Category Archives: For Security Buyers


Bridging The Gap Between Security Vendor And Partner

In today’s business environment where resources are scarce and sometimes non-existent, how do your customers find answers to the challenges that they face?  If they have the time, they might try searching the internet or posting questions on sites like Quora or LinkedIn.  All of which can provide great answers, but would your customers ever consider using your company as a resource? If not, chances are they see you as just a security vendor.

Consider this, you probably have clients that are fairly similar and have faced and solved many of the same types of challenges.  So if your customers aren’t leveraging you as a resource, both you and your customers are missing a huge opportunity.  Here are a couple of great examples of how I have seen clients tap their vendor networks to help solve some of their challenges.

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6 Helpful Tips To Improve Your Security Guard Service

improve-your-securityIn this last part of our 4 part series which talks about how to improve your security guard service, we will be reviewing some of the previous concepts and introducing a few more.  If you missed our 3 previous articles you can find links to them at the bottom of this page.

Now that we have covered the fundamentals of security guard service in our previous articles, I can offer the 6 most helpful tips to improve your security guard service.  In my experience, these tips will help resolve 80-90% of all security guard issues that security guard buyers face. Continue reading

3 Tools For Managing Your Contract Security Force

managing your contract securityIn part three of our series we will be looking at some of the tools that are necessary for managing your contract security force.  If you have not yet selected a security guard contractor review our posts “Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force” and “Understanding Contract Security Guard Training” before making your selection.

After selecting your vendor the work of managing the contract begins.  Managing your contract security guards includes assessment of security guard performance, monitoring billing accuracy, monitoring responsiveness of contractor management, assessing security guard attrition rates, training, and other various metrics.  But in order to increase the likelihood of having a successful security program, you and your provider have to ensure that all the necessary tools are in place. Continue reading

Understanding Contract Security Guard Training

security-guard-trainingIn part two of our series we are examining one of the components that should be included in your security guard vendors billing rate, security guard training.  We talk about the other billing rate components in part one of the series “Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force“.

One of the biggest challenges a security guard contract manager faces is the training and development of their contract security force. In their proposals, the majority of security guard contractors tend to highlight their internal standards of security guard training in very general terms. However, to reduce their overall billing rate the amount of resources allocated for things likes security guard training are often drastically under budgeted.  For contractors, this practice often helps win bids, but often leaves you, the client, with a poorly trained staff.  The best way to avoid a problem with under-trained guards is for you and your bidders to develop a mutual understanding that effective training is a good investment for both parties. In order to come to a mutual understanding with your bidders about adequate levels of training, you first need to understand the various components of a security guard training program.

Tip: If you have new officers on site that regularly don’t seem to know your procedures, chances are your contractor’s bid did not include an adequate budget for training.

Types of Security Guard Training

There are 3 types of security guard training that guards are regularly given.   These types of trainings are:

  1. Internal training – Internal training is given to security guards to get them accustomed to the contractor’s policies and procedures.  This type of training generally includes topics such as expectations, human resource related topics, pay schedules, disciplinary processes,  etc. This type of training is not site specific.
  2. Certifications – This type of training, like the internal trainings, are not specific to your particular property but is very important.  Depending on the guards previous positions, they may have training or certifications in the following areas:
    • Basic firefighting
    • Advanced first aid
    • CPR
    • Firearms qualifications
    • Bloodborne pathogens
  3. On The Job Training (OJT) – OJT provides guards with the preliminary information that they will need to perform their duties at your site.  Because OJT is such an important part of a good security guard training program, you as the security manager should consider specifying the number of hours of OJT that each guard should receive.  Topics for OJT should include at a minimum:
    • Technical equipment (CCTV, alarm panels, phone system, etc.)
    • Hazmat (if applicable)
    • Emergency procedures
    • Rules of conduct
    • Facility layout plan

Although I would love to give you a number as to how much OJT is necessary, each site and post will be different.  As a rule of thumb, I would look for at least 8 hours of OJT for each new guard.  8 hours of OJT will allow each new security guard to at least shadow another security guard for a full shift before being placed at your location.  But again, each site is different so use your best judgement.

Using The Security Manual For Security Guard Training

There will always be challenges in providing comprehensive security guard training to new security guards.  But you as a security contract manager can help mitigate some of those challenges by providing a Security Manual for your contractor.  At a minimum, the security manual should include a set of written instructions in the form of Post Orders that outline specific duties for each guard for each shift and post.  In addition to the post orders the security manual should also include rules and regulations for your facility and any applicable security related directives.


*Click to download sample

Cross-Training for Security Guards

Once security guards are up to speed with the basics, it is easier to progress to a formal system of cross-training. In larger facilities where security guards serve several different functions, cross-training is an essential tool in providing consistent service.  In an effective security department, there should always be several guards capable of performing any given task.  For posts that require more specialized skills, such as administrative duties, it is critical to have several cross-trained guards to ensure the system continues to works smoothly.

