Fire & Life Safety Just Got Easier

Fire Life Safety -Fire Drill

We recently assisted the IDS management team to conduct a successful fire drill for a six-story, 235,000 square foot commercial building we secure at 888 East Walnut in Pasadena. I admit that fire drills may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but fire & life safety can save lives!

It’s important to have an emergency plan in place and conduct regular fire drills. Not just for the sake of compliance and liability, but also out of concern for human life.

It does require vigilance, and while most tenants understand that this is necessary, many do not understand the work that goes into ensuring their safety.

Fire & Life Safety Can Be A Challenge

I’ve been working in high-rise security for over 25 years, so I understand the challenges managers face when it comes to fire & life safety. Trying to get occupants trained within 14 days of residency, hiring expensive consultants to run classes and dealing with low show rates, adds stress to the job. It’s not easy!

You need to create an emergency plan, recruit a Fire Safety Director, two Floor Wardens for each floor. Once you find these volunteers, you’ll still need to ensure that they get trained and certified. Rosters also need to be created for all the floor wardens and anyone in the building who is mobility impaired.

Once all the training and paperwork is complete, notices are sent out, and exemptions received, then you will be ready to run a fire drill.

Technology is a Game Changer

Today, we have the ability to provide our clients with online training. This is the most efficient way to provide high-quality instruction to employees, occupants, floor wardens, and building staff. It allows trainees to take training where and when it’s most convenient – via phone, tablet, or desktop.

Occupant Training

After viewing the 10-minute occupant training video, occupants are tested about the material. Trainees can print a certificate upon completing the program, and they may return at any time to refresh their training, download documents, etc.

Floor Warden Training

The online warden training program provides a flexible, convenient way to provide detailed training for floor wardens and building staff. This 23-minute program is divided into three modules and covers:

  • Team roles and responsibilities
  • Communications
  • Evacuations
  • Searching and clearing a floor
  • Shelter in Place
  • Fire
  • Earthquake
  • Medical Emergency
  • Emergency Supplies

Trainees can stop training in between modules and return to complete the program later. A customizable quiz after each module allows managers to see how well trainees understand their duties.

Reporting and Administration Tools

Clients have access to online admin tools where they can:

  • Generate reports on training activity
  • Export reports into Excel files
  • Print warden rosters and mobility impaired rosters
  • Edit test questions & answers
  • Update documents
  • Edit phone numbers

Mobile Web App

In an emergency, people need clear, concise, and immediate instructions on how to respond. The mobile web app provides individualized response instructions to everyone in a building in real time, even if your mobile device’s network connection is unavailable.

This app can literally save lives in an emergency situation!

For All Emergencies: Provide response procedures for as many scenarios you need, from active shooter events to bomb threats and earthquakes.

Role-based Response Steps: Everyone in your facility – engineers, property managers, security officers, floor wardens, occupants, parking attendants – has immediate access to their unique emergency response steps for every scenario.

Staff Roles: Building staff can quickly look up the response steps for all other building staff roles. If an engineer happens to be the only one on site, they can immediately check the tasks that the fire safety director needs to perform.

Works When the Network’s Down: App works even when a mobile network connection is unavailable.

FLS App

Rapid Notification

Timely communication is critical in any emergency. This system allows organizations to notify thousands of recipients about an unfolding event simultaneously. Designed for speed and simplicity, this technology enables authorized users, via mobile or desktop, to quickly select a message from a list of pre-written scripts, choose who will receive the message, and click send.

This helps reduce confusion, improve response times, and reduce risk by keeping everyone up to date at every stage, from initial notification to the all-clear.

Rapid Notification

Comprehensive Fire & Life Safety Services

I am very excited about our ability to provide GSI clients with everything they need when it comes to fire & life safety. This will help reduce the potential risks to life as well as property. As a security professional, that is always a top objective.

Is It Profitable To Deliver Excellence?

Excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. It takes a great deal of effort and resources for a company to deliver excellence, so is it worth it?

Some, especially analyst and COO types, would argue that the focus should be on delivering standardized services and rapid growth. They feel that consumers prefer standardization even if it produces a mediocre experience.

