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Key Control Best Practices for Holiday Loss Prevention

Santa hat and decrotive key representing Key Control Best Practices for Holiday Loss PreventionAs the holiday season rolls around, retail stores are not just bursting with shoppers but also with a heightened need for security. Amidst the festive cheer, ensuring the safety of employees and the store's treasures becomes paramount. Selecting a good key control strategy is the first step to gifting your store the assurance of safety during this bustling period. Your subsequent actions decide the effectiveness and cost benefits of this strategy. To ensure both security and economy, there are a few top-tier practices tailored just for this festive season. Here are six best practices retail stores can follow for key control to prevent asset loss during the holiday season:

  1. Use Restricted, Serialized Keys To Prevent Unauthorized Duplicates.
  2. Create A Plan Or Protocol For When Locks Should Be Rekeyed.
  3. Have A Quick And Efficient Way To Change Your Locks.
  4. Take Advantage Of The Latest Key Control Technology.
  5. Audit Your Keys And Keyholders Regularly.
  6. Ongoing Training And Education.

But First: What Is Key Control?

Before we get into our list of best practices, let's take a moment to explain what key control is. In the broader context of the industry, a key control program stands as a structured blend of locks, keys, and the personnel holding them. But key control can encompass more than just managing keys. It can also involve comprehensive oversight on lock access, key distribution, and curbing any unauthorized key duplication.

Now that we’ve explained what key control is, let’s get on with the list:

1. Use restricted, serialized keys to prevent unauthorized duplicates.

One surefire way to up security is by using restricted, serialized keys. These keys use proprietary key blanks that cannot be duplicated. And the etched-in serial numbers make them easy to keep track of when paired with key tracking software. This deters any unauthorized duplication and ensures each key can be tracked to each key holder and what that key opens. The moment your key system allows easy duplication, vulnerabilities creep in. So, ensuring tight control over key creation and distribution is paramount. If your keys can be duplicated rekeying your locks upon employee separation is strongly recommended. 

2. Create a plan or protocol for when locks should be rekeyed.

Don't keep it vague. Spell out explicitly when and why a lock should be changed. This might be when a key goes missing or isn't returned post an employee's exit. Naturally, this strategy works best if you’re employing restricted keys (as per point #1). If not, consider rekeying each time there’s a staff change.

3. Have a quick and efficient way to change your locks.

The speed and simplicity with which you can change your locks could save you a lot of time and money. Choosing user-rekeyable locks is beneficial, especially when compared to traditional locks that demand a locksmith's intervention. After all, locksmith services aren't just costly; they're also hard to schedule, often falling outside regular work hours. If rekeying becomes too cumbersome or expensive, you might be tempted to postpone it, which isn’t ideal. So make sure you invest in a system that’s both secure and budget-friendly from the get-go. 

4. Take advantage of the latest key control technology.

The digital age offers solutions that can revolutionize key control. Adopting cloud-based key control systems not only centralizes all key control data but also makes it accessible on-the-go via smart devices. With cloud-based key tracking software, you’re not tied to one computer or one filing cabinet for key tracking. If you have the right security credentials, you can see which keys are assigned to which people from any location that has an internet connection. This ensures that not just the loss prevention team, but other managerial levels, have real-time data access, enhancing decision-making and crisis management.

5. Audit your keys and keyholders regularly.

Regular checks on keyholders fortify your security strategy. It ensures compliance and accountability, keeping the spotlight on facility security. Traditionally, this was a tedious process that involved sifting through stacks of paper files or pages upon pages of spreadsheet documents. But with cloud-based key tracking software, the process of auditing your keys and keyholders can be streamlined and automated, guaranteeing that the organization keeps a firm grip on its keys and those who hold them. Remember, if there's an issue with a key, it’s imperative to revisit the lock change protocols.

6. Ongoing training and education.

A specific program coordinator should manage this training, putting forth guidelines that are succinct and accessible to all team members. By disseminating this information, you enable key holders to continually enhance their sense of responsibility for their keys. When a crisis hits, both leaders and staff need to be well-versed in the correct procedures to follow. Setting a clear protocol for such situations ensures a safe and organized response, minimizing chaos and misinformation. Implementing these foundational steps is crucial for the ongoing safety and stability of the whole organization.

As the final ribbon is tied and the last gift is wrapped, retailers know that the true essence of the holiday season is not just in sales, but in creating a safe, secure environment for both employees and customers. Integrating your physical key security with these advanced key control best practices can help guarantee a secure and profitable holiday shopping season. 

Want to see how user-rekeyable cylinders, restricted keys, and cloud-based key tracking software can improve your key control best practices? Talk to the experts at InstaKey to find out more.

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