Testing as Part of Security Guard Training

One of the most important components of a security guard training program that is often overlooked is testing.  Your security contractor should make available to you, on a regular basis, the training and certification history for each officer working at your facility.  This history should include the dates that the training was conducted as well as the scores for all tests that were administered.  For a fast and inexpensive way of testing security guards read our post Give Your Guards Post Orders Tests Over The Web For FREE.  At a minimum, training for your site should occur when a guard first starts at your facility as well as part of an annual refresher.  Testing each officer as part of their initial and  refresher training allows you and your security contractor to evaluate any areas that your guards need to be retrained in.

As a whole, comprehensive training programs don’t only create a sense of responsibility among officers, but they also encourage professionalism since officers know exactly what is expected of them while on duty.  Both of which make your job easier.


Series: Improving Your Security Guard Service

Article 1: Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force

Article 3: 3 Tools for Managing Your Contract Security Force

Article 4: 6 Helpful Tips To Improve Your Security Guard Service




By Courtney Sparkman

*Source: Stees, J. (1998). Outsourcing security: A guide for contracting services. Woburn: Butterworth-Heinemann


Understanding The Billing Rate For Your Contract Security Force

billing-rate-contract-securityWelcome to the first article in a 4 part series on improving the service that you receive from your contract security provider.  In this series I will outline 4 critical areas that every buyer or contract manager for security services needs to evaluate before, during, and after choosing a security guard provider.  In this first article we will discuss one of the most important aspects of selecting a contract security guard vendor “Understanding the Billing Rate”.

The billing rate that your bidders provide is the result of adding up all the costs associated with staffing your property, plus some number that represents what the bidder wants to make from the contract. The largest portion of that billing rate is usually the guards’ wage rate.

Determining Contract Security Guard Wage Rate

The most important component of building and maintaining a successful contract security force is ensuring that your guards are being provided adequate compensation. In order to do so, you as the contract manager must determine how much other businesses are paying for security guards within your area for similar scopes of work.  This amount should be the benchmark by which contract managers judge contractor bids and in no case should the contractors proposed starting wage be lower.  As part of the bid evaluation you should request a wage rate analysis for your area from any potential bidders.  By ensuring adequate compensation for the contract staff at your facility you will be able to help reduce the amount of turnover that you see at your facility.  In addition to providing the wage rate analysis, each bidder should be required to state what wage that they are proposing in their bids.

Tip: If you have a high rate of guard turnover 9 times out of 10 the wage rate at your site is probably too low.

Security Guard Benefits

Secondly, in addition to wage rate the contract manager has to ensure that the security guards are also given benefits that will help retain top talent at your location.  Some of these benefits can  include:

  • Company supplied uniforms
  • Vacation days
  • Sick days
  • Medical benefits

The best way to ensure that you are receiving the type of officers that you need is to ensure that these benefits are outlined in your bidders’ proposals.  The most economical way to pay for these benefits is to provide your contractor the ability to bill you directly for benefits given on behalf of the contractor. When direct billed, these costs which are typically  hidden in a comprehensive billing rate, are billed by the contractor only when they occur.  This is more advantageous to you as the contract manager because you will only pay for benefits that your security officers receive.  By using direct billing, costs associated with temporary and part time employees are also reduced.  A greater level of benefits can then be given to officers who are employed longer.

Your Billing Rate Breakdown

Although wages and benefits are two of the best indicators of the quality of your guard force, they are not the only indicators.  To understand the security programs that your bidders are providing you must look at the program in its entirety.  The best way to do that is by requesting a line item breakdown of your billing rate with each bid.  That billing rate should include at a minimum:

  1. Wages
  2. Payroll Taxes
  3. Risk/Insurance
  4. Expenses
  5. Gross Margin or Markup

Most security guard contractors use pricing tools similar to the one below that will generate billing rates based upon the resources that they will allocate for your location.


As you can see from this sample pricing page, it would be relatively easy for two bidders to come up with the same billing rate but propose radically different services.

Ethical and credible contractors should embrace this approach to billing rate review with open arms. This allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of their pricing models and protects them from incurring costs that are uncompensated.  However, the most profound impact of evaluating your billing rate is on the behavior of the security guards themselves. When security officers feel like they are being treated fairly they are much more likely to exhibit the positive behaviors that you desire: Attention to detail, professionalism, and alertness.


Series: Improving Your Security Guard Service

Article 2: Understanding Contract Security Guard Training

Article 3: 3 Tools for Managing Your Contract Security Force

Article 4: 6 Helpful Tips To Improve Your Security Guard Service




By Courtney Sparkman