What if security leaders are underutilizing their contractors and leaving value on the table? The value lost by not using these services may drain other resources, or worse, unnecessarily permit losses. Make vendors partners in loss prevention. Doing so can prevent or mitigate losses, reduce costs and make the overall program more capable and responsive.
Throughout commercial and industrial settings, contractors are engaged to provide security and supporting services. In some instances, these are specialized services such as consulting, investigations, K-9 and armed response. In other instances, the services may be more commoditized such as fixed guard posts or mobile security patrols. And, there is likely no doubt that their cost has been challenged through nearly every budget process with a goal of reducing that cost. Before the next challenge crosses the desk of the powers-that-be there may be a good opportunity to determine if the maximum value has been gained from those services.
How then might these third party services be better utilized? To which there are two general questions to answer. First, what is the nature of their services? Consider where are they working, what are they doing, seeing, communicating and reporting. Second, how can they be leveraged by both the security function and, potentially, other business functions. The later should be carefully considered to avoid scope of duty creep that may diminish their effectiveness in their primary role.
For instance, a mobile patrol through a parking lot may take a tally of vehicles parked, or occupied vehicles, or of the states of license plates. Such data could be compared with customer traffic data, shoplifting reporting or apprehension data, offering potential insight of conditions outside a facility as they relate to events inside a store or office. The provider may count the number of loiters on neighboring properties, or vehicles “cruising” through the parking lot, they may also take photos or video, which may be overview or of specific data. This may be explicit in the original contract or it may be agreed upon after the fact. While some of these can be provided through technology, that technology may not be within budgetary range.
A fixed post security officer might keep track of the number of times they are asked for directions. Add to this a little specificity about who, which department, service, or event they are asked about. Where is the value in this? It could indicate the need for better communication to customers, visitors and even employees. This communication may take the form of signage, pre-arrival directions, mobile phone app features, all of which with the intention of improving their experience. It is also possible they may be asked for an escort to or from a vehicle, and this data could provide insight and offer support for improving lighting and visibility, additional posts or patrols, or other solutions. All that from what may be as simple as tally marks on a piece of paper.
How then might an armored car service provider be of assistance? Certainly they could provide practically real-time notification were a deposit, or other designated item to be picked up, was not available for pick up. A store manager could be slow to complete their deposits, or there may be other issues. Rather than waiting for that deposit to be recorded at the bank, or reconciled by a sales audit team, awareness provided by the service provider could significantly shorten the notification period for a loss prevention investigation.
Again, this may highlight issues with staffing, training or other non-nefarious problems, or it might offer awareness, to the store team, of the quickness that loss prevention is made aware of a missing deposit. This could serve to prevent, or reduce the likelihood of a deposit theft. Also, choosing whether this initial notification to the store is made by the operations, accounting, or loss prevention team can set, or change, the apparent significance of not having the deposit prepared. The armored service provider may also be able to offer cash services such as consolidating store deposits, rather than having the bank do so, or to maintain emergency “store bank” funds in case of a safe lockout at a store. Talking with these providers may uncover other unexpected “capability multipliers” to maximize their value as a vendor-partner.
Systems integrators, security installers or low-voltage electricians may be able to provide photos of the work they have completed, as well as other supporting photos where video surveillance is not available. These may be of other previously installed equipment for tampering or basic housekeeping. They could also provide a count of vehicles in the parking lot, or customers in the store, or if a manager sat on a personal phone call for hours.
The point here is these service providers are often invisible to employees and managers. Make them partners in the process to avoid a wasted opportunity. If there is a reward program for reporting theft or for improving a process, and a system installer provides that information, give them the reward! If an employee or manager vents to a technician, use that constructively, as an opportunity to help, to improve morale, to engage with the operations partners, or otherwise “fix” a perceived problem. Sharing useful information internally with other partner departments only builds that relationship.
Maximizing value goes both ways, at least to a degree. Providing video, or still images, of contractor performance whether good or bad is helpful to the provider. When the service provider demonstrated high quality service and an individual falls short of that standard, giving the provider tools to correct the behavior, or if necessary re-assign them, tells them someone is paying attention and that they value the relationship. Asking a uniformed guard if they know their post orders, or their chain of command (especially for the post they are staffing) is a quick way for an initial measure of their commitment. This too emphasizes a team’s expectation of their performance.
Treat these providers as if they are heading departments. This sort of professional relationship can further build the partnership. There may be times for a department celebratory event where these providers can be included and the results of doing so can be quite unexpectedly outstanding.
Maximizing the relationship with contract security service providers is an inexpensive means to expand the reach and effectiveness of the organizational security program. The above are just a few examples of easy ways to build, strengthen and grow that relationship from a lowest-cost provider to a maximum-value partner.