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I’m Jason Trigg, CEO of Cardinal Security. There’s a lot the manned guarding sector should be doing better to meet the needs of the retail and logistics industries, including using tech to give clients a better view of their investment. I’ve been arguing for changes in the way we provide a service for 20 years now and some of my insights will surprise you.

In the next few Cardinal Security blogs amongst, other things, I will be talking about the role of technology, private policing, and about the idea of static vs dynamic guarding. In this opening blog, however, I’m looking at the heart of the issue of why the manned guarding sector is treated like a commodity and suffering through poor investment.

It’s not whether but when: We need a game-changing advance in the way we invest in manned guarding in stores. It’s an adapt or die situation for many providers, who can feel the pressure to do better but don’t know what to do about it. We need a way forward.

One criterion that’s forcing us to change is that charge rates are stagnating and in some cases, they’re even being forced down. Many clients are reluctant to pay enough to invest – which means they’ll only get the same old same old. These clients have come to expect that the guard will speak English and wear a uniform, but beyond that, they have pretty low expectations. They just see the guard as a ‘jacket filler’.

This view is compounded when clients can’t see what they’re getting for their money. The client sees a cost centre with no way of measuring the value you get from having an experienced, licensed guard making a difference. The result is that guarding is seen as a commodity to be bought at the lowest price – like potatoes.

A knock on effect of this is that recruits don’t see guarding as a career choice. They see a lack of investment, a minimum wage, and little prospect of being valued, even though they make a significant contribution to the client’s profit. This leads to recycled personnel shifting from job to job and every provider fishing out of the same pool. Guarding service providers are often hiring the same people, TUPE in and TUPE out, without showing added value for the client.

As well as hitting a ceiling in charge rates, the cost of paying employees is being pushed up by minimum wage regulation and market forces. As manned guarding profits get squeezed in the middle it’s clear that something has to give.

A key problem is that manned guarding hasn’t moved forward in the last 20 odd years. There’s been a short-sighted lack of investment in the areas that offer more for the client. What’s needed is an approach that adds value to guarding personnel and enables clients to measure that value. What’s needed is intelligence led guarding.

In an age of big data driving better decisions, we should be getting more out of our guards, by investing in the technology they work with, and by showing exactly how they’re making a difference worth investing in.

This ‘dynamic’ approach is a necessary step forward from the ‘static’ approach we have now and is a theme I’ll be returning to in the future. We’ll see how ‘the age of the app’ can make boots on the ground part of the big data revolution, giving us an intelligent guarding approach with a future, not just an undervalued past.

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1 Comment

  1. Jason, an excellent blog – great subject matter.

    Although I do not compete in your market space I do have empathy with the situation that you highlight and think that to a degree it extends across the industries various disciplines. There seems to be a view that what we do is ‘easy’ and as such it should attract low wages when the reality is that in many cases what we do is highly specialised. Our role (be it manned guarding, close protection or surveillance) can be pivotal for the businesses that we represent. I do feel that it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that we represent our particular sector to the best of our ability. I see more often than I would like to admit our representatives getting the basics wrong and by doing so damaging the reputation of the sector in the eyes of many.

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