The security guard industry is extremely competitive. Any proposal you make to a potential customer will likely have to compete with a handful of similar proposals. That’s why having a unique and engaging sales pitch has become so important. The industry has changed a great deal in recent years, but many companies have not changed their pitch in a meaningful way.
Pre-Tech Security Industry
I got into the private security industry in the early ‘90s, and things were quite a bit different back then. First of all, there was less competition, and profit margins were much higher. Without the transparency brought about by the internet and incident reporting software, customers didn’t have as much insight into how security companies actually functioned.
Pitching to customers became largely about appearances: crisp, clean uniforms and impressive looking patrol vehicles. On top of that, the executives would emphasize their credentials and experience.
Pretty soon, these nice margins and the high growth of the industry attracted a lot of competition, and prices plummeted. Many companies started cutting corners, not having adequate guard management or putting inexperienced or unqualified guards in the field.
“They didn’t have the technology at the time to do all the research and background checks,” I told Johnny on today’s episode. “It took time, so you could give a temporary permit, but chances are it could be a bad employee.”
Client Demand Changes
With companies not having great background checks, paying low wages, and cutting corners in training and management, the security industry started to get a bad reputation. Guards would show up late, leave early, and be seen eating or even sleeping in their cars when they were supposed to be on patrol.
Mandatory background checks helped somewhat, but the problem didn’t go away. Clients demanded better tools and accountability. Companies began to computerize their Daily Activity Reports (DARs) and fax or e-mail them to clients, making communication somewhat more efficient, but that was just a small step.