Monthly Archives: December 2013

Developing Supervisors For Your Security Business

security-business

The past year has found me in a lot of conversations with security guard company owners and managers about the challenges involved in providing adequate supervision for their security officers.  I continue to believe that digital solutions are a key component of the formula for adequate supervision.  But I often find myself recounting lessons learned from the security business my father and I started.

The Beginning

When my father and I first started our security business back in the early 2000’s we went about managing the business as many people do.  As owners, we shouldered all of the tasks and responsibilities associated with growing a security guard company which included recruiting, scheduling, training, etc.  As we began to approach about 50 full-time officers, we began to realize that we needed to look at other ways of managing our growing workload.  As a result, we started promoting officers to supervisors and delegating some responsibilities to them.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a structured program for promotions in place and consequently we made some bad choices and got burned by several of our supervisors.  We eventually realized that our  supervisors’ failures were not the result of the supervisors not caring about their jobs or the company, but more about how we developed our supervisors and delegated responsibility.

Delegating Responsibilities in Your Security Business

Over time as we continuously looked to improve the way our security business operated, we developed a supervisory development program that helped our company quickly accelerate our growth. The supervisory program allowed us to delegate some of the more redundant operational components and quality control functions to other personnel.  Subsequently, my father and I were able to spend more time on more critical issues.  Below are some of the key elements that eventually found their way into our supervisory program.

  1. You have to get started. Whether you’ve delegated responsibilities and gotten burned before or are considering delegating to supervisors, the most important step is to get started.  Accept the fact that there will be some hurdles, but know that with a good plan you will be able to overcome them.
  2. Choose which tasks to delegate. In order to grow you should be spending your time on your security business’ most critical tasks, or the ones that only you can do.  We chose to delegate scheduling, some aspects of hiring, and some aspects of the disciplinary process.  We felt that with the right training most supervisors could appropriately handle those tasks.
  3. Setup a system for follow-up.  When you delegate responsibility, especially to new supervisors, you can not leave them to figure it all out on their own.  You must stay close enough to the process to know if you need to reinsert yourself.  In our business we setup a biweekly 30 minute non-mandatory conference call for all supervisors.  During these meetings we discussed pressing issues or challenges that the supervisors were facing.  Issues could then be addressed with individual supervisors in follow-up conversations.
  4. Pick the best person. Make sure you choose officers who based on their abilities, values, and work ethic are capable and willing to get the job done.  Keep in mind that these might not necessarily be the officers that you like the most.
  5. Train your supervisor and give them resources. How you train your supervisors will ultimately determine their success or failure and that of your security business.  Ensure that your supervisors have been provided resources that help them understand what it is to be a supervisor.  Those resources can include in-person, class room, and even online training.  Although there are a myriad of online resources, we used TrainingDepartment.com as our online training resource.
  6. Give them the goal not just a procedure.  As a manager you must set clear goals for each supervisor.  Just telling them to make sure everyone follows procedure is not enough.  Consider sharing with them how you achieve the goals you have outlined.  Afterwards, step back and field any questions that they might have as they take on the responsibility.
  7. Don’t expect miracles, be patient. For many of your supervisors it may be their first time being given such responsibility, so they may make mistakes.  Be sure that when mistakes are made that they are used as a learning experience.
  8. Reward your supervisors in public and on paper.  This is the simplest step, but often times in a security business it is the most forgotten.  When your supervisors do well praise them in public and in private.  Make sure that they are also recognized as part of their performance review.

Conclusion

Every security business owner will eventually have to confront their fear of delegating to supervisors in order to continue growing their business.  If your security business’ supervisory development program includes at least the eight points above you will have significantly more successes than failures.  But in the end, although effectively delegating is key for a security business’ success, be careful to never delegate “the buck stops here” role.  That responsibility should always remain with you.

How are your supervisory programs structured? Are there any points that you would add to this list?  Please leave your comments below, we would love to hear from you.

 

By Courtney Sparkman

 

 

Top 10 New Year Resolutions For Security Guard Companies

new-year-resolutionAs the year draws to a close, if you’re anything like me, you’ve already looked back over the current year to take assessment of your successes, as well as your failures.  With the wisdom and knowledge that you’ve gained from 2013 it’s time to develop your new year resolutions for 2014. I once read an article written by Professor Ray Smilor regarding resolutions which I thought fit the security guard industry really well.  So if you’re a security guard company owner, manager, or supervisor here is a short list of resolutions to think about.

New Year Resolution #10

Respect and appreciate your officers and employees – Every employee has the need to be appreciated.  Simply telling someone “thank you” and recognizing their efforts or performance in front of other officers or employees is a great method of motivation.  It’s also a great way to show that you appreciate the role they play in your company’s success.

New Year Resolution #9

Reward officers who contribute to the growth of your company – Saying “thank you” is a great start but will only go so far.  It is important to offer financial rewards tied to great performance by your officers.  These rewards can come in the form of gifts cards or even free movie tickets.  By doing so, your officers begin to take a vested interest in how your company performs.