To validate this position, they may point to case studies featuring, big brand chain stores, and they may have a point, when it comes to fast food and retail. However, high-end luxury has always been about experience.

That’s why it blows me away when companies that service high-end luxury buildings, think they can get away with standardized services that are mediocre at best. The surprising thing is, mediocre service has become so common, that many don’t even know that excellence is available.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs

This creates an opportunity for innovative companies that are willing to pursue excellence. In my opinion, excellence should be required because that is what all our clients deserve.

The question remains, is it profitable to deliver excellence in a competitive market? In my experience, it is, and here’s why I say that.

When people, who have only experienced mediocre service, receive excellence, they will become accustomed to it. Once they know what is possible, they will never want to go back to a mediocre experience. This is why we have a client retention rate that is over 90%.

This keeps us off the hamster wheel. Instead of constantly chasing new business to make up for what is lost, we can keep adding to a growing portfolio.

When managers who have experienced our services move to new locations, they call us. Typically, client acquisition is one of the most expensive aspects of marketing, but not when you can deliver excellence. As those you work with advance their careers, it is only natural that they would want to bring along those who help make them successful. This also contributes to growth.

Another reason is that reputation is powerful. As word gets out, colleagues discover that they don’t have to settle for mediocre service and that they can experience excellence. Now instead of chasing after business, potential clients begin calling asking for proposals!

Of course, there is always the issue of price. Companies that deliver excellence typically tend to charge a premium. This can limit growth, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Often large companies have bloated admin costs. They spend millions of dollars in marketing and provide extravagant perks and excessive salaries to an army of executives. Instead of using resources to deliver excellence to their clients, much of the money gets funneled upstairs.

This provides a unique opportunity for companies who are willing to remain lean and agile. By focusing more resources on client experience and service deliver rather than admin expense, a company can provide superior service at a competitive price. Outstanding service at a competitive price is a slam dunk from the client’s perspective.

In the long run a company that is structured correctly with a focus on excellence will be more profitable than those who merely seek to deliver mediocre standardized services.

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How to Effectively Reduce Security Officer Turnover

Officers are the cornerstone of every good security program, so it’s vital to hire and retain the best officers. This can be a challenge because the private security industry is notorious for high turnover.

High turnover results in increased cost. Administrative expenses, for both the client and the security company, are higher because ongoing officer training and recruitment are needed. Even worse, it has a negative impact on the effectiveness of the security program.

It can take months for a security officer to become adept and fully proficient at site-specific duties. Constant officer turnover results in new or inexperienced officers. These officers, who are unfamiliar with the site, may be less capable of detecting unusual activity. Lack of familiarity and training can hinder their decision-making ability.

For these reasons, I think it is important to share with you some of the strategies GSI has implemented to hire and retain high-quality officers.

The challenge of retaining quality guards

The national annual turnover rate for security guards is estimated to be between 100% – 300% percent, according to the Service Employees International Union, the nation’s largest private security officers’ union. That means that most guards leave a job within a year, and sometimes within four months.

Some of the top reasons for turnover are:

  • No opportunities for advancement
  • Lack of feedback/recognition/reward
  • Lack of leadership/Ineffective supervision
  • Not enough hours
  • Lack of training
  • Lack of job security
  • Lack of benefits
  • Lack of respect
  • Low pay
  • Poor recruiting

GSI has been able to address many of these concerns and lower officer turnover by focusing on 3 key areas:

  1. Hiring and recruiting
  2. Officer training and support
  3. Company culture

Officer retention starts during the hiring process

Finding quality candidates is a challenge in today’s job market. However, that doesn’t mean that we should take shortcuts.  Finding the right person for the job is essential to long term success.

Our hiring process begins with group conferences that help applicants understand our commitment to our clients along with the expectations and advantages of working for Guard-Systems Inc.

Applicants are then guided through the application process where we explain our screening process and how all background investigations are conducted.

These investigations include but are not limited to:

  • 1st Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks
  • Credit and Identity Check
  • Driving Record Background Check
  • Preliminary Drug Test
  • Pre-employment Questionnaire that we closely examine includes inquiries into: employee background, employment history, integrity, personal reliability, and work ethic.
  • 2nd Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks – by our Human Resources Division
  • Skills Testing (Observational, Written, Verbal, Computer)
  • Work and Personal References
  • Final Drug Test

After these checks are successfully completed applicants are then scheduled for a series of interviews. In order to identify the best possible fit for every prospective candidate, each is scheduled to meet with our Operations Manager, Regional Manager, Client Services Manager and Scheduler.

