Clients sometimes ask why our hourly security guard rate is higher than industry competitors. The short answer is: we pay our security guards more because you get what you pay for. Behind the scenes, providing professional security services requires around the clock management of a full-service infrastructure. Operations works closely with accounting so every expense and guard hour are accounted for, so our clients know exactly what they’re paying for. To that end, we’d like to present a look at the unseen costs behind providing the best in professional security guard services.
To conduct business as a security guard company, you must be licensed as a Private Detective by the County, plus have a separate Business License authorized by the Township. To obtain a license, you must have a minimum of 5 years criminal justice or law enforcement experience. The application and licensing feesa re a few hundred dollars each and must be renewed every few years. Without these licenses, you cannot employ security guards or open satellite offices. Technically, security guard employees work under the business owner’s license to operate.
Insurance & Bonding Costs
Due to the inherent risks involved in security guard services, our biggest single expense is General Liability and Worker’s Compensation insurance coverage. Our insurance premium rates are examined annually and paid monthly based on our full-time payroll. Our insurance costs alone run about six figures annually and are subject to rise if law suits are filed. With clients like construction site watches, school security, warehouse patrols, and retail establishment posts, security companies are occasionally named in law suits that have nothing to do with our performance or services.
Federal law requires that security firms offer healthcare to all full-time employees. In our case, only about 10% of our employees participate in the plan. We offer vision and dental plans that basically split the cost of healthcare with our employees. We promote our healthcare as part of our benefits package, which includes paid time off and national holidays. This expense is always changing based on the political climate and tends to climb each year.
Our security guard hiring process uses new technology, combined with old school recruiting expertise. Posting on multiple job boards comes with a monthly fee, but creates a steady flow of hundreds of resumes each month that are carefully reviewed by our salaried HR Director and support team. Our video interview platform also comes at a monthly cost and facilitates a more streamlined approach to face-to-face interviews. Even when the pandemic is over, we’ll continue paying for the video platform because it has enhanced efficiency. Each candidate is thoroughly vetted, including State and Federal background check certifications paid for by our company after a brief guard probationary period.
Once a guard is hired, they’re trained by our experienced in-house Operations, Security and Human Resource team. The curriculum includes, classroom learning, instructional videos purchased from prominent national security organizations, proprietary materials, reporting and shift scheduling technology instruction, general orientation,plus on the job management and supervision. All staff and materials are not billable. Specialized training, such as SORA, NASRO or ACT 235 Armed, is paid for by the officers, since they retain the certificate. Add in the cost of branded uniforms, radios, officer reporting software, and the expenses for guard training are substantial.
Operations & Supervisor Costs
In order for guards to perform well, they need the proper training, direction, technology, discipline and motivation. This management is made possible by our full-time supervisors. Supervisors make the initial job site visit, develop security assessments, write security directives for the guards to follow, review shift check-in/check-out times, oversee job training, respond to guard questions, fix problems and make surprise location inspections.
Every hour a guard works is accounted for by our Finance department with support and confirmation of hours from our full-time Operations and Scheduling staff. Like nearly every business with a large number of employees, we retain the services of a national payroll company to be sure our people are paid correctly. Since Scheduling is a 24/7 task, we maintain a staff of 3-4 schedulers at all times.
The Value of Peace of Mind
We all know how frustrating it is to have a question or complaint and not be able to get a real person on the line to resolve it in a timely manner. When you hire Echelon, you’re not just paying for security guards – you’re paying for the value of an experienced security solutions team that understands business and respects our clientele.
When we peek behind the curtain and add up all the unbillable expenses, it’s easier to understand the actual cost of providing truly reliable and effective security guard solutions. In an effort to be transparent, Echelon often takes the time to outline these unseen costs to our clients. In this way, they understand the benefit of paying a little more for the peace of mind that comes from working with a true security partner.