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.