GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you happen to like keys, then the laundry business is the business for you!

All kidding aside, if you own a Laundromat, you will have lots of keys to safeguard and manage. And if you have a big mat, or more than one location, keeping track of your keys can get out of hand.

WHAT MACHINES IN MY STORE COULD REQUIRE KEYS?

You’ll need keys for all kinds of things, not just the machines. Here’s a small list: every exterior door, security gates, public bathrooms, public thermostats, washer/dryer service doors, safes, storage area, ATMs, change machines and Value Transfer Machines (VTMs). Your keys, and their copies, can easily add up to well over 100, depending on the size and nature of your store(s).

WHICH KEYS SHOULD I CARRY?

Try to limit your “carry keys” to those that are most important, most highly valued, and most used. All other keys can be sequestered somewhere else.

I always carried my changer keys, ATM keys, one or two service door keys, car keys, and a couple of drop safe keys. The originals for those keys, along with all other keys, were safely stored.

For instance, the coin box keys were stored inside my highly protected change machines, and most of my service keys were stored in my drop safe. If these two high-security areas were ever broken into (criminals tried but never succeeded), I figured I would simply change those keys and locks. Expensive, yes, but not very likely if you have the right protections in place overall for your mat.

ON A KEY RING OR IN MY POCKET?

Like many mat owners, I carried those important keys on a key ring, attached to my belt. Pockets were too inconvenient for me, but keeping your keys out of sight can be a good thing.

The disadvantage of carrying on a belt is that the public will know you are the owner. The advantage is the convenience of quick access.

If you choose to carry on your belt, I recommend a belt clip key ring holder that slips right around your belt itself as opposed to attaching to cloth belt loops that could rip open.

I found such holders to be extremely reliable. I had mine for 30 years before I finally had to replace it.

Never put your keys down for any reason while you are in your store. They should be locked away, on your key ring or in your pocket, or in use.

SHOULD I BUY KEYS AND LOCKS LOCALLY?

I don’t recommend buying keys and locks from your local distributor. He/she may be honest, but you never know if one of your distributor’s employees, or anyone else nearby for that matter, has gotten hold of some of the keys.

There was more than one time that I bought new equipment from a local distributor with new coin boxes and matching keys, only to find that a couple of washers were missing a key or two. Buy them online from someone in another state.

Oftentimes, distributors or parts sources will carry many coin boxes and locks that are keyed alike. They do this so that they have enough in stock to satisfy some mat owners who prefer to have the convenience of keeping only one or two keys for all their machines. However, this opens the door to the possibility that the guy right behind you at the parts counter may order the same locks and keys, or he may see you ordering, say, 20 new coin boxes and overhears your mat’s name or address, which leads me to the next topic.

WHAT ABOUT HAVING ONE KEY FOR ALL WASHERS?

Pros for this are it’s easy and convenient.

Cons are if you lose that key, or if someone manages to duplicate it without you knowing, you have to change all your locks.

Try keying according to washer groups as a compromise.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HIGH-SECURITY KEYS?

I think the best are pick-resistant keys that can only be duplicated by the lock manufacturer with a key code.

The coin box manufacturers and other high-security lock system suppliers offer coded keys that only they can duplicate. This is a good protection for you. If you need another copy, you contact them directly rather than using a middleman.

However, some old key codes may no longer be available, which is one reason why you should keep an extra set of original keys and an extra matching lock off premises.

With standard keyed locks, you can have the locksmith stamp them with “Do Not Duplicate,” but this is not reliable at all. Still, it doesn’t hurt to stamp them. You can buy your own “Do Not Duplicate” stamper online. You simply put your key on a hard, flat surface, place the embossed end on the key, and hit the stamp with a hammer to stamp the key.

HOW ABOUT COMBINATION TOUCHPAD DOOR LOCKS?

They’re great for interior doors or general low-value storage spots. Most have a master code, but individual combinations can be input for select employees. Many have a master key override, which can be convenient for you.

One disadvantage to such locks is that combinations can be shared. In my opinion, a keyless entry is only for the owner, or a highly trusted employee.

Be sure to change the combinations from time to time. Always change all combos when someone leaves your employment.

Check back Monday for the conclusion!