Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Hiring a Security Company to Protect Your Business

How to Hiring a Security Company to Protect Your Business
You have made the decision to hire a security agency to protect your business, but now what?
What characteristics do you look for in a company? What questions should you ask? How do you differentiate one company from another?

Once again, Small Business Trends turned to Greg Kuhn, founder and CEO of Omega Protective Services, for advice on the matter. He recommended that small business owners consider the following six subjects, each of which he posed in the form of a question:
Ask These Questions Before Hiring Security Guards
Is the Agency Locally Owned or a National Chain?
Kuhn advised businesses to hire a locally-owned security company, one that is a small business itself.
“A small business can serve you better than a national security firm,” he said. “To them, you’re just a drop in the bucket. A small agency will pay more attention and treat you better. You’ll have the bosses phone number, not some call center.”

How Customer Service Oriented Is the Company?
Kuhn said you want to find a company that puts a priority on customer service.
“Security is the number goal, of course, but following that is customer service,” he said. “If you come up with a company that does not have that as a priority, don’t hire them.”
Is Security the Company’s Main Focus?
You want to learn whether or not security is the company’s sole business or if it’s an add-on to other services, such as cleaning, parking or landscaping, Kuhn said. He advised hiring an agency that specializes in the type of security you need.

“If you’re hosting an event, seek out an event security company,” he said. “If you need armed bodyguard services, pinpoint one that specializes in that. If it’s warehouse security, locate a firm that has deep experience in that area.”
Does the Company Offer Uniform Options?
Kuhn asked, “Does the security company you’re considering offer different choices in uniforms that fit the occasion?”
He cited options such as police-style uniforms, polo shirts, t-shirts, suit and tie and plain clothes.
“If the company only offers one uniform — the police-style with shoulder patches and black striped pants, for instance — keep looking, unless that’s what best fits your needs.”

What Is the Company’s Reputation?
Google makes it easy to determine a company’s reputation (complaints are often the first results to surface), but refrain from limiting your research to keyword searches only. Look at ratings and review sites like Yelp, and reference social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out the agency’s Better Business Bureau rating.
Another idea: Ask the company for client references and speak with them, to learn whether they were satisfied with the work done.

Kuhn even suggests finding out how the agency’s employees feel about working there.
“That may be difficult to figure out,” he said, “but by meeting with representatives of the company you can get a feel for their attitude.”
Is the Company Willing to Accommodate Your Needs?
“Will the company work with your schedule, particularly if it involves varying hours,” Kuhn asked. “If it’s not willing to accommodate you, it’s not looking for your business.”
He also advised asking if the agency is amenable to supplying guards short-term, — during the holidays, for example — or if it requires a long-term contract. The more flexible, the better, Kuhn said.
Other Security-related Hiring Issues to Consider
Here are three other issues to consider, in addition to those Kuhn suggested:

Is the Company Licensed and Insured?

The agency should be able to supply valid, current state licenses and show proof of insurance. Scrutinize the insurance to ensure it adequately covers your situation (one million dollars is the standard). Forms of insurance include workman’s comp, auto liability and general liability. Ask that it adds your business as an “additionally insured.”

How Well-trained are the Guards?

Regardless of the company you are considering or the type of service you need, hiring guards who are properly trained is vital to your business’s welfare. Otherwise, you run the risk of guards who are ill-prepared to handle emergency situations or manage even routine tasks. Ask what type of training the company provides and whether it meets or exceeds state requirements. If the latter, ask in what ways and be specific.

How Much Will It Cost?

While you may not want to hire the company that submits the lowest bid, depending on the qualifications, you should ask the following questions of all those you interview:
How frequently with the firm bill for services rendered: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
Will it charge a flat monthly rate, a uniform hourly rate for all employees or a different hourly rate for each employee? (Hourly rates may be a better fit for your budget if you only need help seasonally, for events or part-time.)

Does your business have to cover costs for uniforms, equipment and supplies?
Are there add-ons the agency supplies at no cost to you?
Of course, the most critical question to ask is whether or not the total estimated average monthly cost fits within your budget?

As you can see from this list, price is only one of many factors to consider. Choosing a low-ball figure can cost you in the caliber of services rendered and the quality of the guards assigned. Just as with many other business-related expenses, when it comes to security, you get what you pay for.

