Transitioning private security services between companies is common in the security guard industry. Most of the time, you will not be the first security service provider for your new clients.
But transitions go wrong all the time. Most businesses are hesitant to transition their security provider because there is a big risk of failure.
As the new security company, you have to deliver above and beyond immediately and steadily to give your new client peace of mind that they made the right decision.
There are 3 factors that can make or break successful transitions. Executing on all of these factors well can help you retain customers and win contracts more easily in the future:
This article will cover the basics of private security transitions. If you want to learn even more about this topic, Marc Bognar teaches the basics of managing successful private security transitions in a great webinar.
The need for good communication in the security guard industry is obvious. During security service transitions, having good communication with both your clients and your officers is critical for success.
During the preparation process of a transition, good client communication will show you exactly how you will need to prepare. Asking the new client questions about their specific needs will set you up for success in the transition and show that you care about them.
When things do go wrong - either before, during or after the transition - having good communication with the client will likely mean they’ll be more understanding when problems happen.
A good rule of thumb: over communicate, under promise, and over deliver.
Constant communication with your supervisor team as your eyes in the field will give you the information you need to make informed decisions. When it comes to bringing officers from the incumbent company into your operation, communication will ensure that your company culture and values are made clear.
When problems happen in the field during the preparation or execution of a private security transition, communication with your guards and supervisors will make it easier to fix those problems.
Every private security transition is different. A large scale transition will not go the same as a small one. There will be different needs in a 3 day transition compared to a 1 month transition. Bottom line: all of your planning should be based on the specific transition.
That being said, there are a few key functions that come up in every transition. Having clear owners of these functions will ensure that responsibilities are clear and all needs are taken care of.
- Operations - includes things like standard operating procedures, scheduling at the new site(s), and getting uniforms ready.
- HR - If you need to replace or add officers on the new contract, you will need to recruit and onboard new hires. If you offer benefits, you will also need to get the new guards set up.
- Training - Any new security guards will need to go through your standard training program. You might also need on-site training to get your existing guards comfortable at new sites and recurring training to modify or update your operation.
- Financial - A new security contract always means financials are involved. This includes budgeting, payroll, and billing.
- Legal - Taking care of legal issues is very important in private security. Contracts and amendments to contracts need to be handled and stored carefully during the transition process.
Depending on the size of your existing roster, ownership of these functions can look very different. You might need 1 person to own multiple functions, or have full teams for each one.
During the planning process, having a clear, laid out plan that’s accessible to everyone involved will make things run much smoother. Using something like SharePoint or Excel will make sharing access easy.
In private security, you should have the mentality of “what can go wrong will go wrong.” It’s no different in a transition.
The incumbent guard company can walk early, leaving properties unprotected. SoPs, post orders, and more can get lost while changing hands. Make sure you have things like keys, alarm codes, and login details sooner than you think you need them.
Plus retaining incumbent guards is not a guarantee. Even if the plan is to hold over officers, it’s typical for up to 30% of them to turnover right out of the gate. Having a deep roster will make this problem smaller.
But many small security guard operations don’t have a deep roster. In that case, your recruiting, on-boarding, and training process needs to be dialed-in so you can deploy qualified replacement officers fast.
Whatever expectations there are for execution, your goal should be to go the extra mile from the start. Marc Bognar recommends putting your best people on the new property. This can give a good first impression to the client and give you peace of mind that the property is in trusted hands when things go wrong.
To help execution go as smoothly as possible, documenting and reporting everything is critical. You will want to document everything on-site so you can make more informed decisions in your private security operation.
Documentation will also show your attention to detail and care to the client and make sure all issues are addressed as quickly as possible. As you get further into the transition, showing the difference your private security services have made through things like summary reports show the client they made the right decision.
Private security transitions can be very difficult and complex. By building off of strong communication, preparation, and execution, you will have the best chance at a successful transition.
But these 3 steps are just the basics to doing transitions better. There is a great webinar with Marc Bognar that covers how to manage transitions between private security providers in more detail.