Choosing the right equipment for managing motor dealership keys
With keys of all shapes playing an essential role in every motor dealership and controlling all our high-value assets, it is more important than ever to ensure they are secure and quickly accessible to those authorised users who need them.
Wasted time looking for keys or searching for the vehicles they control can be a nightmare and has to be a thing of the past.
But keys can be a tremendous asset to our business because they always tell an excellent, complete story about the heart of every business, including the efficiency of any operational process, whereabouts and history of any user or vehicle.
How … in many ways:
Organisation - disorganised keys can have users searching through old/redundant keys to finding the one they need, wasting so much time on every occasion that a key cannot be found, sometimes looking inefficient or embarrassingly disorganised in front of demanding potential customers.
To fix this: have a complete key audit, throwing out any useless keys for sold vehicles or old locks that were sold or changed ages ago - it is always hard to throw keys away because they were once the only way to access that vehicle or essential asset, whilst costing fortunes to replace, but now they are just a hindrance, so they have to go (at least into an old biscuit tin under the stairs, “just in case”)
Now that only useful keys are in the cabinet, seal each key bunch together (an anti-tamper seal is only a few pence). Each bunch does not get split up and prevents individual key theft when in use or on demonstration. Then throw away any old key fobs or lucky rabbits foot that just take up space. Number the sealed bunch and make a register or number the vehicle they control both on the paperwork and with a mirror hanger that includes your dealership logo, looking smart and efficient. Customers ask to see vehicle numbers 12 and 20, saving time from the start.
So now the keys are linked to the correct numbered vehicle as they both have the same number, and no one can remove a key from that bunch without breaking the seal and causing questions to be asked. Now you can go about managing them.
As you are aware; key management is two parts:
1 - Security - the cabinet, room or environment they are kept in and tracking, or more precisely
2- Keeping track of each bunch of keys - ensuring they are always available in their correct position or knowing exactly who has them.
Security because keys are always telling a really useful and essential story, they are not always best locked away; in fact, as long as they are in a secure environment such as a secure office or operations centre, they may be better to be on show so that it is immediately apparent if a key set is missing.
If they do need to be kept in a secure cabinet, then decide if that is to be locked away with limited access; perhaps spare keys that are rarely accessed could be in a safe or secure cabinet with a key-operated lock, but more often, the keys are required regularly by several different authorised staff, so may be better kept in a self-closing, self-locking cabinet with push-button/PIN/card/fingerprint or Bluetooth phone access. The cabinet security varies but may include a transparent or solid door of varying thicknesses, with additional locks for out-of-hours security. Potentially insecure environments such as valeting bays may use police approved commercial cabinets with reinforcement and drill-proof locks. (only available from Keytracker.com).
So now we have all the keys neatly sealed in bunches and labelled with a number that matches the number of their hook on the wall or in their secure cabinet, with all vehicles & doors displaying the matching number, so the keys are quick and easy to get hold of.
But if you then go to the cabinet and the keys are missing, where do you look - so if this is important to you; instigate a system that keeps track of every bunch of keys, ensuring that every user logs their use of the keys in one of 3 ways:
The first is Keytracker’s simple peg-in, peg-out system that ensures the authorised user has to insert their peg (or pegs) to release the required keys - their peg(s) will be the colour of their department (15 colours), with their unique user number or initials to show which specific individual has those keys, as their peg cannot be removed until the keys are returned.
This gives at-a-glance information about every set of keys in use and exactly who has them, whilst ensuring their immediate return on completion. It’s brilliant and can be used for trade plates or battery packs, ensuring they are always stored precisely where they should be and available to authorised staff, or you can see who has them.
But this will only tell a viewer who has any keys attached to the numbered peg right now, with no record of who had them last Thursday etc. So, if that is required and you have a larger budget, then: To record previous users, you can either sign the keys out in the old fashioned key register or attach a bar/QR code sticker to every sealed bunch, which, when scanned by the KeyControlSoftware.com app, will record the date, time and user (by the scanner or smartphone used) - access information can then be used or reported as required, remembering that software does have license fees and upkeep involved, but can be remotely updated or questioned at any time and allows keys to be transferred to other users off-site whilst still keeping track by scanning on the new users smartphone.
But this still has to be carried out by the user.
If the users may forget to “sign” the keys out, then an electronic Keytracker cabinet would be used - There are four basic types:
Unblocked key positions - whereby an authorised user gains access to the cabinet using pin/fingerprint/card/smartphone and may take any keys. All keys will be recorded and logged out to that user, with pre-set alarms and email alerts as required.
Locked key positions - this is the same as unlocked, but every set of keys are individually locked into the board by an additional solenoid, only allowing the user to access pre-grouped or individual keys - this is especially useful to limit access to keys and vehicles that the user may not have permissions or licenses to access, eliminating or substantially reducing management culpability, in case of an incident.
Both electronic systems may be configured to dynamic or static setup.
Dynamic - allows keys to be returned to any position as the unique identifying fob will display that key when searched on the app or at the cabinet.
Static - keeps the keys attached to a numbered peg and board position but may also be searched by registration etc. Additional modules can also be added, including cloud hosting, pre-booking, live website links to show up to date vehicles for sale, lot mapping to show where the vehicle is and any other vehicles to be moved, random breathalyser tests at the cabinet, GPS key modules, Rfid blocking pouches & cabinets, license checking, barrier release when correctly paired within set time limits, in fact, anything else you can think of …
The story the keys can tell is searchable by
Vehicle - who had access to it, when and for how long.
User name - which vehicles has Fred accessed, when and for how long -
User department - which vehicles have sales/service accessed, when, whom and for how long.
Time and date - what was accessed and by whom on this date or period.
Bookings made - or any other optional additions.
Motor dealerships use this information to view:
Which vehicles have been demonstrated or worked on, by whom and when - showing pitch areas, ramps or individuals that may be more successful or more efficient etc. Alarms can be set to text or email if keys are out too long and end of day reports show any outstanding issues. These systems are designed to be self-monitoring, so you only get notified if a problem arises but can view all information or reports from any internet device.
Out of hours key drop off and collection boxes can also be used to extend service opening hours for pre-booked customers, operated manually or by showing the camera a QR code received by phone. Still, we would recommend full site camera coverage and limiting time use to + 2 hours before and after opening, but that “extra 4 hours” can prove to be very profitable.
Most motor dealers tend to use either:
The mechanical peg-in, peg-out boards in a police-approved self-closing commercial key cabinet store between 25 and 300 keys at the cost of around 10p per vehicle per week to rent plus £7 cabinet (£9.50 to £37 per week rental or £750-£3000 purchase)
The electronic non-locking static cabinets with clear or solid doors, storing between 50 and 400 keys at the cost of around 50p per vehicle per week plus £12 cabinet (£37 to £212 per week or £5995-£18500 purchase)
Using the correct key management systems can substantially improve efficiency, reduce management culpability, provide extra income by extending hours, reduce the risk of opportunist theft, reduce increased insurance premiums and improve all-around ‘peace of mind’.
Proud to manufacture all products and software at our central UK factory to the highest standards, with installation and training only by Keytracker certified staff.