Developing strong pricing strategies that appeal to potential clients is critical to success for security guard companies. To appeal to more clients, it can be helpful to hone in on multiple security guard pricing strategies to maximize your profits.
We’ll share strategies to choose from when creating an hourly guard rate that will help you decide how much to charge for security guard services. Using a combination of these strategies will give you the best chance at a successful price point.
Understanding Wage & Labor - What Security Companies need to Know
Before we dive into the strategies, it’s important to have a foundation for wage and labor in this industry.
In the current environment—with inflation and the evolving legal landscape—it can be difficult to navigate wage and hour law. Not to mention remaining competitive in a tight labor market.
To learn more about this topic, check out this webinar “Understanding the Complexities of Wage and Hour.”
Strategy #1: Pricing Based on Cost
The easiest way to price security services is by crunching the numbers. Determine your material, labor, and overhead costs to know how much you need to charge just to break even on each contract.
- Material costs: This is your uniforms, equipment, gas for mobile patrols. Your material costs are anything you spend outside of wages to service a specific security contract.
- Labor costs: This includes all wages you pay guards that service the contract. You’ll want to remain competitive while meeting the hourly guard rate current security guard pay & contract billing rates
- Overhead costs: - Knowing your overhead costs is critical to ensuring that you walk away with a solid profit from a contract. Overhead costs include rent on your office space, administrative salaries, and any software you use.
How much to charge for security services?
After you establish your costs, you need to add on a reasonable profit margin that will finalize the baseline for pricing your guard services. Aim for about 3-5% of your total costs.
Here’s what the equation looks like for this pricing strategy:
Costs (material, labor, overhead, etc.) x 1.04 (4% margin) = Hourly Guard Rate
The strategy can be used safely and effectively with clients whose private security needs are going to remain relatively constant for as long as you will be contracted with them, (i.e. for a storefront, a warehouse, etc.).
But calculating costs is not always as straightforward as you’d like it to be. Factor in the cost of mobile patrols and pricing strategies can get a little more complicated. We’ve created a security guard pricing tool to help you understand how much to charge:
Strategy #2: Pricing Based on Competitive Comparisons
When deciding on your hourly guard rate, look at what the competition is charging for their security services to get a baseline for your own rates.
When you conduct this research, make sure you compare similar factors when using a cost-competitive model for pricing.
Here are a few factors to consider:
Level of Training and Experience
- How many years of experience security guards have can greatly affect the rate a security company can charge on the contract they work.
- Having valuable certifications and training can also increase the value of a guard.
- Having well-trained security supervisors is also a great way to make your services more trustworthy and demand a higher rate.
Specific Guard Services
Different types of security services have very different impacts on what you can charge a client. If your competitors are charging much more than you, look at what kind of services they are offering. You might want to see how you can add those services into your security company.
- Offering armed guarding services can demand a higher security guard rate (just keep in mind you usually have to pay armed officers more money).
- Incorporating technology into your services is another great way to increase your rates.
But more important than any one specific service offering is diversifying your services. Being able to offer clients a wide range of security services is one of the best ways to grow.
Security Service Pricing for Specific Industries
The industries security companies work in can make a major difference in the prices they can charge for security services. Knowing if your competitors are working in industries that have a higher average price point can inform your guard rates.
For example, cannabis security has become a huge market - —from running patrols at farms to doing door security at dispensaries - —and demands a higher price point for security services because of the risk involved.
Just like with services, diversifying the industries your security business operates in can be a great way to grow.
Comparing your guard rates against competitors is very effective as long as you look at every factor that influences pricing. If you leave any factors out, you could price yourself below the reasonable market rate.
In the worst-case scenario, leaving factors out means you could price yourself out of business by under or overcharging for your security services. Especially for small security guard companies, getting pricing right is critical to maximize margins that will let you reinvest in and grow your business.
Strategy #3: Pricing that Focuses on Value
This strategy is best used when you are confident that your security services are the best in the business.
When you focus on customer value & success, you focus on two things.
- Focus on the amount of money you can save your client. If your client is losing $30,000 in stolen goods each month, and your services cost $10,000, you can promote the $20,000 they will be saving by contracting your security company. Doing property walks can be a great way to show you what specific problems are occurring on a client’s properties. After the property walk you can lay out for them exactly how your services can save them that money.
- Focus on the value of your services. If your security guards have 100 hours of training under their belts, or if your clients include top tier companies, then you can command a price based on your reputation.
Having detailed reports shows your clients the direct value your security services bring to their business. These sample reports are a great example of what kind of information you can show clients.
(Closing section) How Much to Charge for Security Services
By understanding your cost, competitive market, and the value of your services, you can effectively determine what to charge for your security operations. This is a fundamental skill when starting a security business.
- Routinely monitor the effectiveness of your pricing strategies. This should be done monthly to ensure that your strategies are spot on target.
- If you notice sales lagging, or clients deserting you for a competitor, adjust your strategies to meet changing market conditions. Staying on top of it and remaining flexible is the key to long-term growth and profitability.
- Increase value by keeping your best guards employed. We’ve developed a guide, Why Do Good Security Officers Quit? A Silvertrac Guide to Keeping your Best Officers to help you with this critical issue.