Lynda Moore, a Partner in the Consultancy, FM Contract Watch writes for Infologue.com about improving the perception of security services. Lynda writes: “The role of the Regional Contract Manager is almost certainly the most difficult job in contract security and it is not surprising that the ‘burn out rate’ of Regional Contract Managers, most probably, has the worst record in the security industry.
“We should really not be surprised at this statistic, because if we closely examine the role of the Regional Contract Manager for a security company then it is often quickly established that he or she is invariably overwhelmed before they have had the opportunity to make any impact with either the client base or the teams of security officers who fall under their umbrella of responsibility.
“There have been numerous cases where the client has changed their contractor and cited, as their main reason for change, that whilst the Security Officers were in the main providing a satisfactory service, the level of support management was found to be lacking.
“The difficultly which the client has when appointing a new contractor is that whilst they have satisfied themselves that the new company is capable of doing the job required, at an acceptable cost, they may not have met the Regional Contract Manager assigned to their contract and are unlikely to know the location, number and complexity of the other contracts in the portfolio.
“Before appointing a new contractor, it is vital for the client to meet their Manager and also take up references, or visit, if possible, clients who are also currently using that individual. Due to the high staff turnover for this role, it is also recommended that the potential client ascertains how long they have been in their current position and their security and management competence.
“The Regional Contract Manager has a vast and varied role which could extend to recruitment, training, deployment, relief officers, additional cover, discipline and administration for all of the staff. In addition, they are often responsible for all financial aspects of their client base. It is, therefore, essential that the important role the Regional Contract Manager performs for the client is an integral part of the Service Level Agreement Key Performance Indicators which must be clearly defined and reviewed at each SLA meeting. This should reduce the possibility of prolonged poor contract management and the costs of re-tendering.
“In a reasonably sized security company the position of Regional Contract Manager does not always make pleasant reading as it is not unusual for them to be responsible for up to 20 individual clients or even more on occasions. It is reasonable to assume that at any one time approximately 5 of these contracts may be experiencing difficulties, these may be as simple as shortages due to sickness or major operational problems, but they all take up many hours of the Regional Contract Manager’s time. If you are one of the remaining 15 clients, you could soon easily feel ignored and neglected, despite the fact that your site is running well due to the dedicated team of Officers.
“The hope has to be that when your contract experiences difficulties, which at one time or another it most certainly will, that there will always be an appropriate response available. Unfortunately, history shows that this does not always happen!
“It is critical to any contract to have adequate management support and the industry needs to look closely at the ratio of security staff/contracts that can effectively be maintained by one individual.
“The advice can only be to look for a contractor who allocates a realistic number of contracts to any one Regional Contract Manager, all within a reasonable radius. In order to achieve this ratio, the margins in the charge rate must also be realistic and this vital issue will be the subject of my next article.”
Lynda Moore is a Partner in the Consultancy, FM Contract Watch and was formerly Managing Director at Risk Management Security Services. She has more than 30 years experience in the industry.