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How to avoid losing keys in the busy period: A guide for short stay and holiday rental companies

It’s mid-July and that means the busy summer season is already underway for folks in the Northern Hemisphere. Keys will be going in and out of the office with ever increasing frequency, and staying on top of them can be hard work! As we all know, a key in the wrong place can cause no end of woe for you and your team. It usually leads to bad guest experiences, delays in servicing, frustrated staff and angry landlords.

Working with short stay companies around the world, I often get asked about “best practice”. I thought I’d write a quick guide, based on what we’ve seen and the experience of our clients- I hope it’s helpful!

1. Make sure you have enough copies

When you’ve got keys going in and out to staff, contractors and guests, have enough sets available all the times. It will really make life easier! It may be that another person needs access to a property before the last person has returned the keys. Most short stay and holiday rental companies we work with keep at least 4 sets of keys – 2 for guests, 1 for cleaning and maintenance and one for management.

Having two sets of guest keys can reduce the number of times you’re asked to provide a spare when guests lose them or lock themselves out. It also buys you time to get other sets ready or re-cut. A side effect can be that the guests feel more loved!

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have another “emergency” set that can be used as a template for getting keys re-cut (see below).

2. Separate your guest sets and management sets

Not every set of keys we hold is the same. We often need keys to access parts of a property that guests should not access, such as utilities cupboards and water meters. Over the course of a busy season, some guests will inevitably lose keys, so it’s important to keep those sets down to as few as possible. This will reduce cost and hassle of getting keys re-cut or locks changed.

The other reason for separating the sets is because the way you handle guest keys is often very different to the way you manage keys for staff, cleaning and maintenance. Having a different set for different purposes often makes sense. It helps everyone if you can make the sets visibly different, so people looking at them can instantly see what type of set they are. The most common way to do this is either using a different coloured tag or a different label. Some people do both!

If the key rings you are giving out contain high-value items that are likely to go missing (e.g. parking fobs, or high security keys) you might also consider adding tamper-proof keyrings to certain sets. Tamper Proof Keyrings can become very expensive, so this might only be worth doing for the high-risk sets.

3. Ensure strict accountability for everyone who takes keys

This is the big one – and it’s also the hardest. Without strong accountability, it’s almost impossible to stay on top of your keys.

What do we mean by accountability? It means that any person who takes keys knows, understands and accepts what it means to have keys in their possession. You need to have rules and processes that everyone understands and follows. There must be also be significant consequences for not following the right process.

The main thing to ensure is that anyone taking keys is responsible for ensuring that they are returned in the same condition they were taken, within the time frame you set.

If a person does not follow your process correctly or loses a set of keys in their possession, then there are consequences. Usually that means being liable to pay the replacement costs (including the relevant administration costs) if keys are lost, but it can also mean missing KPIs for staff and contractors, and even remuneration if keys come back late.

How you manage accountability will likely differ between staff, contractors and guests. For guests it will probably form part of your Terms and Conditions, and most people will expect to pay a charge for lost keys. For staff and contractors it’s important to have a key management policy in place, which may for part of their general contract, which outlines their responsibility.

The golden rule for accountability should be that whoever the key log says has the keys is the person responsible for them. This brings us neatly to the next point….

4. Track everything

If making sure everyone knows their responsibilities when they take keys is the most important thing, then the only way to enforce that accountability is through effective tracking. It is critical that you can reliably track who has a key at any given point. With reliable tracking, you will always know who is responsible. Having observed our clients over many years, there is an astonishing improvement in the way people look after keys, as soon as they know they are being tracked and monitored.

Tracking keys effectively is easier said than done. Below are the main things you’ll need to track:

Key Issue / Signing keys out

The big danger is that if people take a key without signing it out, it’s impossible to track. You need to make sure that the right person is accountable for a key when it is taken. Here are a couple of ways you can do that:

1. Ensure that keys are only issued by dedicated staff.

These are people whose job it is to hand over keys and ensure things are accurately recorded. These people are incentivised to do things properly, since if something goes wrong and a key is missing, then they are ultimately accountable. What’s important here is that only these trusted individuals have access to the key cabinet and the list/database of which key goes with which property (never, ever, write the property address on the key tag)

2. Use a software system or key database to audit who looks up keys.

This is the most flexible approach. If people have to rely on a database to find the key they are looking for, then a sophisticated system such as Keyzapp will be able to tell you the last person who looked for a key, even if they fail to sign it out properly. If people are using the same system to look up keys and sign them out, then in practice this rarely happens, since it’s so easy to sign it out at the same time as you look it up. Any mistakes that are made become very easy to pick up and correct.

