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Many of us have watched films set in New York, where well-heeled characters live in Madison or Park Avenue apartment buildings managed by a highly engaged concierge security team that always greets them by name and occasionally steps in to help solve whatever narrative challenge they may be facing. It’s the stuff of fantasy—mainly because very few of us will ever be able to afford the luxury rent or prices that it takes to live in one of these elite buildings home to the ultra-wealthy.

But the point is that part of the resident experience is having that kind of high-touch concierge service on offer, at all times, delivering personalized service. To some, it’s just as important as the design of their living quarters or the number of parking spaces they have to store their collection of vehicles. Not every condominium property manager can deliver quite that level of service, of course, but they can create a unique environment for their residents.

An engaged, respectful and proactive security concierge team is critical to ensuring the protection of a property and the people living in it—and that should always be their primary responsibility. The COVID-19 crisis, with its numerous and varied building-access and health and safety restrictions, underscored the value of having well-trained and responsible security professionals at the ready. But in going above and beyond while doing their jobs, security concierge personnel can also provide added value to a residential community.

Even more crucial is a concierge team’s ability to communicate effectively with residents.

They can help improve tenant/owner attraction and retention. They can indirectly help drive up property values. They can make a building or complex a far more desirable community in which to live, which is the goal of any property management firm or of condo owners who are always eager to see a spike in unit valuations or monthly rents.

So, what does it take to build a highly engaged condominium security concierge team? These are five of the key ingredients:

Effective recruitment

Choosing the right security firm is important for many reasons, but none more so than their approach to employee recruitment, onboarding, and retention. Put simply, the service a security firm provides is only as good as the people who are providing it. Every security firm can deploy guards at a high-rise property, but the better ones put time and effort into carefully selecting their security professionals, in particular the ones who comprise security concierge teams. More than anything else, these professionals need to have experience and expertise in customer service— along with a client-focused attitude—to be successful.

Ongoing training

One of the many reasons why guards become disengaged is because they don’t receive adequate training in the onboarding phase. They often don’t have a full grasp of what their job entails or what they’re expected to deliver. Even when they are trained, security firms often rush the process and fail to set their concierge teams up for success. Speak to your security provider, ask questions about how they train their guards—including practical or technical considerations such as fire panel or security system operations and emergency procedures—and how they’ll provide training customized to the needs of your residential community.

Condo concierge security guard helping resident.
We handpick the right condo concierge for your building’s needs.

Strong communication

It’s important for security companies to maintain strong communications internally to ensure their guards are updated on important information relating to the property where they’re stationed. A basic guard huddle at shift changes can help concierge teams share information, which should also be logged in daily reports and conveyed to the security provider’s management team electronically—and, when necessary, the building’s property manager. Even more crucial is a concierge team’s ability to communicate effectively with residents. They are the frontline service providers at any condominium and need to be able to intake, direct or address resident concerns. They also need to be friendly and attentive to deliver the kind of sunny service experience that should be the objective of any reliable security provider.

Performance expectations

It needs to be made clear to security concierge teams that the expectation is for them to create the kind of residential atmosphere that they might want for themselves or their families. That means working with your security provider to customize key performance indicators that can be measured and benchmarked over time. Concierge personnel that meets those lofty expectations should be rewarded with longer-term placements, which is also the ideal scenario for stability-loving residents who tend to appreciate seeing the same security personnel in their building lobbies from day to day.

Management accountability

The only way to enforce these expectations is by requiring full accountability. The best way to do that is to ensure that your security provider’s management team are on the ball, inspecting sites, providing necessary support to their concierge security teams, meeting residents themselves, interacting with the property manager or board and generally building a strong understanding of that specific community and its needs. When gaps emerge, those managers should take action before you even know there’s a problem.

If they work hard to motivate guards, treating them well and readily providing constructive feedback, you can rest assured that your concierge security team will likely stay fully engaged on the job—and your residents will keep smiles on their faces.

