but what if that key lands in the hands of somebody who isn't supposed to have access and is predisposed to abuse that access? How long would it take you to be aware the key is even missing? Your electronic key control system should have alerts when keys aren't returned so you can react quickly and prevent potential problems.

This also lets employees know they'll be held accountable for what happens to keys they're responsible for. If they know management will be alerted if a key isn't returned, they're more likely to be a good steward of their access and not simply grab an unused copy of a key from a pegboard. Misplaced keys are a thing of the past when every access point is automatically logged and securely backed up.

Protecting Against Insider Threats

You might not be aware you have a disgruntled employee until it's too late, which is why it's important to minimize access to items that can be easily adulterated. This is especially true for employees who were recently terminated or resigned. An employee who left on good terms but still has access to the facility is a potential threat.

Be sure you remove secure access rights from former employees as soon as possible after their termination or resignation. Whether they have access to physical keys or electronic key cards, they should be unable to reach secure areas or tanks without an escort. Any keys they're carrying should be returned to an electronic key control system immediately and their login credentials revoked.

Whatever method you take for securing your food processing facility's keys, be sure you commit to the process and actually hold employees accountable for how it's used. Enforce new rules consistently and continually, otherwise you leave your company at risk of intentional adulteration.

For more information on protecting your business, check out our eBook 5 Steps to Make Your Facility More Secure.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Simple Guide to Key Control Jargon

Wooden mannequin surrounded by question marks
Every industry has jargon that’s confusing to the average person. This can cause problems when industry professionals try to communicate with anyone outside their area of expertise. In the UK, for example, medical terminology became so confusing to patients that misunderstandings began affecting quality of care. As a result, the Royal College of General Practitioners told doctors to avoid jargon when speaking with patients.

While key and access control lingo isn’t so complicated that it’s almost a language in itself like medical terminology, we do believe that clear communication is crucial to helping businesses.

Whether you’re researching key management methods for your business or need to order parts for your electronic key control system and aren’t sure what they’re called, the following list of terms is for you.

Common Key Control Terms

Audit Trail — A key control audit trail includes reports with specific details each time someone uses a key. This data includes who removed it, when and why they removed it, and when the key was returned. Also called a key control log. Read more about why audit trails are important.

Access Card — A plastic card that, like a credit card, is programmed with data that only a special sensor can read. It provides access to restricted areas or systems. View an access card

Control Panel — The part of an electronic key control system where a user performs system functions such as checking out keys, running reports, and adding new users. It often includes a touchscreen. View a control panel.

Eyelet — A metal ring that’s used along with a rivet stem and washer (both terms defined below) to attach keys to key tags. View photos and order supplies from our online catalog (current customers only).

Key Fob — A keychain-sized piece of hardware that restricts access to secure areas or systems. It grants entry by generating a random code, emitting an electronic signal, or being scanned by a special reader. Car key remotes are one of the most common types of fobs. View a key fob.

Lockbox — A small, hinged box containing a set of keys. They’re commonly attached to house doors in the real estate industry and to car windows in the automotive industry. Read more about lockboxes.

Key Tag — A paper or plastic identifier that’s attached to a set of keys. Some tags, especially paper ones, have the key’s information written directly on them. Others have an embedded computer chip that’s coded with information about the key. These key tags are used with an electronic key control system and are more secure than labeled tags. Learn why it’s helpful to set up a key tag preparation station.

Key Control Log — Another name for an audit trail. The key control log is a set of reports with details about each transaction.

Key Plug System — An updated version of the traditional wooden pegboard. Keys are attached to pegs and inserted into slots on a numbered board. Also called a mechanical peg system or lock plug system.

Module — A component of a mix-and-match system; think of it as one piece of a puzzle. For example, the KeyTrak Guardian allows customers to choose modules for lockers, keys, or cards.

Pegboard — A board with regularly spaced holes that hold hooks. Keys or other items are placed on the hooks. View a pegboard.

Reader — An electronic user authentication method that scans a piece of hardware such as a fob or biometric characteristic such as a fingerprint. Read about why you should use fingerprint readers with your key control system.

