When it comes to sourcing and selecting a security program that’s best for your business, perhaps the most important factors to consider are what you want to gain from the program and how the program will affect your business. Last month, we discussed how to determine the needs of a program, why one should consider outsourcing a security program, and different value added components of a protective services program. This month, we want to focus on showing you how to source the right agent for your protection program, and what to look for when selecting and vetting a company.
Finding the right agent
First and foremost, it is important to find an agent that works based on your unique business requirements, company culture, and security preferences. An effective agent will need to seamlessly fit into the company and staff culture in order to successfully complete the task at hand without impeding on normal business routines.
There are significant differences between industries, (i.e. cultures in tech startups vastly differ from pharmaceutical or oil and gas companies) however there are significant differences within the same industries too. To thrive, executive protection professionals must have an excellent understanding of the corporation’s mission, values, beliefs, power structures, and everything else that underpins corporate culture.
Consider the following questions when determining what you are looking for in an agent:
- Does the agent speak in police or military jargon?
- Can the agent dress, act and perform their duties in a variety of environments?
- Does the agent not only have experience in the security industry but also in the environment or industry of your company?
- Does the agent have hard and soft skills that will enable him/her to be successful in your environment?
- Does the agent match your company’s values as well as the values that their employer holds?
- Does the agent present themselves in a professional manner without being intrusive?
- If the agent will be working at a residence or around family how will they fit in with the family?
- Does the agent understand the environment and the people they will be working with? Can they provide examples of previous work experience with similar companies or people (executives, spouses, kids, and/or staff)?
- Can the agent provide you with examples of how they communicate with the principal, family members and support staff?
- Can the agent provide examples of times when he/she has received conflicting instructions from the principal and a staff member and explain how they resolved it?
When sourcing an agent, it’s important to consider the fit from every perspective, and evaluate various situations where the agent would be integral. Would that agent be able to be successful given the various circumstances you foresee them being a part of? If not, consider expanding your search to secure an agent that fits the list of your requirements. Ultimately, someone may be a good agent but still be the wrong choice for your company. This is the place to be mindful of what the best choice is for your company. Going against gut instinct or failing to identify red flags ahead of time could pose a threat to security.
What to look for when hiring a company
When considering a security company, there are three main components that are essential:
1. The company is licensed and insured and can show proof.
2. Staff is properly licensed and trained.
3. The agent has a strong cultural fit for the principal
Many personnel at CAI have prior experience leading global security programs for Fortune 500 companies, and each agent agrees they averaged at least two sales calls a week where the person insisted they could provide any and all security and investigative services needed and had physical offices around the world. After conducting a quick check, it was clearly revealed their “global offices” were simply mailbox services.
Selecting the right company takes time and research to thoroughly vet and identify the best vendor based on your business’ requirements. You should ask tough questions about how the vendor vets potential candidates for each job type. What policies and procedures do they follow in order to ensure that those charged with protecting the principal are worthy of this trust?
The selection process can be broken down into two stages:
Stage One – Validate
The first and easiest step is to validate the company. Answering these questions early in the process will weed out potential issues in the future.
- Is the company licensed to provide the services they are proposing?
- Are they in good standing with the licensing body?
- Is the company licensed in each location they provide services?
- Do they maintain insurance? What kind of insurance? Do the coverage amounts meet your requirements?
- If the company employs off duty law enforcement personnel, are those individuals properly licensed as required by the state or county they are working in?
- Do they provide services using employees or subcontractors?
- Do they have at least one physical office?
- Are the locations listed on their website actual offices or are they addresses of various mailboxes?
- Does the company have prior experience with the services you require?
- Is the company available 24×7?
- Do they have a Global Security Operations Center (GSOC) or a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
- Do they provide services both domestically and internationally?
- Does the provider meet any corporate or regulatory standards required of your company?
- Does the company have privacy policies that meet regulatory standards?
Stage Two – Culture Fit
The second stage of the selection process is determining if the company is a good cultural fit. You may have been able to validate their credentials and abilities, but if it’s not a good culture fit, it won’t be a successful long term partnership. Additionally, it’s important that you understand how the vendor sets standards for training and experience for each and every job type called for in the scope of work.
- Does the company understand your needs or are they trying to sell you something that you don’t need?
- What are the company’s core competencies?
- Does the company’s senior leadership team have experience in the industry?
- Has the company provided bios for the senior leadership team?
- Who will be responsible for your account and do they have verifiable experience?
- Does the company understand your firm’s culture, values, and industry?
- Do their service offerings and approach match your business principals and/or company culture?
- Are they using a combination of industry best practices and a style that matches your needs?
- Is the provider trying to sell you a one size fits all program?
- What methods does the company use to hire their employees?
- What are their hiring practices? Do they conduct routine background investigations on all staff?
- How do they ensure that all employees are properly licensed annually?
- Does the company require employees to sign an NDA?
- What is there policy on social media use?
- What training do the employees go through each year?
- How does the provider match the agent to the client to ensure a good fit with the agent and principal?
- Does the company provide its employees with procedures for each site they work? Are they standardized or customizable to your site?
- Does the company utilize both routine processes as well as emergency or crisis response plans?
- What is the company’s use of force policy?
- Can the company provide bios of each employee?
- Is the company open to individual agent interviews?
- If the company uses subcontractors, does the contract company have the same standards as the parent organization?
- How do they vet their subcontractors? How do they monitor those subcontractors while they are working for you?
- How does the company measure their performance? What are the KPIs they use to track and monitor their performance?
- Do they offer social media and online brand monitoring?
- Is their staffing scalable within a reasonable amount of time?
- What are billable expenses?
- Are the billable expenses passed through or is there is a markup?
- Will the provider participate in regular meetings to review their performance and services?
- How does the service provider document shift activities?
- Can the provider provide you with a roadmap and a timeline for implementing your program?
The process of sourcing and selecting a security program (and agent) that’s best for your needs can be overwhelming, but an incomplete assessment at the beginning can lead to problems in the future.
Bringing strangers into the inner sanctum of a home or business, even if they are there to protect and are very professional, tests the personal boundaries of trust. This can be especially difficult for people or companies who are new to utilizing security services. The best way to deal with this issue is to be open and transparent with your questions and expectations. Put the issues on the table, evaluate the pros and cons of different alternatives, and ask questions to determine what strategy is best for you.