New Year Resolution #8

Empower the right people – While it’s tempting to try to personally manage every project, no company can succeed without spreading decision-making power across the organization. Find the right people, empower them, and then get out of the way.  There will be some failures, but failures can be valuable learning experiences.

New Year Resolution #7

Give back to the community that you work in – Many managers get so involved with filling shifts,  counseling officers, and finding new business that they forget to acknowledge the communities that they work in.  So take time out to share your knowledge and resources with that community to help improve it. Helping improve your community is great not only for your community, but also for your brand.  Giving back is also a great way to bring things into perspective and show thanks for what you have.

New Year Resolution #6

Be a better listener – Although it’s easy to get cynical after dealing with complaints from officers and customers, it is difficult to come up with real solutions when you aren’t truly listening. Take the time to hear what other people have to say, you’ll often come across some great ideas. Listening before you talk also teaches you humility and forces you to think before you speak or act.

New Year Resolution #5

Focus on your strengths – Every owner, manager, or supervisor is unique in their knowledge and skill set.  So rather than trying to do it all, use your time effectively and focus on what you do well, rather than trying to do everything.  See Resolution #8…

New Year Resolution #4

Remember the golden rule – Relationships, whether they are personal or professional, are built on respect. If you learn to respect others, they’ll respect you in return. So try to keep that in mind when interacting with officers, vendors, and even competitors. Showing respect is always good for the bottom line.

 New Year Resolution #3

Take someone under your wing – As an owner, manager, or supervisor at a security guard company you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help someone else reach their goals in life. You can truly make a difference within your company by taking someone under your wing and being a coach and mentor.  As I once told a supervisor “What good does it serve if you excel, but the rest of your team doesn’t and we lose the contract?”

New Year Resolution #2

Spend more time with family and friends – I hear the comments already “Easier said than done.”  Managing or supervising within a security company is anything but easy. But what is the satisfaction in having a great business, but failed relationships? Make a commitment to find a way to spend more time with your family and friends. Those personal interactions actually help you recharge and boosts your day-to-day performance.

New Year Resolution #1

Enjoy the ride more – The road to success is a bumpy one.  Winston Churchill said “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”.  Along the road to success you will experience happiness, as well as disappointment. They are both steps on the ladder to success. Each one of those steps adds meaning to who you are and makes the story of what it took to be successful even more exciting.

I hope this short list helps you in making your new year resolutions for 2014.  If you have resolutions for your business that are not on this list what are they?  We would love to hear them.  Please leave your resolutions below.

 

By Courtney Sparkman

Great Customer Service Is Your New Competitive Advantage

competitive-advantageIn the security guard industry where low price bidders continue to drive down billing rates, companies are increasingly looking for ways to develop a competitive advantage.  In this industry there are six main ways to build a competitive advantage: 1) Brand recognition; 2) Corporate reputation; 3) Access to capital; 4) Low pricing; 5) Ability to innovate; and 6) Superior customer service.  Of these six, providing superior customer service is the most immediately attainable and impactful.

It is a common misperception that pricing is the most critical factor in determining whether your customers stay or leave.  But research continues to show that customer service is generally the most pivotal component of a customer’s decision to leave.  So let’s look at what it takes to wow your customers with customer service.

Making Customer Service A Competitive Advantage

In order to make customer service a competitive advantage, we first need to understand what it is.  Even though the term customer service has no universal definition, customer service is usually implemented in one of three ways. These ways are generally determined by the level of involvement and commitment to the customer service plan.

Customer Service as a Task

This particular level of customer service treats the customer service function as specific tasks that need to be performed to appease customers. Creating departments that are assigned to handle customer issues and complaints represent this level of customer service.

Customer Service as a Metric

This customer service level focuses on evaluating customer service based on metrics.  These metrics may include things like the percentage of positive surveys or maintaining a certain client retention rate. While this level is better than treating customer service as a task, in order to make it a competitive advantage your company needs to see past the metrics.  It is critical that you ensure that the metrics actually translate into satisfied customers.  Satisfied customers are the only way to truly achieve overall success.

Customer Service as a Mantra

When you adopt great customer service as a mantra, it elevates the customer service responsibility across your entire company.  It also helps ensures that everyone is focused on achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction. When customer service becomes a mantra, your whole organization becomes committed to the idea of providing great customer service as a part of every process.  Every department will begin to focus on developing ways to ensure a great customer experience when dealing with clients.

If you commit to making customer service your competitive advantage, here are a few tips that are applicable to every department within your organization:

  1. Always empathize with your customers if they are encountering issues.
  2. Always show your appreciation for your customer’s continued business.
  3. Make it easy for your customers to reach any level or person within your organization.
  4. Ensure that EVERY interaction that you have with your customers is authentic and receives a personal touch.

If your organization is truly committed to making customer service your competitive advantage, ensure that every interaction with your customers adds benefit to the relationship and maximizes its value.

What difficulties have you encountered implementing your customer service plans?  Is customer service part of your quality assurance plan?  Please leave your comments below, we would love to hear from you.

 

By Courtney Sparkman