Rivet Stem — A long, thin metal piece that’s used along with a washer (defined below) and eyelet to attach keys to key tags.

Server — A computer that controls an electronic key control system. View a key control system server

Zap Strap — A thin rubber-coated wire that’s used to attach keys to key tags.

Proximity Card — Another name for an access card.

Washer — A donut-shaped metal piece that’s used along with a rivet stem and eyelet to attach keys to key tags.

To learn more about key management, read “A Four-Minute History of Key Control” and “Do You Need to Improve Your Key Management?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Three Condo Concierge Horror Stories

Gloved hand opening doorConcierge service is a hallmark of a luxury living experience. But what if the concierge decides to take advantage of residents rather than serving them? Without the right employee accountability and controls in place, that’s a real risk — just read these concierge horror stories.

The $200,000 Jewelry Heist

At a condo complex in Cleveland, Ohio, a concierge used his access privileges to enter four different units, from which he stole over $200,000 of jewelry. He then worked with an accomplice to pawn the stolen property.

The Booze-Loving Concierge

One Virginia concierge treated a resident’s home as her own personal bar. Upon entering the unit, the employee was caught on camera guzzling the resident’s alcohol.

The Man in Black

While traveling in Thailand, a Vancouver, British Columbia, woman checked her condo’s security camera footage and observed a man in black — whom she recognized as the building’s concierge — enter her home, slip on a pair of white gloves, and help himself to several hundred dollars from her dresser drawer. Another woman in the same building reported that a total of $5,350 in cash had disappeared from her home in two separate incidents — with no evidence of forced entry.

How to Protect Your Residents

When provided conscientiously, concierge services are a much-appreciated complement to busy people’s lives. To reduce the risk of a dishonest employee abusing their access to condo dwellers’ homes, use electronic key control to enforce the following checks and balances:

  • Avoid using master keys and require concierges to check out the key to each unit individually.
  • Set up alerts when a concierge has a key for longer than necessary and restrict access to keys outside of their normal shift hours.
  • Notify residents by text or email when the key to their unit is checked out.

Take the time to thoroughly assess how you treat key access. Are you providing residents a service or is your complex a nightmare waiting to happen?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Top 12 Questions to Ask Key Control Vendors at NADA

Fast-moving crowd on trade show floor
What if purchasing an electronic key control system were like purchasing a new vehicle? In some ways, it is: You’re looking for a system that’s reliable, meets a set of specific specs, and is backed by top-notch service. Most of the time, unfortunately, you don’t have the opportunity to take multiple systems for a test drive, so to speak, in a single day — except at the NADA Convention & Expo.

As the industry’s largest event for new-vehicle dealers, NADA is the perfect time to select a new key control system, among other products and services, because you have the opportunity to see and compare multiple options at once.

With more than 500 companies exhibiting at NADA, however, it’s crucial to map out a strategy. If you’re in the market for an electronic key control system, here are some questions to ask to make the most of your time:
  1. Will the vendor customize a solution for your dealership or is it a one-size-fits-all product?
  2. Can the system and vendor grow with your needs?
  3. Is the software tailored to the auto industry?
  4. How do employees access keys and assets?
  5. How are transactions tracked?
  6. How user-friendly is the system?
  7. What reports does the system offer?
  8. Can the system be accessed remotely?
  9. Do you have to install the system and train your employees yourself?
  10. What support services are offered after the system is installed?
  11. Does the company have a track record of product development over the last three to five years?
  12. Does the system accommodate the number of keys and/or dealer plates you need to store?
To help you evaluate and compare potential electronic key control vendors more thoroughly, visit our Resources page to download our Key Control Checklist and Electronic Key Control Scorecard.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Surprising Link Between Key Control and Dealership Reputation

Businessman standing in pouring rain
Put yourself in a customer’s shoes for a moment. Let’s say you visit a dealership wanting to drive a specific high-end vehicle you saw online. When you arrive, the salesperson greets you outside and you tell him about the vehicle you want to test drive. He agrees and goes to retrieve the key. Meanwhile, you’re standing outside and it starts to drizzle. Ten minutes go by. The drizzle turns into a downpour. It’s now been 20 minutes. Finally the salesperson returns.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t find the key,” he says. “Can you come back tomorrow?”

