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The Benefits of a Master Key System for Your Business

As a business owner, your top priority is to keep your business and its assets safe.

A good security system ensures the safety of your assets and provides you with a peace of mind. Business security systems include burglar alarms and CCTV cameras to ensure maximum safety and security.

One of the most basic forms of security, which is often overlooked, is a strong and effective locking mechanism.

Locks and their corresponding keys provide the first line of defence against threats such as intruders and burglars, which is why it is vital to keep all important areas of the business locked at all times to ensure zero unauthorized access.

As the business grows, the number of rooms, doors, and personnel might increase, resulting in more keys to keep track of.

This can become very inconvenient very fast, since carrying around a huge ring of different keys for every door is not the ideal method.

Thankfully, the need for so many keys can be eliminated by switching to a master key system for your business.

A master key system enables businesses with multiple locks such as office blocks, hotels, and buildings of multiple occupancies to access all locks with one master key while also maintaining the overall security of individual areas.

Learn about how master key systems work and the benefits they provide to businesses:


A master key system is made up of different levels of keys that give the key owners either complete or restricted access to different areas of the business, allowing two or more keys to open the same lock.

With a master key system, specific keys are used to open a certain number of doors. This results in a reduction in the number of keys and limited circulation of keys among staff members as well.

This multi-level access is ideal for businesses with many rooms and varying levels of responsibility among the employees. The hierarchy is carefully planned out and the keys are distributed depending on the authority level of the person.

The four levels of a master key system typically include:

  • Great grandmaster key

This is the key of all keys and the highest level that unlocks all systems under it, including grandmaster, master, and change keys. In the case of a multi-site business, the great grandmaster key can access all of the premises and would normally be in the possession of the owner or CEO of the business.

  • Grandmaster key

This key gives somewhat restricted access as compared to the great grand master key. It is usually in the possession of the Managing Director of the company and has the power to open all locks within a building or floor, along with all the master key and change key locks under it.

  • Master key

The master key gives access to certain sections of the building and can lock and unlock all of the change key locks below it.

For instance, the CFO would have a master key giving access to the room holding all the financial records and the business safe. Similarly, the business manager would have a master key unlocking the conference rooms, restricting access to the financial records room.

  • Change key

This is the lowest level in the system, also referred to as the sub-master key, and opens only one lock which can also be opened by the corresponding master key. It is ideal for employees/staff members who need access to one particular lock only and not other areas of the business.


Before you understand how a master key works, you need to know the basic mechanism of a standard cylindrical lock.

A cylindrical lock consists of two sets of pins; key pins and driver pins.

The key pins are located on the lower level of the lock and are slightly raised when the ridges on a key touch them.

The driver pins are located above the key pins and are raised when the key pins push against them.

When the right key is inserted, the two sets of pins come together at the shear line or the centre ridgeline, and the lock is opened.

A master key system has another pin in addition to the key and driver pins, called a master pin or master wafer.

Any standard lock can be made into a master key system lock with the addition of the master wafer. It is located between the key and driver pins, forming two shear lines allowing two different keys, cut in a slightly different way, to work on the same lock.


A master key system provides an affordable and effective solution for your business security needs, offering peace of mind ensuring that your business is safe against unauthorized access.

The benefits of a master key system for your business include:

  • Convenience

As mentioned above, different keys for every door in the business can be quite confusing and stressful for the keyholders.

A master key system means that all or some areas of the business, depending on the hierarchy, can be accessed with one key only. This makes things very convenient, especially in times of an emergency such as a fire in the building. You wouldn’t have to waste time rummaging through a bunch of keys looking for the right one.

  • Increased security

A master key system allows you to design your key distribution hierarchy in such a way as to give employees access to only the areas that they need access to.

It gives different employees different levels of access and authorization depending on their roles within the business. For instance, a CEO would have a higher level of access control, i.e. access to more areas of the business, than a warehouse manager.

Also, one key opening several locks means fewer keys being distributed among the employees which would subsequently mean fewer instances of the keys getting lost or stolen.

  • Higher level of control

A master key system makes duplication of keys very difficult, giving the business owners more control over the keys and the keyholders. There are restricted master key systems that have a registered design, meaning that only a specific locksmith can duplicate the keys, that too after permission and verification.

Additionally, the system allows you to keep track of the number of keys and the employees who have them. In case of an intrusion or theft, you can easily track down the people who have access to the area in question and take the necessary action.

A master key system provides such great benefits but there are some things that you need to be extra careful about when implementing it in your business.

You must ensure that the keys, especially the great grand, grand, and master keys don’t fall in the wrong hands of an unreliable and untrustworthy person, or someone who might lose them.

The aforementioned keys grant access to all the important areas of the business, possibly containing confidential information. If it does happen, it can put your entire business in a vulnerable state.

The biggest downside to a master key system for your business is that if the master keys go missing or if the employees do not return them on leaving the company, the entire building might have to be rekeyed, which can be time-consuming and costly.

