When property managers hire security guard companies they have a picture in mind of what their contract security force will look like, but too often what they get is not what they pictured. What we have found is that most security guard companies are capable of providing the service that property managers want, but too often do not because of a lack of ongoing quality control procedures.
Security guard companies are unlike any vendor that a property manager usually hires. If you hire a painter, you can see whether or not they are doing their jobs by looking at the walls. But when you hire a security guard company, how often can you see whether the guard company is doing their job which includes running background checks and drug screenings, providing good training for your guards, and effectively monitoring and supervising your guards. In most instances they probably are, but it is important to implement a system of verification and quality control to ensure that problems associated with the lack of performing these jobs do not begin to occur.
In this article we will discuss five (5) easy steps to improving your security guard service and achieving what you picture as your ideal security guard force.
Screen Your Guards Qualifications
In many states, guards are mandated to have a specified amount of training before they can begin working as security guards. If your state is one of these states, ensure that your security guard company is compliant.
If you are in a state where there are no state requirements for guard certification, then investigate the type of training that is being provided by your security company and ask yourself does it seem adequate.
Additionally, is your security guard company performing background and drug screenings on all your guards BEFORE they send them to your property? If they are, they should be providing you with verifications. If not, why?
Another excellent way to screen whether the guard is a good fit for your property is to conduct a short “interview” to get a feel for the guard and to explain your expectations. This initial conversation can tell you a lot about what to expect from that guard and it gives you a chance to request a different guard if you feel that it is necessary.
Assess Guard Training
Although most security guard companies have a very thorough orientation that introduces each guard to the company itself, in many cases the guard’s orientation to his assigned property is not as complete. We call the orientation for the assigned property “Site Specific Training”. Find out what your site specific training looks like:
• Does it occur at your property?
• Who does the training?
• How long is each new officer trained?
• How long does the security company double bank? (Double banking is the process of having a veteran guard working at the same time as the new guard.)
• How thoroughly are your post orders explained?
Determine the answer to each of these questions and make sure that they fit with what you feel is adequate. You should even consider sitting in on your security guard company’s orientation and your site specific training to get an understanding of what goes into preparing a guard to work at your property.
Review Your Guard’s Supervision
Guard supervision is one of the more important factors of good security guard service. When security companies provide poor supervision, there is not enough emphasis placed on preventing mistakes, problems, and complaints. Lack of supervision also removes the opportunity for the guard to learn and better understand their duties. If the guards are not being supervised, they begin to feel that their work is not important and they begin to see themselves as less of a part of the security team. When guards do not feel like part of your team it typically leads to unacceptable practices such as unprofessional behavior, tardiness, and even theft.
Depending on the structure of your contract, on-site supervisors may not be included. If your contract does not require on-site supervision, how does your security guard company remotely supervise its guards? Outside of the normal security company field supervisor spot checks, the two methods of remote supervision that prove most successful are:
1. Officer Tour Tracking Systems
2. Officer Check-Ins
If your guards are required to make rounds of your property, then a system for tracking them while on duty is essential. Officer Tour Tracking Systems provide a remote way of monitoring the guards while they are on your property. These tracking systems allow the security guard company to monitor the time and log the activity of the guards while they are making rounds to various areas on your property. Most Officer Tour Tracking Systems can generate reports that enable the security guard company to quickly get an understanding of whether the guard is making rounds. The property manager should also be provided with an abridged version of these reports. Manufacturers of such systems include Deggy and Timekeeping Systems, Inc.
In addition to Officer Tour Tracking systems, we have found that having a system for guards to check in regularly with the security guard company provides a way of making sure that each guard is safe and alert. By having guards check-in regularly with the security guard company, at least every 30 minutes, guards feel that their safety is important and that being awake and alert is an important part of their job.
Inspect Your Guards
After hours inspections of your guards are always great ways of finding out exactly what is happening with your security while you are not there. During these inspections, make sure to ask your security guards questions about their duties and responsibilities to ensure that they understand their jobs. In fact, we suggest having your security guards audited regularly, formally (i.e. post inspection) and informally (i.e. secret shopped) by a licensed security consultant as part of your ongoing security program.
Firms like Asymmetric Strategies provide a free service aimed at doing exactly that. Remember, when choosing a security consultant be sure that the consultant is not actually a security guard company. If so, your audit is sure to turn up problems with your current security guard company.
Meet with your Security Guard Company Regularly
The fifth and easiest step is to regularly meet with your security company. Without providing regular feedback to your security guard company, property managers are missing out on opportunities to achieve incremental increases in efficiency. Topics such as tenant feedback, guard attrition, feedback from any remote supervisory systems, and any security audits should be discussed during these meetings.
For property managers, getting the security that they want is sometimes just a matter of putting the right processes in place to make sure that all parties understand what is expected. The five easy steps that we outline here are just a few for you to consider. For more ideas or suggestions, please feel free to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact a licensed security consultant in your area.