The holidays are right around the corner but you don’t have time to rest. Move-ins and move-outs slow down, capital improvements are wrapped up or put on hold. Does that mean you have time to pause and simply take a breath? No, and that’s because one of the most consequential seasons of the year is upon us – budget season. You have a ton on your plate and a million things to consider. As you budget landscaping, janitorial needs, property upgrades and additional amenities – consider keeping your security budget on that list!
There are a number of things to keep in mind when creating a budget for security services. The ones at the top of the list are overall cost, type of service, training, and customer service. Here’s how to evaluate each one.
As the property manager, you intimately know how much revenue your property generates. As well, you closely track both the fixed and variable costs of your business. If you’ve never hired a security service before, it’s tough to know what amount to put on the line item. In multi-family environments, we recommend setting aside $5 to $8 per residential unit to create a monthly budget as the starting point. An example would be if your property has 350 units, with a budget of $5 per unit you would budget $1,750 per month. You may need to budget a more depending on your needs and desires.
In commercial retail or a multi-office space setting, allocate 3% to 6% of each tenant’s lease amount to cover your cost. Industrial and warehouse environments can be more difficult to gauge based on insurance, industry, and federal requirements. Your security services provider can guide you through the estimate process. Again depending on local trends, geography, and business type this estimating methodology may only scratch the surface – but it gives you somewhere to begin.
It’s vital to notice that a lot of companies can try and assist you to produce a budget so it fits into their pricing scheme. Watch out for the adviser who offers you a promise of Fort Knox style security at Happy Meal rate. Rather than take trade speak from the security industry, check out your business and closely contemplate what the value is and impact to your bottom line. Once you do, don’t forget that quality security services will save you cash by protecting your assets, reducing liability, and monitoring external factors in your community.
TYPE OF SERVICE
What type of service does your property need? If you’re not sure, a security services expert can help you determine your needs and the corresponding service to address those needs. Two types of commonly used services are Static or Dedicated Officers, and Patrol or Vehicle service. A dedicated officer will stay on your property for specified amount of hours. This can range from as small as 2 hours to 24 hours per day. What you should be aware of are the issues within the industry. There are common, industry-wide issues with static and dedicated officer services such as employee turnover, falling asleep on the job, and poor communication. When evaluating a company that offers this type of service, ask them how they negate these common issues. Ask for specific examples, processes, and procedures they have in place to prevent security guards from wasting your money. If you require dedicated service, choose wisely and never forget the adage that you get what you pay for.
An alternative to dedicated security is a Patrol service. Patrol service is one that is relatively new to the industry but starting to become more popular. In this concept, a guard will actively patrol around a property in a marked or unmarked vehicle. Examples of this are companies like Safeway Security Services that uses in-dash cameras, GPS tracking and foot patrols to make sure its officers are engaged with your property. In addition, each patrol triggers the officer to type a real time report with cloud-connected computers property managers can read at any time. With this concept, you know exactly where your money is going.
Training procedures vary widely in the security industry. It’s important for you to know what to ask a prospective company. What are the minimum number of hours of training? What does the training include? It can’t be as simple and being able to show up or drive a vehicle in mindless circles. Do they train their officers in conflict resolution, de-escalation technics, report writing skills, and customer service? If the company can’t or won’t divulge real details about its training curriculum, you should consider talking with a different company.
It’s not only about the on-boarding training process, it’s about continuous training as well. Do they have quarterly training sessions and do they keep log records of their trained personnel. Can you see those training logs? If not, it’s a sign you should keep looking.
Good customer service is paramount to great security service. It starts with excellent communication and rapport from the very beginning of your contract. Do they provide a concise estimate? How often do the managers visit your property? Are their officers able to engage with tenants in a friendly but effective manner? Customer service goes beyond just writing a report. They let you know about maintenance issues, property hazards, and they help clients in need. Does a battery need jumped or a tire inflated? Security services who provide courtesy services are a notch above others because they see the whole picture. And finally, how quickly do they respond to issues that arise?
There are many factors to consider when budgeting for security services. It’s important to evaluate your needs first. What are you trying to protect and why? Then set aside enough funds to get the proper level of security. Adjustments may need to be made from time to time. Your property and your clients’ safety and security is important; consider budgeting for security services this budget season.
There are many ways to provide security. The Safeway Secure Fit approach addresses issues commonly found within the security guard industry. We utilize advanced technology including GPS tracking, video cameras that record both the interior and exterior of the patrol vehicle, on-board laptops that allow typed, real-time reports, and cloud-based software including a reporting database. To learn more about the Safeway Security Service difference, contact us today.