Let’s start with a disclaimer to why I think you should outsource security guard services: I am a biased source. I work for a security company so I think my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. What I will try to do is give a balanced picture on the pros and cons of using a security company versus hiring and managing your own security guards. Hopefully by the end of the article you will feel informed enough to make the best decision for your company.
Let me say security is a little bit different from the rest of your workforce. Depending on the requirements of a post an officer could be working alone, or on a team, during the day, or nights and weekends. The responsibilities can range from watching a parking lot overnight, to manning a guard shack and tracking every trailer that comes in and out of a distribution facility.
It is a common misconception that running a security force isn’t a big deal. Hire officers, train, and put on post. How hard can it be? It isn’t that hard to verify badges, report suspicious activity, or sign in tractor trailer trucks. How hard can it be to watch a factory overnight when all the shift workers have gone home?
Let me argue security is different from the rest of your workforce and there are some unique challenges that stem from those gaps.
Let’s take the hours for example. Often a company needs security when no other employees are present. Nighttime, weekends, holidays, etc. If you have a factory and the afternoon shift ends at 11 PM. You need an officer there from 11PM to 6AM when the morning shift starts. The factory is closed over the weekend so you need coverage from Friday at 11 PM until Monday morning at 6 AM.
Now you have an employee who decides he doesn’t want to show up Friday at 11 PM. What happens now? Do you have a deep pool of guards that are willing to take that shift? Will you personally have to take the shift? Do you really want to pull an 11PM-6AM shift after you have worked an entire week? If you pull another officer how long will it take for him, or her, to get there? Will you have to pay that officer Over Time? How will that affect your payroll budget?
Worse yet if you have a guard who just quits do you have the deep pool of trained backups to cover the officer’s shifts? How long will it take you to find a new officer? What about training? Who is going to cover shifts while this process happens?
Turnover is a hidden problem with a company’s security force. It takes a lot of time to find, interview, hire, and train new officers. Once you have your team hired you have to have back up guards for when someone is sick, has car trouble, or quits. Will you be able to keep the requisite number of officers on staff? Will you be able to handle an officer suddenly quitting?
All these scenarios require time and attention that can take you away from your primary focus - which is growing a successful business. You have to decide whether you want to take on those responsibilities or if it is worth your time to have an expert handle it for you.
Another big issue is “Performance,” or, “Management.” This is the biggest reason why security firms are hired, and fired.
Let’s say you own a distribution facility and you (again) need someone to work overnight. Your operation isn’t usually 24/7, but you want to have someone there who will deter thefts and sign in the occasional after hours delivery.
Now what can go wrong? How do you verify the officer is making the rounds, not sleeping, checking all the doors and windows to make sure they are closed?
If the past two months have been quiet at the facility will the officer be tempted to slack off. Sleep on the job, or worse---abandon post.
How are you going to verify everything is getting done? Check camera footage? Drive past the front gate at 3 AM? 8 AM on a Saturday? How many times are you going to be able to drive past the front gate in order to make sure everyone is doing their job?
What happens if the officer falls asleep and someone is able to break into the facility? How long does it take to steal product, damage machinery, or worse?
Again, more work and responsibility on your plate. More people to manage, make sure they are as invested in your business as you are, and dedicated to protecting your assets. You could take on those responsibilities, yes - but do you have the time to randomly check in every night? Or the patience to scroll through hours of camera footage?
If you think your time is better spent on other business activities, it might be worth outsourcing these.
Let’s look at the above scenarios if you hire an outside security company.
If an officer doesn’t show up the security company has a deep pool of replacement officers cross trained and ready. The shift is covered immediately and no post is left unmanned.
A professional security company takes care of running help wanted ads, interviewing, background/drug tests, and training. If an officer doesn’t meet your requirements he or she can be rotated out with another. Often times it is hard to tell who will be a “fit” until you get an officer out on post. If you feel like someone isn’t working out one phone call is all that’s needed to move that person to another post.
A trained field supervisors is deployed to the field and constantly checking on your account through the night. This means security guards are invested and alert, providing quality service with the help of active management.
Incidents are reported, daily activities tracked, and all combined with notes into reports that are available to you immediately. So you get the transparency and accountability of security without the added hours, paperwork, and management that you would need to provide yourself.
Outsourcing security guard services isn’t a dirty little secret. It’s announcing that your company is worth expert security; and knowing who is the best option to provide that. Your business is important, and these decisions aren’t taken lightly. Do your research and choose what’s best for your business.