Tips to Train Temporary Workers During the Busy Holiday Season

Many businesses hire additional workers during the holiday season to help with increased demand. This year, retailers are expected to employ between 640,000 and 690,000 temporary workers, according to the National Retail Federation.
Improperly trained temporary hires can present workplace safety risks. A 2014 study conducted by Travelers Insurance found that 28 percent of injuries happen within the first year of employment.
Don’t Skimp on Seasonal Employee Safety Training
Woody Dwyer and Scott Humphrey, risk control specialists with Travelers, spoke with Small Business Trends via telephone and provided the following ten safety training tips.
1. Instill a Safety-first Mindset
Every business should instill in temporary hires a safety-first mindset from the outset. That includes helping employees understand the business’s expectations related to the particular job for which they are being hired.
“If employers don’t tell employees what to expect, they will bring their own set of expectations to the job,” Dwyer said. “You can’t just assume people will follow safe practices, which is why safety orientation is so important, to help employees keep safety top of mind.”
2. Clearly Communicate Job Requirements
Seasonal workers need to understand the job requirements clearly so that when they start they won’t be shocked.
“Post-hire shock is one of the main reasons employees quit,” Humphrey said. “They find out the job was not what they expected it to be.”
3. Conduct Functional Capacity Evaluations
Along with clearly communicating the job requirements, employers should conduct what Dwyer and Humphrey call functional capacity evaluations.
“When you hire a new employee, ensure that they can handle the physical demands associated with the job, such as picking up heavy packages,” Dwyer said. “The same holds true when an employee returns to work following an injury.”
4. Mentor New Employees
Many companies have instituted mentoring programs to help new hires learn the ropes. That means, rather than merely telling someone what to do, show them, and then monitor their progress. When they fail to meet the guidelines, coach them until they get it right.
5. Prepare Employees for Changes in Store Layout
During the holiday season, there may be potential alterations made to the store, such as changes to the layout or added Christmas decorations.
“Make sure new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities,” Dwyer said. “While they may have a lot of industry experience, your unique facility is still unfamiliar territory for them.”
6. Train Workers to Manage Inventory Safely
Stores carry a higher volume of goods during the holidays, which may result in warehousing items at higher than shoulder height. Train employees in proper material handling, lifting techniques and ladder safety.
7. Teach New Employees to Take Their Time
“New workers want to please their employer,” said Dwyer, “which may mean they rush around, hurrying to accomplish assigned tasks. That could result in slips, trips or falls. Rather, teach these employees to take their time. That’s part of the safety-first mindset.”
8. Do Background Checks
Companies should make sure that delivery drivers hired during the holiday season have valid driver’s licenses. Also, do a background check, to ensure they have no violations.
9. Choose Smart Decorations
Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays and products. Some Christmas decorations could be combustible, which increases the risk of fire and, as a result, injury or worse. Dwyer and Humphrey recommend that businesses keep decorations away from heat sources. If candles are used, select the battery-operated kind.
Also, secure decorations properly so that foot traffic can navigate around them safely. This is particularly true when it comes to large displays.
Dwyer provided this additional advice: “Be sure you are not covering up emergency exit signs, over-crowding aisle ways or any place that would make it difficult to get out in an emergency situation. Also, don’t string multiple extension cords together, to extend a decoration to an area a single plug can’t reach. Not only could this result in a trip and fall incident, but could also be a fire hazard.”
10. Talk to an Insurance Agent
A final tip, said Dwyer and Humphrey, is for the business owner to speak with his insurance agent in advance, to ensure he has the proper coverage.
“An experienced agent can help small business owners understand how to keep their stores festive, yet hazard free, during the holidays,” they said.

Small Businesses Losing the Struggle

Need a tech expert? Chances are, you’re not looking for some Silicon Valley hotshot to fill a vacancy within your small business.
It’s just not happening.

New data from Indeed is backing that up. In fact, it’s backing it up, putting it in bold and underlining it.
Small businesses are struggling to find tech talent to add to their teams. And the struggle is real.
High Competition for Tech Talent
“What we’re seeing is that the competition for tech talent is getting even more fierce,” says Terence Chiu, the vice president of Indeed Prime.
According to a recent survey of SBOs, 84 percent say they find it “challenging” or “very challenging” to hire tech talent.
And the amount of time it takes to find anyone is getting longer. A total of 71 percent of small business owners say the time to find someone has increased in the last 3 years.

Holding Small Businesses Back
Hiring tech talent isn’t just some pie-eyed fantasy. A lot of small business owners contacted by Indeed believe that having the right tech expert on board is key to growth.
Nearly all small business owners contacted — 88 percent — say that having access to this tech talent regularly would make their company more innovative.
Not having this talent on board is not only holding the company back, it’s bringing it down. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed — 84 percent — say that the inability to hire tech experts has:
Stunted revenue,
Slowed production and company expansion, and
Increased employee tension and burnout.
What’s Behind the Struggle?

As is usually the case with in-demand positions, small businesses are second in line. Job seekers are looking for handsome compensation and small businesses struggle to be able to provide that.
Tech job seekers tend to have a younger field of applicants. These are the candidates less likely to be searching for the autonomy that small businesses generally offer.

Look Elsewhere
It’s important to note that this survey finds it’s difficult — at least others have found it so — to hire top tech talent. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
“On the bright side, if you’re able to look beyond the tech-centric markets such as Silicon Valley you may have an advantage. Tech job seekers are realizing the cost of living advantages in other rising tech hub regions, places like Boston or Austin or even Los Angeles and Seattle,” Chiu says. “Additionally, evaluations such as code challenges can help a company find those diamonds in the rough that are often overlooked by bigger companies.”