Smart locks are an absolute game changer for property managers. For starters, they can completely rid you of the burden of lost keys and late-night lock outs. They enable you to provide contactless self-touring, or respond to emergency maintenance needs from anywhere. Smart locks can even delight tenants, opening the door to amenities like grocery deliveries and housekeeping services.
So, if smart locks are so great, why is it that property managers like you haven’t slapped them on every door in sight? Well, installing new hardware is expensive and making the right investments can feel overwhelming. No property manager wants to spend their limited time and budget on hardware that doesn’t live up to the hype. Worse, installing hardware that becomes outdated or incompatible with your existing systems can completely undercut your business goals. One of the biggest mistakes property managers and owners make is buying a handful of smart locks, rather than thinking about their entire access control system.
This is where RemoteLock comes in. We’ve built a software platform from the ground up that’s designed to manage smart locks from any leading brand, as well as top-of-the-line, wired access control systems. We have done the hard work and know exactly what it takes to affordably secure each and every door on your property, and how to make those investments future-proof. Here are six important tips to ensure you invest in a truly smart access control system:
1. Understand your existing hardware.
If you already have existing smart or electronic locks on your property, your first step before replacement is determining whether they are part of a system or stand-alone. If your locks are electronic and don’t have Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, or Bluetooth capabilities, they are most likely stand-alone locks. If your property is equipped with smart locks, verify whether they are connected to a local system controlled by on-premise software, or whether they are connected to the cloud. If the former, we suggest replacing these locks with cloud-based smart locks for an ultimate access solution.
Non-cloud-based solutions offer very little flexibility when it comes to remote management, and they can often result in more expensive and tedious maintenance. Is it really a smart lock if you have to drive to the property just to update its settings? If your locks are already connected, then good news: you’re ready to consider an access control software platform to make management even simpler.
2. Get to know your network.
Your property’s wireless network is the backbone for any smart, cloud-enabled products you invest in. Examine the location of your doors (inside and out) to help identify what’s possible in terms of connectivity: If you’re securing exterior doors, how strong is your Wi-Fi network infrastructure? In many cases, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave-enabled locks are not recommended for exterior doors due to weak and unreliable network connectivity — and because high-traffic areas can quickly drain battery life.
For all doors, if your network can’t reach to the installation site, is it possible to run power to wired access control hardware? Ensuring your access points are equipped with a dependable network or nearby electrical source is vital for any cloud-based access control solution.
3. Consider high-traffic areas.
Consider how many users will be coming and going through each entry point on a typical day. For example, an exterior main entrance to an apartment building is likely to be one of your most highly-trafficked areas. A residential door or a service door with a select number of users is typically considered a low-traffic entry.
High-traffic areas usually require a hardwired locking solution rather than a wireless smart lock. Smart locks use batteries that require routine replacement and therefore are usually recommended for low- to medium-traffic entries.
4. Choose your access credentials.
Think about the experience you want to give your guests, customers, and employees. Credential types — or methods of access — come in many different shapes and sizes: PIN codes, key fobs, proximity (prox) cards, and mobile credentials (via a mobile app and/or Bluetooth) are some of the most common credential types.
While all types can enable 24-hour access, many multi-family rentals often choose to offer multiple credential types to suit many types of users. PIN codes are typically recommended for short-term guests or one-time visitors since they don’t require downloading a mobile app or issuing a physical credential. For long-term residents, quick and easy options such as keyfobs, proximity (prox) cards, and mobile credentials are often preferred.
5. Pick your lock hardware.
Now that you’ve verified your system, measured connectivity, assessed your high-traffic areas, and determined credential types, you’re finally ready to think about hardware. When evaluating locks, take note of which locks support the features and credentials that matter most to you, such as supporting multiple credential options or having the option to use a physical key if needed. And for locks for exterior entrances, be sure to consider your climate: Is the lock or system you’re installing durable enough to withstand extreme heat, extreme cold, or heavy rain and snow?
For properties with many doors — multi-family properties and offices — creating a consistent aesthetic may be a priority. Are you choosing the most capable, the most attractive, and the most cost-effective lock to install on each residential door? Design a budget, establish priorities, choose an ideal credential type, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect access solution for your business.
6. Invest in a software partner.
You’ve identified the hardware for your properties. Now it’s time to choose a software solution that can enable all the amazing features of the locks you’ve selected. This choice can make or break the value of all the progress you’ve made in the previous five steps, so it’s vital to take a thoughtful approach.
Many access platforms require proprietary hardware and don’t support hardwired doors, resulting in multiple doors, locks, and systems that can’t work in tandem — plus additional expenses. Before choosing an access technology partner, establish priorities for the platform to ensure it won’t just meet your needs today, but will provide the flexibility and dependability you need for your goals tomorrow.
RemoteLock’s team of experts is standing by to help you make the right investments. We partner with property managers like you to make sure your access control system grows with your business.
Want to know more?
Download the Door-By-Door Access Control Field Guide
The 2021 Access Control Field Guide is your complete door-by-door guide to securing each and every door with the right hardware. Learn how to choose the right lock for any door, key software features to look for, and more.