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Ask the Expert: Four Key Control Best Practices

Interview with Cita Doyle, LP

Cita Doyle

Doyle is the vice president of sales and marketing at InstaKey Security Systems and is responsible for consulting and educating leadership in loss prevention on mechanical key system best practices. Her tenure at InstaKey has spanned nearly two decades and during that time she has had the privilege and satisfaction of supporting the advancement of loss prevention one key system at a time. Doyle has been recognized by the International Association of Interviewers as a “remarkable woman” in regard to her commitment to the industry, and she’s received the LPM Magpie Award for Excellence in Partnerships.

Key control can be a complicated balancing act due to managing many moving parts and pieces while also keeping stakeholders happy. While technology continues to evolve, much of the security foundation of loss prevention and asset protection remains in the physical controls of locks and keys. Every facility uses some level of physical keys to keep products, employees, and the location secure. This makes the key control practices you implement in your organization the bricks that establish the strength of your security foundation. With all the programs that LP organizations are responsible for, key control tends to be a forgotten area resulting in higher-than-expected costs. We asked one solution provider for her take on the importance of addressing these programs, and what best practices she recommends.

What type of key system is most beneficial for retailers?

LP Solutions

Restricted key systems because they cannot be duplicated without your authorization. The key blanks themselves aren’t sold on the open market. Using non-duplicable keys prevent the opportunity for duplication and is the most important practice for your keyed security. You need to be confident that the keys distributed to others can’t be copied and are the only ones that exist.

How important is it to track keys?

Tracking is critical, because they are a company asset that grants access to the most valuable areas and products. Since restricted keys can be confidently distributed, retailers should educate key holders of their importance and the key control policies surrounding them during key issuance. Use signature acknowledgments capturing their comprehension of this asset. Track who has keys, what they open, and audit them consistently. If an employee leaves, ask that they return all their company assets including keys. You can then be assured that the keys returned from a transitioning employee are the only keys they had. By tracking these “key transitions” regularly, you can virtually eliminate the need to change locks after the employee departs. Lock changes then become the exception instead of the norm.

- Digital Partner -

When should I change my locks?

If using a restricted key program, only if a critical key is lost or unaccounted for should you change your locks or “rekey.” If you do not have a restricted key program, you should rekey upon keyholder turnover. Make sure to implement a simple and cost-effective rekeying process and educate your employees on the procedure—where to look, what to do, who to call, and what to expect.

Both prevention and protection begin with planning and preparation, so develop simple guidelines that direct the employees to save time and expense. We’ve seen in-depth training provided for so many other areas and initiatives on much more difficult programs, but key systems are regularly overlooked. Utilize products like interchangeable cores or user-rekeyable locks, so authorized employees can do it themselves without the need for locksmiths. Many lock systems are simple technology, so maximize on areas where the employees can control the outcome and manage costs.

- Digital Partner -

Where should I start with evaluating my lock and key program? 

Assess the current workflow process, field feedback, and resulting rekeying costs. Remember to also add in the management of inventory, resources, paper records, spreadsheets, or stand-alone software solutions in use that can be hidden costs. You may be surprised with what you discover. Look to simplify the program management through technology by using a cloud-based key tracking software designed to track all aspects of the lock-and-key program at every organizational level (or by store, district, region, organization, etc.). It’s important to have your data available to quickly and accurately address a keyed security breach immediately while also being able to monitor your overall program costs.

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