This does require a lot of effort and involvement from upper management, but it also addresses many common concerns:

  • Officers understand the importance of their job
  • We ensure schedules meet their expectations
  • They become familiar with leadership and understand we are here to support them
  • They are educated on the growth of the company and the opportunity for advancement

Officer training and support is a must

For potential security officers, successfully completing the interviewing process is just the first step. 

From there, applicants begin an even more rigorous training program. Prior to the onset of training, we meet with our candidates to thoroughly discuss expectations. Especially our customers’ expectations.

Once the training begins, candidates can expect to complete mandatory classroom training. In addition, GSI requires a series of on-site training courses.

The curriculum is customized according to the needs of each individual client. Training features scenario-based interactions and videos that are in accordance with the officer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Security issues literally ripped from the headlines are also thoroughly reviewed.  After successfully completing the training program, testing is conducted on comprehension and retention.

Once security officers are matched with a client, based on mutual goals, the on-going field support from Branch Management, Operations, Administration and Customer Service begins. Through GSI site visits, reporting, constant contact and feedback, we’re able to give our security staff the appropriate coverage and follow-up they need to be successful.

The safety of our customers is priority one to GSI security officers. We give our officers the support they need to focus completely on keeping our customers’ property, belongings and guests safe.

Of course, diligence is required, but the benefits outweigh the cost. Through our training and support, we are able to address several of the reasons for officer turnover.

Don’t forget about corporate culture

The culture we promote at GSI also helps us to retain quality officers. Everything we do is focused around exceeding our clients’ expectations. That is not an easy task. However, we have found that when our officers are cared for and feel appreciated, issues are often avoided.

We ensure that we recognize the concerns of our officers by keeping management accessible to officers when needed. We also want to ensure that the efforts of our officers are recognized. We do this in a number of ways.

It could be as simple as returning a call or letting an officer know he or she is appreciated. A simple, “good job!” can go a long way. More formal methods include awards, accolades and opportunities for advancement.

This culture of appreciation, gratitude and recognition is designed to keep officers engaged.  An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and as a result, takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

A Gallup study found that companies with higher employee engagement enjoyed 50% higher levels of productivity, 13% less employee turnover, 44% higher profits and 50% higher customer satisfaction than companies that measured in the bottom 25% of employee engagement.

That makes a pretty strong business case. Besides, we feel that showing appreciation and recognizing the efforts of our officers is just the right thing to do. It makes perfect sense from both a personal and business perspective.


Teamwork is still required

Clients often feel that reducing officer turnover is the security company’s sole responsibility. However, teamwork is needed. Clients must also be willing to implement the steps needed to improve officer retention. By working closely with our clients, policies and procedures can be implemented that protect the integrity of the security program, the officers and our company.

There is always work that can be done to improve officer retention. It requires constant effort and continual improvement. By focusing on the three areas of 1. hiring, 2. training & support and 3. our corporate culture, I am proud to say that GSI does better than most when it comes to retaining quality officers.

What Makes a Company Great?

What Makes a Company Great? That was the title of an article in Forbes magazine that was written for investors. The answer provided may surprise you.

The article quotes Warren Buffet who said, “Beware of the geeks bearing formulas”. The point is that there is so much more to a company than can be quantified with numbers.


“Understanding the qualities that make a company great involve more than a simple SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)–that’s business school 101 stuff. To evaluate a company’s intangibles, one must dig below the surface and beyond the 10-K. Satisfaction is the key here and successful businesses have it in abundance.” – Forbes


Satisfaction is especially important to service-related businesses. That includes both customer and employee satisfaction. In fact, the two are closely linked. Employees are the face of a brand. They are the ones who interact with the public on a daily basis.


“If you treat employees as if they make a difference to the company, they will make a difference to the company… At the heart of this unique business model is a simple idea: Satisfied employees create satisfied customers.” – Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS


At GSI our objective with every account is to exceed expectations. To accomplish that, it is imperative that we meet the needs of our employees, especially our officers.

