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

Mentoring Security Professionals

We will be launching a series of educational webinars that are absolutely free to attend. The aim of the webinars won’t be to present people and their past stories, but to have specific guests who will combine their experience and training in the industry in order to teach you something new, to help your professional development and to provide consultation for you. They will share their opinions, the “do and don’ts” of the industry and answer your questions.

And the best part? The content of each webinar will be developed by you! While we are working on our next webinars, let us know either by a comment here or via email at info@lemareschal.com what topics would you be interested in having discussed, answered and/or receive consultation on? This is a webinar created for you, by you!

Things to consider before you hire an Executive Protection team aka Bodyguards

 To all CEOs, celebrities, VIPs and high value individuals…

At some point in your careers, you will most likely find the need to retain, or at the very least, inquire about close protection services for yourselves, your loved ones and possibly for those you employ closest to you.
      Now, the list of companies and corporations that provide these type of services is quite lengthy and, while at first they all appear very impressive, you need to be thorough as you take a deep look at them and the ideals and morals they represent. Again, you are searching for the perfect fit that best protects yourselves, your families, employees and all things that you need secured and confidential.
      A quite disturbing trend as of late has been the repeated posting of pics with you as the client, at your locations and in front of your vehicles, private planes, residences, etc. while boasting about the details of who you might be, what was happening or other items of a secure nature. Now, this is entirely unacceptable no matter what the terms or conditions of their employment may be with you. You, and all that that may encompass, are to be secure, confidential and invisible for all intents and purposes. Period.
      Social media has become the source of all communications amongst a great number of these entities and this in turn has led to a trend of exposing enormous amounts of confidential client information when it is not only unnecessary but highly unprofessional and, frankly, childish. At times, it has even been portrayed as “marketing” when, in it’s true form, it’s nothing more than schoolyard bragging.
      So, when researching a prospective organization that you perceive may be the one you will choose, a thorough search of all related social media should be performed. The company’s sites, the reviews and even the social media sites of any/all possible employees that you might hire from their corporation. If they are willing to expose their previous clients with seemingly reckless abandon, you will most likely be the next celebrity/VIP pic that hits the Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn circuit and that is, I’m quite sure, not your desire at all.
      Many companies will show an endless supply of “tactical” pictures, extreme condition photos, worst case scenario snapshots, etc. Please understand that most of the organizations are composed of a large number of former military members, former LEO/SWAT members and private security contractors who have “been there & done that”. But it is always wise to remember that while these skills are highly advantageous should everything go tragically wrong in your day, these type of days should never happen if the proper planning is performed which is completely above and beyond the “hard skills” as they are often referred to.
      Another highly recommended item is a detailed NDA and total social media blackout for all involved. Leave nothing to chance and be very clear regarding the seriousness that this represents to you and the severity of disciplinary action should it be violated. Again, you and all you hold most dear are to be secure, confidential and private and definitely NOT on the front page of a local newspaper, tabloid, media page or out to the highest bidder.
      Always remember this…You came looking to us with your concerns and fears, placing your overall well-being in our capable hands. With that in mind, you should always feel protected, safe and secure from anyone or anything that might wish to harm you. And that harm should NEVER be at the hands of the very people whom you have so willingly trusted to provide the very best security, protection and peace of mind.

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

At Athena Worldwide we are industry leaders for promoting, training and staffing female bodyguards internationally. With our affiliate offices, we can provide world-wide close protection and executive protection services for entertainment professionals, politicians, CEOs, Royal Families, journalists, clergy and corporate personnel. Want to find out more about female bodyguards? visit www.athenaworldwide.com

How do you properly handle your client’s budget?

 One of the most serious of all professional deadly sins in our industry is the overcharging of the client or spending his/her money unreasonably and/or unwisely. We have seen too many companies presenting the “threat” to be much bigger than it truly is so they can cause more fear and create a dependency from the client and assign more bodies on the ground. The more bodies you have on the ground, the more money you can charge. The problem with this is not only the unethical portion but also, at some point, the client or someone from his company who is in charge of the security budget will sit down, evaluate and decide you are ”too much”, cutting down on the number of agents, simply decide to go with another security provider or, worst-case scenario, accuse you of fraud and unnecessary overbilling and take legal action against you.

   What most people don’t know is that someone who is going to reach out to you for his/her protection, either needs it or thinks he/she needs it. They want to hire a company and be done with it. Replacing you or searching for another provider is something they want to avoid, if at all possible. Those clients are looking for stability so if they seek to replace you, chances are your services are lacking something important or there is something wrong with the numbers you are charging.  How many of you have started with a team that the number of agents has been reduced to even half after a couple of months? Overcharging can be quite damaging to your contract as it will clearly show you are taking advantage of said client.

    Another issue that can make clients go searching elsewhere for services is how you manage their budget. We all know those operatives who will order the most expensive dish on the menu ”just because the client is paying”, or those operatives who will charge for services outside of the clients’ responsibility for their expenses while on duty. Yes, there has been that CPO who charged the client for that expensive spa treatment, or the massage, or the most expensive wine bottle for room service, or that one who demanded first-class airline tickets…and the list with the real-life cases goes on. 

