If you’re a procurement manager, business owner, or otherwise charged with making decisions about which agencies to hire, then you’ve probably felt the immense pressure that comes with the task.
But when choosing a security agency to keep your organisation’s property and people safe, the stress that comes with the decision skyrockets.
To help you make sense of the market for private security and make smarter, safer decisions, we’ve built this guide to procurement in the security industry.
It’s the first and broadest entry in a series that covers the subject, designed to inform you of the most important figures and perspectives when it comes to hiring private security.
For a more protected business (and less stressful working conditions), read on!
In order to make a perfectly informed decision, it pays to take a step back and seek a better understanding of the security industry as a whole.
The security industry is large, and growing increasingly larger over time, and statistics show that it generates roughly $6 billion in revenue and provides over 54,000 jobs. The rising demand here likely stems from the growth of new and existing businesses: the more people there are generating income, the greater the need for protection.
The modern security industry provides a range of important services. Beyond offering the usual security personnel and patrols, firms now install key electronics like cameras, sensors, and biometric gates. Some firms also secure cash-in-transit, lowering the risk of loss for organisations that have to move money and other valuables.
It bears mentioning that more advanced security companies go above and beyond the basics of protection by offering deeper integration with their clients’ workflows. Many security guards are also trained front-of-house representatives, capable of assisting their clients’ employees and visitors with minor tasks.
Private security as we know it today appears to offer more opportunities than restrictions. However, some key factors remain that may concern procurement managers and similar decision-makers:
As you can see, the industry is limited only by the quality and experience of its firms. With the staggering number of options available on the market, and the ease by which a security company can claim expertise, it’s critical for a procurement manager to know what to look for when hiring.
The best procurement decisions come from knowing what to look for in an agency.
The following section covers the 4 key factors a procurement manager should take into consideration.
A security company’s reputation can speak volumes for the quality of their services.
It pays to ask friends and colleagues within your professional network about agencies worth hiring, and agencies to avoid. Their experiences will prove a big help in your own decision-making process, as they reduce the uncertainty of your bet.
Also keep an eye out for awards, recognition, and other distinctions granted to the agencies you’re considering—and make sure their sources are reputable in turn.
Finally, an agency’s online reputation matters. Articles and reports concerning rude security personnel, botched conflict resolutions, or failures to prevent incidents shouldn’t be taken lightly. While reported failures aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker, they warrant a fair amount of caution when hiring.
A company’s age doesn’t always equate to experience, but it’s generally good to choose from businesses that have made it past the 2-year mark and avoid hiring the untested.
A better gauge of experience comes from checking what clients your options have served in the past. It’s a positive sign if an agency has done previous work for large organisations and organisations that are industry-adjacent to you.
It means something when an agency can confidently offer a broad range of services. For one thing, they’re likely better equipped to address your various needs and patch your vulnerabilities.
Likewise, the number of a company’s offerings hints at the size of their operation. Bigger generally means older and/or better-funded, which in turn hints (note: not guarantees) at a higher caliber of service.
Companies that can integrate faster with your business deserve higher priority, because they mean a faster return to full operational capacity and faster risk reduction.
There are steps to making sure integration runs smoothly, such as coordinating a schedule ahead of time, and choosing a firm based on their estimated time to integration.
Once you have a clear idea of what to look for in an agency, the next step is to scan the market for candidates.
For this section, we’ll examine the different places to source leads, and compare their merits.
There’s no doubting that the most convenient place to find a security company would be online. A quick Google search for “security agency Australia” will net you a wide range of options, as well as their contact information and direct links to their websites.
As far as scouting platforms go, web searches will yield you the most information presented in the most orderly way. Likewise, you can expand your search to include, say, “award winning security companies in Australia” for a peek at the most notable companies among the lot.
There are few downsides to searching online, and few upsides beyond convenience and volume of prospects to uncover.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from web searches would be referral-seeking. With this method, you reach out to trusted contacts and receive a limited number of recommendations in kind.