Building a culture and environment that allows our employees to flourish and that shows appreciation is vital to our overall success. We use three primary vehicles to accomplish this within our workforce.

1. Opportunity for Growth

Security is one of the few industries that provides full-time income opportunities that can be balanced with a full-time class schedule. At GSI many of our officers started their careers as a guard while attending college. These students are hardworking career minded individuals that have a lot of potential for growth.

For example, Edgardo Gallardo started his career in security as a student. When he started with GSI, he took an entry level position as a guard.

Edgardo showed initiative and it wasn’t long before he was promoted to post commander, then he worked for a time in HR and now he works in operations.


“GSI offers major potential for self-growth if you apply yourself” – Edgardo Gallardo, Operations Manager, GSI


Another example is Fabian a career minded security professional who quickly moved up the ranks to become the Security Director for our Skyview Center account.


“I have accomplished more with Guard Systems in 1 year than I did in 15 years with ADP” – Fabian Westmore, Security Director, Skyview Center


There is also the story of Olivia Bradley who worked for 5 years at a security company without any recognition or advancement. After coming to GSI as a guard working the night shift, she was promoted to the position of post commander in less than 1 year,

The list goes on and on. It feels good to know that we can make a real difference in peoples lives. We always seek to make the opportunity available. We have helped students, mothers, retirees and many others.

We accomplish this by thinking about ways we can help them excel and helping them map out a path that will get them to where they want to go. Maybe our company becomes the vehicle to help them get there, or maybe we are just one of many along the way. Either way, we feel privileged and proud to have had a role in their lives.

2. Recognition & Gratitude

At GSI we always seek to build a culture of gratitude and appreciation. Recognition for a job well done is a big part of that, but it is not enough. We also demonstrate our gratitude through our policies, processes and procedures.

We show gratitude to our employees by keeping workloads manageable and providing the support and recognition they need in a number of ways.

One way we do this is through our employee appreciation luncheons. These are events where we bring in food vendors and let our guards know we appreciate them by breaking bread together.

Another way we show appreciation is through quarterly awards. Each quarter we look to award outstanding individuals who exemplify what it means to be a Guard-Systems, Inc. officer. One officer and one supervisor receive this award each quarter.

We also join with ASIS International for Security Officer Appreciation Day. At these events, we seek to recognize officers for their outstanding performance, presentation, dedication to the organization, passion for the well-being of customers and going above and beyond the call of duty.

Now we just added our “On the Spot Awards”. The first officer to be recognized with this award was Latonya Collins. More recently, we have provided “On the Spot Awards” to officers Ronald Guillen and Eduardo Garcia for addressing and professionally handling a trespasser.

Of course, our management team is also key to creating a positive work environment. Managers perform daily inspections and make it a point to encourage officers, letting them know how important they are and that they are doing a great job.

3. Training & Education

Continual education and training are required for our officers to truly flourish. Officers who are well trained and supported are going to be happier and will handle their responsibilities more effectively.

Building a culture of appreciation always begins with leadership. Three times a year GSI holds a Leadership Conference to show our appreciation for our leaders. The conference included supervisors from principal accounts throughout Southern California. I always enjoy these conferences because they strengthen relationships and the skills of our team.

Our quarterly staff meetings are another effective way to train and educate our officers. These meetings support and contribute to the overall Success of GSI. One of the highlights of these meetings is the opportunity we have to hear from our clients. Their valuable feedback is essential to improving our services.

On-site we provide customized training. This is needed to understand how security personnel should interact with tenants, visitors, employees and others. This training goes beyond basic state requirements and allows us to consistently deliver higher quality security services.

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 what a property manager is striving to achieve within a specific community.

These training courses 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. Completing these courses are a requirement and officers are tested on their understanding and retention.

Exceeding Expectations

As I mentioned, our goal is always to exceed expectations. Numerous studies have shown that companies which do well in satisfying their customers outperform those who don’t.


