If you ask 10 people who carries the bulk of the responsibility for protecting America’s homeland 8 out of 10 of them would probably blurt out “Police.” While the police do an excellent job protecting our citizens, security officers often go as the unsung heroes! According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the private security industry is responsible for protecting more than 85% of the nation’s critical infrastructure. In most cases security officers outnumber police officers 2 to 1. According to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial fund there are approximately 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers and federal agents. According to a report prepared by ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) there are nearly 2 million full-time security workers in the United States. Experts expect this number to increase by 21% percent through 2020. To add to these staggering numbers there are thousands of private security firms in the US and new companies are popping up everyday.
With so many security companies to choose from it is important to use careful consideration when selecting a security provider. Choosing the right security firm not only protects your property and your people, it helps to protect your business in cases of litigation (Which can save you tons of money down the line). Choosing the right security firm also can protect your business reputation, which can be severely damaged by even the smallest security incident. History has proven that trying to rebound from an embarrassing security incident can be a very challenging and expensive task.
So let’s go through my 10 Surefire tips to hire a reputable security firm to address your security needs. The first step in the process starts with doing a google search for security companies in the area or checking with the venue where you will be holding your event. Oftentimes they will have a vendors list. Next you should send out RFP’s (Request for Proposals) which are formal or RFQ’s (Request for Quotes) which are informal. Whichever, method you choose should include the vetting of a least 3 vendors. Once you gather the vendors’ information follow my 10 Surefire best practices and you will be well on your way to selecting the best vendor for your job:
- Vet the prospects’ security experience (with a special focus on the projects similar to yours)
- Review the prospects’ years in business, past clientele and past performance. Don’t get all excited because the prospect drops a big name (Having a big name client is one thing, but doing a shabby job at it is another).
- Visit each prospect’s website paying special attention to content, ease of navigation, services and especially the “About Us” sections. Lack of information in a prospect’s “About Us” section should be a sign, “Buyer Beware.”
- Request information about Professional Associations in which the company and management team are affiliated. Companies who are serious about what they do will usually be associated with associations such as ASIS, ISMA (INTERNATIONAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION), or IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police). Board certifications such as the ASIS- PSP (Physical Security Professional), CPP (Certified Protection Professional and the PSI (Professional Certified Investigator are definitely a plus.
- Request and review each prospect’s executive leadership and management experience. Proven years in police or security “management” is always a good sign.
- Review the prospects’ social media presence to include content, reviews, followers and engagement with current security issues (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
- Request and review the prospects’ marketing material to include brochures, capability statements, etc.
- Request and review the prospects’ insurance levels ( 1 million in General Liability is normally sufficient)
- Inquire about guard training. A good training program should include (observation, report writing, use of force, effective communication, incident management, tort law, arrest law, criminal law, constitutional law, bomb identification and evacuation) and;
- Consider pricing
Have you noticed that pricing was the last thing on this list? That wasn’t done by mistake. Pricing is the poisonous apple of doing business with a security firm. Yet, it is oftentimes the first thing that those looking to hire a company considers; sometimes it’s the only thing. While I understand that the bottom line drives many business decisions, I caution that when the poisonous apple is bitten, it often bites back. Choosing a security firm based on the lowest price often costs businesses major losses in finances from lawsuits and crime and even more in frustration from complaints of absenteeism and unprofessional and unethical conduct. Therefore, I strongly recommend against using the lowest responsible bidder process altogether. Instead, I suggest using the above tips to find the best fit for the job at hand. More often the difference between the highest bidder and the lowest bidders is usually only a couple hundreds of dollars and to me it’s well worth the money.
My father always told me that it was best to spend adequate money on quality things in the beginning rather than spending more money to replace the bargain products in the end. In other words he would say, “You either pay the cost or you pay the price.” In my experience paying the price is almost always more than the cost. My father is a wise man and I’ve benefited greatly from his advice, so I felt it important to share some of his wisdom you all.
Thanks for reading. For more information please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Melvin E. Key, CPP
CEO, MVP Protective Services