3. Physically lock keys in place until they can be signed out.

There are a number of hardware options on the market that prevent people taking keys unless they are fully signed out, ranging from mechanical “peg boards” to highly sophisticated cabinets that use fingerprint or facial recognition. These options can be used together with software systems if you want the best of both worlds. The only thing to bear in mind is that even basic mechanical systems can be quite expensive to buy and maintain. They also take up quite a bit of physical space, which many people don’t have.

Key return / Signing keys in

Once you’ve got people accountable when keys go out of the office- it’s in their own best interests to sign them in properly. All you need to do is enforce a rule that says “If the key is not signed in, then whoever is in the log as having taken it is the person responsible. No arguments.”

Old fashioned pen and paper can still work here, provided you regularly check the keys still signed out. In our experience it’s much better to have a system that makes it clear when keys are not back after a period of time, as this helps prevent key loss and eliminates the need to comb through pages and pages of logs when something goes wrong.

Tracking key handovers

This one is particularly relevant to the Short Stay sector, where keys often pass between people outside of the office. If this regularly happens in your business then you need a good way to audit when keys change hands- if not, the person who takes the keys from the office ends up unfairly “on the hook” (pardon the pun) for keys that go missing. You want to avoid those awkward “he-said, she-said” arguments, which are bad for morale, and lead people to lose faith in the system.

Tracking key handovers outside of the office has traditionally been one of the most difficult things to do. You really have 3 options:

1. Enforce a rule to report every key handover back to base.

Ideally, whenever people exchange keys outside of the office, they must inform the office who can update the records, and send a confirmation to each party that the responsibility for the keys has changed hands. This is quite time consuming for all concerned, and if not done properly can lead to errors or disputes. Many fast-paced companies find it impractical, but it can work on a small scale especially if key exchanges are rare.

2. Simply don’t allow key handovers between people.

This is probably the best option if you don’t have a system that supports it. It will probably mean keeping and tracking more sets of keys for each property, but this is a price worth paying for better accountability.

3. Use an app or system that supports transfer of keys between people.

Here you can make use of mobile devices to electronically record key handovers quickly and easily. We’re not aware of anything other than Keyzapp that makes the process this easy.

5. Put someone in charge

Putting someone in charge of your key process is the critical factor to ensuring that all keys are accounted for. Even if you allow people to take keys for themselves, you still need someone to oversee the process and regularly check it’s working properly. The person best suited for this role is a senior detail-orientated person, who isn’t the office manager. In our experience, the boss isn’t well suited to this role, because they are usually too busy. Equally don’t give the job to the most

junior member of the team, as they don’t have the authority to hold people to account, and may not fully understand your key system. I wrote an article on this last year for letting agents that it might be worth a look at.

6. Review Status Regularly

Whichever system you choose to track and manage your keys, you still need to check how things are going. Once people know that the key log is regularly reviewed, I guarantee you’ll see an immediate improvement in behaviour. The review should usually be done by the person in charge of the key process, reporting to the office manager. We recommend that you review the log at least once a week, but you may like to do it more often, especially in the early days. With the right tools and process it’s a very quick check. There are 4 main things to review:

1. What keys are overdue?

Any electronic system that allows you to record key sign-outs should also allow you to track a due back date, making this information easy to find. If keys are overdue, then you should chase them up as soon as possible. Overdue keys that aren’t returned quickly tend to go missing. If you’ve followed the advice above, at least you’ll know who is responsible should the worst happen.

2. Which are my at-risk properties?

These are properties where you have no current keys in the office. If you have an emergency and all keys are signed out, then you may be in a difficult situation. See if you can get at least one set back, even if not yet overdue.