“Customer service is about making customers happy, and the culture is about making employees happy. So, really, we’re about trying to deliver happiness, whether it’s to customers or employees, and we apply that same philosophy to vendors as well.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, the world’s biggest online shoe retailer and winner of countless customer service awards


Amazon ended up buying that company for $1.9 Billion, so it seems that this philosophy works. It does take a lot of effort to deliver customer and employee satisfaction. However, great companies are willing to put the work in to help their employees be great, so they can deliver great service.

Why Strive For More Than Just Customer Satisfaction

On an average day, how many businesses do you interact with? Researchers from City, University of London, the Technical University of Denmark, and Sony Mobile Communications published a study in “Nature Human Behaviour” that found people visit an average of 25 places per day. Why is that important for managers to know?

Well, think about this. Of all the places you visit each day, what interactions are the most vivid in your memory? Probably not the ones that were merely satisfactory.

Studies show that most people remember the bad experiences more than they remember good ones. This helps us to appreciate the value of consistently delivering an outstanding customer experience.

How to Deliver Excellent Customer Service

Customer service is about people helping people. Technology can help in the delivery of customer service, but it can’t replace the human ability to listen, empathize and find solutions to challenging situations. Even when a solution is not available, it is important for people to know that they have been heard and that their concerns are taken seriously by people who care.

For property managers who wish to retain clients (keep rental units occupied or HOA boards happy), it’s imperative to deliver an outstanding customer experience. That means hiring the right people and working with the right partners.

The right people or partners are those who understand their job is not just about performing a specific task or service. They must understand that ultimately their job is to ensure the people they interact with while on the job, are impressed with the level of customer service they receive.

For example, GSI officers are trained to look beyond their basic function as a security officer to find ways they can help the communities they serve. This is one of things that helps us to exceed client expectations. As you can see from the following comment that came to us regarding one of our officers.

“Very recently, he came in early and noticed one of our people and not arrived yet. He took it upon himself to unlock and open all the early morning amenities, make coffee for the residents, turn on the appliances and even contact US in Management to let us know of the error…he didn’t have to do ANY of that! We are so lucky and grateful to have him here.” – Lee Jeffrey – Assistant General Manager, Solera Diamond Valley

Consider The Customer Journey

In addition to hiring customer service oriented staff and partners, it is important to consider the customer journey.

Consider all the touchpoints a resident, tenant or visitor may have with vendors, staff and management. Review what a typical interaction consists of.

Consider each interaction as an opportunity to build loyalty, and reduce the number of calls you get from unhappy residents. Ask yourself how can we improve on each interaction? What can be done to really impress these people with the level of service they receive?

Often it is as simple as training employees and vendors to show deep respect to residents and going the extra mile to ensure they walk away happy, It is not simply enough to leave customers feeling satisfied, they should be impressed.

For property managers one of the most crucial vendor partnerships is with private security. Security officers are called upon to protect points of entry and are typically the first person a resident or visitor interacts with when they first enter a community.

First Impressions are important

There is a ton of research that confirms the importance of first impressions. It’s usually the first impression that is most memorable to a person.

“In the same way that I tend to make up my mind about people within thirty seconds of meeting them, I also make up my mind about whether a business proposal excites me within about thirty seconds of looking at it. I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.” – Richard Branson

First impressions are crucial to overall customer experience. A manager can work hard, train staff and hire carefully, but all this effort can be sabotaged if the security firm they partner with does not deliver on their end.

That’s why it is extremely important work with a security firm that goes beyond the basics when it comes to officer training, supervision, access to management and ultimately customer experience.

GSI’s New Partnership At Terramor

We are very happy to announce that the Terramor community HOA has awarded GSI with another new contract. Terramor is a new gated community and a gorgeous development of upscale homes in Temescal Valley.

When complete, it will include six neighborhoods and a total of 1,443 homes. Four of the neighborhoods are designed for adults 55 and older. The other two neighborhoods are for all ages.

“Distinctive new home collections will offer a host of choices along the terraced hills of Terramor. Architectural themes will echo the spirit of European villages, graced by stone and brick, arched doorways or wrought-iron railings. Some rustic, some refined, each collection will reveal a deep reverence for authenticity and timelessness.” – Terramor Website

Terramor offers outstanding amenities. It will feature two clubhouses, The Terrace Club and The Veranda.