As the customer in this scenario, how would you respond? If you’re really forgiving, you might give the dealership one more shot, but more than likely, you’ll decide not to return and might even leave a 1-star review online.

This situation — which is based on a few different actual reviews — reveals the often unexpected but critical link between key control and online reputation management.

How does key management affect your dealership’s reputation?

When you have process issues related to key control — whether in sales or service — customers notice. And if they have a poor experience, they’ll talk about it online. Just take a look at these snippets from real-life reviews about customer experiences in sales and service (many of these reviews were even embedded on the dealership’s homepage!):


    1-star review graphic: "It took him twenty minutes to find the keys while my friend and I were left standing in the rain."
  • I found the SUV I wanted to test drive. … She couldn’t even locate the vehicle on the lot.
  • He left me out in the sales yard for about 30 minutes looking for keys for the F-150 and then said he couldn’t find them and told me to come back the next day.
  • No effort was made to show the vehicle off, he knew nothing about the car, he didn’t know how many he had in stock, he took us up to the second floor to show us the other car and when we got there he realized that the car was actually downstairs, he never asked if we wanted to test drive it but the kicker was when we asked to drive it, it took him twenty minutes to find the keys [while] my friend and I were left standing in the rain.
  • Pathetic excuse for a dealership. My buddies and I were there looking at a Maserati for sale in their showroom. The sorry excuse for a dealership couldn’t locate the keys……really??


  • Unfortunately, I was very unhappy that my keys were misplaced/lost. After I paid for my service for my vehicle, my keys were nowhere to be found.
1-star review graphic: "After I paid for my service for my vehicle, my keys were nowhere to be found."

  • I arrived at the dealership at 6pm to pick up my vehicle just to see that it was still parked out on the street where I had left it, my keys in the drop box that was also unlocked! Very, very disappointed in this dealership!
  • The porter in the service department LOST MY KEYS. New keys had to be made, which delayed the technician looking at my vehicle for a day.

Actively monitoring and responding to reviews can help you promptly address situations like the ones described above, but what if the circumstances that prompted the review had never existed in the first place? Each customer’s feedback would likely have been very different.

Avoiding even one negative review can help your business, because it takes 40 positive reviews to counter the effects of a negative review. That makes sense since nearly 60 percent of car shoppers look at reviews to select a dealership for purchasing or servicing a vehicle. If they see multiple negative reviews, you’re likely to lose their business in addition to the original reviewer’s.

How do you improve your key control to avoid negative reviews?

While there’s a lot that goes into creating effective key management processes, the guidelines below are a good overview of the measures you’ll need to take to ensure poor processes don’t result in poor reviews.

1. Control your keys.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the foundation of effective key control is being able to control your keys. If you’re storing keys inside a metal file cabinet or on a pegboard and use a manual log to track usage, it’s no surprise that your salespeople are having trouble finding keys. The moment someone forgets to update the logbook and then fails to return a key, it’s lost. Unfortunately, someone might not notice that key is missing until they’re looking for it while a customer stands outside in the rain waiting for a test drive.

By using an electronic key control system to secure keys in both sales and service, you can receive alerts for unreturned keys, check available stock, and reserve keys. In turn, salespeople can get customers in vehicles for test drives faster and service staff can better protect customers’ vehicles.

2. Train your staff.

Having a key control policy is useless if you don’t also educate your staff. Just look at the training opportunities evident in the above customer reviews.

For example, if a salesperson can’t locate a key for a test drive, they should know how to handle the situation. Instead of asking the customer to return the next day, they could retrieve the keys to a similar vehicle and offer to let the customer drive that vehicle instead. After the test drive, the salesperson could then check to see who last removed the key to the desired vehicle and follow up with that person to track it down.

In service, staff should be trained on best practices for handling customer keys, such as never letting the key out of their sight unless it’s safely secured in a key control system.