    Just because a client is taking care of your expenses during your rotation/duty hours, it doesn’t mean in any way that you should take advantage of or abuse his/her budget or money. And often as not, this expensive lifestyle you are witnessing is THEIRS, not yours. Remember your place and who you are to the client and to the detail. If the client offers something, be grateful but always keep in mind, that was a one-time thing, not a proposition to continue with some type of spending spree on the detail’s part. 

     These types of protection professionals and their corresponding behavior show the level of how unprofessional they are and how much they disrespect the fact that someone else is kind enough to provide for all their costs while they are in the client’s employ. A CPO who knows how to properly manage his/her client’s money will always go much further and always be considered and thought of as a real professional.

Denida Zinxhiria Grow

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaworldwide.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

What kind of a security business leader are you?

Over the last 10 years, I have written a few hundred articles and granted interviews related to protective work within our industry. I have almost always addressed topics of interest from the perspective of a Close Protection Operative or directed advice or opinions toward the CPO.

As threats change with the times, the topics of discussion must change and occasionally we have to address an old topic from a fresh perspective. This article is directed to the security company Owner or Manager and addresses a more mundane yet equally important topic: INTEGRITY.

What many company owners and managers will tell you they are looking for when hiring someone to work for them (and represent their companies), is loyalty, dedication, hard-working, punctual, positive attitude, team player, ethical, honest, law abiding, professional. It shouldn’t be surprising but many employees are looking for the same qualities in a company’s top leaders.

Most of us as Managers, CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, or other Owners fail to remember that when our company is awarded a contract and we hire people to work for us, our organization’s integrity is judged by, and dependent upon our employees.  So as important as they are to us, why did they suddenly resign?

Most successful protection organizations are managed by company Owners, Managers or CEOs who have been operatives at some point in their careers, so it should be hard to understand how they would neglect their employees, but it does happen all the times, and I do understand.

Below I will try to point out some issues that allow for a toxic work environment for both employers and employees which lead to turn over and poor loyalty.

Each company has its own vision and goal. The question is: are you as the creator or guardian of that vision as loyal to it today as you were on day one? Are you loyal to the people who work for you, to what your company represents, to the profession? Or are you ‘’bending’’ your own work ethic or clouding your company’s vision for that monthly check? Great operatives sometimes work for organizations that have cut corners, lagged behind in paying their employees, failed to support their employees, siding instead with the client, and forcing employees to quit before it was time to give them a raise. If you think that your employees won’t quit and inform everyone they know (including your competitors), about your conduct, you are wrong.

Are you on time with your responsibilities toward the people that work for you? Are they getting paid for their working hours/days expenses and benefits on time? “I HAVEN’T BEEN PAID BY THE CLIENT YET” is not an excuse for not paying your operatives on time. Operating a business and hiring people means you have a specific amount of capitol you must set aside to insure payroll. Failing to achieve payroll independence probably means you are mismanaging your profits and maybe your company. Do you return phone calls promptly? Do you promise performance raises at 6 months of employment and then wait for the employee to beg you for it at 7 months?

Are you honest regarding employment contracts? There are companies who practice “Shadow Contracting”, which uses two sets of terms: one for the clients and one for the operatives. The difference between the two are the services promised to the client within the terms of service and what the operative believes they are signing up for in pay, working conditions, risk and support. In most cases, the client is unaware of this.

Additionally, when you hire a CPO, you informed them about the initial threat assessment, so until they get their foot in the door and deal in real time with the client and his environment and do their own assessment they have to rely on what you know. As we know, in our line of work, the threat level is, in part, what sets the cost for our services. Some organizations will not inform an operative of the real threat level in order to pay the operative less.

Are you a law abiding professional? Unfortunately we have seen people with criminal records running security businesses or Managers who don’t mind hiring employees who have prior problems with the law or regulatory authorities, who add them to their company administration or to their CP teams.

These decisions initially affect the CP effort but quickly destroy the trust and loyalty in the organization as a whole and eventually the Client relationship.

Are you a team player? I have heard the phrase “I want you to see our company as your family”, many times.  This is a hollow statement because:

  • They already have a family.
  • They are usually under a contract with a time limit
  • They will never feel like family when your family and friends are in all of the key positions or in charge of the operations.

As a business owner, manager or CEO you have to think ahead and take care of your people. Some contracts require assignments in distant cities or other countries. Those people, who work for you, protect your client and basically make money for you and are away from their homes and families, possibly in a different culture, unfriendly country or in a domestic environment which tests their patience, fidelity, fitness and temperament.  Are you focusing on what the CP needs to succeed 20 or 30 or 60 or 90 days into their assignment? Are you watching for complacency and prepared to replace or rotate your CPO’s if complacency or boredom becomes apparent? Did you remember to add this possibility in the client’s contract and explain that the CPO the client starts with may not be the one they end up with?

