Peter Drucker famously said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Going a step further, one might say that if something isn’t measured, it may as well not exist. That isn’t to subscribe to the quantitative fallacy, so much as to put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
Security businesses live and die by their contracts and by the quality of their coverage. Establishing yourself as a credible and customer-service-oriented professional, that is both reliable and proactive about the security needs of your clients, is key to winning in a competitive landscape. But that’s only half of the story. You need to be able to provide and prove top notch protective services as well as compete in a margins game, where the difference of pennies often makes the difference between winning and losing.
Furthermore, in a climate where margins have been on the decline for the last several years*, and where emerging trends in technology have increased expectations, customers are now demanding more for their security “buck.” So what are some key ways that security organizations can thrive in the face of a changing marketplace and emerging competitive challenges?
This is the first post in the Transform Your Security Company series. Ok, strap yourself in and let’s get started.
Increase Accountability & Efficiency
Being systematic about your processes, operating procedures, and workflow can help you not only increase the efficiency of your staff and operations, but doing so also allows the insight and transparency required to objectively measure performance. You’ll need to routinely monitor that performance in order to make adjustments as necessary. Monthly and quarterly reviews are a good place to start. Such a feat is difficult to achieve if you don’t have a clear resource for managing information. If your officers and staff don’t have a go-to destination that defines your process, and where information gets stored, created, and disseminated appropriately, you can be at risk for the following:
- Training and turnover costs can increase
- Confusion and miscommunication can cause wasted resources and duplication of effort
- Lack of accountability can cause damage to your reputation
- Liability can threaten your business
- All of above can cost you customers and opportunity
Oversight plays a key role in helping you gain perspective on the performance of your staff. As an owner or a manager, you want your staff to best represent your security company’s goals and priorities, and the best interests of your clients. The larger you scale your operations, the more difficult the task of maintaining that oversight without a system in place. But that system should work both ways. Think bi-directional accountability. That means the accountability of your staff and officers to you, and your accountability to your customers. Just as your team needs to continually prove themselves to you, you’ll need to continually prove your value to your customers. For that, you’ll need a system.
Security guard management can encompass many aspects and areas of your business, but any system should ideally cover the following key areas:
- Schedule Management
- Security Operations & Reporting
- Patrol Routing & Alarm Responses
You’ll need to be able to manage the work-load of your staff and match that up with the requirements of your customers at all their various service locations. Once you have your contract and labor needs synced up, you’ll want to track that your officers, guards, and staff are where you need them to be when you need them to be there. Can you prove that’s what’s happening? Can you your team prove it to you? More importantly, can you prove it to your customers? This might sound like stating the obvious. You may be thinking “come on… this is logistics 101.” Well, you might be surprised at how often the logistics of scheduling and time tracking comes in as an afterthought. If this one critical and obvious detail starts to slip, everything else follows. With the advent of smartphone technology with standard hardware features like GPS tracking and cheap data plans, security companies should be able to prove when and where they’re accomplishing their work.
Security Operations & Reporting
Standard operating procedures, documentation, contacts, site images, maps, and post orders, timely communication between staff, and with customers, along with the ability to report activities and incidents in the same system you use to manage schedules and track time is all critical. It’s great to prove you are where you say you are, but reporting helps you tell the ongoing story of your value while you’re there. Speaking of while you and your staff are doing work at your client locations, did you satisfy the needs of all your clients? As you scale your business, you’ll run into a wide variety of customer requests and needs that all have to be tracked; even down to the site level. Don’t let those operational details, both external (your client’s demands and wishes) and internal (the goals and priorities you put to your team), fall by the wayside. Customer service matters, hugely. Operational awareness matters, critically. Neglect them at your own peril.
Patrol Routing & Alarm Responses
Does your security company run roving vehicle patrols? Do you want to start into that side of the private contract security business? Whether you want to start or you’re already up and running, you’ll need to make sure that you’re storing all the contract details of your client locations in one place, combined with your schedule management, security operations, and reporting system. You don’t want to duplicate the effort of manually combining reporting from various service types, or forcing your clients to go to more than one service for their reports. You’ll also want to manage the scheduling for your dedicated and patrol services in one place to avoid confusion and increased effort. Simplicity is the name of the game, here. You’ll want a system that can tell your officers where to go, when to go, how to get there, what to do when they’re there, and how to report. Being able to repeat this quickly and on-the-fly as circumstances change, new contracts come, old contracts go, and alarm responses arrive at random can help you increase both efficiency and accountability. This becomes a necessity as more and competing interests and demands get added to your plate as you grow your patrol operations.
It’s great to prove you are where you say you are, but reporting helps you tell the ongoing story of your value while you’re there.
Being able to tie your schedule management, security operations, reporting, and patrol and alarm response concerns into one centrally located system is a critical step in transforming your security company.