Security managers have many responsibilities and concerns. While keeping their buildings safe and secure is certainly one of them, it need not be a complicated matter. Working with a qualified, experienced security services firm can help a security manager in doing his or her job effectively, and even save money.

Education is the foundation upon which a solid relationship between a security manager and a security services provider is built. The security firm should be a trusted advisor, guiding and consulting management and showing them the many alternatives that exist in security today. So how can you tell that you are working with someone who will assist you in that goal? There are a few telltale signs that let you know you are working with a capable security firm. 

1. The first is that they are willing to fully assess your needs before providing you with a price quote. A reputable vendor should insist on visiting the facility you manage to see how it operates, the configuration of the physical space, and where there are needs for greater, or opportunities to condense security measures.

2. Another sign of a quality security firm is that they ask questions – and lots of them! Speaking with the security manager in depth to ascertain the needs and requirements for that particular building is an absolute “must.” The security vendor can then identify the objectives of the security program and understand any budgetary constraints that may exist so that they can best work around them. In fact, the ability to respect and work within monetary parameters is an important part of any relationship between a security firm and a security manager.

3. Once the scope of work is understood, and the security vendor has a feel for the types and volume of public interactions that exist in a given building, the next step is to make sure that the provider has the appropriate background. Just as you wouldn’t hire an electrician to fix your plumbing, you wouldn’t want to entrust your building to a firm that does not possess the right expertise. The company a security manager hires to safeguard a building should have a good deal of experience in providing services at locations where security and customer service skills are critical factors. The vendor you work with should know the ins and outs of your type of work. They should be able to talk the talk, literally. If they don’t understand your “terms of art,” then they are likely not conversant with your sector.

The ideal scenario is when the vendor can approach security from a comprehensive or “holistic” perspective. Some security firms offer personnel only, such as armed and/or unarmed guards, Fire Safety Directors and Concierge services, while others may specialize in security video, access control systems, intrusion and fire detection and other technology-based solutions. While both types of services are absolutely essential to a security manager and the security of a building overall, there are many benefits to working with a firm that can offer both under one umbrella. A company offering both capabilities is well-versed in combining manpower and technology to maximize the effectiveness of the two components. Otherwise, the decisions as to how best to apply  personnel and equipment are often left up to the security manager, who may not possess the expertise to piece the two programs together in a way that achieves the optimal security program. Technology can assist the building security personnel in doing their jobs more effectively, as well as limit the need for a larger security force on the site and instead place the right number of guards at strategic locations. The correct combination of the two may offer cost savings to the security manager. Also, since the investment in security personnel usually comes from the operating budget whereas technology typically comes out of the capital budget, bundling services into one hourly rate for the security officers can mean more budgetary flexibility. Finally, when a firm is a true “all in one” provider, there is less reason for them to push one type of service over the other.

4. Once a security manager has the right security firm on the task, they will immediately start to realize even more benefits. Redundancies in service can be eliminated by analyzing the overall security program on a day-to-day basis. An outside vendor can offer the new perspective to best review the security procedures and duties of on-site personnel. Such overlap of duties may not be as clear to the security manager who is so close to it. Furthermore, Internet Protocol (IP) cameras can be used to monitor isolated posts where there is no on the ground supervision so that, should an officer be less alert at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., the command center can contact them and ask them to walk about, for example, thereby ensuring the effectiveness of the security program.

5. Further changes can be made to a security program once it is in place. When a security firm is at a property every day, they will get a better feel for the changing needs at that building and can then recommend adjustments accordingly, possibly identifying further opportunities for savings. Tweaking staffing levels just right can achieve the perfect balance between high service levels and savings. By reviewing the program on an ongoing basis, the security firm can ensure they are giving you the best possible job at the best possible price.