Best Practices for Giving Vendors Access to Your Building

giving vendors access

The following article was contributed by ServiceMaster Commercial Cleaning, a janitorial cleaning franchise based in Virginia. 

The success of your business lies first and foremost with you and your employees and your relationships with your customers and clients. But you probably also rely on outside vendors from time to time (for example, cleaning and maintenance crews, courier services) in order to help your business flourish.

These outside vendors are crucial to the work that you do, but it can be anxiety-producing to allow other professionals whom you don’t know to have access to your place of business outside of regular hours when you are not there to supervise activity.

We’d like to discuss best practices for giving vendors access to your building so that all parties benefit from the relationship (vendors not being able to do the jobs that they are tasked to do is problematic for everyone involved) and you have peace of mind.

Clear Authorization Policies

Make sure that you have clear policies for who is authorized to have keys to your place of business. Some questions to ask and answer:

  1.  Should the door always be locked or always open during office hours?
  2.  How many people need access to the space?  How often does this change and how often are people added to this list?
  3.  Are there different access roles for managers, employees, freelancers, and interns?

Depending on the physical layout of your business, it may be possible to give specific vendors access to only part of the location. For example, while a cleaning crew would need to be able to access all the areas that you’d like cleaned, a courier service might only need to be able to access the foyer of your business to leave and pick up packages, but not the rest of your office space.

Having an up-to-date list of who has which keys and when they were used to access which doors is crucial to maintaining the security of your business. Make sure that you only have as many keys that you actually need for individuals to access the secured entrances in your business space.  Extra keys can pose a security issue if they fall into the wrong hands.

Use of Access Control Systems

Access control systems can help prevent unauthorized access to your building and/or office space. These systems are designed so that only authorized users—using pre-programmed PIN codes, access cards or biometrics—can access keys. On-board advanced technology automatically records all access activity. A basic system often consists of a computerized key storage cabinet, a key locking mechanism, and a tracking system so that individual keys can be traced to specific individuals.

Today, best practices dictate that two- or three-factor authentication is the preferable option for each access point. A combination of the options mentioned above ensures that each user must authenticate at least two of the following categories: knowledge (such as a PIN), possession (such as a key card) or identity (proven through a fingerprint or retina scan). This ensures that people cannot gain unauthorized access by having only one particular piece of information.

Guidelines for Engaging Vendors

You should have in place clear guidelines that vendors should be required to meet before they are granted access to your business location. Make sure that you do your due diligence and conduct a background check on the vendor before entering into a business agreement.

What is a vendor’s conduct policy? What are their employee screening practices?  Have the employees all passed criminal background checks? What methods does the vendor use to make sure that this information is up-to-date?

All vendors should undergo security training to ensure that the employees are familiar with your business’ security policies and understand how to access properly and securely the necessary areas of your business and ensure that the location is secure when they leave. They should also know what to do if an emergency arises while they are accessing the building or office space, especially if no one from your business is there to assist them.

Make sure to check vendors’ references. Ask for contact information for other clients.  While a quick internet search will often lead you to reviews, you might also want to check the Better Business Bureau website and with your local chamber of commerce.

Because the work of third-party vendors is crucial to the success of your business, make sure that you only use respected and trusted companies for your all of your needs, including facilities maintenance.