COVID-19 impacts nearly every business that uses security services. Aside from adjusting how they operate day-to-day, many retailers face increased security risks of disturbances, theft, or vandalism—whether they are overwhelmed essential businesses or have temporarily closed their doors.
As stay-at-home orders become commonplace around the country, everyone expects a reduced health impact of this virus. However, the impact on businesses will likely continue well beyond that. Sudden unemployment surges and a stock market that fell over 30 percent in one month will create lasting impacts, even as stocks and jobs start to grow again. These factors have historically led to increased civil unrest that fuels an even greater need for security guarding services.
How the security industry steps up to the challenge today and for the future can have a major impact on the businesses we serve. So, how is the business of security responding to these needs considering COVID-19? We asked Chris Copenhaver, co-CEO of Protos Security, for his insights.
What changes are you making to how you operate due to the virus?
Like many essential companies, we have some employees that can work from home and some that must be on site to do their jobs effectively. Of course, our security guards—whether those are our direct guards or managed services—need to be on site. In fact, right now, security is more important than ever as companies try to keep their people and business assets safe.
We’re committed to making sure that our guards arrive healthy and on time. In addition to replacing guards who are ill, our security guards are observing the five World Health Organization guidelines for good hygiene and practicing appropriate social distancing.
Meanwhile, our back-end operations can operate remotely. Our command center was already operating on a web-based platform, so we were able to move to remote back-end operations almost instantly, with no interruption in service. That means we remain up and running, allowing customers to request and monitor their security teams.
How are security customers’ needs changing during this virus?
Customers in essential operations, like hospitals or groceries, have a lot on their plate right now. They’re busy trying to balance higher demand with potential staff and supply shortages. Meanwhile, they have an extra burden to put in place new social distancing policies to keep patrons and their staff safe. Plus, there is an increased risk of disturbances due to desperation and stress.
Security officers are often the first person that customers meet at a site. Given that, we find our clients are looking for their guards to be an extension of their teams to help enforce these new policies and practices. So, our guards are able to fill that role, whether that’s keeping people from entering the store or reminding patrons to stay six feet apart. Of course, having them on site is helpful should a disturbance break out.
It’s a different story for customers that are working remotely or have temporarily shut down. They are seeing an increased risk of vandalism and theft, or a need for access control. Security guards or even remote monitoring systems give them added security in perimeter and abandoned locations.
What about the cost of guard services? Are those an issue?
Certainly, businesses that are shut down may be worried about cash flow and anticipating tapping into cash reserves. Often, in those situations, hiring contract services is not top of mind. But, for many businesses, having the flexibility to draw on guard services to help protect their business, people, and assets while enforcing policies can be one way to cost-effectively supplement staff without adding employees.
What recommendations would you have for a company to maximize the impact and return of their guard services, now and in the future.
First of all, make sure your guard services are really an extension of your team. Your guard services should not have a one-size-fits-all approach. They should be reflecting and implementing your policies and procedures and be ready to adjust those as your needs and operations change. Look for a true partner that has policies, systems, and offerings in place to help you balance your time, cost, staffing, and new security concerns.
The other thing I’d look at is working with a company that offers flexible guarding solutions and multiple security touchpoints, not just guards. Right now, companies that are shut down or working remotely may have relied on guards in the past but would be well-served to have remote monitoring instead. Working with a company that offers multiple solutions allows you to cover multiple scenarios.
About Chris Copenhaver
Chris Copenhaver is one of the co-founders and co-CEOs of Protos Security. Protos offers nationwide managed, monitored, and direct security services for retail, logistics, office, hospitality, and other clients. Their state-of-the art technology puts all the program information clients need in once place, which gives clients real-time visibility into every step of the guard management process, improved transparency, accuracy and efficiency, and extra time and budget to focus on other priorities.