Do you regularly check to insure that your CPO’s do not exceed 10 hours a day in service and that they receive proper time for rest or rehabilitation or training or fitness? Did you put these terms into the contract? Did you secure a retainer?

Recently, I was made aware of a female CPO that took an assignment in a country she had not worked in before. She took the assignment with a signed contract which she was awarded because of her experience working with and protecting children. She was promised a weekly bi-weekly paycheck, time off, 10 hour days, clothing, food, lodging, travel and other allowance “reimbursements” and was furnished equipment. Within 30 days, she was behind 2 paychecks, out of personal money due to not being reimbursed, was working 18 hours a day, was being berated daily by the client’s wife, not allowed to discipline or correct a spoiled child and was not accustomed to the local exotic diet which was her only source of food, resulting in her being sick and under nourished much of the time she was in the country.  Additionally, she was not able to leave once she decided to do so and had to work an additional 4 months before finally being paid an adequate amount of money to allow her to “escape”. She has not yet been paid the balance of what is owed her and has no legal means of demanding or recovering her earnings. The company is still in business and continues its practices. It has no loyalty and the internet is now peppered with negative comments about it.

If you see fallacies in your corporate hiring and management practices or are experiencing a high turnover in CPO’s or your management staff, spend some money on a private consultant. They can evaluate your practices for far less than what you are losing in lost contracts and overtime or training costs due to employee turn-over. Having the right people working for your company and stay with you for a long time is the best investment you can do.

End f the day, while you are running your own security firm take some time to remember where you came from and guard your reputation within the industry.

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide LLC

Athena Academy 

Nannyguards®

www.athenaacademy.com

www.nannyguards.com

Proud Member of International Security Driver Association (ISDA)

http://isdacenter.org/

 

Interpersonal skills for security professionals

You paid thousands of dollars for training and thousands more on equipment, firearms and clothing. Add in the cost of travel, hotels, meals, time off of work and other expenses and you are finally qualified for work, according to you. But what does the Client value in a protector? It may be no surprise that interpersonal skills top the list. Good manners, eye contact, a firm handshake, a timely smile, and an expansive vocabulary are just the tip of the iceberg. Knowing how to negotiate, and more, knowing when to remain silent are also key to a Client choosing you over an ex-WPPS Private Military Contractor.

After decades in the protection industry, it is continually apparent that while “fieldcraft“ is absolutely valuable and indeed essential to a Client’s required prerequisites, it is the “intellectual” skillset with which the Client has the greatest exposure, (and hardest time finding).

Many laugh when first hearing about interpersonal skills in the personal protection industry. They believe that as long the client is safe, nothing else matters. We all know that we are getting paid for that 0,1% chance that may require us to respond to a threat and “save the client”, but the rest of our time will be spent interacting with the client, their family members, employees, domestic staff, and our own colleagues. And just as important are the paparazzi and the public, both of whom have cameras in hand. One wrong comment or gesture and the Client’s embarrassment results in your termination, and possibly a civil action.

Social interaction requires specific interpersonal skills. Your ability to react or reply appropriately is crucial. Using the wrong words with the wrong person and your years in the sand box or skill with firearms won’t save you. You will be fired within seconds.  It happens every day and some of you won’t even know why.

Below we will try to give you some tips from ours as well as our colleagues experience and mistakes and even included some comments from past clients.

Your relationship with the client:

If you have any understanding of the industry at all, you know that you are with a client because someone within the client’s entourage has a fear that you have convinced them you can quash. In a combat zone, there is real fear of capture or death. In a large city in America, spy photos of the client out in public, drinking with friends, and in Mexico, Kidnapping. In many instances, you may be with the client 10 to 16 hours a day. So how do you spend that much time with them or their family, under that kind of stress without getting emotionally connected to them? Stick to the old adage: “Be seen and not heard”.

First of all keep in mind that the client is the one paying you, no matter how unrealistic his requests may be, you must adapt to his ‘’wants’’ and ‘’security needs’’. You may not be allowed to do what the job requires or have the manpower or equipment needed but you will have to adapt and do your job with what you have. You may be asked to be in position X and not Y because the client doesn’t feel comfortable otherwise. Consider too that it is also difficult for someone to get used to the idea of having strangers around them with every step they take and with every person they meet. Consider what you are doing that might be adding to or reducing their tension. Talking, staring, where you are standing, your cologne, or your actions can all add to a client’s frustrations.

The professional is one who can work with the difficult client, not the other way around. If you are lucky enough to work for that easy going client good for you, but most of the time you will have to deal with people that will test your limits. Have you ever had a client ask you to protect him but not to be within sight of him?

New professionals usually ask how they would deal with different challenges, like “what if the client asks me to have a drink with him”? What if the client asks you to do things that are out of your area of responsibility?

If you are a Close Protection Operative of the opposite sex of your client, then be prepared to deal with even more difficult situations. Traditionally mixing stress and fear with the comfort a protector can bring and the power and wealth of a client, (or his wife), and an opportunity……

Every one of us, client or Close Protection Operative (CPO), have different, social backgrounds and if you add to that different cultures then be ready to deal with more difficulties.

