One of the most interesting aspects of running a commercial property security business is being able to work with clients that have previously engaged with other firms in our industry. Maybe this applies to your company.
What we’ve found is that many of our competitors deliver security plans that are generic, non-specific and inadequate. Why? Because many firms use templated action plans that can be standardized and rolled out time and again, no matter the client. While this helps maximize efficiency and profitability of the security firm, what I would call the McDonalds-ization of commercial property protection offers few benefits to clients.
No two commercial properties—be it a retail, commercial, condominium, office or industrial building—are the same. They all have unique needs that require a customized security plan that addresses your short- and long-term needs and goals. If not, your assets will remain vulnerable and an ideal target for the bad guys who might look to vandalize or break into your space.
And make no mistake, professional criminals know the security firms that are more diligent and detailed as compared to those that are not. They tend to prey on the latter and design their plans accordingly.
As a commercial property owner or manager, look for a security company that comes to the table with a tailored strategy suited to your needs—not someone else’s. With that in mind, here are four important questions to ask when engaging with a security firm and evaluating their proposed security program:
Does it reflect your distinct requirements?—Before signing on with a security firm, sit down with your staff and determine what you think are your organization’s commercial property security needs. Perhaps you store hazardous chemicals at your facility, for example, or operate on a 24-hour basis meaning you require round-the-clock protection. Whatever the case, it helps to have at least a basic understanding of your unique security needs. When engaging with a firm, make sure they ask those same questions. Again, many will offer a generic plan, but only a thorough security risk assessment can define the ideal approach for protecting your property. If your security provider isn’t willing to take that step, be prepared to look elsewhere for help.
Does it integrate technology solutions?—This is a very important consideration at a time when everything from high-resolution cameras to drones and robot security guards are revolutionizing our industry. Any coherent commercial property security proposal should include a relevant security component when applicable. That could be something as simple as the use of electronic checkpoints to track guards’ movements, or as complex as a complete integration of security systems across your IT infrastructure for ease in monitoring properties. Such considerations are no longer the domain of large, deep-pocketed security companies. They’re a pre-requisite for doing business in our industry, and a key element that you should expect to see in any security plan.
Is it priced right?—Price points vary greatly across the commercial property security industry in Canada. As in any sector, larger, reputable firms will generally charge more than their smaller competitors. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes industry behemoths will look to undercut their tiny rivals by offering security services at near break-even rates, particularly when they have other, highly profitable products and services to up-sell. As is the golden rule when buying any service, you only get what you pay for. Be just as wary of providers who under-charge as those who try to gouge clients based on perceived brand reputation and industry clout. Look for providers willing to work within your budget and establish a tiered rate card based on your individual property needs.
Does it scale?—The plan may be appropriate for today, but what happens when your facility-protection needs change, or you add more properties to your commercial portfolio? Can that security provider adjust its strategy to address those changing needs? Be mindful of how the security firm is managed, and particularly whether management is organized and willing to grow its business alongside yours.
It’s only once you have the answers to these critical questions that you can choose the security company best suited to protect your commercial property assets. And from someone with 25 years of experience in the industry, believe me when I say that it’s well worth taking ample time to come to the right decision.
Winston Stewart, founder