Security & Guard Services
Contract Security Services, Part II: How can I fight back against rising costs and worsening service quality to get what I pay for?
Within contract security services, rising costs and lowering service quality are a curious contradiction to the established adage, You Get What You Pay For.
In Part I of this two-part series, we examined the “why” behind the rising costs and lowering quality in the security trade, from market-driven factors to industry practices.
Now let’s get into what you, as a customer of contract security services, can do about security expense management.
What Can Be Done About It?
To restore the balance of “getting what you pay for”—and mitigate the marketplace paradox of rising costs and lowering quality—the key is accountability. You need to be able to hold your security vendor accountable for their contractual obligations. You had legitimate reasons to hire a security vendor in the first place, so let’s explore how you can ensure they are doing what you hired them to:
- Contract Language Matters
A big portion of ensured accountability starts with the language in your service agreement. Did you use the security vendor’s boilerplate contract or your standard corporate vendor contract? In either case, it is likely your existing agreement doesn’t have adequate language to ensure your security vendor is held to your expectations.
To achieve a contract that backs vendor accountability, there are a wide range of 'outside-the-box' terms and conditions that should be injected into contract security agreements. Areas that are particularly challenging to fix—but game changers to cost and service level when just the right terms are injected into the agreement—include:
- Limits to billable overtime, dark hours, and overbilling
- Experience requirements and training standards for all guards assigned to your site(s)
- Ability to immediately (and permanently) remove underperforming guards from the service of your site(s)
- Mandatory milestones and thresholds—and penalties for the vendor if not met
Unfortunately, the respective terms needed generally don't occur to even the sharpest procurement professionals or attorneys. If you do not have the in-house expertise to help draft such contract language, you need to find a partner who understands the industry and can help you draft those documents—and facilitate negotiations with the vendor.
- Ongoing Management and Vigilance
Even after you have a good contract in place, you’ll need to ensure your vendor adheres to all expectations of that contract. From training and staffing to supervision and billing, there are dozens of ways a security vendor’s daily and monthly practices can deviate from the original intent of your contract document.
To ensure your security vendor is adhering to the contract, you’ll need to regularly probe the following:
- Is the vendor staffing your site(s) adequately and appropriately?
- Are you being accurately billed—by positions, hours, and duties (a consideration more complex than it sounds)?
- Do your employees feel safer because of the security team’s actions, or are continual problems with vendor personnel causing repeated headaches?
- When each monthly security invoice is cross-checked against payroll records and your contract documents, are you finding noncompliant billing?
If you don’t have the internal expertise and bandwidth to continually scrutinize—and act on—those things, find someone who can help you.
Finally, it is critical you have a partner who can advocate on your behalf with your security vendor(s).
Most organizations that use contract security services do not have in-house security experts who truly understand the industry. Even those that do have experienced in-house security experts tend to lack an understanding of the expense that is contract security. These personnel may understand how to keep a business secure, but rarely do they understand all of the “tricks of the trade” which cause security costs to consistently rise and overrun budgets.
And it’s difficult to find solutions for this challenge elsewhere in the organization. Most procurement departments do not have the bandwidth to provide ongoing weekly or monthly management of their vendor contracts. Most EH&S or Facilities departments cannot constantly babysit the behavior of their security vendor.
Without the time or expertise to routinely and comprehensively monitor and manage your security vendor relationship, you’re likely spending more money than necessary—and probably not receiving the service level your contract anticipated.
In other words, without a dedicated advocate possessing the proper expertise, it’s almost certain you are not getting what you are paying for.