Jack of All Trades or
Waste of Money

When it comes to security, would you prefer a jack of all trades or a master of one? Despite the perceptions of many, security is a professional business, complete with associations, accreditations and qualifications. Why therefore so many facilities managers insist on the cheap “one stop shop option”?

For many, the manned security guard is the closest contact they ever have with the security industry, they see people working part time, semi-retired or on a second job and mentally consider it to be little better than waitressing in a local pub or restaurant. However, like those waitresses, security-staff come in many different varieties and the top echelons include highly trained professionals, who have dedicated themselves to the industry and regularly work alongside the likes of the police and emergency services.

Instead of recognising the professionalism inherent in many security firms like Magenta, too many facilities managers take the easy option and ask one of their other contractors to look after their security – this can range from cleaning companies to recruitment agencies. I am sure that in many cases the client is happy with the service they receive but what are they actually getting for their money? Can a cleaning specialist really offer top quality security, complete with the right equipment, procedures and back up?

There are too many “one stop shop” companies offering diluted, lower quality services just to earn some extra money. Security offers a convenient product for many of these companies. It fits nicely under the facilities management banner and allows them to inject revenue and increase their turnover. I can see why a client might be lured into working with such a company – one point of contact, one invoice, one supplier, economies of scale – why not? It is rather like shopping in a supermarket, we know there is better quality produce available from the butcher, deli and green-grocer around the corner… but the supermarket is far easier.

Using a one stop shop also creates challenges when it comes to accountability. What happens when one part of the service breaks down? If the cleaning is great and the security poor, how easy is it to split the contract and retain the part of the service you are actually good at delivering. Rather worryingly, in some cases you will even find it is the security guard doing the cleaning. I really am intrigued to know how a guard can efficiently monitor the premises whilst unblocking the gentleman’s toilet?

Each individual area of facilities management needs to be seen as separate professional service. Treating some as poor relations to the other is bad for the industry in the long term. There is no reason individual companies shouldn’t work together to create great combined services but the moment we start consolidating, all is lost as far as the customer is concerned.

Consolidation of services, from household produce to financial services generally benefits the supplier more than the client. Instead of an expert in one subject, you end up with someone who knows a little about a lot of different things – not a problem if you are an odd-job man or looking for a career in senior management but rather less useful in professional services.

Abbey Petkar

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