 

Boundaries

For many of us who have spent years in this business, (If we are successful enough to still be in this business), we have learned where our boundaries lie. If you are new in the business consider that boundaries exist for all of us. The client has them and so do you. When we are hired to protect a person, we are actually being allowed to step far inside their boundaries but they should not be allowed to step too far into ours. We will see a client in their most private and vulnerable moments, but what happens to our persona as “protector” if they see our weaknesses and vulnerabilities? And what happens if someone outside the client’s circle identifies our weaknesses or vulnerabilities?

How do we identify a client’s boundaries, and how do we educate them on ours? It’s really very simple; we ask. We should consider their social and moral code, their habits, vices and health issues and their fears. Sitting down with the client and discussing their needs and simply asking them where their boundaries are and letting them know ours is crucial to the success of a long term assignment. It may be no big deal for a client to ask you to enter a room where they are using drugs in a party setting or where he and his wife are in bed, but this may be beyond your comfort zone, (your boundary).

What is the difference between professionalism and friendship? Here is a simple rule: “You can’t buy friendship”. If you are being paid, you can’t be friends. If you want to be friends, stop taking the client’s money. Crossing the boundary between Professional and Friend is never successful.

From my personal experience I have found that when I was acting strictly professional the client was uncomfortable. Our task is to make them feel safe but when we appear ‘’untouchable’’ they believe we don’t understand their fears or what they’re going through. It is very important for them to feel we understand them. It is not easy to be the client….Sometimes they will open up and talk to us and we must show them we are listening. This is not friendship. This is part of our job.

If you get too friendly, then automatically your professionalism will suffer in your client’s eyes.  Not because he doesn’t trust you anymore but because your laps in professionalism suggests to him that you won’t be taking your job as serious as is needed.

Consider how Psychologists work. They cannot offer professional counseling to people who are in their family or with whom they are friends. They certainly cannot start dating a client.

It is understood that you may share many hours with the client. Talk to him only when he talks to you or when you have to say something that affects his safety. Avoid starting a conversation but always be friendly if the client decides to speak to you. If you are asked a question, try to answer it with a single sentence.

Your relationship with the client’s family members will have to be the same. Don’t be too friendly with them or other staff or guests. Remember who hired you and why. Remember who cuts your check and who ultimately you serve. You should answer to only one person. If you assist or serve anyone else, it must be with the approval of the client and then only at no cost to them.

If you appear too unapproachable or “hard”, you will intimidate those you are serving. Too approachable and the family and everyone else will feel comfortable approaching you. And it will always happen when you need to be focused. Take a middle position with your client which is addressed with professionalism. Again, prior to accepting your contract you must clarify from whom you will be given orders and directions regarding your work.

As a CPO your job is to protect you client’s life and image. You are not there to carry their briefcase or shopping bags, etc. You also should not be carrying the client’s child on your hip, or holding doors open or performing domestic chores. Remember to keep your hands free.

Don’t be afraid to say “no” when you are asked to perform duties which are outside of your role. The client is hiring a CPO not a maître ’de or a butler. It is professional to politely refuse to perform a task outside of your agreed responsibilities instead of accepting it and putting in danger a client or your life. He has hired you to provide security services and nothing else.

The client must see you as an educated, well trained, experienced and professional person, and it is up to you alone to earn his respect. If your client respects you then any of your suggestions concerning his safety will be accepted by him positively.

Alcohol? NO, NEVER, EVER…..while working. But……

What if your client calls you for a drink or coffee while you’re not on duty? In this case you have to ask why he is calling you. Does he see you as a friend or do you think he wants something unrelated to work or to talk about your work? First, remain professional. If your client calls, you respond. Then avoid alcohol at all cost. Consider that in many countries and especially in the United States, if you are in possession of a firearm and you are questioned by police with alcohol in your system, you will be arrested.

Physical Relationships

Sometimes the most dangerous trap a CPO may fall into is to have a physical relationship with his client or the client’s spouse. Remember that movie where the bodyguard was sleeping with his client? Art sometimes copies life. Being emotionally involved with your client, (or anyone in their circle), no matter how unprofessional we see it, has happened with some colleagues. Understand that if this occurs, the CPO is always at fault. Because the client is dependent on you, they may be more likely to share raw emotion with you or let you all the way in to that last boundary, the personal physical boundary. Take advantage of this vulnerability and you are solely to blame. And if you think you found the love of your life, you will be replaced by the next person the client sees power or an emotional investment in. And who is going to write you that professional referral letter then?

Sexual Harassment is rampant in our profession. Male CPOs are approached by everyone who is attracted to the perceived power of the protector or by anyone trying to get to the client or get into the client’s circle. But if you are a female CPO it is much worse. You will get barraged from both males and females, clients, their family members, friends and then your colleagues. Additionally, sometimes due to culture, there are those who believe that because they hired you to protect them you are there also for ‘’extra services’’. There have been cases like these which have been unreported to authorities but are a common problem within the female CPO industry. Again, that sit down meeting with the client prior to taking the job is strongly suggested.

