Everyone sees and feels prices rising. In the past year alone, prices increased 4.3%. The cost of food, gas, clothing, cars and trucks all have gone up because of many factors, including the pandemic. In a broad stroke, the halt of life activities in the U.S. and around the world due to public health crisis restrictions caused business to slow down or stop for most industries and individuals. Everyone struggled with the stress, but was also forced to react and reflect during the long period of uncertainty.
Businesses took stock, audited every expense, and made the necessary deep cuts. Individuals decided what was best for them and their families from a health and financial perspective. Many decided to stay at home and collect unemployment, parents faced childcare challenges, others had health concerns, and the majority were mandated to work from home. One thing is certain — everything changed. So many people left the workforce that employers had no choice but to offer higher wages, better benefits and even signing bonuses. All the uncertainty put hourly workers in the driver’s seat for the first time in decades.
Raising hourly pay to a living wage was long overdue. On January 1, 2021, the minimum wage increased to $13.00 to $14.00 per hour, depending on the number of employees a business had. Before that, the last time Congress raised the minimum wage was from $6.55 to $7.25 in the summer of 2009. And before that, the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour for a decade. Once hourly wages began to rise at the big box stores, businesses were forced to follow suit to be competitive – and the security industry is no exception.
In our case, we were already paying a few dollars more than industry standard. So, when half our security guard pool disappeared due to the pandemic, we again had to offer higher wages in order to maintain a large enough guard pool to service our clients. The median pay of our security guards has driven our labor costs up about 50% in 2021 and we have no choice but to pass that cost along to our clients. In general, our clients are not surprised at the rate increases because they’re in the same boat. Their business is returning, but they’re short-staffed and cannot recruit fast enough because the job market has drastically changed. When they can hire, they must pay more.
Solving our workforce shortages made us become more innovative. We decided to focus on leveraging our vast relationships in law enforcement and pay a premium for better security guards. We reached out to retired State Troopers, County Sheriffs and others. Although they command significantly more per hour than guards with less experience, the benefits are clear.
- Security Guards with a law enforcement background have a more professional skill set that clients appreciate.
- Security Officers with a law enforcement background have key certifications and vetting
- Private Investigators with a law enforcement background can more easily coordinate with local authorities and represent our brand better.
- Security Agents with a law enforcement background know how to take the initiative and lead.
- Bodyguards with a law enforcement background are trained to work as a team, take pride in their security assignments.
Our new inventory of higher-end security guards means our building construction, retail, hospitality, property management, event and school clients now all pay more for a security guard than they did atthe beginning of the year. It has always been true that people will pay more for a better or luxury product. In our industry, top guards equal higher-level security services — and peace of mind. The result has been that our clients are impressed with the new level of guards and have been contacting us more often with praise and high marks for our security guards.