A popular use case for AirFinder is to track keys at auto dealers.

Believe it or not, this can be a big problem for dealers of all sizes. The disruption from a lost key can create huge headaches.

A few of the common problems with lost car keys at dealerships are:

  • High replacement cost. A new set of keys for pretty much any new car today runs $200-700.
  • Time needed for replacement. In most cases, because new keys have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer, it can take 1-2 weeks to receive a new key.
  • Unable to sell a vehicle. Imagine a customer finding the perfect car, only to find out that they can’t take a test drive because the key can't be found. They aren’t likely to stick around to try out their second choice after that experience.
  • Unhappy customers. Service or sales customers who are faced with a car that can’t been driven home because of a lost key aren’t likely to return.
  • Theft. Unfortunately, a missing key could be an indicator of an impending vehicle thief.

There are two technology approaches to solving the key tracking problem.

Key Management Drawer Systems

System’s like KeyTrak’s drawer solution create an audit trail when a key is “checked out” from the drawer. That way, if a key goes missing, the culprit may be easier to find.

The advantages of this type of system is that it prevents unauthorized personnel from taking keys, but it does not give a location or area for a key that is missing. Just because "Joe" checked out the key doesn’t mean that "Joe" remembers which car he was in when the key fell out of his pocket.

RFID Key Tracking

By affixing a small radio tag (iBeacon location tracking) to each key, the location can be continuously monitored throughout the dealership. AirFinder “readers” are placed in areas around the dealer where keys are likely to be. By ensuring enough readers are at the dealer, there should be no where outside the coverage of a reader.

The advantages of using AirFinder for key tracking are that the location and status of every key is known at all times and dealers can be alerted when keys are removed from the dealership.

The installation of the AirFinder key management system is very quick. A central “gateway” device is installed on site, and it is connected to the internet either via ethernet or cellular data. This is the device that sends all of the key data to the cloud from the readers.

Readers are then installed throughout the dealership. They are small plug-in devices that are easy to locate in out-of-the-way places. Outside, readers can be installed on light posts or in existing landscaped areas. Where power is not available, solar powered enclosures are an option.

Key location can then be accessed at any time from the AirFinder web dashboard or the mobile app. Anyone on staff can immediately find any key that's needed.

Key Tracking for Car Dealers


Interested in giving AirFinder a go for key tracking?

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Written by Dominic Marcellino

Dominic is the Product Manager for AirFinder. He manages our core Symphony Link products, and he is also responsible for managing the development of new products. He keeps the Engineering, Operations, Marketing/Sales, and Strategy teams working together to get our products to market looking great and performing even better.

Prior to Link Labs, Dominic worked for ten years at the Environmental Defense Fund and Ecologic Institute US (EIUS) solving key policy problems in renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and climate change. He ran EIUS as Executive Vice President in 2014; while there, he obtained nearly $1m in grant funding for projects, including the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network, which he co-founded. Dominic holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany from 2002-2004 and a Robert Bosch Fellow from 2008-2009.