Why You Must Arm Your Security Guards With Knowledge

Should you arm your guards? The answer is yes … with knowledge, training, nonlethal defense tools, great communication skills and occasionally when the stakes are high, with a firearm.

We left off last month talking about how not only is the manned security business model still very important, but also how it is changing with customer expectations, as well as mega mergers and regional security companies. Let me answer the question I posed to you last month, “Should guards be armed?”

The answer is yes … with knowledge, training, nonlethal defense tools, great communication skills and occasionally when the stakes are high, with a firearm.

Larger corporate customers do not specify armed guards in their policies for reasons I shared last month. Adrenalin, lack of experience, lack of skills and slow reflexes coupled with greater liability are why armed guards aren’t prevalent today. Costs of armed guards is significantly higher, making them a budget concern. Are there other alternatives that bridge these concerns that make sense?

Yes. Let’s start with the knowledge to recognize trouble before it becomes a serious event. This begins with understanding the technology systems available to protect people, property and assets. Often, manned security companies don’t take the time to give their guards the technology knowledge to be more effective. Yes, I understand customers have different technologies deployed that make this both a challenge and opportunity.

If the systems are ineffective, there is an opportunity to recommend possible improvements. This is where you begin to connect your guard and technology sales teams. In the meantime, how do you build additional credibility?

This, in an elementary sense, is about writing effective post orders, understanding what type(s) of systems are being used, and then confirming with customers the expectations of guard security tours using those technologies. Take the time to begin with the fundamentals of these technologies. Have your teams provide “inside” observations of shortcomings. Day and night tours are very different and can require greater knowledge requirements.

Next is training manned security to use technology more effectively. Knowledge is knowing what is expected, and training develops demonstrated competence in using a technology. Other areas of demonstrated competence are responding to alarms, proactively communicating, recognizing access control issues and proper video monitoring techniques.

If you want to reduce guard turnover, train for competence, then ask for premium hourly rates for more advanced service and to differentiate your company. The key to this secret sauce?

Train in softer skillsets that include communication and persuasion to evaluate and de-escalate situations before getting out of hand. Recognizing when they need help and when to escalate notification to their supervisors is crucial. This training should include role playing to prepare manned security for their post orders and roles. Doesn’t really take a lot, but it does require frequency (ABT or always be training).

Think about teaching one skill at a time, like active listening, which is key to making better decisions in the field. Practice until you and they are comfortable with their demonstrated competence.

Defense is trickier depending if your manned security post orders require some first or second levels of defending themselves, your people and your customers. At a minimum, some level of personal self-defense with simple hand and body leverage will reduce the risk of injury to them-selves and others. Understand the physicality required or what is expected from customers.

Finding a happy and affordable middle ground to provide a stronger measure of defense for customers, without a landslide of liability, is a key question for manned security providers. The mergers between technology integrators and manned security giants may provide a clue to these synergies.

The big picture makes sense; the details are a bit murkier. My prediction? Those companies that can offer a stronger defense differentiator that is easy to integrate into their technology solutions that is not rocket science in the training curriculum, has a lower liability factor, and is affordable to deploy, will differentiate themselves with their customers.

A great way to bridge that most crucial barrier to integrating manned and technology sales teams is to provide a nonthreatening solution to both teams. Find simple but effective ways to build those bridges and your manned and technology teams to make stronger security services and you will be fully armed for 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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