Part 2 in a Series on Procurement in the Security Industry
Engaging a service provider is always a gamble, and procuring security for your business is no different. There’s no telling for sure whether the supplier you’ve met will do a satisfactory job until you’ve sunk time and money into giving them a shot.
Or at least, that’s the general assumption.
We’re here to prove that, when it comes to procurement in the security industry, there are smart ways to hedge your bets. Read on for an insider guide on getting your money’s worth when hiring a security company.
The Golden Rule: Set Your Procurement Priorities
The first order of business in smart security procurement is to set your priorities in order. Every security company has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s critical that you figure out the best concessions to make (if any).
The worth of a service provider generally boils down to three elements: speed, coverage, and experience. Something has to give in most cases, so it’s paramount that you figure out what that something is.
If you’re a procurement manager, then you already have an idea of which factors matter the most to your company. Take note, however, of the following nuances to the security industry and how to assess them within your candidates:
1. Speed is of the Essence
Security risks compound over time, and it gets easier for criminals to victimise a business or its staff with every day that they go unguarded.
A lack of security means that your company’s vulnerable points are left wide open. Anyone can spot a hole in a chain-link fence, but it takes an expert eye to spot less-visible weaknesses in your structures, protocols, and routines.
Likewise, going unguarded means you risk increasing the confidence of elements that would seek to harm your business. The first line of defence in security is always deterrence: a strong first impression can eliminate the need for reaction or repair.
With all of this being said, we highly urge you to prioritise the time it would take to integrate your security provider’s solutions. The sooner you achieve integration, the sooner work can begin to patch structural vulnerabilities and deter bad elements.
To assess how quickly a security company can get their services up and running, we recommend asking for case studies or reports on how they deployed for other clients in the past that are approximately your size. These should give you a sense of how quickly they act.
Otherwise, you could try and reach out to contacts you might have who have experienced being serviced by your options. It’s much less of a sure bet than asking for case studies, but it gets you information that’s unfiltered by corporate interests.
2. Coverage Should be Broad
The saying rings true for corporations and security: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Or perhaps in this case, the bigger they are, the more ways there are to bring them down.
The best security providers provide a wide range of verticals from which their clients can choose. Roving patrols are one thing, but clients of scale should also expect services like electronic security installations, satellite security deployment, and cash-in-transit security.
Likewise, today’s best security companies offer their clients the added service of integrating with the front-ends of their businesses. Keep an eye out for vendors whose security guards and officers are also trained to assist and interface with visitors to your establishment.
It’s important to cover all your bases, so we recommend that you put vendors with wide offerings near the top of your list of candidates.
There’s no hard rule that says the more verticals, the better. The important factor is whether or not the specific verticals you need are covered, so your action step here would be to have as clear of an idea of your needed verticals as possible. From there, it’s a simple matter of referring to your candidates’ websites and brochures.
3. Your Security Company of Choice MUST be Experienced
Experience is the first and only true non-negotiable for this list of factors: the more experienced the security company, the safer of a bet it is for any procurement manager.
While the age of a company correlates with experience, it’s important to note that in the security industry, it’s possible for a business to operate for years without learning a thing.
To get a better sense of a security company’s experience for your procurement needs, we suggest looking for the following two things:
- Awards. A good measure for how much a security company has learned and optimised over time would be the number of awards they’ve won—you also get the added bonus of knowing they’ve been vetted by others in the past.
- Past and Current Clients. With a little digging, you can find out which clients your prospective security providers service, or have serviced in the past. If you see a set of large clients and clients in or adjacent to your industry, you have a good bet on your hands.
Don’t get us wrong: the number of years that a security provider has been in service does indeed count for something—it helps you avoid hiring untested providers. We recommend a minimum of 2 years to qualify a candidate; excellent young security companies do exist, but surviving past the second anniversary is a clear indicator of some degree of consistency.
Awards from reputable entities are preferred, so it pays to do some research into award-giving bodies. There’s no minimum for the number of awards a firm has been given, so use this metric as a basis for comparison—award winners are, naturally, better than the undecorated.
Likewise, not every large client is a positive indicator: if you can find out how long they’ve been rendering services to their prominent clientele, you can get a sense of another important metric: reliability.
There’s no sure way to know if a security company is worth procurement until you’ve hired them. However, if you keep in mind their time to integration, scope of offerings, and experience as industry players, you can get an early sense of how well they might serve you.
We don’t recommend opting for the lowest cost, nor can we equate a dollar value to each of these three factors. However, if you have an industry baseline for cost, then the factors we’ve covered will help you weigh the options that fall within your allotted budget.