Sourcing a Quality Security Guarding Supplier

29th April 2015

When looking for a quality security guarding supplier organisations and businesses are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of suppliers; frequently not knowing what to look for to ensure the highest levels of expertise and professionalism, as well as value for money. Here, Trevor Elliott, Director of Manpower and Membership Services at the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) highlights various considerations that should be taken into account when procuring a security guarding supplier.

Value for money, is of paramount importance for all businesses, however, security is unique in that business owners are often unsure which measures are essential as opposed to desirable. Indeed, if businesses fail to 'do their homework' before commencing the procurement process, they may be left vulnerable to either; a) spending too much and implementing security measures far beyond those necessary or b) going for the cheapest option, unaware of the compromises security providers utilised to drive down costs.

So what are the important questions to ask when comparing security guarding suppliers?

Have all costs been taken into consideration?

Initial costings should include costs incurred during every stage in the delivery process. For example, a security provider may be able to 'cut costs' in the initial stages through various methods which - unbeknown to you - might cause complications down the line. For example, if security personnel are not managed adequately through regular contact, they may be left struggling to complete simple tasks associated with their role. Such an environment would leave a business vulnerable to security breaches and effectively undermine the security systems that have been put in place. Therefore 'initial cost savings' wherein costs have been driven down though unsatisfactory means, will impact service levels and , indeed, may even make it necessary to start the cumbersome and costly procurement process all over again. It is for this reason that when it comes to security, the emphasis should be on quality first and then cost. With such a mind-set businesses will be better equipped to procure companies that provide true 'value for money'.

So, in what other ways can suppliers drive down costs and what are the key questions to ask during the procurement process?

What travel and subsistence schemes to do you operate?

Another way employers can reduce costs is not to use the same officers regularly in one place. This way the company can save on National Insurance contributions by claiming back costs for officers' travel to their place of work and also the cost of buying food while they're there. As this only applies to short-term placements of less than 2 years, companies often move their staff between sites at regular intervals, meaning that the relationship between the officer and the site - and their knowledge of the site and its security challenges - is lost and must start all over again with their replacement officer. It is not uncommon for companies to have a certain percentage of staff on these schemes. However, the greater the number of staff on travel and subsistence schemes, the more likely the service is to suffer from staff moving around frequently.

Can I see your up-to-date insurance certificates?

Insurance is a must-have for any reputable security company. All security companies should have liability insurance in place to cover them for all eventualities, specifically in areas of professional indemnity and efficacy. Some of the more unscrupulous security suppliers attempt to save money by paying the initial monthly premium but then cancel the direct debit leaving them with no valid liability insurance. This may ultimately render your own insurance void in the case of negligence on the part of a security officer. Therefore it is advisable to ensure that chosen security guarding suppliers have legitimate insurance in place by contacting their insurance provider to ensure all payments are up-to-date. It is also worth checking to see when the policy is due for renewal.

What is your uniform replacement policy?

Uniform costings in tender documents are nearly always an approximate calculation. Further, the length of time the uniform will endure will be impacted by the environment officers work in - i.e. whether they are outside or inside. Looking specifically at the tendering process, if a company were to provide poor quality uniforms to officers that are situated outside, there would be a low initial cost on tender documents. However, if the uniform has to be replaced more often the eventual cost will be much higher than that of a company that provides a better quality, longer lasting uniform, albeit at a higher initial cost. Therefore it is important to consider the supplier's uniform replacement policy in relation to the conditions and location in which they will be working.

Which British Standards does your service comply with?

Companies that have made the effort to comply with British Standards demonstrate a commitment to quality, which provides added reassurance to the customer that they're a reputable and reliable company. Therefore it is worth checking whether the supplier has external assessment of BS7499, BS7858 and BS7984. In order to prove this they should be able to show you certificates of assessment, ideally via a UKAS Accredited inspectorate.

Are your VAT and PAYE payments up to date?

Some unscrupulous companies run for a period of time and then stop making VAT and PAYE payments, instead choosing to use the money for other illegitimate activities; i.e. ensuring that the company goes into liquidation then re-starting the company under a very similar name using the money from non-payment of legitimate tax to finance a new venture. This could mean that the security officers on your site are unpaid and have outstanding wages. Therefore it is important to ask a potential supplier to prove that these payments are up-to-date, to increase your own peace of mind.

Are your premises fit for purpose?

A reputable supplier will welcome potential clients to make a site visit prior to signing contracts. You should ensure that the premises are safe and secure, checking the control room to ensure that it is appropriately equipped with PCs and software to manage lone worker check calls and that adequate procedures are in place to deal with occurrences on clients' sites. If the security company will be holding keys for your premises, check their key control procedures and where your keys are being kept.

Benefits of choosing a BSIA member

BSIA Logo

As the trade association representing over 70% of the UK's private security suppliers, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is an ideal port of call for any business looking for a security supplier. BSIA members are subject to rigorous checks before they are admitted into membership, giving you reassurance that you are selecting a quality supplier. Below are just some of the reasons why BSIA members can offer you peace of mind:

  1. They are independently inspected to the quality standard ISO 9001 with a UKAS accredited inspectorate.
  2. They comply with relevant British and European Standards and codes of practice.
  3. They are financially sound.
  4. Staff vetting has been conducted where necessary.
  5. They are technically proficient and committed to quality training and development.
  6. They are up-to-date with the latest developments in British and European policy and legislation.

To find out more about the Association, visit www.bsia.co.uk

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