3. Does the number of key sign-outs look right?

This helps you be sure that your keys are being signed-out properly. If properties are cleaned on every checkout, does the number of sign-outs from cleaners correlate to the number of checkouts you’ve had this week? If not, dig a little deeper and see who in your team needs more training.

4. Spot check the cabinet.

Pick a couple of random key hooks to go and check. Use your records to work out how many sets of keys you should have right now for a few properties. It’s good to pick a couple at random and some where you know there has been recent activity. This helps you see if people have been following the process properly. If you’ve just added a lot of keys or you’ve changed your process, you should do this more frequently.

7. What to do when guests lose keys

You’ll almost certainly have a process in place for guests losing their keys, but here are a few pointers.

If you charge guests a fee for key/lock replacement, factor in the admin time as well as the direct costs. Getting a locksmith out or sending a member of the team to get new keys cut can be very time consuming and the invoices/receipts can generate a lot of admin. Make sure you communicate clearly any charges that you have to your guests.

A guest losing keys can often give you two problems. Firstly you need to give guests access to the property again by giving them a spare set of keys. Secondly, you may also need to get new keys cut. Ensure you have enough spares so you can do both these things in parallel. We’ve already covered how having two sets of guest keys can make this easier.

Did this help? Any questions?

Well done for making it to the end of what turned out to be quite a long post. I hope you found it useful. Do you have any questions? Have I missed something that’s important to you? Please get in touch by leaving a comment below. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Make sure you have enough keys to cover all the coming and going and still have one spare in the office for emergencies
  2. Separate your guest sets and management sets, and make it obvious which is which
  3. Make sure everyone knows the rules with keys and the consequences of not following them
  4. Keep a detailed key log
  5. Put someone in charge and review the log regularly for issues

Public Sector Organizations: Keyzapp is now available on G Cloud

We’re delighted to announce that Keyzapp has been approved for purchase by UK Public Sector organisations using the Government’s Digital Marketplace, or G Cloud.  If you work in the public sector and need  a low cost solution for tracking keys and other small assets, you can now purchase Keyzapp more quickly and easily than ever before at a standard low rate, using a pre-agreed contract framework.  This should make your procurement team very happy.

We’re delighted to have been accepted into the marketplace, and hope that this puts Keyzapp within reach of more of our country’s institutions, such as schools. local authorities, healthcare providers and their contractors.

You can find us on the digital marketplace here

If you have any questions about Keyzapp and how to purchase through G Cloud please get in touch!

Bringing Smarter Key Management to Facilities

Keys. We still can’t live without them yet staying in control of them is time consuming and frustrating for facilities and building managers the world over. Having solved this problem for hundreds of letting agents and property managers, Keyzapp is now bringing its knowledge and tools to the facilities sector.

 

Founded in 2014, Keyzapp takes advantage of the low-cost contactless technology now found in most credit cards and mobile phones, completely removing the need for spreadsheets and logbooks. As with all innovations that improve business practices, the idea is simple. Just tap a key fob on your phone or reader to see instantly what a key is for, and issue it to the person who needs it without fuss. The app then takes over, giving you an instant view of who has your keys, sending automatic reminders to people whose keys are due back

Keyzapp’s three co-founders were certain they could find a better way to keep track of small, hard-to-track assets like keys, after seeing at first hand the sheer nuisance that misplaced keys can cause in the lettings industry. “Our mission is to completely eliminate paper-based logbooks and spreadsheets for tracking keys in business. We had to come up with something different that’s accessible to everyone” says director Tim Hill. “Managing keys is a people-process, so the answer was to make the whole thing extremely easy to pick up and use. At the same time, it had to be flexible enough to respect the different ways companies tag and record their keys. We also had to make it low cost so that it was a viable option for people managing 20 key sets or 20,000.”

Until now, facilities managers trying to improve their key controls have had limited options, with most solutions focusing on expensive hardware that physically lock keys into cabinets. Keyzapp takes a completely different approach because it focuses on capturing the responsibility for keys as they pass from the storage locations, to different people. When scanning keys, staff see simple guided processes that tell them what information needs to be captured at each step. Front-line staff have described Keyzapp as “childsplay” to use, whilst managers quickly observe improvements in operational efficiency and improved KPIs. Savings often depend on the processes required, but range from cutting a 30-minute daily process to just 5 minutes, right through to one housing association saving £10,000 in 6 months of use.