Despite yielding a smaller number of options, referral-seeking has a very appealing benefit: you cut straight to candid and honest reviews of your candidates. This can go a long way in an age where businesses have direct control over much of their online reputation.
The downsides here vary depending on the length of your contacts list. Procurement managers with fewer friends in their respective industries might be hard-pressed to find options for referrals.
Print ads and directories are still a viable option for procurement managers looking to hire a security agency.
They tend to have a decent selection of options and come with contact information—but provide neither the full convenience of a search page nor the candid appraisal of a referral.
We recommend leaning on the former two options when scouting for candidates.
Comparing options is often the hardest part of a procurement manager’s job.
In this section, we explore the different methods for organizing and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your slate of candidates.
The first place you’d be inclined to look when digging for information about a candidate would be their website. More than just a digital calling card, a website is an opportunity to gauge a business’ expertise and working experience.
When you land on a security company’s website, refer to their “Solutions” or “Services” page to get a better sense of what they do. Each service should come with a page or write-up that concerns your industry, giving you an idea of how versed they are in terms of protecting an organisation like yours.
Their site should also cover details about quality assurance, and inform you of their policies concerning support calls and remote assistance. Be wary of sites that don’t volunteer this information—if a security company is dedicated to providing top quality, they’d be loud about it.
Finally, check for the added bonus of a blog or news page. Some security companies go the extra mile and keep visitors updated with the latest advances in the industry, or provide insights into the workings of their business. This is a great indicator of professionalism and a strong communication ethic.
You should always meet with representatives from your most promising options. Direct engagement with a sales representative or security expert offers a close approximation of a company’s values and professionalism.
When meeting with a representative, come prepared with a list of questions and concerns. We’ve written a guide to the most important questions to ask yourself and your agency options when hiring, and you can access it here.
Take the opportunity to share information about your own organisation as well. This opens the door for them to offer insights into the present state of your security needs and operations, and helps you set the terms for what a possible engagement would resemble.
Finally, be polite and make a great first impression. Not only is this a good habit to hold in general, but a positive working relationship is of vital importance when hiring an agency—especially one that might hold the fate of your employees in its hands.
At the end of the day, your efforts boil down to hiring and integration. In the rush of excitement or relief after a long search, it’s easy to overlook key nuances to hiring a security company.
In this penultimate section, we go over some reminders for the home stretch.
First, you need a comprehensive plan for how your engagement will work, and it should spare no detail. We recommend working closely with your top candidates to put together a list of services, needs (from both ends of the engagement), and processes to complete for full integration to happen.
After that, you want to set clear protocols for communication (how/when you can reach them, and vice-versa), quality assurance, and conflict resolution.
Put this all into writing and build a schedule around them prior to hiring—you’ll be glad for the summary when decision time comes around.
Finally, remember that the people your agency sends to patrol your premises, manage your equipment, and otherwise safeguard your organisation will be around for a while.
Do your best to get to know them as individuals, and encourage bonding between them and your ordinary workforce.
This is important in maintaining trust and open communication, and ensuring smooth relations between your security teams and the people they’re assigned to protect. If they feel like valued members of your organisation, they’ll be all the more encouraged to do their jobs to the best of their capacity.
Procurement in the security industry is a major decision point, often fraught with difficult choices between service providers.
Procurement in the security industry is a major decision point, often fraught with difficult choices between service providers. At the end of the day, your safest bet is to take inventory of your organisation’s needs, and be strategic when finding a security company that matches your case.
You deserve exceptional security from seasoned providers. As a parting note, we urge you not to go the thrifty route and opt for lower cost—you get what you pay for when it comes to professional security, and it goes without saying that the lives and safety of your organisation’s members are worth every penny.
To jump-start your search for a new security agency, start with Unified Security. Our years of expertise have led to us being the largest Supply Nation certified and most trusted indigenous-owned security provider in the country.
Contact us to learn how professional security is handled by the pros, or reach out to us for recommendations better suited to your case.
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