IS YOUR BUSINESS INTERESTED IN CONCIERGE SECURITY?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security

The latest cybersecurity survey by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) sheds light on the ongoing challenges that organizations of all sizes across industries face in protecting their data and networks from hackers.

According to the report, 71 percent of Canadian organizations surveyed were the victim of some form of cyberattack in 2018. Nearly all of the respondents said that while “cybersecurity awareness training was at least somewhat effective in reducing incidents, only 22 percent conducted the training monthly or better.” Fewer than half (41 per cent) have actually mandated that training across their organizations.

Direct costs incurred in addressing these cyberattacks, as well as a negative impact on the victim’s brand, were the most damaging aspects of the incidents for affected organizations. Importantly, an earlier CIRA survey found that only 19 per cent of Canadians “… would continue to do business with an organization if their personal data were exposed in a cyberattack.” Only 48 per cent of organizations that had their data breached even reported the incident to their clients. A meagre 21 per cent made their board of directors aware that such a breach had occurred.

What’s changing is how hackers are targeting organizations.

Meagre investments in cybersecurity

Perhaps most worrisome, a lack of resources was one of the main reasons why 43 per cent of respondents didn’t have specific systems, processes and talent dedicated to addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities across their organization.

As the report notes:

“Canadian banks, schools, governments and businesses are still being taken down by cyberattacks, exposing customer data, paying ransoms to hackers, and losing valuable time recovering from breaches.

According to the annual Accenture Cost of Cybercrime survey, the average cost of investigating and remediating an attack among Canadian organizations last year was $9.25 million.”

A series of costly ransomware attacks targeting Ontario municipalities over the past year—not to mention companies ranging from SMEs to enterprise—underscore cybercriminals’ growing sophistication. But not in ways you may expect. The reality is the nefarious software used to extort unwitting communities and businesses is becoming more commoditized by the day. Even a novice hacker with access to the dark web can get their hands on ransomware relatively cheaply and quickly.

hackers and cyber security
They customize their approach to data theft so we much customize our approach to data security.

Hackers are becoming more sophisticated

What’s changing is how hackers are targeting organizations. Increasingly that means tricking everyone from managers to employees to open suspect attachments or visit dubious websites. From there, cybercriminals can plant malware in a computer (and/or network) and wait to pounce. That process can take several months, during which time the hacker will collect information, observe behavioural patterns and then develop an attack strategy that will likely involve some form of data theft or financial extortion.

As the CIRA survey notes, more organizations than ever are taking cybersecurity training seriously. Many are mandating courses for employees and introducing new data-protection protocols. Is it helping? Definitely. But massive vulnerabilities still exist across organizations. The reason is that many leadership teams—and the security consultants they employ—are using a one-size-fits-all approach to training and compliance.

One of the greatest complaints that people have with cybersecurity is that defensive protocols tend to be so stringent they impair employees’ ability to do their jobs effectively. In some cases, they could compromise new business opportunities and in extreme scenarios, even revenue growth. When cybersecurity tools and training become too onerous to use, they’ll soon fall by the wayside. That’s why customizing that training and tailoring it to the needs of departments (or even individual employees, whenever possible) is a far more effective risk-mitigation approach.

In short, cybersecurity systems need to be designed to align with the operational requirements and work habits of real people.

Customization is key

That’s why it’s incumbent on cybersecurity service providers to ask a comprehensive list of questions before delivering training. What are your organization’s business objectives? How do your people work? Why are your workplace policies—in particular those that address the management of sensitive data and information—drafted as they are? Can they be updated or improved to address rapidly-increasing cybersecurity risk? How can we design and implement policies that keep your business secure, while ensuring that key processes in areas such as sales or operations aren’t unduly disrupted?

Of course, these are only a tiny handful of the queries your service provider should pose. In most cases, they’ll need to dig much deeper and work with individual managers or employees to design a pragmatic strategy that makes practical sense for your organization.

