When property managers hire security guard companies, they have a picture in mind of what their hired security force will look like, but all too often what they get is not what they envisioned. What we have found is that most security guard companies are able to provide the service that property managers want, but too often they fail due to a lack of ongoing quality control procedures.
Security guard companies are unlike any other provider that hires a property manager. If you hire a painter, you can see if he is doing his job or not by looking at the walls. But when you hire a security guard company, how often can you see if the guard company is doing its job, which includes conducting background checks and drug screenings, providing good training for your guards, and monitoring and effectively supervise your guards? In most cases, they probably are, but it is important to implement a quality assurance and verification system to ensure that problems associated with not completing these jobs do not start to occur.
In this article, we will discuss five (5) easy steps to improve your security guard service and achieve what you envision as your ideal security guard force.
Examine the qualifications of your guards
In many states, guards are mandated to have a specific amount of training before they can begin working as security guards. If your state is one of these states, make sure your security guard company is compliant.
If you are in a state where there are no state requirements for guard certification, research the type of training your security company is providing and ask yourself if it seems appropriate to you.
Also, is your security guard company conducting drug screening and background checks on all of your guards BEFORE they are dispatched to your property? If so, they should provide you with verifications. If not, why not?
Another great way to assess whether the guard is suitable for your property is to conduct a short “interview” to familiarize yourself with the guard and explain your expectations. This initial conversation can tell you a lot about what to expect from that guard and gives you the opportunity to request a different guard if you think it is necessary.
Evaluate the training of guards
Although most security guard companies have a very comprehensive orientation that introduces each guard to the company itself, in many cases the guard’s orientation to their assigned property is not as comprehensive. We call the orientation for the assigned property “Site Specific Training.” Find out what your site-specific training looks like:
• Does it occur on your property?
• Who provides the training?
• How long is each new officer trained?
• How long has the security company been double banking? (Double benching is the process of having a veteran guard working at the same time as the new guard.)
• How fully are your mail orders explained?
Determine the answer to each of these questions and make sure they fit with what you consider appropriate. You should even consider participating in your security guard company orientation and site-specific training to understand what it takes to prepare a guard to work on your property.
Review your guard supervision
Guard supervision is one of the most important factors in a good security guard service. When security companies provide poor oversight, not enough emphasis is placed on preventing errors, problems, and complaints. The lack of supervision also eliminates 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 don’t feel like part of their team, it often 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 monitor your guards? Outside of spot checks by security company field supervisors, the two most successful remote monitoring methods are:
1. Officer track tracking systems
2. Officer records
If your guards are required to conduct rounds on your property, then a system to track them while on duty is essential. Officer walkthrough systems provide a remote way to monitor guards while on your property. These tracking systems allow the security guard company to keep track of the time and record the activity of the guards as they make rounds in various areas of your property. Most officer walkthrough systems can generate reports that allow the security guard company to quickly understand if the guard is making rounds. The property manager should also receive a summary version of these reports. Manufacturers of such systems include Deggy and Timekeeping Systems, Inc.
In addition to officer walkthrough tracking systems, we have found that having a system for guards to regularly check in with the security guard company provides a way to ensure that each guard is safe and alert. By having the guards check in regularly with the security guard company, at least every 30 minutes, the 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 to find out exactly what is going on with your security while you are not there. During these inspections, be sure to ask your security guards questions about their duties and responsibilities to make sure they understand your job. In fact, we suggest that your security guards be audited regularly, formally (ie after inspection) and informally (ie secretly purchased) by a licensed security consultant as part of your ongoing security program.
Companies like Asymmetric Strategies provide a free service aimed at doing exactly that. Remember, when choosing a security consultant, make sure that the consultant is not actually a security guard company. If so, your audit will surely reveal problems with your current security guard company.
Meet with your security guard company regularly
The fifth and easiest step is to meet regularly with your security company. Without providing regular feedback to their security guard company, property managers are missing opportunities to achieve incremental increases in efficiency. During these meetings, topics such as tenant feedback, guard wear, feedback from any remote monitoring system, and any security audits should be discussed.
For property managers, getting the security they want is sometimes just a matter of putting the right processes in place to make sure all parties understand what is expected. The five easy steps we describe here are just a few to consider. For more ideas or suggestions, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or contact a licensed security consultant in your area.