Therefore, special care must be taken to safeguard the master keys and practice effective master key management.


Effective key management is necessary when implementing a master key system for your business. Four aspects allow businesses to reap all the benefits that a master key system offers.

  • Determine entry points

The first step for an effective key management system involves identifying the different entry points in a business that require keyed locks.

A security hierarchy must then be created that corresponds to the level of security and access permissions for each area throughout the organization.

  • Access permission policy

The second aspect involves setting access permissions for employees and keyholders. This step determines who will possess which kind of key, giving complete or limited access, and is achieved using the company hierarchy and the various roles of employees and staff members.

It is also very important to assign access restrictions for users, that will determine who won’t be allowed access to certain high-security areas.

  • Key tracking

Keys must be given unique serial numbers and assigned to keyholders of a particular security access level. The serial numbers allow the people in charge to keep a record of the key’s access permissions and the person responsible for it.

A record must be maintained containing information about who the keys are issued to, the dates of issuance and return of the keys, and the person responsible for approving the access permissions.

  • Key storage

A proper storage facility such as a key storage cabinet provides a secure place for keeping keys and their duplicates.

Organizing becomes easy when all of the keys are stored in a single place, making it easy to quickly locate keys and identify missing ones.


There are certain tips that businesses must follow to ensure that their master key system complies with all the security and safety needs of the business. They are as follows:

  • Strict policies must be developed for key issuance and they must be enforced at all times.
  • To keep a strict check on security, access permissions must be granted to employees based on daily work needs. Higher-level permissions must be granted for exceptions only.
  • Employees must be required to return their keys if they leave the company.
  • Lost or stolen keys must be reported immediately.
  • Duplication of keys should be allowed for authorized staff members only.


Switching from your current system to a master key system is an easy job for a professional locksmith. An expert system designed by a professional locksmith will combine security and convenience to provide the perfect balance.

Simple systems that are relatively small take a lot less time to plan as compared to big, complex ones. When planning out a master key system for your business, special care must be taken to ensure that a key for a specific door won’t open another one by mistake.

A special key chart is made by the professional service that provides the cuts needed for keys to ensure accidents, such as the wrong key opening the wrong door, don’t happen. The chart is maintained to ensure no cuts are reused, resulting in zero errors.

In most cases, the master key locks are installed on the same doors and new ones are suggested only for certain exceptions where the hardware is either too old or in a bad condition.

We, at Calder Security, offer affordable solutions to help you set up a master key system and can design, install, maintain, and repair master key systems for businesses as well as train all staff on proper operation.

You can trust us for your master key system needs because:

  • We are fully conversant in master key systems for businesses.
  • We are members of the Master Locksmith Association (MLA).
  • We are security industry experts operating for over 40 years.
  • We design bespoke systems according to your business’s requirements.


Many businesses are moving away from the traditional lock and key system, and are upgrading to digital access control systems.

Access control systems are also called door entry systems and they offer a keyless entry that gives you control over who enters your premises, limiting unauthorized access.

Keys can be lost or stolen, which can seriously compromise the entire integrity of the business’s security system. Access control systems eliminate the need for traditional keys and work using an intercom, proximity fob or card, keypad, or even a biometric system.

The system checks for when the right credentials are entered, giving access to the area. In case of the wrong credentials being entered, access is denied.

It also helps keep track of who enters and exits the building and alerts the owners or people in charge.

There are various types of access control systems and deciding the best one for your company is based on factors including the nature of your business, the number of users, and the security procedures within the company.

  • Key card access control

Key cards are the simplest form of access control systems and can be inserted into a reader to grant quick and secure access. These systems are suitable for companies that are low-risk and do not have valuables to look after.

  • Keycode access control

Keycodes or PINs are an effective method of maintaining secure access that works by entering a specific code to gain access to an area of the premises. Provided that there is no human fault, key codes work great at keeping companies secure, restricting unwanted access.

  • Biometric access control

Biometrics use fingerprints, handprints, or a retina scan to secure access to certain areas. They are used for advanced security and are the most secure type of access control system.

They are particularly useful in companies that have valuables and highly confidential assets that they need to protect.

Access control systems are increasingly replacing master key systems in both small and large businesses, allowing for smart control and the perfect balance between convenience and security.

Means of access to an access control system can be withdrawn at any time, i.e. codes and fobs can be deactivated, giving you total control over who uses it.

Access control systems can also be connected to alarm systems so they could be deactivated in the event of an alarm trigger or unlocked in the event of a fire alarm.

Where a high level of security is required, two-factor authentication can be included i.e. 2 methods of authentication such as a code plus third-party approval via video. This ensures an added level of security that is almost fool-proof.

Our Specialist security engineers at Calder Security offer all types of access control systems and can recommend the best type of system for your needs.

We are experienced with creating sophisticated access control systems for large scale commercial enterprises as well as smaller businesses.

Contact us right away for a quick consultation. Our expert locksmiths and engineers are here to help you find the best security solutions for your business.