As a training provider, we are proud to benchmark the term ‘post-graduate support.’ We take pride in this as it not only sets us apart from the pack, but also provides a significant advantage to our graduates and their feedback is astounding which is what drives us to provide the best, most valuable and practical training and follow-on support that we can.
Perhaps one of the most common areas we provide this support in is contracting and subcontracting security services. More specifically, how to do so including methods of advertising, networking, obtaining contracts and how to subcontract those services to the larger firms. Below are some tips and tactics that not only have I found to be successful but our graduates have provided excellent feedback on as well.
Advertising; Making yourself known online and in person.
First, you need to identify your clientele’s need and wants. You must satisfy their needs and to separate yourself from the herd, stand out and to keep your client you must also satisfy their wants. Second, you must understand the reason for the success of the others in the industry, or your ‘competition’ if you will. Third, you must know how to price and promote your services. Media and print ads are not the best option, everybody today is online – 90% of internet traffic starts in Google and over 80% of data usage is on social media sites…let that sink in.
Today, you cannot survive without advertising online and anyone who says they survive solely by word of mouth is not being truthful. Having a website is critical and very inexpensive monetarily. It is perhaps the biggest bang for the buck you will find throughout your career. It is a very effective way to begin establishing your brand or even just for a www.”myname”.com domain as a form of business card and it can even be used in place of a business card as people are not likely to hang on to a business card but if Joe Schmoe tells me his website is “joe-schmoe”.com I will remember. Additionally, this affords the opportunity for a domain specific email address, such as “info@joe-schmoe” .com
Post attractive content while avoiding direct ads that only sell yourself as this is a turn off to most people who are looking for something interesting, not looking to be sold something.
“Share knowledge, it is the best marketing tool in the world.” – Tony Scotti
For our Alumni, I will review your website to include theme and content recommendations, content optimization and confirm search engine submissions.
Cover Letter & Resume’
Many people will know you by your resume’ alone, so it must make the right impressions. Give the relevant information only; many recruiters have to read through hundreds of applications so keep it short and to the point otherwise they will spend their time reading the stuff you don’t need them to and not see the diamond in the rough.
Include goals, life experiences, work experience and provide references as nobody wants to ask for them. Keep it justifiable, quantifiable and verifiable. If you cannot justify its placement in your resume’ for that job…take it out, put a number on it to beef it up (i.e. ‘Provided security for 29 high profile events in a 3-month period’ ‘vs ‘Provided security for special events’) and if it cannot be verified by your former supervisor than it should not be on there either.
Service Contracts and Retainer Agreements
If you are dealing directly with a client, it is imperative to get a Service Contract or Retainer Agreement signed by the client and the person paying the bill. Develop a method to accept retainer deposits; the easiest way to do so is by creating a professional PayPal account, and sending a professional invoice with your service/retainer agreement. (example pictured below) These can be paid with a PayPal account or with any credit/debit card if the person does not have an account and are free to setup but you will pay 3% credit card fees. *You cannot up charge for credit card fees, but you can offer a cash discount, so read between the lines on that one and get creative.
Ensure your retainer agreement includes the following at minimum:
-Billing: Rates, fees, expenses etc.
-Termination of services clause
-Legal action and recourse
-Clear, concise summation in signature section
Do a Good Job; Think like a boss and maintain professionalism.
Understand that you are the bottom of the totem pole and the proverbial ‘crap’ rolls down hill and should not ever roll up…it will only come back down snow balling the whole way. This will also help with a lot of your frustrations if you think like a boss who is employing yourself.
Keep it professional by asking the questions you want to know and what you think you should know and what you would want yourself to know if you were employing yourself. Think about things like reporting requirements, documentation requirements, billing/expenses, protective intel/threats, etc.
Don’t forget about the ‘One Third rule’ – if you are subcontracted, do not get upset for getting $25 an hour when you find out the client is paying $75. The contractor needs profit, his business (which got the client through advertising) needs profit, and you need profit as well, hence one third each.
Check as many boxes as you can; have a vehicle (or access to one, I.E. rental) that is suitable for protective services, a radio, a weapon, professional attire for any situation, valid passport, etc. If you cannot satisfy a foreseeable requirement than you are selling yourself short. For example, imagine having to pass on a large detail because you did not have a rental car company in your hip pocket in order to provide a quote for a requested vehicle for X amount of time…
Have a second set of ‘sanitized’ business cards and a sanitized email address. These are great for not only protecting your reputation of not stealing clients, but they also will help in keeping a low profile so you do not hand out a business card to someone who reads “Protective Services” and then tweets about you or contacts TMZ for a shot of your principal.
Follow up appropriately; Client, contractor, support entities, etc.
Although the job is done, your job to stay in business is never over. Follow up with the client if they are yours directly, or follow up with the contractor for feedback and to see if there is anything else you can do for them. Also, follow up professionally with all of your contacts made along the way, such as the support entities like the general manager of the hotel you dealt with or the security director of the theatre. Send them a message seeking feedback and offering your services. Also, do not forget to CC or BCC your contractor if you are contracting anyone on a subcontracted job. See the image below of a fantastic example of a subcontractor follow-up to a support contact post-detail from Eric Parker of Trade-craft Consulting, Inc. (sanitized email preferred, but this is his home town of Tampa, Fl and a solid contact for him going forward)
In closing, I will try to sum it up in one short sentence: Market yourself appropriately and professionally, create a large network, do a good job whenever you are given the opportunity and follow up.
Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP® is currently employed as a senior partner managing and conducting: Protective Operations Training Courses, Executive Protection & Bodyguard Services, Risk Management Consultations & Seminars, Workplace Violence Prevention Seminars & Intervention Services, Security Consultations & Seminars, Private Investigations and Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures with LaSorsa & Associates – an International Protection, Investigations & Consulting Firm.