I have read quite a few articles on how to select a security provider over the years and have seen numerous articles lately on LinkedIn. Most of them give bad or misleading advice to the readers and are doing a disservice to those clients who may want to select a quality provider. This will be my attempt to address this issue and add some clarity. First let me start by saying that this is a complex issue and all the factors can’t be addressed in one post.
In thinking about this subject, I have tried to narrow down the four key issues in the selection of a quality security organization and have settled on; Compensation, Training, Hiring Practices and Management. If you as a client get these correct, then you have an excellent chance of choosing a quality vendor. There are many more issues that will help in the selection of a quality provider as well, but I believe these four will put you on the right path. I will address the issue of compensation in this post and visit the other three in future posts.
Rarely is this addressed by professionals in the security industry and is typically only given lip service by most organizations. As a client, you have to question your vendor on the wages and benefits they provide to their officers. Do you really want officers that are paid fast food wages with no benefits? The security industry has a negative reputation largely due to the issue of poor compensation. Companies give little thought to this part of the equation as they are simply looking for revenue growth at all costs. Ask the prospective security vendor how they arrived at the pay levels they are proposing for your officers.
Dig deeper into the answer to determine if they have actually given thought to the issue or just given you the “average” wage paid in the marketplace. If this is the answer, then you have a company that lacks the knowledge to properly evaluate your needs and service your account or simply is chasing revenue regardless of their ability to service your account. An average wage in the market means that they are comparing you to other accounts with whom you may be similar, but most often not. If you are a retail facility, do you really want to be compared to an officer park or high tech facility which requires a different wage structure? Your wages structure should be based upon the requirements to provide you the level of service you desire, wages paid to similar organizations in the market and wages that will attract the level of talent that you require.
Talk to the prospective vendor about the cost of living in your market and determine if they have given this any consideration. If they are proposing wages that will not allow the person to rent an apartment and meet basic living requirements, then you have the wrong provider. It is another indication that customer service and employee relations are not the primary driver of their business.
As with wages, discuss benefits with the provider. They will say that they “offer” benefits in compliance with the ACA, but dig deeper. What is the monthly premium charged to the employee? According to the ACA, they can charge the employee up to 9.5% of his salary. If they have a $400.00 per month plan and are paying only $10.00/hr, the employee would be paying almost $2000.00 per year for medical premiums, not to mention any deductibles that will be required. Does anyone think that the officers will enroll in such a program?
Other compensation issues that should be addressed are vacation time, what is the policy? Is the employee forced to use the vacation or is he allowed to accrue unused time? Since you are being billed for vacation time (either directly or in the rate), should the officer not be able to accrue this benefit? Is there a retirement plan? If so, is it contributory?
Compensation is the key that holds everything else together and gives the client some assurance that they will receive quality service. All the training in the world will not ensure great service if you have 100% turnover of your staff. The most ridged hiring standards will be of no avail if you can’t attract quality officers to apply. Management and Supervision will have little time for you, if they are constantly recruiting and hiring new officers due to high turnover. A little investigation into wages and benefits will save you significant pain down the road. Select a vendor that actually understands the local market and gives strong, logical arguments about the wages structure they propose for your account.
– Tom Parrish, CEO