 

Your relationship with colleagues:

During our career we will have to work along with people who don’t share the same work ethic, qualifications, training and experience, background, morals or values with us. So whether we like or dislike someone, we shouldn’t allow it to affect our professionalism. Our first loyalty is the client’s safety and the study and mastering of the art and skill toward this goal. Our second loyalty is to the industry to which we have dedicated our lives. Loyalty to our colleagues falls within this, not the other way around.

As we all know, Close Protection is a profession that is unfortunately void of professional standards and requirements. Each country, and even each State has its own licensing or training requirements and in many cases no training is required at all. In light of this, you realize that you have to work to solidify a team with people who bring with them different experience, skills, training disciplines, standards, professionalism, culture, and ethics in the same way a sports team or elite military unit has to work through individual differences to become a uniquely cohesive team.

It is very important that each one on the team promote and maintain a strong working relationship  with the others as well as the client, and of course other people who we may be in contact with (house personnel, office staff etc).

Some of the people you are working with may have more or less skill and may be younger or older. So in each situation you must address your issues with them with respect. Never offend anyone no matter the reason, never correct someone while anyone else in present. If you believe they made a mistake you can ask if he would mind a tip or advice. Not many people are open to advice from coworkers. If they refuse your help, respect it and leave it alone. If a colleague makes a sexual advance or even a comment that you are not comfortable with, address it quickly.

In our work it is very important when an issue occurs, to take immediate action to address it. Later you can do your research and as a team and correct it. As in any team, constructive criticism is meant to eliminate future problems.

Try to avoid conversations with your colleagues that include topics which trigger emotional responses like sports, religion, sex or politics. No conversation on these topics can contribute to your client’s safety.

Avoid discussion about family and do not share details about your family, spouse, kids or home life. You don’t know how the information may be used against you or your client later. Can you be blackmailed? Could this affect your client or team?

The only conversation you should entertain is the one that adds to your client’s safety.

Your relationship with fellow citizens and Law Enforcement:

In most countries your authority or legal ability to act is no more than any other citizen.  Trying to get a free pass at the club or disturbing the peace will give you and your client a bad image. No you can’t stop the traffic, park whenever you want, stop people from entering in public places or ask to search them.

Many of our colleagues come from a Law Enforcement or Military background, they use to have their own language with their former colleagues and may work along with them or ask for their help. Remember that active Law Enforcement personnel have their own agendas. They are not part of our industry any more than we are part of theirs. Do not ask them to help you do your job. Some may abuse their authority and use it to get close to your client, and may even try to replace you. Be respectful and keep your distance.

Your networking activities

It is common and we see it almost every day in online networks or forums, people who hide behind a “screen” or “nickname” and make negative comments about other colleagues. It is seen by most as cowardly at best to make public comments about someone while hiding behind a false identity and further, without allowing the victim or viewing audience to verify the experience or credentials of the accuser.

Industry forums serve a couple of purposes. The first is to inform and the second is to allow comments and feedback for the purpose of informing. Unfortunately, they have become a place for the unimpressive to gain their 15 minutes of fame. These chronic complainers, seemingly have plenty of free time, (possibly due to their unemployment), and repair their egos by blaming or criticizing others. Yes, there are non-professionals and there are professionals, but a forum is not the right place to show who is who.

For those who like to comment on different articles or posts online (…that includes many of us…) before you hit “send” be sure you:

1) Read the article/post carefully. It is very disappointing to see colleagues who post a negative comment on an article when it is clear that they neither completely read nor completely understood it.

2) Offer a solid answer/opinion based on logical thoughts or facts (or evidence/search results). Recently, someone tried to show their disagreement with an author. Their only approach to a counter-point was insulting the author which actually proved the author’s point.  Someone else tried to answer him by copying and pasting parts from the article and offering negative comments on the excerpts, which further proved the subject of the article; that some people in our industry can’t adapt their soldier mentality and behavior to the more polished corporate environment.

3) Answer in a manner that does not insult the writer or others.

4) Re-read and understand the article. Stating a disagreement is fine but following up with information that goes off topic and writing anything other than what is pertinent to the subject will only make you look stupid.

5) Read the article again,

6) Read your answer again from the perspective of your colleagues,

7) Read it once again from the perspective of someone who knows you,

8) If it doesn’t look professional/logical/in good taste or relative to the article provided, DO NOT hit that “send” button or “publish now” ….otherwise again, you will only end up looking stupid.

If you think companies and recruiting agents don’t look at a candidate’s networking profiles? Think again!

The bottom line is this:

If you lack professionalism on any level or lack interpersonal skills in dealing with people you work for, with or around, you will not be able to hide behind your experience, education or other skillsets.

