Solid training helps the officers, the guarding service and clients. Sandi Davies, executive director of the International Foundation for Protection Officers, and Nicholas Luciano of Hannon Security Services, share a commitment to the Certified Protection Officer program.

Structured and time-tested training programs also cut down on the cost of insurance and allow the relationship with an end-user last longer.

The debate rages on how the quality and quantity of training can relate to security officer retention and effectiveness. Is there a direct correlation between training and the quality of service delivered by competing security companies? What better way to answer some of these questions than to examine a successful security firm’s best practices in the area of training?
A study by Kuty & Associates looked at Hannon Security Services, Inc., a contract security company in Bloomington, Minn. Examined was how Hannon’s training program differs from the norm, and how training has impacted delivery of service, client satisfaction and security officer retention. “I feel that my background in contract security provides me a unique perspective as it relates to training. Realizing how helpless one can feel when not properly trained to handle various situations drove my determination to find and select what we felt would be the best training program for our employees,” said Hannon’s Vice President Nicholas Luciano.

The Training

“We looked long and hard at the bevy of training programs that were available when we started our search.  It was mind boggling to learn there were very few security officer training programs in place and that many were so generic we were concerned that the quality of training we were looking for wasn’t in those training programs,” said Hannon co-owners Michael and Beverly Karch. Their desire to find a quality training program was also strongly fueled by the need to combat attrition.
Management sought out professional training that would keep their curriculum at the cutting edge of what was available for their employees. Their research led them to the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO). “Hannon is now working off the IFPO’s 7th edition of their training program.  Hannon’s desire was to continuously have the most personalized, up-to-date training curriculum available by people who specialize in training, and we were fortunate enough to provide just such training and earn their business. As one of our longest-termed contract security customers, Hannon recognized the need to provide quality service. Motivated to reduce turnover and increase longevity among staff and clients alike, it was easy to demonstrate how our program would benefit them in the long run,” said Sandi Davies, IFPO executive director.

The Officers and the Training

Ray McBride has been a security officer with Hannon for over seven years and in the security business for a total of ten years.  Assigned as a day shift security officer at a high profile corporate account, McBride takes great pride in his job knowledge and loyalty to his company and client. 
As for the CPO program, he felt the program “delivered a hands-on approach, with top notch instructors that truly cared about the quality of training they were delivering.”  Although he is extremely happy in his current position, McBride thinks that his status as a CPO makes him more marketable as a security officer should he ever decide to pursue other opportunities.
Another Hannon security officer, Anna Houston became a CPO in 2002.  Because this was her first security job, Houston said she was quite apprehensive when she started her job. According to Houston, “Training is relevant to my loyalty to the company and has been the major influence in me staying with Hannon for the past ten years. I feel confident in making decisions, with no second guessing.”

The Business and the Training

So how does the training impact the company’s ability to sell and maintain business?  Lisa Mountain, business development manager, became a CPO herself. “It’s provided me the first-hand knowledge of the time and dedication it takes to become a CPO.  We, by far, have the best training department. I feel training and dependability go hand in hand. When security officers show up for work, they are well trained and they make more money than the average security officer.”
To Mountain, the CPO training is her unique selling proposition in the markets they serve. Prospects are more concerned today with training than they may have been in the past.   She is convinced that when she details Hannon’s training program to prospects and asks them to compare it to their competition, she has an above average chance of winning the business from her competitors.
Jeff Dauffenbach is security manger for Jostens in Owatonna, Minn., and a long-term client. He said that at one point the company did have an in-house training program, but liability concerns prompted them to look elsewhere. This is the second time around that Hannon has provided security for his company. He replaced Hannon a few years back, but after experiencing two years of working with another security contractor, rehired Hannon “due to the CPO training.”
Another high profile client, Chris Repplier, manager – security operations for Carlson Companies, is equally impassioned about training, and the unique approach Carlson Companies uses for staffing.  According to Repplier “less than 25 percent of his security staff has a security-related background. We teach them what they need to know and the CPO training plays an intricate role in this process.” Concerning retention, the average security employee stays on the job at Carlson for three to four years. This is critical for the highly technical positions in the communications center that require computer skills and the ability to think fast on the feet. 
Dauffenbach and Repplier agree that the extra money they pay for CPO personnel has improved morale and longevity among their security staff.
What sets excellent training programs apart from average programs? The high quality of the CPO training curriculum is one factor; but aside from the training content, the officers, clients and the company all pointed to the quality of the trainers as instrumental in developing a successful training program. 
The Hannon training team consists of four former law enforcement officers, all with training backgrounds, who split the training between them. They are: Don Peterson, John Nace, Karlen Long and Emily Millard.

Risk vs. Reward

Clay Narum, Hannon’s director of human resources, said that, when analyzing the effects, both positive and negative, of any formal training program, one must weigh all factors and develop a risk/reward matrix. For Narum, the risk of increased training and staffing costs per employee (an average of $800 - $1000) and the cost of having dedicated training instructors have continuously paid business dividends. According to company-provided statistics, the average security officer tenure with the company is 1.9 years. The average tenure of a CPO is 4 years. And 72 percent of the firm’s officers are CPOs.
According to Hannon’s general liability insurance provider, Bruce Brownyard of Brownyard Programs, said, “From an insurance underwriter’s standpoint, security guard training is critical. One of the major considerations in underwriting a security guard company is the breadth and quality of their training program. A quality training program impacts the insurability and the pricing of a security guard company when they apply for both general liability and workers’ compensation (WC) coverage. Well-trained guards have fewer liability and WC claims. Show me a security company with a quality training program for their guards, and I will show you a quality security guard company.”