“Moving to facilities seemed like the natural next step for us, not least because of the demand coming through our website from facilities teams across the world” continues Tim. To date, Keyzapp has been implemented in 14 different countries, with clients ranging from Shopping Centres to Airbnb hosts. “Our attendance at the Facilities Show marks the beginning of our focus on this sector and we’re excited to solve this everyday problem in commercial locations around the world”.

Keyzapp have recently completed a video case study with Amthal Fire and Security, who chose Keyzapp because of the way they could set it up to meet the needs of their 24-hour engineering workforce. You can see the resulting video from their website http://www.keyzapp.com/amthal

Keyzapp will be exhibiting at the Facilities Show at London’s Excel Centre on 18th-20th June. For more information, visit www.keyzapp.com.

Facilities Show 2019: What to look out for

Are you heading to the Facilities Show this year?

With over 100 CPD Conference & Training sessions, a Workplace Wellbeing Show, a Smart Buildings Expo and many fun networking experiences for FMs, including Virtual Golf and the Games Arcade you will need to plan your time wisely!

Keyzapp is exhibiting at the Facilities Show for the first time this year, and with so much going on we have summarised the key elements off the show and picked some of the top highlights so that you don’t miss out!

Click here to claim your free VIP ticket courtesy of Keyzapp!

The Smart Buildings Expo

This exciting Expo is dedicated to workplace technology, smart building technology and field service technology. In addition to Experience, Educate and Consult elements, there will be FM suppliers showcasing their latest technology innovations. Don’t forget to drop by the Keyzapp stand on FM6088 – help yourself to some of our Pick & Mix and see how much time you can save by getting a good key and asset management system in place.

The Smart Buildings Expo, includes three main sections:

Experience – a walking tour of a full size replica of a smart office built on the show floor. Built in partnership with Master Systems Integrators Vanti, they will be on hand to explain each piece of technology.

Educate – The Workplace Technology Theatre will be packed with content for IoT decision makers, FM’s considering implementing technology into their assets – and anyone who wants to see the benefits technology can bring.

Consult– Speak to experts in pre-arranged meetings to get independent advice on where to start, how to retrofit and how to avoid the common pitfalls.

If you would like to know more, click here to register and download the Smart Buildings e-book ahead of the event.

The Inspirational Speakers

Steph McGovern – 18thJune at 11.30

Steph talks about how she went from working as an apprentice engineer at Black & Decker in Durham to becoming an award-winning financial journalist and BBC household name.
Having broadcast from over 600 organisations around the country, Steph will explain what she thinks it takes to be a good business and how to weather the economic and political storm.
On top of this Steph will be talking about why we need to value skills more in the UK and the importance of vocational training. Plus, what she has learnt from some of her biggest interviews, which includes President Trump.

Eddie the Eagle – 19thJune at 11.30

Eddie talks about Courage & Risk.

What is courage? Is it just about a willingness to take risks, or is it more about being willing to face your fears? What about perseverance, failing but getting up and trying again? And then there’s the courage required to try something new or to try to see things differently. Sometimes the old view is comforting. Sometimes telling yourself that doing something big or rising to the challenge is impossible. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to find an excuse than to find the courage and take the risk.

There is always the risk of failing when you’re trying something new. And in the case of Eddie the Eagle, his ambitions also put him at risk of severe injury. Not landing the 90-meter jump at the Calgary Winter Olympics could have had terrible consequences. But actually, his most serious injury was caused by something completely different.

Jonny Wilkinson – 20thJune at 11.30

Arguably one of the best-known rugby players in the world, Jonny Wilkinson famously kicked the drop goal that won England the World Cup with just seconds left in the final. He then went on to be rated as one of the best players in the world in both internationals and at club level with Newcastle and Toulon.

Much of Jonny’s success on the field, however, took its psychological toll. He has dealt with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. In this honest, unguarded speech Jonny will recount how his focus and dedication to the sport he loves meant overlooking important parts of his life. He will consider what that experience has taught him about mental health and will talk about his personal journey to acceptance.

