What Goes Into Building a Key Control System

by Cody Sheehy | Mar 2, 2017 12:00:00 AM

Key control is a necessary burden for every store. You have to lock up your valuables and make sure that you keep a close eye on the movements of the keys to prevent loss and duplication. Here are 5 best practices that can help you improve your key control system.

Key control is crucial when it comes to retail. Excellent security means that each employee has access only to the areas required to do their jobs. This encourages responsibility and minimizes the risk of shrink due to employee theft, misconduct, or failure to secure important locks.

Unfortunately, most retail stores lack well implemented key control practices. So we’ve written up the five most crucial practices your store needs to implement today to maximize security and minimize risk.

1. Start With The Right Key Control System For Your Needs

Each store is different so there is no one-size fits all security solution. If you have the opportunity to customize your key control system and the locks present in your store, you should take it.

Factors like total square footage, cabinets, boxes, lockable doors, the total number of key holders, and total keys that need to be carried by each key holder can be crucial in implementing a great key control system.

Other factors should be considered, too many retail facilities already use a master key systems which can unlock every door in the building. These can be very useful, but if lost, present a huge security threat. Using a key control system with consistent tracking can help avoid loss of master keys.

2. Accountability Is Crucial

If you’re locking valuable materials, objects, or products away, you should be using keys that are not easy to duplicate. At the bare minimum, the keys should be stamped with DO NOT DUPLICATE in a location that can’t be easily hidden or filed off, and these keys should be tightly controlled and tracked so that they cannot leave the store and be duplicated.

If important keys are ever duplicated, liability for fraud, shrink, and theft goes through the roof. Keep your employees accountable and avoid giving them the opportunity to duplicate keys, even if you don’t think they will.

3. Rekeyable Solutions Are Essential

Nobody is perfect. People lose keys, no matter how circumspect and conscientious they are. The world of retail moves fast. An employee may lose a key, quit without returning their keys, or any number of other circumstances may preclude the returning of a key, so you need a way to replace your locks and keys.

Rekeyable solutions can be unlocked, removed, and swapped quickly and easily, allowing for a comprehensive, fast replacement of all affected locks. Having a rekeyable lock solution can mean you don’t lose time and money getting a locksmith to replace your locks, allowing operations to continue smoothly.

4. Use Online Key Tracking Tools

Online and cloud-based key tracking software is a very effective way of tracking key holders, looking at the locations of the doors and locks in question. Helping you get a better idea of who has what key, at which location, and at what time.

Multiple employees can access these programs, even from mobile devices, the enforcement and auditing of key control procedures can be quick, easy, and efficient. Much more so than a pen-and-paper or locally stored worksheet solution.

5. Always Enforce Policy And Procedures

Policies and procedures exist to be enforced, not shoved into a binder and forgotten. If you have systems which require signing off on keys, then you must enforce associates to abide by the policy. Have monthly or weekly check-ins to ensure the location of all keys is known, and make sure you follow that procedure. If you have a checklist of things to do when an employee leaves the company, ensure that key is returned or locks are re-keyed in a timely manner.

A key control system is only as good as its enforcement. Even the best, most secure lock system in the world won’t help you prevent shrink if you’re not taking the appropriate management steps to ensure that your key control system is properly implemented.

Conclusion – Start With An Audit

Auditing your key control and lock system is the best way to get a good idea of your current level of security. By doing so, you can see where you’re weak, revamp appropriate policies and procedures, and replace keys and locks, if necessary.

But remember, you must keep up with policy and procedure enforcement. If you don’t, you’ll just have to repeat this process the next time a breach in security occurs.

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