Selecting A Security Provider
Choosing a security services provider can be a necessary evil: the property owner wants it, the budget can afford it, but how do you know which provider is the right one?
No one likes going through the hassle of changing from their current provider and many do not know what to look for in a new provider. We feel this fear or lack of education continues to be a stop-gap for many managers as they will often “settle” for what they have rather than moving forward with a new company. After all, how do we actually know if the new company is better than the current one?
Below, we have listed, what we feel, to be the five most important factors of consideration when choosing a security provider or changing to a new one. As you look through these, perhaps you are already using some of these factors in your decision making, but not all of them or possibly not in the right order. The five factors are: Trust, Responsiveness, Competence, Experience, and Price. If these five factors of consideration are not all taken into consideration, in order, there is a high chance of dissatisfaction down the road. Much of the decisions in this economy are made based on price and not for the provider. It does not matter how much the contract is for, if the wrong security company is providing poor services, it is not money well spent. By choosing the provider or a group of possible providers from the first four factors, you will ensure the price will be competitive and fair. This will also allow for a more comparable match between companies.
The first factor to choosing the right security provider for your building/property is based on trust. Relationships are the foundation of all business-to-business contracts and the basis of a strong relationship is trust. Do you trust the security provider to actually do what they say they will?
Security is a trustworthy service. Since there is not a full-proof way to prove the security service was done in accordance to the contract, it becomes a factor of trust. If for any reason you cannot or do not trust a provider in the initial meetings or as a provider, Do not hire them. You should not sit and wonder if the services are going to be or are being provided.
HOW: Trust is a hard factor to determine in a few meetings, there is not a black-and-white, tell-tale signs for a trustworthy person, but trust your gut feeling. Do they look you in the eye when they speak to you? Do they feel like a trustworthy individual?
Level of responsiveness is the second factor of consideration for a provider. As long as security is a human-based service, there will always be room for human error. Every security provider is going to have challenges, but how responsive are they to solve challenges? Responsiveness is made up of 3 easy steps: 1) Availability, 2) Professional Response, and 3) Follow-Up. Some companies, hire the right people, provide the best training, and have continuous supervision, which limits the possibility of challenges. Others do not think this proactively and solve every problem as it arises.
What steps does the provider have in place to receive, review and resolve each and every challenge? Some items which increase the level of responsiveness include: 1) the amount of trained individuals able to assist you during the hours in which you work; 2) the forms of communication; 3) the right solutions to solve the challenge along with a long-term resolution to prevent the issue from happening again.
HOW: The level of responsiveness is easily seen during the interview/proposal process. How promptly did they respond to your request? Did they take some time and patrol the premises prior to meeting with you? Did they arrive on time for the meeting, provide follow up and provide you everything you had requested. If not, there will not be much change in services.
When hiring a security provider, there are 2 major factors: Competence and Experience.
Without either of them, the provider is either incompetent or inexperienced. Competence is necessary in the following two forms: 1) As a Security Provider– Do they understand security well enough to train their staff to understand and meet the expectations of the property. 2) As a viable vendor – Can they effectively run their business, while meeting your expectations and do it for a long period of time without a decrease in service level.
HOW: Check current client references and verify the company’s history. Ask the right questions. Their level of service is only as good as the Officer on location. What do the Officers get compensated? A higher paid Officer will often have more skill and competence and a Company that provides better benefits will retain strong Officers with less turnover and therefore increase competence through experience. Ask to view their training manual and find out how many hours of training occurs with the Officers before being on your location.
Experience of a quality security provider is seen through a long history of success. It is crucial they have experience in running a business and providing similar security services to those of your property. Choosing a brand new security provider in the industry may get you a great price, as they build up their clientele, however, there is no proven consistency. Though, their leading selling point is price, which we address later, they are often have limited experience. This may result in a “honeymoon” phase as they grow and add clients, they do not have the experience managing and assuring quality control as they add business. A Property Manager or business owner can easily find themselves 1 of 100 clients being serviced by one Officer where the services may start becoming hit-and-miss. Know the difference between managing a company and having experience in security or law enforcement. Not all past police Officers or security Officer make great security providers. After all, as they grow, they will no longer be providing the services themselves and must rely on additional staff that must be managed, maintained, trained and paid. Without the right experience, they not be able to manage growth.
HOW: Ask about the history of the company and it’s management staff. The people behind the Company set the tone for what type of service it will be, as they are ultimately responsible for the services. Ask the following questions: How long have they been in business (Experience)? How many patrol cars/ Officers do they have (Resources)? How are after-hours communications handled? Visit their office and confirm what they are telling you.
Notice this is the last item of consideration. Not only is the pricing list often the last page of the proposal, but price should also be the last factor when choosing a security provider. Yes, the price must meet budget and yes, you must negotiate what you get for what you pay, but you cannot make a decision on a new security provider by their price. You must first consider the first 4 factors of consideration prior to ensure you are paying theright security company. And then, when you have found a provider you trust, that seems responsive, is competent, and has relative experience, it is time to talk price.
HOW: First, define the amount of time you feel it takes to accomplish what you want on the property, whether it is a motor patrol or foot patrol. Walk your property and write it down. This will allow you to compare “apples to apples” rather than each company’s interpretation of your property. You might be surprised by how much you can get done in under 10-minutes. Second, decide how many patrol stops per night. Third, choose how many days of service you would like. 7 days allows the most consistency from a security standpoint.
Our goal in this is educate our clients and prospects into choosing a good company, they can trust will have their best interest in mind. If it is First Response, so be it, but we feel there are good companies out there providing a good service, while there are many bad companies out there claiming to be great companies. We feel we are a great service and want the opportunity to prove it to you. Please contact us to introduce ourselves, our goals for your property and our ability to exceed your expectations.