Contract Management for Security Providers

One of the biggest challenges that the majority of the security companies will have to deal with is not so much being able to obtain a contract, but to be able to properly maintain that contract once it’s signed and done. We are all quite aware of how many times the intricate contracts for various clients have changed hands over the years. While some might think it is hard to land a good contract, maintaining it professionally and properly while providing what you are being paid for may be very difficult for some companies. According to numerous studies, the average company loses nearly 10% of their clients due to their poor contract management. Why is that? Well, managing contracts (and the corresponding projects) is an overlooked form of corporate leadership and a large part of a company’s operational function and market viability. Project and contract managers must be able to interact frequently with their agents in the field, subcontractors, vendors, stakeholders, family offices and, more often as not, the client himself/herself.

‘’The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) identifies 7 major areas of contract management weakness:

  • Disagreement regarding contract scope
  • Weaknesses in contract change management/retention
  • Performance failures due to over-commitment
  • Performance issues related to a disagreement/misunderstanding over what was committed or requested
  • Inappropriate contract structures
  • Disputes over pricing
  • Issues with subcontractors’’

Now let’s discuss some of the most common causes that may cost a security provider one of their contracts:

  1. You are charging significantly more than is proper (Faulty Pricing)

At some point we have to admit that quite a number of companies will overcharge a client merely because of who the client is and not particularly what their security needs or threat level may be. You cannot begin to expect one client/contract to change your own wealth status or single handedly build your company’s gross revenue and/or profit. It is neither ethical nor professional for your corporation to make 2 to 3 times more profit than the agents working the detail on the ground. We all have our levels of operational expenses, but don’t pass that bill on to the client or your protective agents. Make a profit, but make one within logical expectations.

2. You are ‘’suffocating’’ your  client

Either: A) You have placed more agents than are needed (Again, this comes back around to profit: The more agents  on the ground, the more you can charge), B) Your agents are not exercising proper situational awareness and how to be flexible with protection levels versus the client’s perception of asphyxiation, or C) The company holding the contract has not done a proper Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Assessment and/or are not trained, experienced or knowledgeable enough to ascertain proper staffing and logistics. Some companies will ‘’overreact’’ on the threat level to make their services appear quite necessary to the client, while in reality, achieving the opposite result.

3. Not being able to provide services as promised

A protective detail is comprised of many elements and sometimes you have to be able to provide additional services as you go. You must be the one who can foresee what is or will be needed and provide it before the client even asks for it. We have heard of many companies who fail to render even the basics of what they agreed to provide. We have seen details operating with less manpower than what was requested or changing the personnel so often because they fail to keep the professional agents or cannot staff it properly. Have in mind, clients need stability and familiarity and will become unsettled when they see or must become accustomed to new faces.

4. Failure to accommodate clients needs and solve operational issues (Lack of Customer Insight)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The client is always right”, correct? Well, from the moment you signed that contract, you alone are the one who must do whatever it takes to construct a smooth protective detail and provide peace of mind to the person who hired you. You alone are the one who must be stressed, work long hours and find a way to solve any issue with the security team or the client’s needs, not the client. It must appear as though all is under control and operational.

5. You are not providing services to a level or standard that is expected and required

We can all agree that our prospective clients will want 3 things: A) To be protected, B) To have the best close protection agents, staff and logistics that their finances can obtain (they fully believe they are paying for the best either way) and C) To have peace of mind. If your corporation is hiring unqualified, unprofessional or unethical agents, or utilizing contractors of the same substandard quality because you refuse to pay for the ‘’good ones’’, the client will soon start looking for another company.

6. Your Project or Contract Manager has no vested interest in the contract (Neglected Contracts)

This occurs so many times when the person who is working for an ‘A’ list company, as a Project or Contract manager, simply doesn’t care to deal with the issues, stay intricately involved or maintain the contract for his company. Most fail to have good communication skills, which is one of the key elements when dealing with clients, vendors, staff, stakeholders or agents in the field. How you communicate during common, day to day interactions with people or personalities will be just as valuable, or more in some cases, as to how you react during a crisis situation and the solutions you are expected to provide. Merely having a project or contract manager on your staff isn’t nearly enough. You must have an individual who can be extremely flexible, can develop a strategy out of thin air and be able to solve complex issues, without raising undue alarm, if they arise.

      While these are just a few of the common pitfalls that a contract manager may find themselves encumbered with, each client and contract are unique and every company needs their respective contract managers to be creative, innovative, and highly observational so as to catch any of these issues far before they become problematic and present solutions to overcome them. Our task is not just to sell the client on our services and then walk away, but we are expected to, and should without failure, continue to provide the highest level of service and commitment to our clients that they have come to expect. The sale is the easy part…How we treat and care for the client and their contract once we sign on  the dotted line will either build our reputation and lead to more success or it will cause a loss of trust and failure that cannot be easily repaired or regained resulting in the loss of the contract.

