Key Management – Real estate professionals from Austria and Germany reveal how they face the key problem

Key Management is a topic that no property manager can ignore. However, there are many approaches and solutions that the professionals in the industry have developed and tested for themselves. To find out which they are, the Wowflow team hosted an online panel discussion. In this blog post we summarize the most important findings about key management for you.

The status quo

Interestingly, the answer to the question “How do you manage your keys?” was always similar. Mr. Zerlauth from Brichard Immobilien, for example, reports a total of approx. 10,000 keys . These are kept in a room with 16 boxes . One person is responsible for the issue and return. Excel lists are used for reservations. There are also protocols that have to be signed when they are picked up and when they are returned. The problem is dealt similarily with at Otto Immobilien. Mr. Schmid mentions that the human component inevitably leads to errors. These always result in long phone calls. The ÖRAG Immobilien Group relies on analog AND digital locking systems – the protocols remain.

„The question where is the key right now? unfortunately keeps us busy.“

Johannes König

The situation has remained unchanged for years – which Bernhard Hofer from Otto Immobilien cannot fully understand. At best, he wants a house without a key. “The BEGEH card system and the Post-Key have been around for many years, but these solutions are not 100 percent optimal either,” says Christoph Schmid.

Key management digital?

A topic that comes up again and again in connection with key management is the digital solution. Mr. Reiner from the security expert ESSECCA makes it clear that the trend is definitely towards digitization. The cell phone in particular is an important medium these days – after all, we almost always have it with us.

For example, there is the possibility of granting certain people authorizations, which give them access to buildings via mobile phone. Key cabinets can also be digitized and networked with video cameras to ensure maximum security. Mr. Zerlauth points out a possible alleviation of the documentation effort. If there was an automated solution, that would save a lot of work. Bernhard Hofer even goes so far as to compare a mobile access solution with e-banking – an absolute standard nowadays, but unimaginable in the past.

The panelists envision the collaboration between ESSECCA and Wowflow as a perfect symbiosis. Because: ESSECCA offers safety-related know-how on the one hand, Wowflow on the other hand the digital solution in the form of user-friendly maintenance software. Practically the entire process could be digitized: A maintenance task is assigned to a craft company that is granted access within the specified time. Thus, the service provider can do and document the work with the Wowflow app. In addition, thanks to the integration of ESSECCA into the application, he can enter the building at the agreed time. This is a thought or solution that is sure to be picked up in the future.

The question of costs

There are costs associated with digitization. Who should pay for this? The property management? The owner? Mr. König sums it up: A very innovative customer will probably agree to the costs. The rest probably not. The amount would therefore remain with the ÖRAG Immobilien Group – especially a delicate topic when it comes to existing conversions, Ms. Regenspurger notes.

At Brichard Immobilien, too, they are not sure how to make the new electronic locking cylinder attractive to the owner. Drazen Ivanis asks the question whether it would be possible to negotiate with the craftsmen. Experience has shown that travel times for key collection are relatively long – if they were not offset, this money could be spent on more efficient key management.

Holistic concept

The conclusion of the panel discussion: A holistic concept is needed . Because even if the electronic system fails, it must be possible to open doors. Especially when you think of the worst-case scenario fire . Another point to consider is: How do we deal with vacancies?

At ESSECCA the customer is taken seriously: In joint workshops solutions are developed that are adapted to the special needs. For example, in addition to a digital system, it is possible to provide particularly important doors with mechanical cylinders. There is also the option of battery-operated systems and chips – both are independent of the power supply.

Another “new” solution – especially for viewing apartments – is that of the electronic cylinders, which provide access via mobile phone authorization. It is clear, however, that the implementations (especially on a large scale) cannot take place overnight. The whole thing takes time and has to be tested.

„The relationship between costs and benefits must be the focus of every key management system.“

Michael Reiner

According to Mr. Reiner, a digital system nowadays doesn’t cost much more than an analog one. However, there are fewer personnel costs, as there is no need for a receptionist to hand out the keys, for example. But it doesn’t work entirely without manpower: Even with the digital solution, there must be employees who take on the administration – especially at the beginning.

We at Wowflow thank you for the lively discussion. It is always exciting to talk to colleagues from the industry and hear different approaches. Many thanks to all participants and especially to our panelists:

Watch the panel discussion (in German) here:

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