Make sure you register ahead to secure your place at one of the talks

Training Sessions & Panel discussions top picks

And with over 100 training sessions and panel discussions split between three different theatres, not to mention the co-located shows across the FIREX, IFSEC & Safety & Health Expo, here are a few of our top picks from The Facilities Show not to be missed. Remember to scan your badge on the way in to collect your CPD certificate:

Panel: Technology as a force for change – We are technology companies, aren’t we?

18thJune at 11.40 – 12.25

Technology has always played a role in shaping the FM profession and the broader facilities services industry within which the profession operates. Therefore; this panel debate will explore further the understanding of how technology will shape the FM profession in the future but also what’s happening right here and now.

Between Hype and Reality: Connectivity and Integration

18thJune at 14.25 – 14.55

The Internet of Things is the buzzword of the moment but there is an often overlooked chasm between the hype around it and the reality of integrating this technology into day-to-day business processes. As housing associations pressure field service companies into becoming truly connected and providing the end consumer with a tightly knit digital experience, who exactly is going to foot the bill for implementing the technology? Jason’s experience with Oprillo, a business venture that aimed to connect domestic infrastructures with field service companies using IoT tech under the end consumer’s control, showed him that there is a perfect fantasy world and there is the ambivalent present. During this panel, he’ll use his unique insight to explore the level we are at now, in terms of connectivity and integration, where we’ll be in 5 years, and the technology that will bridge the chasm.”

How not to integrate technology in buildings -avoiding the pitfalls others have already made

19thJune at 11.00 – 11.30

This session will cover the current state of the Smart building industry as well as:
– Common mistakes people make when selecting technology
– The importance of considering UX (user experience) in technology design and selection
– When to think about ‘Smart’ in the context of a building’s construction or fit-out programme

Creating next-generation collaborative work environments

19thJune at 15.45 – 16.15

Formal and informal collaboration spaces are dominating new office environments. Technology is a vital component in these new work settings. Creating spaces for employees to effectively meet, share information and innovate is an imperative for company productivity, yet many IT and facilities organisations struggle designing, deploying and managing these critical assets.

In this session, we will examine the trends that are driving the explosive growth of collaborative workspaces and share a practical approach for building a winning business case for technology. We will also show how space design, furnishings and technology come together to create more innovative and engaging places for people to work, and discuss the role standardisation plays in eliminating complexity, reducing costs, improving productivity and driving adoption.

Smart Workspaces – People, Technology, and the Built Environment

20thJune at 11.55 – 12.20

Over 60% of buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built. With the growth of Smart Buildings, it is no surprise that Facility Managers today are expected to be more IT-savvy. This poses several interesting challenges to the role of the Facility Manager, firstly due to the vast amounts of data generated, which is far too much to consume and understand with a siloed work approach and without tools and applications to assist.

This presentation will discuss how facilities can benefit from connectivity and integration of multiple siloed operating systems. Smart Building technology is disrupting the way building owners, tenants, and operators are approaching retrofit projects. Technologies such as multi-purpose sensors are providing actionable data that can further be utilised by Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics applications to provide an enhanced workplace experience. Further, with the workplace population moving towards the Millennial generation and Gen Z, mobile workspaces and a tech-savvy environment have become an attractive recruitment strategy. The presentation will also briefly discuss a case study of what that ideal workplace in today’s world can look like.

Click here to see the full agenda via the free FM Training programme

Supplier Stands

And as well as all the above there will be over 282 FM product providers, showcasing over 2,000 solutions. With such a choice of suppliers, make sure you drop by the Keyzapp Stand FM6088 for a quick demo on how our deceptively simple key management solution can save you time and money every day. If you manage keys, we are the one supplier who really will give you your time back!

Click here to see a video testimonial from one of our Security clients who have made a big impact on their efficiency by installing Keyzapp, enabling them to spend more time on the tasks that matter most.

Have some Fun!

Don’t forget about the Virtual Golf and Games Arcades and click here to secure one of our tickets to the VIP lounge:

Above all – have a great time at the show! We look forward to seeing you there.

Future Proptech Advertising Banner

FUTURE: PropTech – 14th May 2019 – we’re exhibiting!

