How to Pick a Security Guard Company

Team of Latin American security guards looking happy working at a gated community and looking at the camera smiling - safety concepts

By: Kim Brown

Date Published: May 04, 2021

If choosing a security guard company were easy, then we wouldn’t need to write this article. But, selecting a team to protect your establishment, and the people who live in, work at or visit the property, is a big deal. It’s not a decision that can be made in a day. 

While there are several security companies out there that could serve you well, some will more closely align with your needs and goals than others.

In order to find a good match, you will have to do your research, conduct interviews with security companies, and collect feedback from clients. It’s a time-consuming process, but well worth the work. Shortcuts aren’t beneficial when it comes to protecting your business. 

 

Start with a security audit

Before you select a security guard company, you need to understand what your security needs and goals are. Many businesses only think about bringing on a security team when they can’t solve an issue themselves. As such, they might tell a security company they need guards to catch criminals who are vandalizing the property, or prevent fights from breaking out. But, there’s probably more to the issue, which is why we would recommend hiring someone to perform a security audit first.

A security audit is an independent review of the effectiveness of the existing security measures in a building, office, school, etc. It is performed by a qualified, impartial party. The findings will help you understand where your security strengths and weaknesses lie. You will also receive recommendations to help you minimize security risks and improve the interconnectivity of your current solutions.

An audit will help you identify your security needs, and allow you to communicate those things to the company you hire.

 

Create a shortlist

Now that you know what you need, you can begin to look for companies that could provide those services. Ideally, you will find a company that specializes in protecting your type of business or building. That’s because they may have deeper insights and specific training on how to handle particular issues that are unique to the property you manage.

You won’t get all of the information you need from the company’s website (most security businesses do not include pricing on their sites), so you will have to set up some interviews after you identify candidates you would like to learn more about. 

 

Questions to ask before making your decision

This is your opportunity to find out all that you can about each company, including what makes them different from other security companies, how much experience their staff have, whether services are paid for on a monthly or annual basis, and how much they charge. The questions listed below can help you obtain the key details you need to make an informed choice.

Is the company licensed and insured?

Security companies must have adequate insurance and mandatory licenses, but some independent guards may not. Make sure to request current state licenses and proof of insurance. Take time to verify that the insurance covers the company so you aren’t left to pay for a big expense if something were to go wrong.  

Once you hire a company, ask to have your building or company named as an additional insured. Otherwise, you could be held financially responsible for accidents.

What do clients have to say?

It’s important to find a company that prioritizes customer service. After all, the guards you hire will almost certainly be interacting with people. You can see if Google reviews are available, but don’t forget about LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. See if the company has been rated by the Better Business Bureau, or for the best feedback, ask the company for client references. This is a great way to get true and detailed information about the company’s strengths and weaknesses, performance, and ability to deliver on what was promised.

Are career development and training available for staff?

Ask the security company about the type of professional training initiatives that the company provides to employees. Do their staff have opportunities for advancement? And if so, what types of programs are available? These sorts of opportunities matter because the security industry has a higher-than-average turnover rate. Guards are expected to do a lot, but aren’t always properly compensated for their work. If they feel like their current employer won’t help them reach new opportunities, and there is no way for them to earn more, chances are high they will leave once they find something that offers better compensation.

High turnover rates are costly to a security company because it must constantly put energy and money into replacing and retraining, but this issue also impacts the safety of your property. New guards won’t have the same knowledge of the property as a long-time guard, and even if they have experience, it’s harder to protect an unfamiliar building. Conversely, guards that become familiar with your building will learn where the problem areas are, and will be better prepared to respond to incidents or emergencies.

Does the company use technology to complement security strategies?

Security companies that use security management software, mobile security apps, and/or a guard tour system, generally outperform companies that have not embraced technology. These tech resources facilitate more reliable and effective patrols, help keep teams organized and connected, and provide insights that can help with current and future operations. Furthermore, the security manager can share data with clients, discuss what’s working, and what needs improvement.    

Does the company offer services other than security?

While there’s nothing wrong with collaborating with a business that offers multiple services, some companies will prefer hiring a business that only deals with security.

How experienced are the guards?

Depending on your security needs, you may not need guards with 5+ years of experience. However, you do want to make sure you’re bringing on a team that is prepared to handle routine tasks and emergency situations that may occur. This is where hiring a company that specializes in your field comes in handy. See if the guards have any extra training or certifications, and if so, will the additional qualifications benefit you?

Is the company local, national or international?

If you are a small business, it may make more sense from a financial standpoint to hire a smaller company. Smaller companies tend to be more affordable than a large established international company with big clients. Furthermore, a small agency will pay more attention to you.  

How much does the company charge?

While cost should never be your only consideration when selecting a security guard company, it does matter. Your budget will determine the type and extent of security service you choose for your property.     

When gathering details about costs, ask the company if it charges a flat monthly rate, a uniform hourly rate for all guards, or a different hourly rate for different guards. Hourly rates may work better with your budget if you only need security part-time. See if your business has to cover costs for uniforms, equipment and supplies, or if the company looks after those expenses.

You should get a formal proposal from each qualified candidate. Organized security companies always submit formal proposals to potential clients. This proposal details the services that the company will provide, and offers a clear analysis and summary of costs as well.

 

Key takeaways when selecting a security guard company

  • Look for a company that specializes in security. It’s even better if the company’s focus is protecting the type of property you own or manage.
  • Ensure the company can provide the services you need.
  • Talk to people who have or are currently working with the company. Find out what they have to say about their strengths and weaknesses.
  • A company that uses a patrol tour system or security management software may offer a competitive advantage in terms of transparency and organization.
  • Secure proposals from candidates. Use these to help you make your final decision.
  • Don’t forget to ask about terminating a contract. The company you select may not be the best fit after all, and you should be aware of the costs and processes involved with ending a contract early.