The Problems and Solution for Rental Car Company Key Management

While the perfect storm of a pandemic and the faltering economy was slamming the car rental industry, employees were creatively making money with the resources of their rental car company employers. Unfortunately, the situation in this 2020 story from Sarasota, Florida, is replicated more often than it should be:

“Police have arrested a Hertz employee at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport who they say was running a side hustle, renting cars on the side for his own profit. The Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority Police Department and the Sarasota Police Department launched an investigation in October after discovering that rental cars were being stolen from the airport... In October and November, police found that 10 rental cars had been taken from the airport's Hertz Car Rental location and that a Hertz employee was “renting the vehicles off the books for his personal financial gain,” a news release states.” - Bradenton, Florida.

Fortunately, with Keycafe’s key management system, this doesn’t have to happen to you.

Rental Fleet Key Management Challenges

Without Keycafe, being sure a vehicle from your rental fleet is with a customer, out for service, or in one of the lots can be challenging. But with Keycafe, tracking when vehicles are in use and when they’re returned is simplified and can save you money.

Key tracking becomes simple, up-to-date, and accessible to as many or as few people as you would like. You’ll have real-time information on when the vehicle left and when the key was returned. The name of the rental customer assistant will also appear on the history report with the time of key removal.

If you have multiple lots, Keycafe’s secure key cabinets can be networked to provide complete control - regardless of the location. You’ll have real-time awareness of the entire rental fleet’s location 24/7.

But keys don’t have to be stolen to disappear. Lost and missing keys represent a significant financial threat to any fleet manager. Rekeying is expensive, especially with modern electronic key fobs. It’s not uncommon for the cost of rekeying one vehicle alone to exceed thousands of dollars. And, if a key is lost, the business is at risk of vehicle theft. In addition, key replacements can take days, and that’s from when you realize someone lost it. Weeks could have passed by.

With Keycafe, keys are kept secure and locked in a computerized cold-rolled steel and A383 alloyed aluminum cabinet in a centralized and secured location.

What’s the Problem with Keeping Keys in a Drawer or on a Key Board?

Experiences like Hertz’s employee theft in Sarasota show that it’s essential for rental fleets to secure and track car key activity from something better than a key board or drawer. Over 30,000 are stolen every year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2020 statistics. So, regardless of who’s handling the vehicles, Keycafe can help you reduce unauthorized access, track where excess mileage may be coming from during vehicle service and cut down on the misplacement of keys.

One of the most secure options to address all these needs is a Keycafe key management system. Keycafe’s easy-to-use design safely secures and controls access to keys in the lot, off-site, servicing, or inspection shop.

How Keycafe Secures Vehicle Keys

Keycafe’s SmartBox IoT connected key locker system secures each key, and the key is attached to an anonymous NFC tracking chip. Rental fleet keys are accessed and returned only by pre-authorized individuals using a PIN code or other identification methods through a mobile app.

Keycafe gives you:

  • Access History - You’ll have a complete history of all key exchanges, including who last checked keys out.
  • Access Control - You can add or revoke key accesses easily in real-time with an app.
  • Access Convenience - Staff, customers, and contractors can self-manage key pickups and dropoffs 24/7.

Keycafe manages access to keys and connects them back to the person that last used or had access to them. This way, a rental company can quickly identify when an automotive key is missing or misplaced, reducing the risk of automotive theft and misuse.

Keycafe’s SmartBox MS3 Series Cloud-Connected IoT Key locker compartments are spacious enough to hold multiple key cards, large fobs, and sets of keys. The smallest model has seven bins and expands to hundreds of keys.

  • Expandable with 30 bin expansion lockers up to hundreds of bins
  • Always connected: WiFi or Ethernet, with optional cellular conversion
  • Back up batteries in the event of a power outage
  • Offline codes to allow for key pickup even if the SmartBox is temporarily not connected
  • Keycafe offers white-labeling options to showcase your brand
  • 24/7 multi-language support and extensive help documentation

Keycafe can provide car key management for rental fleets around the world. Not only will this advanced car key control system save your staff time, but it also reduces your operating costs.

Let’s take a closer look at what Keycafe’s rental car fleet’s key control systems can do for you.

What are Keycafe’s Main Benefits?

Keycafe Gives You Confidence

Keycafe gives rental fleet managers confidence—with a fully auditable key control system. In addition, Keycafe’s ability to monitor who checked the vehicle in and out can assist managers in tracking down process weaknesses that allow missed mileage overages or damage.

Keycafe Gives You a Complete Key History

With Keycafe’s accessible history, managers can see when the key was removed and returned and by whom. In addition, managers can personalize alerts for on-time key returns, so it won’t be late. And if it’s late, Keycafe’s system will alert everyone who’s involved. Keycafe’s ability to track history and prevent problems before they arrive is a powerful tool for promoting efficiency and increasing profits.

Keycafe is Cloud-Connected

With Keycafe’s rental fleet key control, fleet managers can track who has the key, monitor activity, and reduce unauthorized access. Not only does this cut down on costs, but it also shortens wait times locating keys for customer reservations. In addition, a manager can control and give access from any location through the Keycafe phone app.

Keycafe is Modular

Since the number of vehicle inventory varies, the number of keys used can also vary. Keycafe’s modular design can accommodate different needs and grow as your fleet inventory grows.

There are two main categories of SmartBoxes: base stations and expansion units.

  • The Keycafe base station includes an NFC scanner, touch screen, fob bin, key bins, and a one-touch button. Every location has only one base station which communicates with the server.
  • As your inventory grows, you can add expansion units for extra capacity. Each expansion unit includes all the listed components but lacks the scanner and fob bin. The expansion unit links to the base station and communicates with it directly.
  • To see a complete list of features, check out Keycafe Enterprise.
Custom Permissions

With Keycafe, you can set up key access permission by person or department. For example, off-site service departments may need access to cars that customer service will never need.

