It’s holiday season, so it’s time to talk about how owners and operators in the security industry can find the time to relax, enjoy themselves, and spend time with their families in the coming weeks.
I joked with Johnny that if you’re in the security industry, you’ve already ruined your holiday season, and while that’s not totally true, it’s also not that far off. This is a chaotic, demanding industry, and it can be close to impossible to find those precious days off that you need to really have a good holiday.
That being said, finding some sort of work-life balance is critical if you want to make it long term in this industry, and there are ways to have a successful holiday without jeopardizing your business. It just takes a lot of work and preparation.
Have A Plan
If you don’t want to be in a position where your phone rings and you have to scramble to fill a post on Christmas morning, you need to start planning now. Don’t just create a Plan A, make sure you have a Plan B, C, D, E and so on to be prepared for every eventuality.
By this point, you should already have started planning out the holiday season, but if not, here are some things to start thinking about.
Taking Care Of Your Employees
Figure out who can and can’t work over the holidays. Who’s married, who has children, who has family in another state, and who can stick around to take those holiday shifts.
One of the big problems with the high turnover in the industry is that officers know they can almost always get another job somewhere else. If you aren’t flexible with scheduling to help them see their families over the holiday, they might just quit and take another job at a competitor in January.
If you’ve got them scheduled, all of a sudden you’re in a bind and scrambling to fill a post so that the customer isn’t upset and ready to switch to a new security provider on January 1.
Budget the money to pay Christmas bonuses, provide extra vacation days or other incentives for officers to work holidays, and make sure you have contingency plans in place in case someone doesn’t show up for a shift so you can rest easy during the holidays.
Something Will Always Go Wrong
Even if everybody shows up for their shifts, something’s going to go wrong. It always does anyway in the security industry, but that’s doubly true during the holidays when shoppers are crazy at commercial properties, residents are throwing parties, and officers are constantly distracted.
One year I had an officer that was supposed to be driving a patrol route on Christmas Eve, but he wasn’t hitting any of his patrol routes and ended up crashing his car. Turns out, he was delivering presents to all his family members and drinking lots of eggnog, so he couldn’t hardly see out the windshield when he crashed.
These are just the kinds of things you have to expect around this time of year, so have a contingency plan in place if you don’t want to be getting a call and having to run out to the site in uniform.
Get The Right Tools
Nothing makes the holidays more relaxing than being able to confirm that all your officers are at their posts without having to leave the cozy fireside. If you don’t already have it, guard management software is a great way to keep an eye on your guards during the holiday season and not have to worry about hypothetical issues.
“This provides peace of mind for you, the owner… but also peace of mind for your customer too, because the last thing they want is an unmanned post,” said Johnny.
Real-time reporting tools make it easy for both you and your customers to stay updated on your officers’ activity from a desktop or mobile device so that there are no worried phone calls, no paperwork, and no issues falling through the cracks.
The holidays are supposed to be a season of peace and joy, but we all know they can end up being fuel for stress and frustration. The key is to make a plan, roll with the punches, and have the tools in place so you can respond to a crisis without having to ruin your family’s holiday plans.