Tired Of Babysitting The Lobby Desk?

Managing a high-rise luxury building requires a lot of work. It doesn’t matter if the building is commercial or residential, today’s property managers are busier than ever.

It takes a lot of work to create and maintain an environment that can rival the Ritz-Carlton. Of course, the aesthetic, design, amenities and location all come into play, but all the expense and effort that goes into that would be wasted without world-class service delivery.

That may be why some building owners and managers think that having in-house staff to manage the lobby desk is important. Some of the reasons given for maintaining a proprietary operation are tighter control and supervision, better training, employee retention and culture integration.

Those may seem like good reasons, however, maintaining a proprietary operation adds tremendous strain to the workloads for property managers. It is also inefficient. Besides, building owners and managers can get all those same benefits without maintaining a proprietary operation.

“Attempting to succeed without embracing the tools immediately available for your success is no less absurd than trying to row a boat by drawing only your hands through the water or trying to unscrew a screw using nothing more than your fingernail.” ― Richie Norton, Author & Thought Leader

There Is A Better Way

Instead of babysitting the front desk and becoming overwhelmed with scheduling issues and all the nuances that come with hiring and managing additional staff, consider bringing on a partner who is fully capable and equipped to get the job done exactly as you need it to be.

The key is to find a partner who will customize the operation to meet your specific needs. This will give the building all the benefits of maintaining a proprietary operation, without the associated headaches.

Here is how we deliver the benefits of a proprietary operation to our partners:

  • Tight Control and Supervision: Property managers can still maintain tight control and supervision if they choose a partner with adequate support. At GSI we customize our service delivery to the specific needs of each client and provide a Client Services Manager whose primary responsibility is to exceed client expectations. In addition to that, we perform daily inspections to ensure officers perform according to all specific requirements.
  • Better Training: At GSI we consult with management teams to customize a training curriculum which provides the understanding needed to work in-line with what a property manager is striving to achieve within a specific community.
  • Employee Retention: The truth is that the entire workforce is in constant movement. However, proper hiring along with proper support and showing appreciation go a long way toward retaining employees. That’s why we keep our officers longer and have better retention rates.
  • Culture Integration: We address this in a couple of ways. First, we provide custom uniforms that meet the specific needs of the building. These can be very discrete allowing personnel to blend perfectly into the environment created by management. Second, advanced training that features scenario-based interactions and videos in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities also help with culture integration.
Concierge officers at our partnership with Skyview Center

Concierge officers at our partnership with Skyview Center

Added Benefits

Security Magazine spoke with Joe Ricci, executive director of the National Association of Security Companies (NASCO) and listed the following major advantages that come from working with a security partner.

  • Reduce administrative, office and operational overhead to recruit, screen, license, train, schedule, uniform, manage and pay security officers.
  • Increase efficiency and productivity by concentrating on core security and business functions.
  • Improve the management of officers and quality due to the focus of the contractor.
  • Increase the ability to define service requirements.
  • Access specific supplier benefits, economies of scale and “learned” best practices, i.e., recruiting, screening, training, management, post-orders, scheduling, payroll and operations.
  • Increase flexibility to meet changing business and security conditions.
  • Spread risk and liability. This is the single most compelling reason. Companies with proprietary programs are liable for any incident resulting from the action or inaction of their officers, as well as deficiencies in the training, operation and management of their program.
  • Leverage contractors project management experience, security expertise and investment in people, equipment and technology.
  • Minimize requirements to track and implement changing standards.
  • Reduce costs and lower ongoing investment required in internal infrastructure, turning fixed costs into variable costs.

Property managers can truly benefit from working with a security partner who is effective and can deliver all the benefits of a proprietary program without any of the headaches.

For those who are tired of babysitting the front desk, it’s not necessarily a question weighing what will be lost when choosing a security contractor to partner with. It should be more of a question of choosing a security contractor who can deliver the required customer experience and meet the specific needs the building.

Why Property Managers Need Customized Security Services?