Chris Grow

AUS Global Special Services Travel Team

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide & Nannyguards

Managing Partner LeMareschal LLC

Is the warrior mindset right for our profession?

 

We know what the Term “Warrior Mindset” is supposed to mean.

It is having the emotional drive and mental preparedness to think through the problem, fight through the problem and then not stopping until you are satisfied with the solution. While this works well on the battlefield, can we assume that this “mindset” will work in the Executive Protection Industry?

Who hasn’t heard the term “Warrior Mindset”? It brings to mind a soldier on a battlefield, covered in blood and dirt, with either a sword or a battle rifle, surrounded by the bodies of his fallen enemies.

It also brings to mind a person who wakes up at 5 a.m. and runs 5 miles, before he does 100 push-ups and then still hits the speed bag, all before 6 a.m., then calmly walks into the board room at 9 a.m. and conquers the world with the confidence of a 5 star General.

The negative of this vision however, is the tanned muscular former soldier that still has his mustache and goatee left over from Afghanistan, standing around in his name-brand tactical pants, with his eyes covered by his name-brand sunglasses and his finger indexed over his name-brand rifle.  Let’s not forget his name-brand hat that he doesn’t have the decency to remove when he enters a room, or the name-brand chewing tobacco he won’t spit out before he speaks. And the battlefield language and military vernaculars he uses to insure that everyone around him knows he is (or was) a soldier.

So the question really isn’t whether the Warrior Mindset will work, or has a place in our profession of Executive Protection, it is whether the person hired for the job can adapt the warrior mindset to our profession with the appropriate amount of finesse, etiquette, good manners, consideration and common decency, all of which are ignored in combat training.

It is possible to take children who were raised with good manners and turn them into foot soldiers, or take soldiers with no social polish and train them as officers, (understanding that officers are taught civility, manners and etiquette as part of their training and operating protocols), but it is almost impossible to convince a billionaire businessman that a Neanderthal can fly jet fighters or that an infantry soldier can wear a suit and blend in with a group of world class business leaders.

So the question has to be answered with another question:

Is it possible to hire a person with the “Warrior Mindset” who also possesses the other qualities desired by the client?

To answer that question, you have to ask the client what they expect.

Since every client is different and each of their needs and risk scenarios is different, an extensive client questionnaire must be completed and analyzed in order to interview, handpick and if needed, train the right individual for the job.

In preparation for this article, I contacted several past clients for whom I no longer provide service and reviewed about 40 questionnaires files. Here are comments from the majority of the clients questioned along with the most desired qualifications:

  • Minimum of a high school diploma
  • Have 10 client references and 10 personal references
  • Speak, read and write in the language of the country you operate in.
  • Height not over 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) for men
  • Height not over 5 feet 9 inches (175.26 cm) for women
  • Weight not over 220 lbs men, 160 lbs women for max height.
  • 35 to 50 years of age
  • Manicured or at least well groomed nails. (men and women)
  • Know how to tell time and ALWAYS be 15 minutes early.
  • Be fiscally responsible with the client’s money
  • Don’t talk too much but always have an answer to any question
  • Smile, be polite, speak quietly but with authority
  • Don’t get too friendly or too comfortable with the client
  • Be both typing and computer literate
  • No visible tattoos. (This means outside of a bathing suit line)
  • No piercings other than ladies earlobes (None for men)
  • No habits.(smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco, chewing gum, biting nails, picking nose, sniffing…….)
  • No facial hair. (this includes mustaches, beards, and sideburns)
  • No strong perfumes or colognes
  • Must wear antiperspirant and deodorant
  • Never out-dress the client (no jewelry or expensive watches, no cuff-links, no bright scarves or ties, no designer suits or shoes, no three-piece or double-breasted suites, and ladies…. No dresses……ever).
  • Men, no hair on the collar. Women, hair tied back in a bun. No ponytails for women or men.
  • Only one button undone below the collar when a tie is not worn
  • If you carry it, know how to use it. (this includes weapons of any kind, electronic devices including cell phones and counter-surveillance equipment)
  • Know how to drive and how to prepare the car for the client
  • Know business and dining etiquette
  • Know how to lose an argument gracefully.
  • Know how to say please, thank you, good night and good-bye.
One thing to consider is that if a person won’t shave and cut their hair in order to get hired, how difficult is it going to be to manage them?
Notice on this list that Shooting and martial arts was not even referenced or mentioned.  So before you agree to work for your next client, ask yourself if you or your team members fit the client’s overall needs and if the Warrior Mindset fits the client’s needs? Regardless of the answer, you are the one that has to adapt.
John Lehman
Vice President
Athena Academy & Athena Worldwide