Contracted Security Guard Company
Thousands of businesses have retained the services of contracted security guard services over the years. In many cases it was because they knew they needed some type of security, but did not know how to start their own security department.
In other cases a business may already have their own internal security department, but feel that the security department is not effective, is poorly managed, or in some cases incompetent. In those cases and many others they seek bids from contract security companies to provide the security services that they feel they want and need.
Promises Made By Contract Security Companies
It is all about the sale, the company has their pre-canned-text marketing materials and they know what to say and often promise to take care of all of their potential client’s pains and concerns.
The security contractor may say something similar to:
- We will take care of all of the staffing issues and ensure that your site is fully staffed with professionally trained security officers
- Our security officers are highly trained to handle any type of high-risk situations
- We provide the highest quality armed security guards
- Best Trained Guards
- We feature the best trained and most engaged security staff in the industry
- Cost Savings
- Low overhead and optimized service operations produce industry-leading pricing efficiency
In doing so they have addressed upfront many of the complaints and concerns that many companies have and why they seek contracted security services. However, the question is can they deliver on their promises? Do they have a verifiable track record? Do they know and understand your type of business and industry? Is the management competent and professional?
The questions above need to be answered in all cases because it has been our experience that many companies will make promises that they cannot or will not fulfill, and in most cases that could have been discovered before signing a contract.
How to Manage your Security Contractor
There is one simple process that an organization can take when it comes to the selection and hiring of a contract security company. That is to fully investigate them as part of your due diligence phase prior to signing any contract. The way to do this is as follows:
- Ask for references and contact those references. If you are told that their clients do not allow their names to be provided, proceed with caution. While that can be the case with some clients, that is the exception, not the rule.
- Conduct an unannounced visit to the security contractor’s office. The best time to do this is at the beginning of the day because you will likely see some of their officers arriving or leaving the office. You can tell a lot about the quality of the security officers by their appearance and demeanor. You can also determine just how professional the company is by looking at their offices.
Ask the tough questions of the security contractor, such as:
- What training do you provide to your officers?
- Who provides the training and are they qualified and competent to train others?
- Is the company and the officers licensed and insured? (Know what the laws are for your state/city before you ask).
- Ask to see a sample of their Post Orders.
- What happens when your security officers do not arrive on time? Who handles that and how do they handle it?
- What equipment will the security officers carry on duty?
- What verifiable means are there to ensure that the security officers assigned to your site understand your industry? In this case certain services (e.g. healthcare) require certain things of security and not just any security should be posted on site without the proper training for that site.
- Will there be a supervisor on site? Chances are there will not be, as many of the companies may only have one supervisor who drives to several different sites throughout a shift to check on the officers. If you are lucky a supervisor will make a site visit, but do not count on the visit being more than a couple of minutes.
We could go on for hours as to the types of questions to be asked during the selection process. Suffice it to say it is your responsibility to conduct your due diligence and verify what you discover.
Audit your Security Contractor
Over the years we have been retained many times to audit security departments, both proprietary and contracted services. In doing so we will ask the tough questions because we understand where the risks and liability exposures are and how to expose them.
For example, in one case in Los Angeles we sat down with the contract security company’s management and asked them if they have ever conducted a security assessment of their client’s site. They just looked at each other, and after a long pause they admitted that they never have. Then they were asked if they could tell me what type of crime was the highest risk for the property; and again my question was met with silence and that deer in the headlights look. The final questions were really not needed at this point but they were put on the table anyway. Those questions were; if you have never conducted a security assessment of the property, and if you have never determined what the crime risks are for your client’s site how can you determine what security resources you need and at what times of the day or night? You could have heard a fly burp at that point, because they had no idea what they were doing.
When we conduct a security risk assessment we will be asking for post orders, policies, training records, benchmarking information, trending, number of incidents and the types, and dozens of other items. A professional security expert has to understand that it is more than placing a warm body on site. Unfortunately it has been our experience that there are many contract security guard companies out there that fall short of even the basic needs of their clients. The clients hire them as their security experts, and what they get are warm bodies and weekly or monthly invoices.
You as the client have to ask the questions and demand the answers. If no one on your staff has a background in security, find a security expert that can come in and help you through this process. Your company’s reputation and liability exposure may be at risk if the firm you retain is not licensed, trained and/or competent to protect your assets.
Security Contractors, Are they the Experts
I would like to say yes, but we know better. What is often the case is the security contractor may be someone that started their business with little or no training in security, and offers a very low rate to get a client base. Low bid is no bid, don’t fall for it. If you are in search of the low bid for security you will get more than the low bid, you will also get the low quality, low competence, and very low reliability.
Let’s put this into simple economics here, if you are paying your security contractor $13 an hour for an officer, you can bet that the officer is only making just a little over minimum wage and is getting no benefits. In most cases we also find that the officers are not working full-time, because their employer cannot afford to give them those benefits. That being the case, just how committed do you really think that officer will be? Chances are that officers is working more than one job as well.
Case in point, over the years we have met numerous security officers that work more than one job to make ends meet. In fact in some cases we have found security officers that work 24 hours a day at multiple jobs. It makes you wonder where it is that they are getting any sleep. I can guarantee you that they are sleeping on one of the jobs and more than likely whatever site they are at on the graveyard shift.
Here are a few tips that if properly managed will save you a few headaches over the term of your contract:
- Require that the security contract company determine the number of security officers needed for the site, and what hours they will be working based on an unbiased security risk assessment. In other words, don’t let them just throw guards on your site without knowing what it is that you are protecting against.
- Ask the security contractor to provide a written specification outlining what they would provide to your company and ensure that the terms are clearly defined.
- Ask the contract security agency about the hourly rates, training or benefits that they provide for their security officers.
- Ask the security contract agency to write the Post Orders or policies for your site and require that you can review them and make adjustments as needed.
- Require in the contract that the security contract agency’s management meet with you monthly to discuss the effectiveness, readiness, outcomes and other important issues related to security.