Checklist: Getting the Most from Guard Services

April 18, 2012
Are you still basing your guard services purchases solely on the lowest cost?

Security manpower services are too often purchased as a commodity, based solely on price. The fact is customers should carefully consider multiple important factors beyond price when choosing a supplier. Here is a checklist of some points of differentiation to consider when evaluating security manpower suppliers:

The ability to provide a technology component to complement the value of security officers. Technology is a great force multiplier, so customers should seek out security providers that have developed or embrace software technology as a tool to make officers more valuable to the customer organization. Ask security companies about how they are using technology to enhance safety, mitigate risk or drive efficiencies. Examples might be the use of automation and communications tools designed to boost the effectiveness of the guard force or even a custom solution that meets unique needs within a particular vertical market. Technology can also add value to other parts of the organization, such as facilities, risk management, legal, safety, engineering and building services departments. Also look for a broad offering of integrated solutions, including elements such as investigations, consulting, solution design, engineering and risk assessment.

Stability of the company and size of the workforce. How long has the company been in business providing security services? How many operating offices does it have? What is their financial situation, including total U.S. revenues and global revenue (if applicable)? Also consider what liability coverage is provided – is it adequate for your needs? Does the company provide a hold-harmless agreement to the client?

Reputation in the industry and community. Make some calls to determine the company’s relationship with local law enforcement. Inquire about state licenses, complaints and violations. Ask for proof of a working relationship with various minority subcontractors to be used when required by bid specs.

An effective operations and support team. Look for a company that supports its security personnel after hours with a 24-hour communications center. Consider how the company handles transitions – is there a formal transition plan? Consider the local office management and staff, including their professional backgrounds, job duties and length of employment. Does the company provide an ample supply of uniforms, weapons and other equipment? Do supervisors make scheduled and/or unannounced job site visits? What resilience plans does your security provider have in place to handle emergencies and national disasters such as demonstrations, workforce strikes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, etc?

Professionalism exhibited by the supplier’s security officers. The best way to determine the level of professionalism of a company’s security officers is to visit one of the company’s client sites. Do the security personnel present a professional appearance and demeanor? Are duties being performed efficiently? Are work areas neat and orderly? Ask the security provider to bring in five to 10 working security officers from various job sites to be interviewed. What’s your impression? Does the company have the same high expectations and standards for its security personnel?

Dedication to career development and training. Look at what type of professional training the company provides. Do employees have opportunities for advancement? What types of training is available? Do the training courses qualify for continuing education units (CEUs)? Does the company have affiliations with colleges or universities for security officers to pursue a college degree and/or professional accreditations? Does the company support certifications for Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Physical Security Professional (PSP)?

Emphasis on client feedback and customer service. How does the company receive feedback on its performance? Are there customer satisfaction surveys? If you express dissatisfaction, what actions are taken? Ask to see letters of recommendation from clients and the public. Consider past client cancellations – ask for specific reasons and then judge the authenticity of the answers.

Availability of value-added options. Consider what additional services you might need, such as a canine program or specially trained officers in CFATS compliance standards. Do security officers have basic CPR and first aid training? What services does the company offer beyond “basic guard service?”

Hiring practices and human resources expertise. What is the supplier’s background investigation process? Ask about the drug- and alcohol-free workplace program. Consider how the supplier ensures accurate payment of wages. What are the recruitment practices – does the company recruit consistently from the military? Consider vacation and healthcare benefits and other employee programs, such as retirement plans.

Certifications and memberships. Are any of the company’s operations ISO (International Organization for Standardization) registered? Has the company been designated or certified by the Department of Homeland Security under the SAFETY Act? Has the company ever been certified regarding safety requirements by a client? How involved is the company in supporting national, state and local industry associations?

In the end, the security officer is the first responder and linchpin of any organization’s security stature. The true measure of any security program’s effectiveness ultimately begins with recruiting the best people, equipping them with the best training, matching them up to work in the best environment based on their skills and providing a fulfilling professional development path. In addition to finding the highest caliber security officers, a security provider which can offer a range of security capabilities like mobile software for incident capture or report compliance adds greater value to the officer’s role. To evaluate guard providers, compare them using this simple checklist and then score them based on the strengths outlined above.

Drew Levine is President, North America with G4S Secure Solutions.

About the Author

Drew Levine

Drew Levine is President of G4S Secure Solutions USA.?