One-size-fits-all. As appealing as that thought may be to operations managers, it doesn’t work for property managers. Every property is different, and tenants have specific needs and expectations. The desire to meet the specific needs of each property is stated by many top management companies. However, this can be a challenge if the partners they rely on are not willing, or able, to adapt.

“We tailor our services to meet your needs. This flexibility allows us to address the specific concerns of your community and gives you greater satisfaction among your members.” – Seabreeze Management Company, Inc.

“With a wide array of programs and services ready to fit the specific needs of any HOA, we help bring superior results to your community.” – Associa-PCM

“Our services are customized to address the unique expectations of each homeowner and to preserve the vision and lifestyle of each building and community.” – Action Property Management

“We take time to learn about each community and select the manager that understands your unique needs.” – Keystone Pacific Property Management

“We are committed to understanding your needs and will work with you to develop and implement a strategic plan for your unique property situation ” – Charles Dunn Company

When it comes to security services, companies tend to be either large and rigid or flexible, but unstable. Neither option is optimal for a property management company looking to service the specific needs of a community.

This dilemma often leads property managers to opt for the stability of a large company. Although the security solutions offered do not exactly fit the specific needs of the community, they feel as if there is no choice. They are forced to choose the prepackaged solution that comes closest to what they are hoping for.

That’s not the way it should be and that is not the way it has to be. The approach that GSI advocates is for property management companies to find a security partner who is financially solid yet remains agile. Security companies need to maintain the flexibility to tailor their services to the specific needs of each client.

At GSI we have gained so much by doing this. By listening to our clients and responding to their specific needs we have been able to pioneer many innovations that are now considered industry standards.

Responding to our clients’ needs has helped GSI to be among the first to:

  • Deploy ambassador guards – These are security personnel who serve as building ambassadors, greeting and welcoming visitors while simultaneously serving as deterrents for crime.
  • Adopt more subtle uniforms – Clients have the option to choose from suits, sports coats, and casual wear so that officers fit client environments.
  • Provide personal touches – This includes holding doors and walking tenants to their cars.

Listening to the concerns of our clients has also helped us develop many unique support services like:

  • Client Services Manager – This is a dedicated position to oversee quality control and ensure each client’s expectations are exceeded.
  • Dedicated rovers – Only 2-3 rovers are assigned to each client’s site, so clients get an officer who is familiar to them and has been trained on site specifics.
  • Custom training – Ongoing client-specific, web-based training that’s fully accredited.
  • GSI Alert – Ability to mobilize hundreds of guards to cover client-affected areas for a prolonged period in case of emergency.

The possibilities are endless. By listening to property managers and understanding what they are working to achieve we can work with them to provide a customized solution that truly meets their stated goals.

Dedicated Rovers Keep Communities Safer

Stranger. When you hear that word, what immediately comes to mind? For many, it is the advice, “Don’t talk to strangers.” It’s something that has been ingrained in most people from childhood. Lack of familiarity with a person can create an environment of uneasiness, tension and diminished trust.

Within a building or community, it is especially important for managers and staff to know the people that are working at their facility. This presents a real challenge to many security companies because assigned guards may call in sick or have to miss a day at work for one reason or another. The other issue is turnover.

Major Challenges for Security

Absences and high guard turnover can harm the security program. It can also have a negative impact on tenants. As I discussed in my last article, there are many things we do at GSI to address guard turnover. We are able to maintain higher retention through our HR efforts, our culture and through our training and support. What about absences?

Security companies use “rovers” to fill temporary openings. A rover is an officer who is not assigned to a specific post. Their job is to fill openings at multiple posts whenever and wherever they are needed. It’s standard practice and a good arrangement to ensure the obligations of each post are fulfilled. However, there are two major challenges.

First, rovers can be sent to any post. This means that they are not familiar with site specifics. The second is that there are many rovers and a rover is often assigned to a post where no one has ever met him before. This makes the rover a stranger to the community.

