An executive from the Kellogg’s Company once told me that “If you aren’t innovating, you’re dying”. That comment started me thinking about how security guard companies use innovation to sell their services.
Like that Kellogg’s executive, I think that innovation is critical for any company looking to achieve healthy growth. In the past, many organisations did not consider innovation to be a top priority. To some extent, they did not have to because the world was a very different place. Rather than innovate, many of these organisations focussed on just providing a quality product that kept them market competitive. Granted, this method may still apply for companies that produce products with long lifecycles, but those companies and industries are few and far between, and their number gets even smaller every day.
In most industries, especially serviced based ones, companies are facing increased pressure from competition and a need to drive more efficiency and effectiveness throughout their organisations. As if those two challenges were not tough enough, companies must also contend with buyers that have greater expectations of the services that they buy – in other words, they want more for less. Due to the ease of accessing information online, today’s buyers are more informed than they have ever been. Buyers have seen and continue to see innovations in other industries that make their jobs easier and improve their lives. As a result, buyers expect these types of innovations from all their vendors. Consequently, buyers are quick to fire vendors and purchase from someone else if they feel that the services that they buy are in someway inferior, or just mediocre.
Innovation does not just help with improving efficiency and organisational effectiveness, many companies are using innovation to help differentiate themselves from their competition and to maintain their customer base. Unfortunately, during many of my conversations with security guard companies, I rarely hear about exciting or innovative projects – especially ones that differentiate them from their competition or improve their quality of service.
In fact, a majority of the security companies that I talk with believe that their training, hiring practices, or their responsiveness to customers is what sets them apart. Do not get me wrong, training, hiring and responsiveness are all important functions for any company that would like to be successful. But the problem is, all security companies are saying the same thing, so it is hard to use those functions as differentiators. It might work if some companies told customers “We don’t believe in training”, “We’ll hire anyone with a pulse”, or “When you call, just leave a message and we’ll eventually get back to you”. But that does not happen, right? With that being the case, innovation for security guard companies is more important than ever.
Being able to develop new products or processes helps your company build your brand and also provides a unique selling proposition. Here are just a few examples of companies who have developed products or processes that have struck me as innovative.
Innovation In Personnel
G4S: Custom Protection Office (CPO)
Large companies are typically thought of as slow to innovate. So with more than 618,000 employees worldwide, you might think of G4S as a company that has more to focus on than innovation, but you would be wrong. Although I was not in the security guard industry when G4S introduced its CPO program, I have talked with other professionals who were. At that time, the CPO was a leap forward in the way that security guard contractors were providing service. The CPO program gave G4S’s customers a higher quality officer based on education and experience.
In the words of G4S, “The men and women in our Custom Protection Officer® program must meet stringent experience requirements and are provided training that goes well beyond industry standards. Each CPO must either be a graduate of an accredited college or university with a degree and concentration in criminal justice, police science, or security administration — or formerly qualified in one of the following disciplines, including:
- Criminal Justice Degree (Associates or higher)
- Law Enforcement
- Career Military
- Military Police
- Police Academy Graduate
- Corrections Officer
- Federal Agency Officer
- Military Elite Forces
These security officers are the best in the business.”
This was a great way of innovating around something that most companies probably could have done … but did not.
Innovation In Processes
This is another great example of one of the world’s largest security guard companies demonstrating how to use innovation to differentiate yourself from the competition. In the words of Securitas, “SecuritasVision is a site security management tool that provides helpful reports such as exception status, incident status, and daily activities all accessible by logging onto SecuritasConnect. Electronic searchable records support outreach, analysis and optimization.”
Despite how you may feel about Securitas’s Connect/Vision, it is another great example of an innovative idea. When it was introduced, what was not innovative about using technology to provide helpful reports such as exception status, incident status, and daily activities just by logging into Securitas’s website?
US Security Associates: Security Information Systems
Although Securitas had a great idea in using technology to turn officers’ activities into information, US Security Associates has taken it to another level with their new Security Information System (SIS)®. In addition to basic reporting functionality, SIS provides a web-accessible dashboard of compliance information relating to security staff processing, training, and quality assurance. Way to go!
Signal 88: Franchising
Signal 88 is another example of a company that took something any other company could have done, but created something that was truly innovative. McDonald’s and other companies have been franchising for decades, but in my humble opinion, Signal 88 has made franchising a viable concept in the security guard industry. If leveraged properly, Signal 88 customers will have access to a network of security experts and resources that can provide them with customised security solutions.
Innovation In Technology
CPS: Mobile Surveillance Units
Kudos to CPS for developing a service built around a suite of mobile surveillance units. The ability to provide a portable visual deterrent that can either replace or complement traditional guard service is a great option for buyers with smaller security budgets. I would imagine that this is a great option for construction sites or remote locations.
Per Mar: Video Monitoring
Although not as ‘technologically cool’ as CPS’s mobile surveillance service, Per Mar’s use of Video Monitoring to provide their clients with a “Virtual Guard” definitely deserves a mention. Like CPS’s technology, Per Mar’s video monitoring becomes a way to reduce overhead in man hours and can complement their security guard services.
I believe that each of the products and services above are great examples of innovation. However, companies should always remember that innovation is not a single product, service, or act – innovation is a process. The process of innovation allows companies to come up with, evaluate, and introduce new ideas to their customers. But keep in mind that developing a new product or service will not always guarantee success for your company. However, what it will do is create a point of conversation with your current clients and prospects. Even if they do not buy into that innovation, you have begun the process of setting yourself apart from the competition.