Protect a Key

KeyBank auto delivers accurate key usage information, convenience and security

When Steven Shaker wants to know who last took a car on his lot out for a demo or wants to see the demo history of a specific vehicle, all he has to do is go to his computer and check the Morse Watchmans KeyPro software for the answer. Shaker is one of the owners at Shaker Family Ford in Watertown, CT, but according to him, it was not always this easy to get the information he needed, nor was it always accurate or current.

“We’ve had key closets but that’s exactly what they were—closets—a place to hang vehicle keys,” Shaker said. “Keeping track of the keys was done manually and we had to rely on the sales staff to remember to log it into the book when they took out or returned a key. That made the accuracy of the information very unreliable.”

All of that changed about a year ago when the dealership installed KeyBank Auto system, complete with KeyPro software. Two high-volume key bank cabinets securely store vehicle keys and automatically track key usage. Vehicle keys are attached to Smart Keys, which then fit into the illuminated key slots in the cabinet. The embedded chip in the Smart Key communicates directly with the system’s software to relay information from the access activity. This system provides full accountability for who has or had which key and for which vehicle. And, because this system is on the dealership’s network, the information can be accessed in real time by management from their PC or they can be notified by email when a specific key has been accessed or returned.

Along with live access, the dealership uses regularly scheduled activity reports that are programmed for specific transactions. Shaker and Scott Voorhees, Shaker Family Ford’s general manager, use the reports for daily or weekly analysis such as gauging the success of marketing promotions based on demo frequency; determining model popularity; and even to review employee sales performance. Also, when they are tracking down mystery mileage or vehicle damage, these reports are indispensable.

“The activity reports have saved us so much time and effort when we are looking for particular usage information, and even more so when we are looking for a missing key,” Shaker said. “The information is 100 percent accurate and it’s fast and easy to get.”

Another feature of the system that has helped to improve overall efficiency is the use of the system’s color-coded Smart Keys that allow them to be organized by color.

“We have new cars using one color, trucks using another, used cars with another and so on,” Voorhees said. “We also have a Lincoln dealership and those vehicle keys are secured with a different color. The same colors are all grouped together, and it’s such a practical and time-saving approach when you are accessing or returning a key.”

The key management system has been well received by the sales staff because of its many conveniences. For instance, the staff can reserve a key in the system for a specified timeframe in order to demo a vehicle for a customer appointment. This convenience guarantees that the vehicle key will be available when needed and, according to Voorheees, has ended the problem of losing keys.

In addition to user convenience, the system provides the dealership with a high level of security. When entering vehicle keys for new cars into the system, it allows one of five different levels of access to be assigned to employees. Names and access levels can be added or deleted quickly and easily to ensure optimum security. The key cabinets are designed to resist abuse and are wired with a built-in alarm mechanism that, when triggered, automatically sends an email to Voorhees or another designated manager.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.

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