Managing a security guard company isn’t easy: High-stakes situations can go bad quickly, and after an incident occurs, both you and your client will be looking for answers. As a result, understanding the liabilities associated with having an incident at your clients’ sites are a key part of protecting your business.
“Just because you’re a former cop doesn’t mean you understand liability,” and that lack of understanding can put you at risk of losing your clients, your reputation, and your business says John Roberts of J.R. Roberts Security Strategies.
Here’s how to protect yourself and your clients from a nasty lawsuit.
Research the True Scope of the Job
One of the biggest pitfalls for security guard companies is bidding on projects before fully understanding them, Roberts explains. For example, a company may agree to protect a property without learning about its history, its boundaries, or its special requirements. Roberts has seen cases when a security guard company puts an unarmed guard at a property that really should have an armed guard — which the security guard company would have understood if it did its homework properly.
“Before putting in a bid, learn about it,” Roberts says. “How dangerous is it? What’s its history, its size, its neighborhood? Is the exterior or interior most problematic?” If you fail to do any of this work, he says, it’s much more likely that you’ll get your company and your client into a bad situation.
Establish a Strong Vetting Process For Your Officers
Your employees can be your competitive advantage — or they can undermine every effort you make to build your business. Not vetting employees properly is especially risky in the security industry, Roberts says, as the “color of authority” can sometimes draw unscrupulous people to apply.
Check backgrounds thoroughly and don’t be afraid to interview more than once. “Very often I would insist that we conduct multiple interviews,” Roberts says. “At the first one, I’d have them sign a waiver and let them know we were going to do a background check and credit check. Very often the candidates self-selected out; it became a weeding-out process.” Roberts also recommends psychological screening to better determine suitability.
Communicate Clearly with the Client
Keeping track of agreements, post orders, daily activity reports and other documentation is the best way to protect both the client and your security company. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, Roberts says — just some notes to ensure both the officer and client are on the same page.
Technology options such as mobile apps and the use of GPS can help keep things simple and clear, Roberts says. “If you have an officer who’s working and there’s an event, it’s nice to be able to determine where he was at a certain time,” he says. “It demonstrates a reasonable standard of care you should take.”
Rely on Expert Partners
Getting legal advice, especially early on, is a must for security companies. Companies that listen to good legal advice, research protocols and understand the risks and vulnerabilities inherent in the industry flourish, Roberts says. The ones that ignore these elements? “They’re no longer here,” he says.
Get good legal counsel on board, and don’t settle for getting by on the minimum allowable insurance under the law. Roberts suggests that if you have too little coverage, or if you don’t assess risk or get advice about it, you may be faced with losing the company if something goes awry.
Accept Only the Clients That Fit Your Resources
In Roberts’ opinion, many young security companies get too ambitious and try to bid on contracts they can’t handle. Their officers may not have the training or experience to provide the level of service required, or the company might not have the resources it takes to service multiple large clients.
Instead, start small until you’re able to take on training or hiring more experienced officers without risking the business, Roberts advises. “Take a deep breath, and if you can’t afford the insurance or to deploy an armed guard, don’t do it,” he says. “Start with unarmed guards and stop there until you build up a cash reserve, a reputation, and the exposure you’ll need to grow.”
What are some of the steps you take to protect both yourself and your clients? Have you ever regretted signing a contract with a client before? If so, why? Please feel free to leave your comments below.
By Courtney Sparkman
OfficerReports.com is a software company that provides security guard companies with an easy way to monitor their officers, better manage their operations, and win new business. Take a tour of our software to see how we combine Electronic Reporting, Real-Time GPS based Tour Tracking, and GPS based Clock In and Out into one easy to use platform.