There is a concept in social science called information aversion, or “the ostrich effect.” This is a type of irrational behavior where people avoid information about things like their health or finances because they’re afraid of what they might learn. We might all agree that having more information is better for decision making, but we still avoid going to the doctor or checking our bank accounts, and choose to bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich.
This behavior is very common in the security industry. Sometimes, when we speak to potential customers about guard monitoring software, they say that they’re afraid of implementing it because they don’t want to find out how many of their officers aren’t doing their jobs correctly.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Luck
In this case, ignorance is not bliss. If you don’t know how your officers are performing, then you won’t be able to solve critical problems before they escalate. In other words, if your clients are calling you to complain about issues with your service, it’s already too late. At best, you’ll lose out on potential referral and business growth opportunities. At worst, you’ll lost your contract.
Without visibility, you are betting your contracts on a few employees. Does that sound like a winning strategy?
The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall
When security companies are small, many operations managers are able to keep their finger on the pulse of their business by simply going out and working sites alongside their officers. However, this is a stressful way to work, and still doesn’t give you insight into how your employees are performing when you’re not present.
As operations scale up and it becomes necessary to transition into a more hands-off, business-oriented role, these managers often lose any concept of how things are going in the field. This is when it becomes most important to have a system in place to make sure officers are doing their jobs correctly. People are often surprised to learn that even large security companies have these same issues.
Running in Place
When it comes to growing a security company, the biggest challenge is contract retention. So many of our customers tell us that they land two or three contracts, only to lose two or three more. This cycle continues, and after years they find themselves in the same position they were in when they started.
The best way to break this cycle is to add value and get referrals from your current client roster. That requires calling them up and asking how they feel about your service. But without a system in place for monitoring guards, this can be a terrifying call to make. What if they bring up some issues you weren’t aware of? What if they take the opportunity to complain about your service? It’s always easiest to let sleeping dogs lie.
This lack of communication feeds the retention problem: There could be a great opportunity for referrals or business growth, but we don’t know how we’re doing, so we don’t call. There could also be an issue that could cost us a contract, but we don’t resolve it before it escalates, and we end up losing the contract.
Once you have a guard monitoring system in place, all of this changes. You can make these calls with confidence, knowing that your officers are performing their required duties, and that you have proof to back it up.
What You Can’t Measure, You Can’t Fix
Here’s a tip for avoiding the ostrich effect without spending a dime:
Start by building Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboards for every critical role in your organization, including guards, supervisors, patrol drivers, accounts personnel, or any other important position.
Software like Silvertrac can streamline this process, but it can be done on a small scale with a spreadsheet. For each position, identify the measurable ways you can track their performance. For example, an officer’s performance could be measured by their timeliness, the number of complaints received about them, and their performance during inspections.
Then, set standards for acceptable levels of each of these KPIs. How many times per month is it acceptable for an officer to be late?
Wherever a KPI fails to meet your standards, that’s a critical issue that needs resolving. By spelling this out across your organization, it’s simple to identify and solve problems before they escalate, and before a client brings them to your attention.
Sooner or later, burying your head in the sand will come back to bite you. The only real solution is to stand up, shake it off, and start measuring.