“Fiscal responsibility” is a mantra that most profitable companies live by.
Every business leader worth their salt must periodically take a hard look at their company’s bottom line and determine where expenses can be minimized and additional value generated. One of the more challenging aspects of such internal reviews pertains to evaluating non-revenue generating vendor services like security providers.
Something no security company likes to admit is that security does not generate revenue—but that doesn’t make it any less vital for a company’s success, and not just for obvious reasons, whether it’s a dispensary or a mainstream business. There’s also a psychology to security that can negatively affect businesses and their customers when it’s done wrong.
Security was always on my mind when I was in the military and protecting my fellow soldiers and our missions. Early on in my civilian security career, I was tasked with managing an internal guard force as well as a team of contract guards for posts we didn’t have the manpower to manage internally. In my naiveté, I viewed security and sub-contracted security as a type of business liability insurance and nothing more. Sure, we needed to have it, but what did it matter if we used one particular company over another—especially if one of those companies billed at a bargain rate? They’re all doing the same thing, right?
I quickly learned that many big-brand security companies could only offer such attractive rates because of the high volume of business they executed and the massive guard pool from which they pulled staff for positions. It didn’t take long to figure out that these guards were often underpaid and poorly trained, and despite their poor performance, their employers were simply rotating guards among sites.
Within several months of contracting with the “big players,” I ran into every issue you can imagine: Guards showed up for work absurdly late, and sometimes they didn’t show up at all. Other times they came to work without any discernible uniform on and demonstrated unacceptable, unprofessional behavior.
I can recall a number of times when I was alerted to these security problems by clients instead of the guard company. Not only was that embarrassing, but it put me in the position of having to scramble to provide security coverage while also hustling to reassure our clients that we were indeed reliable professionals, despite our sub-par security vendor services.
Adding insult to injury, the initial enthusiasm and attentive service shown by the vendor company disappeared altogether once these problems started to arise. All the contracts had been signed, and the honeymoon phase was over. Suddenly, the only time I heard from them was when there was an issue with billable hours.
Speaking with the guard company management got me nowhere, unless I offered them a larger contract. And the only other solution seemed to be rotating different security providers every 12-18 months to keep the “honeymoon” phase alive, which was wholly unsustainable.
In my extreme frustration, I realized that there’s a reason why the maxim “you get what you pay for” exists. I also began to understand that business security represents much more than an insurance policy to prevent theft and burglary.
I learned the hard way that although business security services may not by definition generate revenue, enlisting low-cost, low-quality security vendors can certainly undermine a company’s profitability—even without any security breaches. My decision to contract with the “big players” ended up costing me client contracts, positive earnings reports and atta-boys from senior leadership.
Since then, I’ve built my career providing security platforms for organizations, leading executive protection details, and managing tens of millions of dollars in irreplaceable jewelry and fine goods at high-profile events. All the while, one thing has remained a constant for me: an appreciation for the value of high-quality security services.
When it’s done right, security does much more than mitigate risk and protect people, places and property. It also serves as a form of customer service and encourages repeat business.
Security professionals are frequently the first and last person your customer sees. They’re representatives of your company, and you want them to make a good impression and put clients at ease.
So the next time you’re evaluating your own company’s security provider, ask yourself: When is the last time you heard from them about something other than an invoice? Are they proactive in dealing with security and personnel issues? Or does the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling more adequately describe your working relationship? Why are you spending so much time dealing with a problem that you are preemptively paying to have solved? Working in security over the years, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly—and I know there’s plenty of the latter out there.
This is why I joined Iron Protection Group. After 14 years of serving hundreds of different clients, I was lucky enough to find an organization whose values aligned with mine. The formula is rudimentary, folks: It’s people first. Not just the clients we serve, but the guard force we manage.
Our billing rate may be slightly higher than the bargain rates many big companies offer, but that’s because we employ the best people and we provide the best service. We have a personal relationship with each client we serve—their success is our success. And having that vested interest in their profitability is ultimately our return.