The Terrace Club is exclusively for those who are 55 and older. It offers a wellness studio and gym, an outdoor cooking area, multipurpose rooms, crafts room, and of course a beautiful resort-style pool and hot tub.

The Veranda, is already complete, and it is available for residents of all ages. It has another great looking pool, plus a toddler pool. It also provides private event space and restrooms.

The natural surroundings also make this an outstanding location. Residents will have access to miles of trails and parks and be surrounded by 540 acres of preserved open spaces.

Some of the advantages we bring to Terramor are:

  • A bespoke security solution – A custom designed security plan that is designed to meet the specific needs of the Terramor community.
  • 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 an emergency.
  • Dedicated Rovers – Only 2-3 Rovers are assigned 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.
  • Custom Training – Client specific on-going web based training that’s fully accredited.
  • Follow Through – every commitment to the customer is in writing with a fixed timetable for that event so promises don’t get diluted and forgotten.
  • Improved Responsiveness – We invest more into managerial support, so that issues are addressed and resolved quickly.
  • Higher Guard Retention – We hire carefully and invest into our officers to ensure they feel like a valued member of our team which lowers turnover.
  • Daily Inspections – We drop in on guards daily to ensure they look their best and are meeting all job requirements.
  • Real Time Reporting – Incident reports are sent out in real time and activity reports are emailed daily.

We are happy to partner with First Service Residential on this. We are also thankful to be chosen by the HOA board at Terramor. As always, our goal will be to exceed exceptions.

Why GSI Makes Employee Recognition A Priority

Our people… our strength. That’s not just a cool tagline. It’s a motto to live by because a company is only as good as the people that represent it.

At GSI we employ hundreds of guards. Each one has a different story.  Many are career minded security professionals looking to work with a fast growing company. Others are officers working their way through college. Some are single parents working to provide for their children. We also have officers who came out of retirement either to supplement their income or just because they want to stay active and be productive.

We all come from different backgrounds and walks of life, yet we are all united in a common cause. Our directive is to deliver outstanding service to our clients and protect the communities we serve. That’s what we show up to do each and every day.

I have nothing but respect for all the people who work with us. I have to admire them because despite whatever personal challenges they are facing, they come in and do an excellent job and they do it continually, day in and day out. We should never take that for granted.

Showing appreciation for the people we work with and recognizing their efforts should be a priority for every manager because it increases employee engagement and results in many benefits.

Benefits Of Employee Engagement

An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and as a result takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

At GSI our goal is to exceed client expectations. That is not an easy task. However, we have found that when our officers are cared for and feel appreciated, issues are often avoided. This goes a long way toward our ability to provide the best service for our clients.

A Gallup study found that companies with higher employee engagement enjoyed 50% higher levels of productivity, 13% less employee turnover, 44% higher profits and 50% higher customer satisfaction than companies that measured in the bottom 25% of employee engagement.

That makes a pretty strong business case. Showing appreciation and recognizing the efforts of the people that make a company great is just the right thing to do from both a personal and business perspective.

The Joy of Giving

Besides, it’s a lot of fun! Nothing beats the feeling we get when we see the smiles on the faces of our employees.

Recently I had the privilege to host an “In & Out” Employee Appreciation Luncheon for all of my GSI field team members.  We kicked it off with 10 raffle winners. We had music and an In & Out Catering truck bring us fresh hot burgers, fries and ice cold drinks. Everyone had a great time!

These kind of events build stronger bonds within the company. Plus, it was such a great feeling to be able to show the team how much we care about them and value the work they do.

Providing A Custom Tailored Experience To Attract & Retain High-Quality Tenants

In a previous LinkedIn post, “A Secret The Best Management Companies & HOAs Are All In On“, I quoted from the websites of a few top property management companies.

The one thing they all have in common is that they agree on the importance of providing a unique experience that is custom-tailored to the needs and vision of the community they serve. That’s easier said than done.

How To Deliver On The Promise

In order to facilitate that, property managers need to work with partners who are flexible and can adapt to their specific needs. At GSI we have found that listening to our clients and responding to their individual needs has resulted in innovation.

For example, GSI was among the first to deploy Ambassador Guards. This style of security officer has become very popular and we credit this innovation to our clients.