In addition, you may need to share a group of keys with a few select associates and a different group of keys with others. The Keycafe Groups feature allows you to create a subset of keys in your account and share it as if it were one key.

By default, all the keys you create are in the main group called All Keys. This group allows you to share all your keys with users you choose easily and on the fly.

API Automation

Leverage an extensive API to integrate Keycafe directly into your systems for DMS applications.


There are times when someone may misplace the vehicle keys; at worst, someone damages the vehicle during use. But, unfortunately without Keycafe, no one knows who had the car at the time.

Rather than blame a rental customer and cause further issues, with Keycafe, the administrator can view the history of the key’s pickups and drop-offs. Listed events appear in chronological order with dates, times, and the type of event that occurred.

Keycafe Can Save Your Business

J.D. Power says the lack of vehicle availability and the rising cost of renting a car contributes to declining customer satisfaction. When rates go up, consumers understandably expect more. And, if they don’t get satisfaction, they get on social media to let everyone know. The last thing you want to add to customer frustration is a lost key and the inability to pick up a rental car.

“Rental car companies have been facing significant challenges, both in terms of vehicle supply and staffing, and a combination of rising costs and long lines at the airport is having a negative effect on customer satisfaction,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. If your process breaks down, the prospective customer may walk out, never to return. All because you couldn’t locate a key. And afterward, you’ll probably find a negative review from the customer on Facebook or Yelp.

Now, you might say, “So what? It's one bad review.” However, it only takes one negative review to lose business from others who see the review. The truth is that you'll need over 40 positive reviews to undo the damage of one negative review.

However, even if your rental company faces challenging times with inventory, doing everything for the customer brings great rewards. A customer's recent experience with Enterprise showed promise. Ronald wrote in a Consumer Affairs review. “The car was immaculate and fun to drive. The manager was extremely friendly, helpful and accommodating."

In a 2020 J.D. Power study, wait time plays a considerable role in the overall customer experience. If you want to rate highly with your customers, you can't allow them to stand around while you search for the keys they need. Keycafe can effectively track car key activity.

Preventing bad customer experiences is essential to your business. Keycafe can assist you in providing an excellent experience for customers during or after-hours.

Keycafe Can Help With Everyday Problems

Car theft or customer opinions may be rare, but problems will come up in everyday activities with any car rental company. Here are some common operations that lead to unnecessary expenses.

  • Lost keys
  • Monitoring countless vehicles
  • Unexplained damage
  • Unidentified mileage

Keycafe’s rental fleet management software’s ability to track the keys always allows you to know where they are now and where they’ve been, so there are no more mysteries. Plus, with our IoT-connected key lockers, the tracking occurs in real-time as keys are accessed. With our vehicle key control systems, you gain an instant ROI.

So, preventing the loss of even one set of keys per month with Keycafe can save a rental car location thousands of dollars a year.

When you factor in the cost of damaged vehicles, the expenses rise even further. Thankfully, Keycafe's car key control system allows you to minimize or eliminate these concerns. Our complete audit trail shows you who took out the keys for better accountability.

When integrated with Keycafe’s technology, our key management system can even help reduce paperwork and offer a mobile solution that allows dealership employees to process physical key requests from their own mobile devices.

Why Keycafe?

We know you have many options for choosing dealer key management solutions, but our products offer unique qualities.

Key Audit Trail

Quickly track the history of all your keys coming in and out of the system.

24/7 Key Access

Your staff can access the keys 24/7 without the help of management. Your customers can pick up or drop off vehicles after-hours.

Seamless Mobile App

Manage access to the keys from anywhere at any time of the day.

24/7 Customer Support

If you run into a problem, our systems are supported by global 24/7 customer support through a quick phone call or chat platform.

Modular Design

You can expand our fleet operations key control systems to hold hundreds of keys simultaneously.

Constantly Connected

The MS3 series of SmartBoxes is enabled with WiFi and ethernet out of the box. For remote locations, a cellular conversion kit is available.

Battery Backup

If the power goes out, you can still access the keys.

Full API Automation

Use our app or yours to automate all key accesses.

Individual Compartments

Keycafe seals each set of keys in separate compartments to prevent unauthorized use.

How Our Rental Fleet Management System Works

It's simple to get started with our car key control system.

  1. First, you will install the Keycafe SmartBox IoT-connected key locker system. Only 4 inches deep and wall-mounted, our equipment is compact and easy to adjust to your space.
  2. Each key gets assigned an anonymous NFC tracking chip. It's stored in an individual compartment of the steel IoT key locker.
  3. For rental bookings, assign the customer with one-time access. The customer receives an eight-digit code that allows them to retrieve the keys.
  4. For staff access, you can assign permissions for associated vehicles. Then, we provide an entire audit history to see who has accessed the keys and when.

Transparent Pricing

Unlike other services, Keycafe doesn't require an appointment or personal information for you to know the initial and monthly costs. It's all right here, configure your system today!

Request Your Free Demo Today

Stop losing keys, time, and customers and speed up your profits with the Keycafe key management system. Our team is ready to show you what makes Keycafe the best key management system in the market!

Sign up for an online demo today!

Ready for smart key management?

Configure and purchase your smart key deployment in minutes. Our 24/7 support team will work with you to setup your solution and ensure its a success. If Keycafe is not the right fit for you business, you may return it for a fully refund for up to 45 days!

Customize your solution now

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