Dedicated Rovers Provide a Solution

The dictionary defines a stranger as, a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar, so by definition, a rover is a stranger when he arrives at a new post. To address this issue, GSI only assigns 2-3 rovers to each client’s site, so clients get an officer to fill-in who is familiar to them and has been trained on site specifics.

We refer to these rovers as “Dedicated Rovers”. A dedicated rover is a security officer who is assigned to work for specific clients. Dedicated rovers are cross-trained at the client’s facility. We also provide each client with the opportunity to meet their select group of dedicated rovers during training so they will be recognizable to the customer and appropriate staff members.

Putting the Community at Ease

GSI enforces a higher standard for dedicated rovers. Dedicated rovers receive higher pay (additional cost is not passed on to the client), but it is worth it to have the most professional, polished individuals fill in for regularly assigned guards. Dedicated rovers are well received by tenants and become familiar to them over time.

Tenants feel more comfortable and safer when they know the people around them, especially those charged to ensure security. Dedicated rovers protect the integrity of the security program and are able to perform their jobs better because they are familiar with site specifics and have been trained on the duties that relate to each specific post. That’s important because our primary responsibility is to our clients and the communities we serve.

Why Is Customized Security Training Vital?

“Security”. When people hear that word a lot of different things come to mind. Some may picture a muscle-bound bouncer at a nightclub. Others may think of a guy in some isolated shack.

The truth is, security has changed. While security officers serve as a deterrent and are responsible to observe and report suspicious and criminal behavior, the modern security officer does much more.

Security officers are friendly & service focused. In an emergency situation, security officers work to help ensure the safety of tenants and the protection of property. Training is essential, and security offices need more than the state-mandated training needed to obtain a guard card. That’s a bare-minimum qualification.

Customized Training is Needed

To provide security services that are customized to the needs of each client, it is vital to include training that covers specific scenario-based interactions that occur as officers carry out their day-to-day responsibilities.

For example, if an intrusion alarm sounds, in some cases security personnel is expected to immediately call the police and property management and wait till they arrive. In other cases, they may be expected to investigate first to determine the cause of the alarm. 

Fire emergencies can be another example. Security personnel may need to visually confirm a fire outbreak before activating an alarm. Officers also need to understand what is expected of them in regards to the tenants. Are they to assist with the evacuation of the premises, including crowd control, and provide direction to emergency personnel when they arrive?

What about daily interactions with guests and tenants? Are they required to offer personalized services to tenants? What do they do if someone seems unreasonable or becomes irate? It is important for security personnel to know what the boundaries are and what property management expects of them.

A properly trained officer should leave a favorable impression on the people they interact with. The reality of today’s digital age is that one poorly handled incident can be easily captured on video and can result in huge liabilities.

How to Implement Custom Training

At GSI we consult with management teams to customize a training curriculum that is designed to give on-site security personnel the understanding they need to work in-line with property management’s requirements for each specific property.

These training courses cover various roles and duties of professional security personnel. The training features scenario-based interactions and videos that are in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Completing these courses are a requirement for our officers and they are tested on their understanding and retention.

We have found that these customized training programs make life easier for managers because it helps them prevent unnecessary issues. Instead of fighting fires, managers are able to spend their time and energy focusing on their jobs.

Bespoke Security Solutions That Exceed Expectations

Which would you prefer? To own a suit that came off the rack or to own one that was custom made to fit you perfectly?  Of course, a custom-tailored suit is always preferable.

The same should apply when it comes to the services we receive. Instead of settling for generic services that are a general fit, wouldn’t it be better if we received services that are a custom fit to our specific needs?

There are usually two reasons why we don’t.

  1. We don’t think we can get it.
  2. We believe it will be too expensive.  

These two limiting beliefs often cause us to settle for mediocre services that meet our general needs, but that can cause irritation and frustration because they don’t fully satisfy us.

For example, in the security industry, property managers may have very specific needs when it comes to the look and level of service they would like to have as a part of their security program. However, the security companies that they talk with present only a few prepackaged programs.