By really listening to their needs and looking for ways we can help them achieve their goals, we were able to realize that they needed a security option that was more service oriented and friendly.

Good security can be a key amenity for tenants. Professional, sharp and friendly security officers that fit client environments can greatly enhance a property’s appeal.

We took this to the next level when we starting deploying Ambassador Guards. These officers serve as building ambassadors, greeting and welcoming visitors while simultaneously serving as deterrents for crime. This was a good first step, but we didn’t stop there.

As we consulted with our clients further, we realized that they wanted to improve the look of officers so that they can fit in better with the environment. That’s when we started presenting different options for uniforms. Today clients have the option to choose from suits, sports coats, and casual wear.

The Benefits Of Listening

These are just a couple innovations that have resulted from listening to our clients. That’s really the one thing that sets GSI apart. We really listen and as an owner operated organization, GSI has unequaled flexibility, and adaptability to customize services to the specific needs and liking of our clients.

It’s an approach that has served us and our clients very well. As a result we are able to retain 98% of our clients, something that is unparalleled within the security industry. We have also experienced amazing growth.

This benefits our clients as well. Property managers are able to attract and retain high-quality tenants by delivering a custom tailored experience to their tenants. This helps to set them apart as a property management company that delivers a world-class experience.

By working with partners who are flexible and can adapt, property management companies and HOA’s can successfully provide a unique experience that is custom-tailored to the needs and vision of the community.

How Property Managers Can Effectively Assess Security Risks

Building security. What’s enough, and how much is too much? Those are important questions to answer because security is a serious concern for many and it is important to effectively assess security risks.

The safety of residents, tenants and visitors is a top priority for many building managers and owners. Recent headlines of crazed gunman and acts of terrorism only add to overall concerns. While these remain a possible threat to buildings and their occupants, it’s the everyday threats that property owners must be prepared to address.

Properties that have high concentrations of people who travel in and out of buildings often become prime targets for criminals looking to engage in theft, violence and fraud.

Targets can include multi-tenant office buildings, high-rise buildings, shopping centers, mixed-use facilities, offices, hotels and motels, college campuses, and even busy hospitals.

The need to effectively assess security risks often presents a challenge. Here’s why…

Assess Security Risks

Cookie-cutter approaches to building security does not work because each building is different. Plus, building owners, management companies and tenants all have unique requirements.

There is also a delicate balance to achieve when it comes to building security. Metal detectors and x-ray machines may be appropriate in a court house or airport, but it certainly won’t fly in a residential community.

Knowing what measures to implement and how to monitor and manage security protocols is the key to ensuring a safe environment. Property managers can begin to assess the risks by considering three primary areas of concern.

  1. Physical systems: This would include a comprehensive evaluation of your building’s perimeter and access control.
  2. Operations: This is where you take an in-depth look at how systems are being applied to effectively provide security.
  3. Education and training: Tenants and employees should have a correct understanding of security systems and procedures. On-going training of security personnel is also important for continual improvement in the overall security program.

Property managers should assess their security needs or reassess the building’s current security management program at least once per year.

To help Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. put together the following basic checklist. While this list is not comprehensive, it does provide a good starting point.

The Property Manager’s Self-Inspection Checklist

To assess security risks regularly inspect a facility for security breaches and trouble zones can help building owners and managers protect tenants and guests. Some “musts” for any routine inspection program include:

  • Secure and inventory all keys while individually assigning and inventorying master keys.
  • Control access to roof and all mechanical spaces.
  • Trim landscaping to maximize visibility and eliminate hiding spaces.
  • Maximize nighttime illumination as necessary.
  • Inspect all emergency exits at least monthly.
  • Inspect all access control systems at least monthly.
  • Train personnel to constantly monitor CCTV systems.
  • Audit actual security practices in comparison to policies.
  • Maintain written records of all security complaints, actions, and resolutions.
  • Conduct an annual security risk analysis, including review of area crime statistics.
  • Upgrade/update security policies as needed.

Why Property Managers Need Professional Security Site Assessments

Property managers will gain even greater benefit from a formal examination of a facilities overall security program.

A security site assessment takes an in-depth look at all aspects of a security program to identify any weaknesses and find opportunities to reduce costs and make security operations more efficient.

