Letting people into your home is so personal. That’s your sanctuary. Unfortunately, for pet sitters to do their job, your clients will have to give you access to their homes. There are many opinions out there on key management because this is a critical part of our services!
Key Management Options
Generally, there are two schools of thought on this. One involves keeping copies of the keys in your office. The other involves using lockboxes on property. Key Management can become a heated debate topic for some, but it doesn’t have to be! Whichever you decide, you’ll want to start with a system right out the gate. Changing later would be quite a pain!
Overall, this system works rather intuitively. The client provides you with two keys. One becomes the master and stays in the office for emergencies. The other key is assigned out as needed. Make sure to have a signed authorization to make more copies if needed. Click here to learn more about client contracts.
When the keys are received, you tag them with a unique identifier number to help keep track of them. We find numbers work best because they do not have any clues about the owner or the pet if the key gets lost.
This method can be ideal for people who like a simple key management system or like to make sure that they have a backup key at all times. It is also an appropriate method because it doesn’t rely on clients remembering to set out the key. Clients also don’t have to have a lockbox on their house, which may be a dealbreaker.
There are some downsides to this option. There is more liability for your company because you have access to client’s homes. Security is of the utmost importance. With this method, you have to keep track of the assignment of keys. Not to mention, time running around making sure staff has access to the client’s homes each day.
Another approach is the lockbox approach. With this option, the client controls their keys and places a lockbox outside, so you and your team can access the home when you arrive.
What’s nice about using lockboxes is that you don’t have to worry about managing the keys. You are not liable for the keys by having them in your office, which takes the responsibility off you. Another nice aspect is that it is so much more convenient for you and your team. There’s no key juggling to do.
The downsides are that if someone doesn’t remember to put the key inside the box, you don’t have access to the house. You can mitigate this by keeping a backup key to be safe. Another con is that some clients may not like the idea of having the lockbox outside their house. There is also a cost involved when using lockboxes. Your company or the client will have to absorb this cost.
Hybrid Key Management
As you can see, both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. You don’t have to choose one approach; you can use a combination of the two. Giving the client a choice helps them feel more comfortable and takes some of the burdens off of you.
If a client already has a lockbox in use, then that’s nice and easy. Some houses these days have number pads that you can punch in to unlock the door, which is such a blessing for pet sitters. Be open-minded to what will work best for your clients.
The downside to having a hybrid system is that your staff will have to remember which method each client uses. If they forget, they could show up expecting a lockbox and find themselves unable to get inside the house! However, proper communication can help mitigate that problem.
In either case, no matter the situation, we recommend always keeping a backup key in your office.
No One Correct Answer for Key Management
Earlier, we said to pick a method right out the gate to avoid transitioning problems later. While that’s true, it’s also okay to be flexible. If a client is genuinely uncomfortable with one option, consider making logical adjustments to accommodate their needs. After all, you’re here to provide a service, and if your client is uneasy about the home access situation, they may end up deciding not to hire you! Look at your business, your preferences, and your average client and make the decision that makes the most sense for you and your company.
If you want more help with managing your keys for your pet sitting business, try the PetBrainy Circle. We have resources for things like tagging your keys and more lockbox solutions as well. Key Management can be a sensitive subject, and it’s best to put everyone’s feelings at ease by having open conversations about what methods work best for what situations. You’ll find that support and more within our community of pet sitting business owners. Sign up now!