Across the country, owners and managers in the security industry are facing an uncommon problem.
A lot of our customers are telling us “I don’t have a hard time finding new contracts, my biggest challenge is finding people to fill positions.” Demand is up as more property owners seek security services, and their ability to fulfill orders for new work is severely limited as a result.
Unlike other problems company leaders usually face, there isn’t an optimization workflow or easy software solution to fix staffing shortages. Finding dependable officers and keeping them on board is always a challenge, even for successful companies.
Is there a silver lining?
Understaffing and competition for good talent is putting a strain on client relations, even leading to higher contract turnover in some cases. Owners and managers are forced to make hard decisions when it comes to hiring new officers — do I lower my hiring standards to fill a job or limit the number of contracts I take instead?
An industry-wide shortage of officers is obviously not a great situation to be in. On the other hand, it does present some unique opportunities.
Charge what you want to charge
Companies who have a supply when the demand is up are given a unique advantage. They can charge a higher rate and be more selective about the clients they work with. When sales are up, your company can make adjustments to your operations without risking your bottom line. And, importantly, you can charge rates that you think are fair with less risk of being underbid.
Times of high demand offer companies a great opportunity to break out of the race to the bottom on rates. Because you don’t need every contract you bid for — and only have limited manpower to fulfill contracts — you can choose the jobs that pay the best. If a contract doesn’t work out, that’s fine. Breaking out of the “lean times” mentality can lead to a lot of innovation in your company.
Weed out problem customers
Similarly, times of high demand allow you to reassess business relationships that are overly resource- or labor- intensive. Let’s say you have a problem customer who never seems to be happy about your services. Your supervisors or managers are constantly stamping out little fires for them, cutting into the time available for other clients and important internal growth initiatives.
Higher demand means being able to re-sign contracts with problem clients at a rate that’s more commensurate to the value you provide them. For particularly toxic clients, you can consider cutting off the relationship entirely.
Companies that face labor shortages usually have to offer more to prospective hires to get them on board. That sounds scary, but it can work in a company’s favor in the long run. Higher wages and better benefits attract better talent, which helps drive down turnover and build the infrastructure for a culture of internal advancement.
Historically, the security industry churns through officers at annual rates of between 100 and 400 percent. Maintaining a consistent workforce and promoting good officers to supervisory roles is next to impossible in this climate. Companies who secure better officers by offering more than standard wages can end up cutting long-term costs.