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6 Things to Look for in an Electronic Key Control System

Keys in drawer
Article Highlights:

  • Key peg-boards are a thing of the past.
  • Electronic key control systems hold everyone accountable.

Nearly every dealer will tell you how proud they are of the jobs they create in their community. Yet every dealer will also tell you those jobs are continually under threat should they suffer a major financial loss – including theft – that could irreparably damage their business.

One often overlooked source of theft in the dealership is the mishandling of vehicle keys.

It’s not unusual to come across a media story in which thieves broke into a dealership, grabbed a handful of car keys that were hanging on an unsecured peg-board, and then drove off in the cars. In fact, a quick Google search for “keys stolen from dealership” returns nearly 520,000 results.

Sadly, it’s also not unusual to find a media story that implicates a dealership employee in a vehicle theft stemming from unmonitored access to keys at the dealership.

The solution to improving how keys are handled in the dealership is to use an electronic system to effectively and efficiently manage them and other assets.

Here are six things to consider when looking for an electronic key control system for your dealership:

Transaction Logs

An electronic key control system should log and record every time an employee accesses a key, whether that’s removing one from the system or returning it. Managers should be able to view those transaction logs in real time to stay on top of key activity. These reports can prove invaluable for helping track employees’ key transactions and for providing documentation during investigations of theft.

Comprehensive Reports

A key control system should allow you to track all activities related to the key machine. Reports might include a full transaction report, checkout report, overdue key report, or an access level report by user. Managers should also be able to create custom reports to meet their business needs.

User Customization

A one-size-fits-all approach to key security can expose your dealership to additional risk of misuse and theft. Access levels by user enable managers to grant only the access the employee requires. Controlling access by user can help minimize your dealership’s exposure to risk.


With electronic tracking of key activity, accountability is enforced from the moment an employee checks out a key from the system. In addition to viewing the transaction logs and reports, managers should be able to receive alerts when a key has been checked out too long or if any unauthorized user attempts to access a key.

Remote Access

Allowing authorized users to access the key control system software from any PC allows greater flexibility in how keys are controlled and the system is managed. Remote access should allow authorized users to add information to key tags, run and view system reports, and manage users.

DMS Integration

Some electronic key control systems will integrate with the dealership management system (DMS) in order to sync vehicle, prospect, and service data with the key system directly. This integration provides additional tracking and reporting on key and customer activity at the dealership.

For more information on electronic key control, check out the KeyTrak® resources page.


Note: This content first appeared in a different format on the KeyTrak blog. Used with permission.

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Director, Communications and Marketing, KeyTrak, Inc.

Susan DeSantis is the communications and marketing director for KeyTrak, Inc., a provider of comprehensive key and asset management solutions for a wide range of businesses, including dealerships. DeSantis has over 30 years of automotive industry experience and has been involved with the key management business for over two decades.

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