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder & Worldwide Director

Athena Academy 

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaacademy.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

Attempted Abduction of Shipowner in Athens, Greece

One of the cases when training and awareness can save your life. This person has been attending many security and driving courses. He managed to keep his calmness, react fast and escape from the ambush: ”On Thursday afternoon a group of men tried to abduct the Greek shipowner Ioannis Martinos. At least five men armed with Kalashnikovs tried to attack the young shipowner on his way back home. However, he managed to remain calm and escaped with his car. He then returned to his office and informed the police about the incident.

The authorities collected video from security road cameras, hoping to identify the perpetrators.

Ioannis Martinos is the son of the shipowner Andreas Martinos and is married to Marina Livanos (daughter of the shipowner George Livanos). His family has three shipping companies: “Thenamaris” with a  fleet of 34 tankers and 11 dry bulk carriers, “Minerva Marine” with a fleet of 31 tankers and one dry bulk carrier and “East Med” with a fleet of 20 dry bulk carriers…read more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/12/12/attempted-abduction-of-shipowner/

The necessity of training civilians dealing with a crisis situation

The Boston attack proved once again how vulnerable any city or country can be under a terrorist attack. In the aftermath, we were subjected to the news media clamoring for access to the opinions of the experts.

In almost every case the “experts” start popping off and saying what went wrong and what should have been done differently to prevent an incident from happening. After the incident, discussing what went wrong or who to blame is not always helpful. What is very important is the support of the victims and their families. Before the experts even answer their cell phones, attention to the incident and treatment of the victims is the priority.

U.S.A  is considered as having some of the best intelligence agencies in the world. The fact that the bombing occurred just confirms that those agencies can’t see or know everything. What most people are missing is that sometimes no matter how well secured a place can be, a well planned attack is hard to detect and harder to prevent. Terrorists (even domestic terrorists), nowadays have extremely powerful cells, funding, skill sets, manpower and most important determination! There have been reports of specific attacks that took 10-12 years to plan and act upon, so it’s not that easy identify their actions and prevent the attack.

One issue that has always concerned me is the need for specific education and awareness for civilians relative to a crisis incident. It is sad to say but we can’t ignore the need for teaching civilians how to react during a terrorist attack or even an earthquake. We teach response to a hurricane or an earthquake and we still have fatalities caused by ignorance. Terrorist or criminal attacks can’t always be foreseen but reacting to the immediate aftermath directly affects the mortality of the victims, arrest of the suspects, and safety of the greater community.

Personally I consider First Aid training mandatory for anyone, no matter his age or professional background. If you are not interested in possibly saving your neighbor’s life then what about being ready if any family member needs your help? Can anybody (no matter age, education and professional background) get trained in basic First Aid or how to deal with a hurricane or an earthquake? Yes they can. Can someone be trained and aware in simple security awareness tips? Yes they can!

After a crisis incident we see people who run around screaming, with most of them unable to evaluate the environment they are in. They feel lost and can’t control their thoughts or actions, they will probably hurt themselves due to panic and fear. It is the surprise of an attack and the disability to control their fear and adrenaline that turns them into a threat to themselves or others around them.

The wounded screaming for immediate help and the few people who can operate in stressful environments come together. The capable helping the incapable, and the “heroes” are not necessary law enforcement or medics. They are people who can put logic to work instead of giving in to their fear. They revert back to their training or previous life experience and offer basic first aid or other support.

There are many organizations out there that offer training. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), your local fire or police department, American Red Cross and even local community groups offer everything from basic first aid to advanced trauma and mass casualty care.

This kind of training requires dedication from your side and not many are willing to spend the time in a classroom. The result in selfish time management is an unprepared citizen.

 

According to the American Red Cross, relating to Terrorism: Some things experienced after a Terrorist attack are:

-Significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure.

-Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature and health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits or even overwhelmed.

-Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.

-Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.

-You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding road blocks or be forced to stay locked in your home….. or be ordered into “holding areas” or “treatment centers” “for our own safety”

-Clean-up may take many months.

Tips to have in mind while dealing with a terrorist or other incident:

  • Remain calm.
  • Be patient and follow directions from law enforcement, EMT’s or fire department personnel.
  • If you believe you can act calmly and offer help, check for injured persons.
  • Give first aid and get help for people in need.
  • If you can’t control your emotions or fear, stay out of the way.
  • If the event occurs near your home, check for damage.
  • Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater.
  • If you smell gas, turn off the main valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. USE FLASHLIGHTS
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities.
  • Contact your family but do not use landline telephones.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
  • If you’re in a building and the attack occurs inside, head for the nearest exit.
  • Always use the stairs, NEVER elevators.
  • If you’re in a building and the attack occurs outdoors, don’t attempt to exit.
  • If you’re outside and the attack is outside, immediately enter a house or building.
  • If you can’t enter a structure, determine the direction of the wind and move cross-wind.
  • If you’re in your car stay inside and drive away from the cloud (again cross-wind if possible).
  • Shut and lock all doors and windows.
  • Turn off air-conditioners, heaters, ventilation systems, all electrical appliances.
  • Close all water and gas taps
  • Seal the doors and windows. If possible, place damp towels at the bottom of doors.
  • Stay put until you’re given the all clear by an official authority
  • Be prepared to evacuate if given the official order to do so.
  • If your family members are in different places, use your judgment on how to proceed.
  • If they are in a safe environment, leave them there until the situation is normalized.