We should all glean lessons from the cyber malfeasants who are making the time to take a personalized approach to digital crime. Because if they can customize their approach to data theft, network vandalism or ransomware-driven extortion, we should be doing the same when it comes to developing and implementing plans to stop them in their tracks.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SECURITY FOR YOUR SITE?

FILL OUT OUR QUOTE FORM AND ENJOY A CONSULTATION WITH US.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Sometimes all it takes is one bad employee to sully an organization’s reputation. If you ask one Ottawa couple that attended a recent Kevin Hart show at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ont., that’s exactly what happened after they were allegedly forcibly removed from the venue.

According to media reports, the incident occurred when Nathan Bhateley and his girlfriend, Samantha Molloy, were asked to leave the show after being accused by security guards of using their cellphones. According to the guards, this was a breach of venue policy.

The couple argued they were only using the flashlights on their phones to locate seats in the darkened arena. They said the guards disagreed, saying that any use of mobile devices constitutes a violation of policy and that they’d have to leave. As they were being escorted out, Bhateley, informing one guard that he felt the incident was a misunderstanding, was allegedly shoved against a wall and later placed in a headlock. Molloy claimed that she had her phone swatted away by another guard after attempting to record the incident.

Bhateley says he was put into a headlock once again after asking to speak to a supervisor.

The incident raises some important points for anyone employing a security firm to patrol their commercial property, be it a concert venue, retail outlet, office or industrial facility.

First, there is the question of appropriate use of force. According to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services:

“Where a security guard is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law, section 25 of the Criminal Code (Canada) is applicable. In these circumstances, section 25 allows a security guard (like all members of the public) to use as much force as is necessary as long as they act on reasonable grounds. However, section 26 states that individuals who use force are also criminally responsible for any excess of force in these circumstances. 

Event security guards at Kevin Hart show helping guests

It is important that security guards have an understanding of use of force theory in order to avoid using excessive force. Security guards should also be familiar with the concepts of excited delirium syndrome and positional asphyxia; these may occur when a person is being physically restrained, and may lead to sudden or unexpected death.”

Yes, guards are legally permitted to use force, but only to a point. At Wincon Security, our training is clear: force should only be used in absolute extreme circumstances. Security personnel should use the training and tools at their disposal to de-escalate a situation whenever possible. Even if an individual is becoming aggressive, there are often non-aggressive ways to contain them until police can intervene to handle the situation.

Being cavalier with applied force is never an option for our team members. Unfortunately, not all security firms follow such rigorous incident-management protocols.

That’s why recruitment and training are so important. If security firms don’t take the time to hire level-headed individuals and weed out prospective candidates who might opt to use aggressive tactics where other, more effective means might be readily available, they invite incidents such as this one. If their training is inadequate, security staffers may allow their own emotions and frustrations to boil over in the moment, prompting them to use heavy-handed tactics instead of trying to reason with the individual.

And that brings us to the final, most important point: choose your security firm wisely. There are many organizations that cut corners when it comes to training and recruitment, have astronomically high employee turnover rates and lack the necessary protocols and accountability procedures to keep their employees in check. When deciding to work with a firm, ask for client references, take the time to review their workplace policies and ask specific questions that relate to your business. If you own a retail store, for example, ask scenario-based questions to assess the suitability of their preferred approach. For example: “If one of your guards catches a shoplifter stealing merchandise from our store, how would they react and handle the situation?”

As a result of this incident, Kevin Hart—who we can guarantee had no idea that it occurred in the first place—has his name and reputation tied to a very unfortunate incident, as does the venue.

“I don’t want to go back there … knowing that that’s the guards that they hire, and they’re allowed to treat you like that,” Molloy told CBC News.

It takes years to overcome bad press such as this, but only a couple of days to properly vet your next security firm. The latter is well worth the time and effort.

Winston Stewart, President and CEO

Wincon Security