For Security Companies, Take a Page Out of a Football Coach’s Playbook

There are many parallels between running a security business and trying to win a football game.

IN NORTHEAST OHIO we don’t have an abundance of sunny weather, or warm weather, or mountains to ski, or beaches with palm trees. What we do have is football! We love our football. We live it from September to January every year. We breathe it from grade school through college, and we do have two pro teams in the state of Ohio. There’s the Cincinnati Bengals in the southern part of the state (now a perennial playoff team, only to be eliminated in the first round again last month), and perhaps up here I’ll call the other team semipro in the case of the Cleveland Browns – as a Browns fan since 1964, this can be painful.

On the collegiate level, we have our pride and joy with The Ohio State University. The Buckeyes have been brilliant, with two national titles and several other highly successful seasons just in the past 15 years. So what could go wrong? (And how does this relate to security sales? Don’t worry, I’ll get there.)

Many Ways to Drop the Ball

It could be seen as a rare void in leadership and coaching when in November Ohio State lost at home to Michigan State by a field goal as time expired, ending the defending national champion’s 23-game winning streak and essentially its hopes to repeat. I’m not whining – Michigan State played the perfect game and deserved to win. But the result was an epic failure of customer service; the customers, of course, being the legions of Buckeyes fans.

Let me count the ways to connect this misfortune (admittedly the loss hit some of us harder than others) with our focus. You could argue the failure points of “business” leadership with the Ohio State coaching staff included:

  1. Being unimaginative in their offensive play-calling (stale sales strategies)
  2. Not leveraging their resources properly (poor tactical planning)
  3. Not making adjustments at halftime (ignored an important real-time trend)
  4. Displaying fear and uncertainty in the face of adversity (heads down, not exemplary body language)
  5. Lacking a positive attitude with players (engaging and listening to employees)
  6. Lacking a cohesive game plan (did not recognize competitive advantage)
  7. Being overconfident (underestimated a competitor)

Security pros can predict what competitors will do next much like coaches can predict the opponent’s game plan.

Winning Impacts Your Team & Your ‘Fans’

Even before they lost, Ohio State’s ranking had slipped from overwhelming No. 1 preseason to No. 3 by the time they faced Michigan State. Something just wasn’t clicking.

Losing is bad enough for the team (your company), but what about the fans (your customers)? Although we diehard Browns fans are essentially masochists, Ohio State fans view the world of winning quite differently. They have higher expectations and a much lower tolerance for pain. How would you gauge the expectations and pain threshold of your customers?

Perhaps some real coaching is in order. Consider including these in your business playbook:

  1. Create a compelling, colorful and visceral vision to inspire your players to play hard for your team to beat the competition.
  2. Make sure the right people are in the right seats on your gameday bus! Make sure they understand what you expect from them to win.
  3. Make adjustments to your game plan when needed to shift momentum. Momentum is an intrinsic that is hard to describe, but you instantly recognize it when you see it occurring and need to reclaim it in your favor.
  4. Be fearless, confident and stand with boundless positive attitude and head held high. Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than to see their coaches with the look of doubt in their eyes and fear on their face. Game over!
  5. Outthink your opponents by anticipating their game plan and ensure your team understands what they are up against. Did they train for different scenarios?
  6. Be humble, prepared and confident of the business challenges and competitive teams you will be facing. Many overconfident Goliaths have been felled by a courageous and prepared David.
  7. Overcommunicate your business vision, expectations of the team and your confidence that they can win customer loyalty and trample the competition.
  8. Listen to your team, take in all the opinions, process the information and then make the decision. There can only be one head coach of a team that endures the slings and arrows of defeat from critics, or the victory parades when they win.

The art and science of effective coaching is sometimes hard to put your finger on, but you definitely recognize it when you see it in action. A good coach knows that winning is about selflessly sharing the recognition of victories with the team and taking a step back into the shadows.

You know you have become a good coach when your team says, “We won the game,” so make sure you check your ego at the locker room or front door to your business.

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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