Future Proptech Advertising Banner

We are very excited to be exhibiting again at the worlds No. 1 PropTech event for its 5th year!

This years theme: Open Collaboration

Bringing together over 2,000 forward thinking real estate executives to discuss the future of the built environment, this day will be packed from beginning to end with interesting content. With so much to choose from, visit the FUTURE: PropTech website to book your tickets, download the full agenda and plan your day wisely!

Make sure to squeeze some time in to visit us on the Keyzapp stand S32 to have a chat about how we can save you time and money managing your keys! With the handy Smartphone App, it is quick and easy to book a meeting in with us to secure a slot.

Who else is going?

Format of the Day & events we will be watching out for

With so much to pick from, its best to break the day down into the 4 separate stages at the event:

2 Main stages: Stage 1: Mega Trends. This will focus on how the real estate sector is being fundamentally changed by global trends such as urbanisation, demographics & technology.

Stage 2: FUTURE Is Now. Will feature case studies, on-stage demos, success stories & “How To” guides of the technology that is already being deployed by leading real estate companies.

2 smaller stages: Stage 3: Launch Stage. This will be showcasing start-ups and ‘ones to watch’. Stage 4: Agent Zone Stage is a dedicated stage for panel discussions and Keynote presentations

We will be watching out for Track 6 on Stage 2, showcasing the impact of technology on the Real Estate sector, and the challenges and opportunities for Real Estate Leaders.

 

 

 

And we will also be checking out the latest innovations in Facility Management (Track 4, Stage 1), where we feel that good Key Management has a lot to offer:

 

Don’t forget to download the Smartphone App ahead of the day to book in meetings and get all the information you need at your fingertips.

Reasons to attend

Do you really need any more persuasion?! Well here goes.. in their own words – some of the key reasons to attend FUTURE: PropTech are as follows:

  1. Arrange 1-to-1 meetings with 2000+ real estate leaders
  2. Listen to 30+ hours of dedicated content
  3. Choose from 4 stages and 9 themes
  4. Learn from over 100 of the world’s leading thinkers in the property sector
  5. Curated Brand Showcases – see live demos of over 80 world leading technology providers, start-ups and innovators
  6. In depth breakout sessions including workshops and round-table discussions
  7. Enjoy complimentary street food served all day. Provided by Streetdots
  8. Network at the free-flowing bar with wine, beer, tea, coffee & refreshments
  9. Attend our 5th Anniversary & UKPA re-brand Party with FREE BBQ, FREE food & drink & live DJ
  10. Connect with delegates from over 40 different countries and meet them in our dedicated International Zone

So book your tickets now, and we very much look forward to seeing you there!!

 

Lady hiding beneath the covers after a nightmare

Managing Keys: Is this your Worst Nightmare?

Imagine the scenario. Your client arrives to collect their keys. You go to the cabinet, and they aren’t there. Who has them? Where are they? Who had them last? At best you look disorganised – at worst you look unprofessional and a risk to your client’s security.

How did this happen?! The answer is quite surprising. Most letting agents don’t consider the release and return of keys as a ‘process’ which needs attention.  And… if that process isn’t cared for, it is easy for it to go wrong. However, if it is properly managed, it not only stops you looking like a risk, but also saves the team time and can even impress your clients.

So do YOU have a key management process?

Basically, if you hold keys that you issue to different people throughout the day or week, then yes, you do.  But have you ever given any thought to what that process really is? Perhaps surprisingly, a lot of people haven’t.

Whether you’re a letting agent, accommodation manager, facilities manager or receptionist, it can really help to have a clear process for looking after your keys and help make sure that things are done consistently and efficiently.

In this blog, I’ll explain what Key Management is, why it’s important and outline some of the things you might want to think about when designing yours.  Don’t worry- it won’t take long to put right!!

What is key management?

Key management is the active process (or, really a set of processes) that businesses use to keep track of their physical keys.

These keys may be owned by the business itself (for example, they may unlock storerooms, lockers, offices, meeting rooms or classrooms) or they might be keys you hold so that you can grant access to the property of others (e.g. in a real estate agency, property management or service companies such as cleaning and security).

