How to Reduce Security Costs for Your Condo
By: Phillip Livingston
Date Published: July 30, 2020
Security guards reflect positively on the value of your condo building and can help you attract quality tenants. Condos are often built in high-traffic areas, and residents want to know that they will be protected from vandalism, theft or other potential dangers.
There’s no doubt that having a professional security team is an asset to your property and your community, but this service isn’t free.
The cost of hiring security
Most security companies charge an hourly rate for on-site security guards. Realistically, if you’re looking to hire security personnel for your condo building, you should expect to spend a few thousand dollars each month. Costs will vary depending on certain factors, but because this is a specialized service, it can be costly.
Size of the security team
The number of security guards that you hire will dictate how much your security costs amount to. A large building with more than 100 units, or a corporation with two or three different buildings may require several security guards on patrol because of the size and because of the amount of traffic coming in and out of the building. A smaller building can probably make do with two or three guards at a time, unless it is experiencing a surge in vandalism or crime.
Some buildings hire a concierge team that also takes care of security. This could be a cost-effective strategy, however having a 24/7 concierge will cost more than a dedicated guard that comes in for a set number of hours each day.
Company vs independent
As mentioned before, most security companies charge by the hour. But different companies charge different rates. Security guards that are part of a licensed security company charge more than independent agents. The guards that belong to a company may be more experienced, but they will almost certainly have adequate insurance/protection if something goes wrong on the job. If you want to hire a team of independent security guards, do your research first and make sure to check provincial or state regulations to ensure that you can hire them.
Armed vs unarmed
An armed security guard with current or previous police experience will charge more than an unarmed guard who only has basic training. On average, an unarmed guard with basic experience will charge an hourly rate of $15 – $20. A skilled and armed guard will charge no less than $30 per hour, and could charge as much as $60 each hour.
The location of your building usually impacts security company rates. Guards who work in large cities charge more than those working in smaller towns. It’s not just about the size, guards who work in highly populated areas may need to pay for parking or take multiple transit vehicles. The cost of living is generally higher as well.
Time of day
Time of day will also affect security rates. With most incidents occurring at night, an after-hours post will usually cost more than a daytime shift.
Now that you have a better idea of the variables that impact security costs, you can look at ways to minimize unnecessary overspending.
Aim to prevent, not react
An unarmed security guard costs around $20 per hour, while an armed security guard easily costs twice that amount. Hiring armed security guards costs more than hiring unarmed guards because their agencies must pay higher insurance rates. Armed security guards working independently may be an insurance liability, so it’s important to inquire about liability insurance before hiring anyone.
In Canada, most guards are not even permitted to carry a gun. The security guards that are allowed to carry and use guns can only do so if they are guarding cash or precious metals. They also have to apply for a special license, and in most cases, work with a security firm approved by the province that they are working in.
It is more common for security guards in the United States to carry a gun. Guards who protect gated HOA communities are often armed.
You will need to determine if your community requires protection from an unarmed or an armed guard, but you should aim to find a security team that understands how to prevent incidents from occurring as opposed to reacting to them. While there are rare circumstances that may require forceful intervention, most issues can be resolved without a weapon. When hiring a security company, ask how they train their staff to handle violent or high-pressure situations. Even though they don’t carry weapons, trained unarmed personnel have the necessary skills and expertise to resolve conflict without using a gun.
Patrolling requires a lot from a guard. Many condo buildings ask guards to perform multiple tasks while they are on patrol, and depending on the size of the building, it could take close to an hour each time the guard completes a patrol route. That can be problematic if you’ve only got one guard who is also responsible for taking care of the front desk.
Implementing a security guard tour system can help guards streamline the patrol process while increasing security in your condo building. Using just a smartphone or tablet, security guards can verify that they’ve visited checkpoints placed strategically around the premises, log incident reports on the spot, and sync patrol reports directly to a security dashboard in real-time.
Instead of having to remember their route from memory, management can assign routes to guards ahead of time, let them know when the patrol is scheduled to begin, and even leave notes at certain checkpoints.
During the patrol, guards are told where to go to find the next checkpoint, and they can log details that need to be documented or shared with management as they go.
Better communication and greater transparency create a more secure environment for everyone who lives and works in the building. And, less time is wasted due to lack of information, allowing your guards to work more quickly and efficiently.
Security tools such as electronic parking systems, surveillance cameras and fob entry systems can also be instrumental in reducing manpower requirements. Think of these tools as investments that will pay off in the long run. While they can’t replace guards, they can reduce the need for multiple guards, minimize incidents that occur in the building, and help promote a safer environment.
Don’t go with the cheapest company
You’ve heard this cliché before, but more often than not, you get what you pay for. While you may think you’re saving money by hiring the cheapest security company, the service you receive may not meet your expectations. Ask questions and share your needs with the company before you hire them. If the guards make careless mistakes, or demonstrate an inability to handle issues in a quick and professional manner, you could end up overspending on damage control.
Hiring an experienced team of security professionals is one good way to increase the value of your property. High-quality residents who care about safety will be more inclined to move in and remain in the building. High occupancy rates mean less turnover, and less money lost looking for new tenants.
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