Remember beeing aware and prepared to deal with a bad situation can save your life and others as well.

Denida Zinxhiria

Founder & Worldwide Director

Athena Academy 

Nannyguards

http://www.athenaacademy.com

http://www.nannyguards.com

Can you foresee and prevent threats?

As security professionals we all know that the number one responsibility in providing security details is the ability to prevent a threat before it endangers you and your client. No matter how adept you are in close combat skills or the use of firearms when that horrific Moment of Commitment comes (the aggressor pulls a weapon and begins shooting), your skills are not enough, this has been proven to be the fact in studies and in practice. How a gunshot or a physical combat will end depends on different factors such as the environment, the number of enemies, the number of rounds each party has, what kind of, if any support you have and most importantly your psychological response during an attack. Believe it or not we have seen security professionals ‘’freeze’’ during a gun battle. Were they trained in firearms? Yes!  Were they trained in close combat? Yes!  So, what went wrong? The most important question is, can we risk engaging ourselves in a situation that will most likely end violently for us and our clients? How many ‘’clients’’ or security operatives have come through a gun battle completely safe after having engaged in one? I am still searching to find that one case……

It is safer to prevent a threat instead of reacting to it! The best security details are not those based in force or use of firearms, but those based on foreseeing the upcoming threat and preventing it. We should also not forget that in some countries our colleagues are not permitted to carry or use firearms, so they must use their brains and intel.

Can we get training to foresee and prevent a threat? Yes we can!

I had the opportunity to attend one of ESI’s classes (28-DAY Corporate Security & Threat Management Program) this weekend and meet Mr. John D. Byrnes. Mr. Byrnes is the founder of the Center for Aggression Management. The Center provides training and systems for use in avoiding and preventing violence in areas such as the workplace, campuses  or in the school environment to provide more effective, lower impact methods for confronting aggressors and de-escalating aggression.

Most importantly this training can be taught to a wide area of professionals and organizations. I would personally and highly recommend this training to EVERYONE who would like to feel safe regardless his or her professional background.

No matter what our profession, age, sex, culture or country we live in, we all have to deal at some point in our lives with aggressive individuals, either as criminals, colleagues or family members. As a woman I can see multiple uses of Mr. Byrnes’ Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS).

As a security professional I can assure you that this training will change the way you have been looking at things and suspects. At some point we all have been trained in how to identify suspects and how to deal with them. Most schools still teach profiling, mostly when it comes to terrorists and suicide bombers.

Personally I was never  be a believer in using profiling. Why? Simply because there has not been an accurate “terrorist profile!” All profile assessments that have studied terrorists have been done  after they were captured. In psychology it is well known that you cannot obtain real research facts from a subject who (study object-terrorist) is not a willing participant ….

What about those situations when you are dealing with the occasional threat of aggression? Imagine being with your client in a pub where people get intoxicated and become aggressive, or at a football stadium? Being able to understand and ‘’read’’ aggression escalation is essential  to maintain a safe environment for your client, you and others who could otherwise be injured.  Identifying emerging aggression, engaging and preventing a possible attack offers a much better solution than pulling your firearm and pointing it at prospective aggressor.

Remember, we are security professionals, we are not Law Enforcement or Federal Agents, depending upon our country of operations, our duties and actions can be so limited by the law and have no more authority than any other professional such as bus driver.

In cases that you cannot restrain, handcuff or point a firearm against an aggressive suspect you must have other tools to defend yourself and your client. Critical Aggression Prevention System will not only teach you how to identify and respond in those situations, but will also teach you how to identify aggressive levels in yourself and how to control them. We are humans too and when an aggressor, whose adrenaline is already surging, it is a natural response for our adrenaline to rise as it prepares us for attack!  We can get aggressive as well when we are offended, threaten or our interests are limited. So by learning how to control our aggression brings us to a much higher professional level. The one who control his or her temper and calmness is the professional one. The one that can maintain their calm will make better decisions, and when it comes to our professional area, the one who will make the safest decisions.

Soon we will be hosting an interview with Mr. Byrnes, until then you can find out more about his work and the Center for Aggression Management  .

***To find out more about the  CORPORATE SECURITY and THREAT MANAGEMENT Program and next training dates contact Executive Security International at 800-874-0888***

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com

Director of Placement

& Services at Executive Security International 

http://www.esi-lifeforce.com/

Fallen Bodyguards: the unknown heroes

Probably their death news never gets more than a dozen of views in online news sites or blogs. Most of the times their names are not revealed from the MEDIA and they are just mentioned as that celebrity or that dignitary bodyguard who was killed…. But they are people like us, with families, people with dreams that their life ended because of their professional risk level. I have heard it many times ‘’Well he got what he was after it….if you want to get paid well you risk your life’’……

No matter what others out of our profession think about us, close protection is not that well paid job, basically no job in the world can pay your life. We are not police officers or military, we are hired to protect someone’s life and welfare.  That’s our job and many of us are doing it not because of the money. But because is what we love to do and what we know to do best.