These are just a couple examples — ensure staff throughout your dealership is thoroughly trained on key handling best practices for a variety of situations.

3. Watch for online complaints related to key management.

If someone mentions an issue related to key control online, you’ll want to know about it ASAP so you can respond to the customer and address any process or training issues internally. Review sites like Yelp, Google, and DealerRater are good places to start. Keep an eye out for mentions of your dealership on social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) as well.

If you want to avoid reputation-damaging gripes about how you manage keys, proper key control is, well, key. Implement good processes now so you don’t have to do damage control later.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Is Your Key Control Ready for Flu Season?

Coworkers wanting to avoid sick man blowing nose
It all starts when someone comes to work complaining of a headache, dry cough, and fatigue. By the end of the day, they’ve got a bad case of the chills, a sore throat, and muscle aches. The diagnosis: flu.

Before you know it, your workplace is in the middle of a flu outbreak — along with countless other organizations across the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays each year, with a price tag of $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity.

Hopefully your business has a flu preparedness plan (if you don’t, the World Health Organization and CDC have some helpful resources to help you create one). What most preparedness plans don’t account for, however, is how illness-related employee absences affect your key management processes. This flu season, there are a couple measures you can take to make sure your key control doesn’t take time off along with your employees.

Disinfect Keys and Equipment

The flu is highly contagious and can be transmitted even by talking to someone standing 6 feet away or by touching something an infected person has come into contact with. To minimize the flu’s spread, it’s important to keep germs at bay by washing your hands often and frequently disinfecting surfaces.

Your cleaning crew will handle cleaning common areas, bathrooms, and more, but what about high-contact areas involved in your key control processes? Think about all the pieces involved in key management — from the keys themselves to electronics — and follow the below cleaning guidelines.

Keys and Fobs

  • Keep a container of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer near key storage areas. Have employees give keys a wipe-down before returning them and then use hand sanitizer.
  • If you store keys inside an electronic key control system, do not spray cleaner or use any kind of wet wipes inside the system and ensure that keys are completely dry before returning them. Print a copy of our KeyTrak system cleaning guidelines to keep near your system.
  • If you have electronic keys cards or fobs, some people recommend cleaning them with rubbing alcohol, but check the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines first.

Biometric Fingerprint Reader

  • If you use an electronic key control system with a fingerprint reader, clean the scanner with office tape at least once a week. Do not clean with soap, water, or cleaner.
  • For other biometric devices, follow manufacturer recommendations for cleaning.

Computer Accessories

  • To clean computer accessories such as a keyboard or mouse, disconnect the components from the power source and wipe them down with bleach-free disinfecting wipes. Make sure they’re fully dry before plugging them back in. CNET has a helpful five-minute cleaning routine.

Prepare for Unexpected Absences

Unfortunately, the flu doesn’t give advance notice, so figure out how you’ll address any interruptions to your key control processes as soon as possible. Below are some common scenarios to prepare for.

Keys That Require Dual Authorization

If a manager is required to authorize a key checkout, is there a different management staff member who can approve key use? If not, determine how employees should adjust their processes if they’re unable to access keys to perform certain job functions. Make sure you clearly communicate that plan to any employees who’d be affected by such a change.

Keys That Haven’t Been Returned

To avoid a situation where an employee takes a key home and then calls in sick the next day, set up alerts for keys that aren’t returned within a certain time frame so you can ensure they’re returned before the end of the day. Some possible exceptions to this rule are long-term issue keys, such as for employee offices, or fleet vehicle keys.

New Employee Setup

If you have new employees starting who will need access to keys, don’t delay processing any paperwork, setting up user accounts, or providing required key control training.

Delegating Routine Key Management Processes

Document routine key management processes so someone can easily fill in for those responsible for overseeing your key control system, reports, etc. A daily key control checklist is a good start.

Key Tag Creation

If you deal with a high volume of key turnover (if you work for a dealership, for example), make sure you have a couple people who are authorized and trained to set up and decommission keys.

By including key control in your preparedness planning, you don’t have to let the flu hurt your organization’s productivity any more than it has to.