Beyond the Standard Security Guard
The professional Security Guard gets a bad wrap. Oftentimes they’re viewed as minimum wage know-nothings who have no authority to tell anybody what to do. Common slang nicknames include “rent-a-cop” or “wannabe” (referring to one that wants to be a police officer). So, where does this lack of respect come from? From my experience I have seen substandard guards encourage this derision due to the way they carry themselves. Either their uniform is sloppy, with a dirty, un-tucked shirt, or the fact they look completely disinterested in what they’re doing. Now, these guards may be competent in their job, but the fact they do not appear to have it together gives the impression that they’re unprofessional and thus the target of ridicule.
So why is the industry plagued by this type of guard? In Massachusetts as well as other states, there are not too many requirements to become a guard. Most of the training and screening is dictated by either insurance companies who insure company, or by past litigation. Like any business, the security company wants to avoid civil litigation if their guard does something wrong or to minimize its financial impact. Thus, in order to save money most companies will do the bare minimum when screening and training their newest security personnel. Obviously, they’re in business to make money and in order to stay competitive they can’t spend hundreds of dollars training an employee who might not be with the company very long. In addition, the competition between companies in the Security Guard industry is fierce, and a company may be chosen simply because they were a dollar or two cheaper. Which means the security companies’ pool of candidates is limited to those who will work for a lower rate of pay. The guard who is hired is probably getting paid a dollar or two above minimum wage, doesn't see this job as a long term career and cares very little about his assignment. What’s more, guards are constantly looking for other opportunities to make more money so they jump from company to company frequently and employee loyalty is almost non-existent. What’s ironic is when the client who hired the security company complains that the guard at the post is lazy or indifferent to his assignment. And my response is always, “you get what you pay for!”
One summer when I was home from college I got a job with a local security company (which has since gone out of business). I remember answering an ad in a metro-west newspaper, (the internet was not the job search vehicle it is today), and met with the director the next day. I drove to Fort Devens and met with a very nice gentleman who represented the company very well. He wore the standard white shirt-black pants uniform and had a very comfortable office. Needless to say our pleasant conversation lasted about thirty minutes and I was hired. He made a copy of my license, I filled out a form for taxes and handed me a sticky note. On the sticky note were two addresses: one for a medical facility so I could pee into a cup for a drug test; and the other was the location of my first assignment. This was the extent of the screening process and orientation. What makes me queasy is many security companies still operate like this. At the time it was great for me because I was seventeen and wanted to work without jumping through a lot of hoops.
My first assignment was a construction site on route nine in Framingham, MA where they were building a new car dealership. Needless to say this assignment did not require a lot of technical knowledge, equipment or special training. However, I didn't get so much as an employee manual, post orders or company policy and procedures, (which in retrospect explains why they’re no longer in business). I subsequently worked for several other security companies and learned both the good and the bad from each of them. As I sat on several different posts for hours at a time, I thought about the security company I would someday own and what I would do differently. Today, eighteen yeas later, I have that company and am dedicated to screening, hiring and training dedicated professionals. Also, it is my sincere obligation to give guards direction, job expectations and on-going training. Their duties and behavior are dictated by use of post orders and employee manuals. I believe assignments should not just be warm bodies watching the grass grow, but functions that provide a dedicated service to the client and reward professional demeanor and superior guards. To discuss how professional Suburban Guards can help you or your company, give me a call at 617-957-2248. #proactiveprotection
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This Blog is written by Suburban's security experts, with contributions from industry experts. Nothing in these posts should be considered binding between the reader and Suburban's security team nor should it be considered legal advice. Just fun tips to help "Protect Your Most Valuable asset".