I started this article and will continue to update it with names and information over fallen close protection operatives who lost their lives due to their profession. No matter who their client were, what nationality or political beliefs they had, they were their clients, and those fallen were protecting them.

–          May, 2012, Quintos (32 years old), De Lima bodyguard, who was also a member of the DOJ’s Intelligence Service Operations Group (Isog) was found dead in Bulacan with a gunshot wound in the chest and his service firearm was missing.  De Lima has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a parallel investigation with the police as she considered Quintos’ killing a threat to her own safety (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/191973/de-lima-bodyguard-shot-dead-in-bulacan).

–          July, 2011, Southern Soudan Minister Jimmy Lemi Millahas been shot dead along his bodyguard inside his ministry building in Juba (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12403620).

–           July, 2012, Baghdad, a bodyguard of Iraq’s Shia Vice President Khudair al-Khuzaie was Saturday shot dead in an attack. An interior ministry official said that unidentified gunmen shot down the bodyguard in Baghdad’s central district of Karrada (http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/iraqi-vice-presidents-bodyguard-shot-dead-386149.html).

–          June, 2012, Bodyguard Geovanni Legaspi Dumaraos was declared dead on arrival at the hospital after he run in an ambush with his client Reynaldo dela Torre Paras a member of Laguna board who survived the attack (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/208445/laguna-board-member-hurt-bodyguard-killed-in-ambush).

–          May, 2012, Pablico Redoque died of multiple gunshot wounds all over his body, he was the bodyguard of  Ilocos Sur Vice Mayor Jesus Bueno Jr. Police are investigating if the incident is linked to the victim’s affiliation with the Santa vice mayor (http://beta.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/05/02/12/ilocos-vice-mayors-bodyguard-killed).

–          October, 2011, bodyguard was shot dead in a gun battle involving opposing factions of the Sri Lankan ruling party during Saturday’s local council elections in the capital, police said. He was serving Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, former lawmaker and advisor to the president, who also died (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/presidential-aide-bodyguard-killed-sri-lanka-254)

–          February, 201, Moscow – An attempt to murder the president of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia left one bodyguard dead and three seriously injured. A roadside bomb detonated as a column of vehicles carrying Ankvab and his entourage passed along a road near (http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1692226.php/Attack-on-leader-of-breakaway-Georgia-province-kills-bodyguard).

–          May, 2012, Iraq.A bodyguard working for one of the main parties in Iraq’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which has clashed politically with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, was killed. Latif Ramadan Jassim was on duty near the headquarters of the Wifaq (Accord) party in Zeitun, west Baghdad, when he was stabbed to death (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/May-02/172100-iraq-party-bodyguard-stabbed-to-death-officials.ashx#axzz25bhwVqYm).

–          August, 2012, Yemen. Gunmen strafed the car of Yemeni information minister Ali Ahmed al-Amrani with bullets, killing his bodyguard, but the official was not in the vehicle at the time (http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/RestOfAsia/Bodyguard-killed-in-attack-on-Yemeni-minister/Article1-907426.aspx).

–          January, 2012. CATARMAN, Northern Samar—Communist killed the bodyguard of the town mayor and fleeing with firearms seized from a small police force that was caught flat-footed by the attack (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/132557/mayor%E2%80%99s-bodyguard-killed-in-npa-raid-on-northern-samar-town).

–          February, 2006, 29-year-old Israel Ramirez was shot once in the chest as he stood outside a Brooklyn, New York, warehouse where stars including Rhymes, 50 CENT, MARY J BLIGE, MISSY ELLIOTT and G-UNIT rapper LLOYD BANKS had gathered to shoot a promo (http://www.hiphopgalaxy.com/busta-rhymes-bodyguard-shot-dead-hip-hop-3456.html).

–          July, 2011, MANILA, Philippines,Isko Moreno’s bodyguard shot dead.The victim, identified as Jonathan Ignacio, was shot by a man who suddenly entered his house on Prudentia Street, Tondo, Manila.The victim was sleeping with his live-in partner, Vanesa Dabuet, and his 3-year-old son when the incident happened (http://rp1.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/07/07/11/isko-moreno%E2%80%99s-bodyguard-shot-dead).

–          May, 2012, Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed and his bodyguard were killed by gunfire after failing to stop at the LAF checkpoint in Kwaykhat. Sheikh Ahmed was heading to the rally held by the partisans of MP Khaled Daher to commemorate the memory of the May 7 victims (http://www.lbcgroup.tv/news/31150/sheikh-abdul-wahed-and-bodyguard-killed-laf-establ).

–          May, 2012, Bogota,A bomb targeting a Colombian former interior minister has killed two of his bodyguards and injured at least 39 people in Bogota (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/16/bogota-bomb-kills-two-bodyguards).

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

http://www.athenaacademy.com