Using a Master Key System: A Guide for Business Owners

As they look for ways to mitigate potential losses, business owners must strike a balance between employee access and security, and it’s not always easy to do, leading many to make compromises. Master keys provide a viable, cost-effective solution that can be used with other access controls. Here, we’ll explain the inner workings and benefits of master key technology.

Master Key Systems: What Are They?

Master key systems use multi-level frameworks to give access to employees on an as-needed basis. In these systems, business owners use ‘grand master’ keys that open all locks within the building, while employees receive keys that provide narrower access. These access tiers can be customized, giving owners additional control over the implementation of security measures.

Why Do Businesses Use Master Keys?

When a commercial locksmith installs systems, master keys improve security without restricting employees’ access to essential areas. Other notable advantages include:

  • Convenience. Business owners don’t have to carry around heavy keyrings because they’ll only need one key to open every one of a building’s doors.
  • Cost efficiency. When business owners hire us to install master key systems, we may be able to re-key existing locks, which reduces the need for expensive hardware installation.
  • Greater security. These systems can be designed to limit workers’ access to certain areas, improving overall security.
  • Simplicity. Because employees will have easy access to essential areas, the system won’t affect productivity.

Are There Different Types of Master Key Systems?

Master keys are designed to allow employees to access some areas while keeping them out of others. There are two system types to consider: mechanical and electronic.

  • Mechanical systems involve real keys and locks. They work well, but replacing lost and missing keys can be time-consuming.
  • Electronic systems offer greater flexibility. As most use keycards or keypads for access, business owners need only to program doors and entry codes.

Real World Applications of Master Keys

Now that we’ve explained the difference between mechanical and electronic master key systems, we’ll demonstrate how they’re used in various business types.

Physicians’ Offices

Doctors’ offices and hospitals typically have employees of various skill levels, all needing access to different machines, tools, and patient records. To keep buildings and their contents secure, it’s crucial to ensure that workers can only enter authorized areas.


Depending on its setup, a bank may have numerous safes, lock boxes, offices, and more. To keep team members and property safe, master key system installation will ensure that people won’t gain unauthorized access to high-security areas.


While every school is different, there’s one constant: the need for access and security. Teachers need access to offices and classrooms, while principals and team leads might need to enter cafeterias, gymnasiums, and other areas. Master key systems make it simple and convenient.


Trade secrets, classified documents, and sensitive information can often be found within office buildings, and all these items need protection. A master key system will minimize the risk of theft and loss while maintaining clients’ and employees’ privacy.

Multi-Tenant Properties

If you own an apartment complex or a shopping center, master key systems offer emergency and maintenance access while keeping tenants out of restricted areas. Owners and managers with master keys can help during lockouts, and it’s easy to rekey locks when tenants depart.

Numerous other building types may benefit from master key system installation. Give the team at Action Lock Doc a call to learn about these systems and their advantages.

The Pros and Cons of Master Key Systems

As previously discussed, several keys can open one lock in a master key system. Keys are categorized hierarchically, with keys given only to those who need them. By considering these benefits and disadvantages, local business owners will get the necessary information to make an informed decision.

The pros:

  • Tighter access controls. These systems allow business owners to decide who gets keys to different areas. With such restrictions, the risks of theft and loss are minimized.
  • Ease of use. With a master key system, it’s easy for business owners to delegate keys to maintenance staff, employees, and executives. When each worker only has one key, it’s easier to track usage and placement.

The cons:

  • It’s necessary to key new locks to the system. When business owners change locks, the new units must be rekeyed to the master system.
  • Promotions bring the need for new keys. When a team member moves up the corporate ladder and needs access to new areas, you’ll need to physically exchange keys. While it takes a bit of time and effort, it pays dividends in terms of security and safety.
  • Grand master keys must be guarded. If such a key falls into an outsider’s hands, they’ll have access to the entire facility.

As businesses across the state reopen and things return to normal, it’s a great time for business owners to assess their security practices—and the pros at Action Lock Doc can help. With our years of industry experience, we are proud to help local business owners find solutions that meet their needs and fit their budgets. Call or click to learn more.

What Are Restricted Keys?

While master key systems offer unparalleled security, extra measures are sometimes required. Only the installer and the business owner can make copies with restricted keys. A restricted key system adds another layer of protection in commercial buildings with multiple key holders.

Is It Easy to Make the Switch?

Many assume that master key system installation is a costly and time-consuming process, but our professional locksmiths make it easy. Action Lock Doc can rekey existing locks or replace outdated, old door systems. No matter which option you choose, we’ll quickly form a strategy to upgrade your building’s locks and improve its security.

Contact Action Lock Doc Today

Whether you need a two-tier system or something a bit more intricate, the team at Action Lock Doc is ready to help. Call us with questions and concerns or use our online form and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.