These programs may offer a few varieties of uniforms or concierge-style services, but fail to meet the individual needs of the building and its management team. That’s because the general approach with corporate America is to look at the overall market and then develop packages based on the market’s overall needs rather than the specific needs of each individual client. This approach severely limits options for building managers and owners.

A Perfect Fit For Building Managers & Owners

Property Managers can get bespoke security solutions that are custom-tailored to their specific needs. At GSI we have resisted the behemoth organizational structure that inflates admin costs and limits client options.

Instead, we have sought to remain flexible and agile. As a financially solid, owner- operated, private security firm, we have an unparalleled ability to adapt to the specific needs of each client. Our approach is to listen to our clients’ RFP requests and respond in writing without overlooking even the smallest details.

It is important that we put every detail in writing so that promises do not fall through the cracks later. This type of attention to detail and concern for our clients allows us to consistently exceed client expectations.

Bespoke Services Does Not Equal High Prices

Usually, when a person wants something that is custom, they are going to pay higher rates for it. That does not have to be the case when it comes to security.

Large security firms are always looking for the most cost-efficient way to scale operations which is why they are limited when it comes to customization. Prepackaged solutions help them to reduce costs. One of the reasons that savings do not make its way to their customers is because they also have huge admin costs.

In addition to stockholders, they have to pay large salaries and huge bonuses to a variety of presidents, VPs and an extraordinarily large administrative staff. All this money has to come from somewhere, so they are forced to limit client options and services in an effort to improve efficiencies.

Our approach is different. While remaining very strong financially, we have chosen to invest in improved services for our clients.

  • We provide a client services manager who is responsible for making sure our clients’ expectations are exceeded.
  • We drop in on guards daily to ensure they look their best and are meeting all job requirements.
  • Only 2-3 rovers are assigned to each client’s site, so clients get an officer who is familiar to them and has been trained on site specifics.
  • We provide ongoing client-specific, web-based training that’s fully accredited.
  • We maintain the flexibility to put a bespoke security program in place that meets the specific needs of each client.

While the costs of providing bespoke security services are higher, our lower administrative costs allow us to deliver a security program that meets our clients’ individual needs at a competitive rate. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Our clients get exactly what they want without paying more for it. We maintain a very high client retention rate and our portfolio continues to grow rapidly. Growth helps with our recruiting efforts because career minded guards have opportunities to advance, and we are able to retain quality officers.

Our goal with every client is to exceed expectations. That’s why we choose to provide service that is a custom fit to the needs of each client rather than generic services that result in mediocre services.

GSI’s New Partnership At Skyview Center

We are very excited to announce our new partnership at Skyview Center. We are ecstatic to be partnering on what is now our second commercial building with Colliers International, as we further penetrate the commercial high-rise vertical market in Southern California.

As with all our clients, we are dedicated to making the partnership a success and have completed the initial transition.

“We are extremely excited to have GSI as a part of our team here at Skyview Center.   The transition this morning was seamless. Over the past several days, I have been in communication with the transition team. At the beginning of the transition Eric Macias was instrumental in providing information about the new guards who would take over the posts at the start of the project.   It is interesting what tenants noticed, what a difference it makes just in a suit. Looking forward to a great working relationship.” – Rita Patikas-Hunter, RPA, General Manager, Skyview Center, Colliers International.

This win is very close to our EVP, Guillermo Amador’s heart because he specialized in the commercial high-rise vertical for over 20 years. Skyview Center provides another opportunity to showcase how the 20 years of experience that he brings to the table can benefit GSI clients.

Flexibility vs. Monstrosity

One of the things I appreciate most about representing GSI as opposed to a large corporate security firm is the flexibility we provide to our clients. What GSI delivers can’t be matched by our competitors. That’s because as a financially solid, owner- operated, private security firm, we have an unparalleled ability to adapt to the specific needs of each client. – Guillermo Amador, EVP, Guard-Systems Inc.

