You have made the decision to hire a security agency to protect your business, but now what?
What characteristics do you look for in a company? What questions should you ask? How do you differentiate one company from another?
Once again, Small Business Trends turned to Greg Kuhn, founder and CEO of Omega Protective Services, for advice on the matter. He recommended that small business owners consider the following six subjects, each of which he posed in the form of a question:
Ask These Questions Before Hiring Security Guards
Is the Agency Locally Owned or a National Chain?
Kuhn advised businesses to hire a locally-owned security company, one that is a small business itself.
“A small business can serve you better than a national security firm,” he said. “To them, you’re just a drop in the bucket. A small agency will pay more attention and treat you better. You’ll have the bosses phone number, not some call center.”
How Customer Service Oriented Is the Company?
Kuhn said you want to find a company that puts a priority on customer service.
“Security is the number goal, of course, but following that is customer service,” he said. “If you come up with a company that does not have that as a priority, don’t hire them.”
Is Security the Company’s Main Focus?
You want to learn whether or not security is the company’s sole business or if it’s an add-on to other services, such as cleaning, parking or landscaping, Kuhn said. He advised hiring an agency that specializes in the type of security you need.
“If you’re hosting an event, seek out an event security company,” he said. “If you need armed bodyguard services, pinpoint one that specializes in that. If it’s warehouse security, locate a firm that has deep experience in that area.”
Does the Company Offer Uniform Options?
Kuhn asked, “Does the security company you’re considering offer different choices in uniforms that fit the occasion?”
He cited options such as police-style uniforms, polo shirts, t-shirts, suit and tie and plain clothes.
“If the company only offers one uniform — the police-style with shoulder patches and black striped pants, for instance — keep looking, unless that’s what best fits your needs.”
What Is the Company’s Reputation?
Google makes it easy to determine a company’s reputation (complaints are often the first results to surface), but refrain from limiting your research to keyword searches only. Look at ratings and review sites like Yelp, and reference social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out the agency’s Better Business Bureau rating.
Another idea: Ask the company for client references and speak with them, to learn whether they were satisfied with the work done.
Kuhn even suggests finding out how the agency’s employees feel about working there.
“That may be difficult to figure out,” he said, “but by meeting with representatives of the company you can get a feel for their attitude.”
Is the Company Willing to Accommodate Your Needs?
“Will the company work with your schedule, particularly if it involves varying hours,” Kuhn asked. “If it’s not willing to accommodate you, it’s not looking for your business.”
He also advised asking if the agency is amenable to supplying guards short-term, — during the holidays, for example — or if it requires a long-term contract. The more flexible, the better, Kuhn said.
Other Security-related Hiring Issues to Consider
Here are three other issues to consider, in addition to those Kuhn suggested:
Is the Company Licensed and Insured?
The agency should be able to supply valid, current state licenses and show proof of insurance. Scrutinize the insurance to ensure it adequately covers your situation (one million dollars is the standard). Forms of insurance include workman’s comp, auto liability and general liability. Ask that it adds your business as an “additionally insured.”
How Well-trained are the Guards?
Regardless of the company you are considering or the type of service you need, hiring guards who are properly trained is vital to your business’s welfare. Otherwise, you run the risk of guards who are ill-prepared to handle emergency situations or manage even routine tasks. Ask what type of training the company provides and whether it meets or exceeds state requirements. If the latter, ask in what ways and be specific.
How Much Will It Cost?
While you may not want to hire the company that submits the lowest bid, depending on the qualifications, you should ask the following questions of all those you interview:
- How frequently with the firm bill for services rendered: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
- Will it charge a flat monthly rate, a uniform hourly rate for all employees or a different hourly rate for each employee? (Hourly rates may be a better fit for your budget if you only need help seasonally, for events or part-time.)
- Does your business have to cover costs for uniforms, equipment and supplies?
- Are there add-ons the agency supplies at no cost to you?
Of course, the most critical question to ask is whether or not the total estimated average monthly cost fits within your budget?
As you can see from this list, price is only one of many factors to consider. Choosing a low-ball figure can cost you in the caliber of services rendered and the quality of the guards assigned. Just as with many other business-related expenses, when it comes to security, you get what you pay for.
Security Guard Photo via Shutterstock