There are many benefits property managers and owners gain from security site assessments. These include:

  • Suggestions for implementing the latest security measures and making other improvements
  • Getting an independent and objective look from a fresh set of eyes uncovers areas that may be missed otherwise
  • Find out what is working well and what areas of the site’s security need improvement
  • Uncover ways to lower security related costs
  • Discover ways to improve security without increased spending
  • Identify critical security problems and weaknesses
  • Discover how to correct problems in advance to reduce losses and decrease potential liabilities
  • Get a long-term master plan for future security improvements and upgrades
  • Helpful in obtaining funding and budgets for capital projects and security operating expenditures
  • Act proactively rather than reactively

Today, vigilance is more important than ever. Still balance is needed to provide the right atmosphere. A security site assessment can go a long way addressing these needs while helping to ensure the safety of tenants, residents, guests and staff.

Additional Information
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15 Steps To Help Property Owners & Managers Remain Vigilant

How to Exceed Customer Expectations

At GSI our goal is to exceed expectations. There’s a lot of work that goes into doing that, and it starts with hiring the right people.

This is especially important for property managers to understand because when anyone enters an access controlled building or community, the security officer / concierge is usually the first person they see and interact with. This in essence makes the security officer the face of that building’s or community’s brand.

When it comes to security & concierge services, we want to be sure that applicants are properly screened and matched to positions that they will excel in.

“ In my role, I hone in on our applicant’s skill-set and experience to determine how best to utilize their finest qualities. This part of the process, to me, is the most crucial…it is during this very small window that we gauge our candidate’s potential for growth, development and eventual success.” – Edgardo L. Gallardo, Corporate Hiring Manager, GSI

The Hiring Process

Our hiring process begins with group conferences that help applicants understand our commitment to our clients along with the expectations and advantages of working for Guard-Systems Inc.

Applicants are then guided through the application process where we explain our screening process and how all background investigations are conducted.

These investigations include but are not limited to:

  • 1st Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks
  • Credit and Identity Check
  • Driving Record Background Check
  • Preliminary Drug Test

Pre-employment Questionnaire that we closely examine includes inquiries into: employee background, employment history, integrity, personal reliability, and work ethic.

2nd Tier Local, State and Federal Criminal Background Checks – by our Human Resources Division

Skills Testing (Observational, Written, Verbal, Computer)

Work and Personal References

Final Drug Test

Finding The Right Fit

Applicants are scheduled for a series of interviews only after these checks are successfully completed. In order to identify the best possible fit for every prospective candidate, each is scheduled to meet with our Operations Manager, Regional Manager, Client Services Manger and Scheduler.

“ Identifying our applicants’ goals and aspirations relative to their respective skills and talents, allows us to disseminate not only how they will benefit from our organization, but how our organization will benefit from them…to me that ultimately leads to the satisfaction of my customers.” – Eric S. Macias, Client Services Manager, GSI

Appreciation Is Important

At GSI we strongly believe that when people know that they are important and appreciated they will perform better. We have a culture that shows appreciation for our team and looks to instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in the work that is being performed for our clients.

“ Our Hiring Process is amongst one of the more rigorous in the industry. Our philosophy is, and always has been that we seek to hire those who understand the benefit of working for an organization that never treats them as a number…but a valued member of our team.” – Gustina Woods, Executive Human Resources Assistant, GSI

Proper Training

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and issues will arise, even with the best people and the most proactive approach to management. Most people understand this. However, it’s how those issues are handled and the way people are treated that makes all the difference. Therefore training is essential.

Property managers who wish to exceed tenant expectations should ensure that all staff and outside contractors are trained to deal with customer concerns properly.

This is important because Studies show that bad experiences are more likely to stay in a person’s mind than good ones, and consumer research indicates that people are more likely to share bad experiences with others.

At GSI, we consult 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.

Exceeding Expectations Is Not Easy

This may sound like a lot of effort, and it is. However, the work that is invested into the front-end results in less frustration later. For us it has resulted in happier clients, happier tenants, less employee turnover and substantial growth.

As a property manager, it can result in happier tenants that are more understanding when issues arise. Vacancies will be filled faster and tenants will stay longer. Plus there will be less fires to put out, and who wouldn’t love that.