The general approach with corporate America is to look at the overall market and then develop packages based on the market’s overall needs rather than the specific needs of each individual client. This approach severely limits options for building managers and owners.

Astute General Managers have a very specific vision in mind for their building. They understand that the way security officers present themselves and interact with tenants and visitors is very important. They also realize that if a security company can’t provide the specific answers and solutions asked for during the selection process, then there is very little to no chance, the security company will provide it if they are awarded the contract.

Attention to Detail Results In Innovation

It’s been said, “the devil is in the details” which is why we take painstaking care to listen to our clients RFP requests and respond in writing without overlooking even the smallest details. In our experience we have found that listening and responding to each of our client’s specific needs results in innovation.

The innovations GSI has pioneered as a result of listening and responding to our client’s needs are now considered standard practice. For example, GSI was among the first full-service security firm to:

  • Deploy ambassador guards – These are security personnel who serve as building ambassadors, greeting and welcoming visitors while simultaneously serving as deterrents for crime.
  • Adopt more subtle uniforms – Clients have the option to choose from suits, sport coats, and casual wear so that officers fit client environments.
  • Provide personal touches – This includes holding doors and walking tenants to their cars.

Innovations that remain unique to GSI include:

  • Client Services Manager – This is a dedicated position to oversee quality control and ensure each client’s expectations are exceeded.
  • GSI Alert – Ability to mobilize hundreds of guards to cover client-affected areas for a prolonged period in case of emergency.
  • Dedicated rovers – Only 2-3 rovers are assigned to each client’s site, so clients get an officer who is familiar to them and has been trained on site specifics.
  • Custom training – Ongoing client-specific, web-based training that’s fully accredited.

More GSI Advantages

In addition to the bespoke security services that are customized to each client’s specific needs, there are additional advantages that help GSI to stand out as the premier choice for private security services. These include:

  • Technology – We use GPS and real-time reporting to ensure immediate, on-site accountability. Managers receive daily activity reports and real time incident reports, so they are always kept in the loop.
  • Hiring – Applicants are guided through an extensive screening process and must complete a series of interviews to ensure the best fit. Each candidate is scheduled to meet with our manager, scheduler, operations manager, client services manager, and regional manager.
  • Resources – In addition to our state-of-the-art communications center that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, each branch has qualified supervisors with radio-equipped vehicles around the clock, 365 days a year. At any given time, we can respond to an emergency quickly and efficiently. Supervisors also perform daily inspections to ensure they look their best and are meeting all job requirements.

As you can tell, we are really proud of everything we have accomplished here at GSI, and we are confident that our client focused approach to security and the determination to exceed client expectations will allow us to continually raise the bar within the security industry and ultimately allow us to further penetrate the commercial and residential markets.

 

How To Get Truly Custom Security Solutions – Friday Funnies

Cutom Security Solutions

Cutom Security Solutions

While most security companies will quickly point out that Security guards are often the first person seen, many fail to provide options to their clients.

In our experience we have seen that a “one size fits all” approach to Security is a huge mistake, especially when it comes to gated communities and high-rise buildings.

Property owners and management invest a lot of effort and resources into creating an atmosphere and brand that will keep tenants happy and appeal to potential new tenants.

That’s why we work closely with them to ensure that everything from the uniforms our guards wear to the CCTV that is installed is customized to meet the needs of each individual client. It may be easy and more efficient to provide pre-boxed solutions, like many of the large impersonal corporate security companies do, but our focus is on meeting our client’s individual needs.

This is our first weekly comic in a series we are calling the “Friday Funnies”.  In these comics we poke fun at some of the silly and often frustrating things we see in the security industry. These are areas that we go through great lengths to correct here at GSI.

How To Make A Security Program Fit Your Brand

Have you ever thought of a security company as a brand ambassador for a building or gated community? Most people don’t. However, this can be a huge mistake. Here’s why.