Although the way you manage key will probably be unique to your company, the 4 basic processes that you’ll need to take care of are more-or-less the same for everyone. These processes are

  1. Taking charge and tagging of keys.
  2. Issuing and returning keys.
  3. Monitoring key use
  4. Archiving

Let’s have a look at these in a bit more detail.

1.Taking charge

When you receive a set of keys for the first time, you usually need a process for capturing the details of that key and making sure that you can find it when you next need it.

If you’re a building manager or concierge, you may only need to do this once while setting up your process as the keys that you manage will rarely change.

If you’re growing a property portfolio of rentals, lettings, or serviced accommodation, then you will likely be taking charge of new keys all the time. The way you do this process might be different, but the things you do will likely be very similar.

  1. Record what the key is for, property address, room number or car registration.
  2. Give the key a reference number. It’s almost always a very bad idea to write what the key is for directly on the keys, so you’ll need to give a reference number or some other identifier so you can find it again.
  3. Give it a storage location. This may or may not be included in the reference number that you just gave it.
  4. Record the key ring details. What specific keys are on the key ring? Are there any other things like electronic fobs associated? Are there any other aspects of the key that should be recorded? State how it should be used.

2. Issuing and Returning

Once you have charge of a key, you’re likely to occasionally give it out to different people and you’ll need a process for tracking who you’ve given it to.

This is typically done with pen and paper (not something I’d recommend in the 21st century) or an electronic system of some kind.  When capturing who has taken a key, we recommend you always do the following:

  1. Record the key reference
  2. Record who is taking the key (and is now responsible for it)
  3. Record when it’s due back

You may want to capture a signature or provide some sort of receipt for keys given out. Many people find this is less necessary if you have a good electronic audit system in place.

When returning keys, you’ll need to track those keys back in and state where they’ve been stored.

3. Monitoring

Monitoring is critically important. This is the process that is most often overlooked and where things usually start to go wrong.

It’s rarely enough to simply have a process for issuing and returning keys – it’s the active monitoring of which keys are out which are due back that prevents the hassle of chasing around for a key at the last minute.

Even the best of us forget things every now and again and when we’re busy, it’s very easy to forget that we’ve still got the key.

The most common cause of key-loss is when someone forgets to sign them back in and the problem isn’t noticed immediately.  It might be weeks before the key is needed again and the problem is uncovered, by which time it’s often too late.

It’s therefore crucial that you have a regular process to check which keys are still out and which should be back by now, making sure you chase any late keys home before they have time to become lost.

You’ll need regular activities to:

  1. Check key status
  2. Chase overdue keys

4. Archiving

At some stage you may stop managing a set of keys. Perhaps you’ve stopped working with the property that the keys are protecting, or for some reason you’ve changed over a lock.

It’s crucial ensure you take action at this stage and that you record what you’ve done. Having keys you no longer need lying around only adds clutter and increases the chances of future mistakes and security risks.

The process here will probably vary depending on your industry.  Do you need to return the keys to the owner or dispose of them securely? What records do you need to keep? Does anyone else need to be informed?

What does your Key Management process look like?

Hopefully you agree that having a fully thought-out process is not an option, but is 100% necessary to keep your keys safe and prevent wasted time in the office. If you don’t have one, why not get get it in place right now?  If you’ve got a process- have you got all the bases covered?

Is your process written down?

Putting your process in writing is really important.  In many industries, it’s now a necessity, where legislation and codes of conduct require evidence that you are working in a compliant manner (for example the Letting Industry in Scotland).

Writing your process out also helps you to clarify the areas that may not be working efficiently.  What I often see is that most people give most attention to the first two processes (Tagging, Issuing and Returning) but the crucial monitoring and archiving are often less well defined.

Would you like some help with documenting your process?  We’re working on some templates to help.  Why not register your interest here? Or get in touch to discuss further.

Estate agent shrugging his shoulders

Letting Agents: Avoid this Big Mistake with your Keys!

So, what’s this big key mistake that many people are making?

Have you ever had that embarrassing situation when you can’t find a property key with a client standing right next to you? It usually isn’t your fault – ‘someone else’ had it last (but no one knows who or when)! It’s an agent’s nightmare. Continue reading “Letting Agents: Avoid this Big Mistake with your Keys!”