First Impressions Count

When anyone enters an access controlled building or community, the security officer is usually the first person they see and interact with. This in essence makes the security officer the face of that building or community’s brand.

Tenants, visitors, employees and other stake holders will form an opinion based on what they see and how the guard interacts with them. This can have a huge impact on the perceived value of the services provided by the management team.

That’s why it is imperative for the building’s management team to work with a security company that has the flexibility to create a security program that upholds the integrity of their brand vision.

There are 3 key areas a management company needs to be concerned with in order to accomplish this.

  1. The image presented by the security program
  2. The need for custom training of Security Officers
  3. The security company’s administrative support

When evaluating security bids, management teams do well to consider of each of these areas to ensure the purposed security program does not stuff their brand into a box designed by the security company. Instead, they should look for a security company that is capable of developing a security program that works as an integral part of the management team’s vision.

The Image Presented By The Security Program

When the word “Branding” is mentioned, many people often think of visual cues like logos and colors. A great deal of time and effort go into creating these because visual cues give the viewer an immediate perception of what the brand stands for.

Appearance is extremely important and can covey and image of prestige, wealth and sophistication. Appearance can also convey a trendy, fun and youthful image or anything else that a brand may wish to represent.

When it comes to high-rises and gated communities, the brand needs to reflect the lifestyle or company culture of the tenants it wishes to attract. This can increase the tenants’ perceived value of the building which is why careful consideration should be given to the image presented by the building’s security program.

A few options to consider are:

  • What should the security officers’ uniforms look like?
  • What type of cameras should be used?
  • What feeling should visitors get when they first see the property’s security features?

A good security company will work closely with property managers to ensure the band vision is maintained while ensuring the safety and protection of tenants, employees, visitors and assets.

The Need For Custom Training Of Security Officers

Most guards are trained professionals that understand general security and emergency response protocols. However, that is not enough.

Officers need customized training to understand how to represent the brand while interacting with tenants, visitors, employees and others. All the effort and hard work that goes into building a brand can be ruined when guards are not properly trained in this regard.

That’s why GSI consults with management teams to customize a training curriculum, geared specifically to meet this need. These are accredited training courses that cover various roles and duties of professional security personnel. Trainings feature scenario-based interactions and videos that are in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Guards are required to complete these courses and are tested on their understanding and retention. We have found that custom training programs, like these, go a long way toward ensuring guards understand in detail how to handle themselves in line with management’s vision for the brand.

The Security Company’s Administrative Support

Administrative support is important because high guard turn-over and unresolved issues can have a negative impact on a property’s brand. To discuss this openly, we are going to share some insider secrets that most security companies may not want you to know about.

First of all bigger does not always mean better. That’s because a large portion of the revenue from security contracts goes to pay for upper management. Middle managers who actually oversee a post are often overworked. This can result in unresolved issues, slow responses to inquiries and higher guard turnover due to employee frustration.

That doesn’t mean that small security companies are better. The problem with small security companies, is a lack of resources. Cash flow issues can also mean that guards don’t get paid on time which results in high turnover rates.

Property managers who understand this, choose to work with a well funded security company that puts a priority on administrative support. This means considering the workload of post commanders and operations managers.

At GSI we added in a customer service manager as an extra layer of support. The customer service manager’s job is to ensure that we exceed our customers’ expectations. That means protecting their brand and maintaining a guard turnover rate that is much lower than the industry average.

A New Trend In The Security Services Sector

Over the past few years, we have realized that there is a new trend where forward thinking management companies are looking to have guards present an image and provide services according the management company’s vision for the building.

That’s exactly what we do at GSI and by offering guard services which are custom tailored to the specific needs of each client we service, we have doubled in size over the last 3 years. We are especially proud of our most recent win on a bid for the security contract of Farmers Plaza in Woodland hills.

We feel that there is much more to Security than just protecting people and assets. Of course, safety and security are always a primary concern, but at the same time, we realize that our guards must present a polished image that is line with the management company’s vision.