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Criteria for Security Contractor Selection

Insurance, Reputation and References

Selecting security guards is serious. You are selecting a security guard contractor who employees may need to remove “undesirable” elements from your premises such as disgruntled employees or even thieves and suspected criminals. Also, if you decide to hire armed security guards you have to be prepared for the use of deadly force and the fact that people could be harmed or killed on your premises.Do not rush into hiring the first security guard firm that has a nice uniform or a shiny badge. Get quotes in plenty of time in order to select a firm to with a great reputation and track record to handle all of your security guard needs.

The following items are issues to review in detailed when selecting a security contractor:

Adequate Insurance & License

After you have established that a security guard contractor is duly licensed, scrutinize the insurance coverage the security contractor provides.

Every jurisdiction that licenses security guard contractors keeps records on the licensed security firms. Make sure you hire a security guard company that has a valid, current license that covers your jurisdiction. An effective method to determine the reputation of the potential contractor is by investigating any history of complaints reported against it to the licensing authority.

The following insurance criteria should be met prior to hiring a security contractor:

  • Your insurance agent approves of the coverage of the contractor.
  • Liability insurance of the contractor covers a minimum of $1 million per incident and $3 million total. The higher the coverage the better.
  • Determine whether the contractor has fidelity bonding and other coverage. Fidelity Bonding is a business insurance policy that protects the employer in case of any loss of money or property due to employee dishonesty. It is like a “guarantee” to the employer that the person hired will be an honest worker.
  • The contractor’s Workers Compensation Insurance is at jurisdictional minimums.
  • The contractor should have adequate Automobile Liability Insurance coverage for all vehicles used.
  • Security contractor’s insurance covers sexual harassment through their Professional Liability coverage.
  • Liability coverage for any special equipment provided
  • Contractor’s insurance carriers name your organization as “Additional Insured” on their liability insurance policies (or at least, obtain certificates of insurance for the contractor). This is especially important for long term contracts.
  • Your insurance advisor does not object to any policy “Exclusions.”
  • Ask for the contractor’s Employment Modification Rate for the last three years. The lower the EMR, the better the contractor’s safety performance.
  • Request “Loss Experience” or “Loss Runs” reports from the contractor in order to review its liability insurance claims history
  • Request the listing of worker compensation claims to determine the possibility of patterns of carelessness or inadequate employee safety practices.


A security guard contractor’s reputation should be examined to ensure that the company has maintained a trustworthy and dependable reputation. To determine the quality of past work, ascertain whether there has been a recent history of valid or successful lawsuits or complaints to agencies against the contractor filed by clients or employees. This can be determined at your local courthouse or through a local attorney. The items discussed in the “Adequate Insurance & License” section will also help gauge the contractor’s reputation.

Verifiable References

References help identify quality and reputable security service contractors. Client references give invaluable insight as to the reliability and performance of a security contractor and highlight areas of possible improvement. Make sure you verify the references; a simple phone call to current and past clients will be very insightful. To help you pick the most qualified and experienced security firm, use references that:

  • Clients verify a contractor’s history of relevant experience.
  • Past clients’ references verify a contractor’s history
  • References indicate contractor’s employee turnover rate is lower than or equal to that of industry norms. Turnover rate for security guard contactors can be as high as 100% – 300% per annum.

Experience, Training, Staffing, Reporting and Instructions

Experience and Management

It is important to recognize that you are hiring the security guard contractor’s management team. Given the high turn over rate for the security guard industry, his is extremely important as the pool of security guards is the same for all companies.

Inquire as to the number of years of service in the security industry of the contractor’s president, regional manager and operations management. Although not essential, the security contractor should have recently provided security service to an organization similar to yours.

  • Discuss your requirements directly with the security company management.
  • Discuss terms of how the security guard firm supervises field staff. Contractors should be willing to explain clearly how they will monitor and control the quality of security guard services.
  • Determine the process of when a security guard performs below par, how the individual will be counseled, disciplined and replaced by the contractor.
  • Required that all that written materials from the security guard (logs, reports, etc.) be clear, complete and useable.

You should receive a copy of every report filed by your guard.

Security guard Training and Qualifications

The proposal should define the minimum qualifications. Describe the security related education, training levels, and experience of personnel that will be required for your organization. Security guard contractors that provide additional education and training to their staffs are preferable.

Security Guard Staffing

Staffing may be regular, rotating or temporary and it is important to know beforehand which staffing requirements you will be dealing with. A permanent staff assignment is always best if it can be obtained. However, security guard contractors often have difficulty maintaining regular security guard staff as a result of odd shifts, frequently consisting of less than eight hours. You should research the security contractor’s history of staff stability and be wary of excessive turnover or poor relationships with employees. The contractor should also obtain your approval before transferring (or replacing) personnel from your site. It is important to assure that the security contractor’s needs at other sites should not take precedence over security service needs at your site.


Request the frequency of reports and documentation (daily officer activity logs, incident reports, crime reports, officer time sheets, other special reports, etc.) that the guard generates for his employer then determine how you would like this data reported to your organization. These reports need to flow smoothly into your organization’s security service team so they can be used for threat detection/escalation, security planning and pattern recognition. Consistent and thorough written communication is an important output of contract security guard services and is an important management control mechanism you have over security guard services and security service costs.

Instructions to Security Guard

Carefully analyze whether the proposal includes sample Post Orders or Standard Operating Procedures Manual which the guards abide by. This document describes all aspects of job performance at your site including security guard grooming and decorum, sets the standard of security guard services, and provides the basis of guard discipline. Ultimately, this document becomes the main basis of legal defense in the event of litigation.

Proposal Clearly Defined

Carefully analyze the proposal submitted by the security guard agency. The security guard proposal should address the specific security needs at your site and demonstrate that the security contractor has carefully reviewed and considered your security guard services needs.

Costs and Contract


Prospective security guard contractors should address the following issues:

  • How frequently will security guard contractor bill for security guard services rendered? Weekly? Biweekly? Other? Is this convenient for you?
  • Will it be a flat monthly rate, a uniform hourly rate for all employees or a unique hourly rate for each individual employee? Generally, paying a unique hourly rate for each security guard or security officer provides clients with the most economical and flexible service.
  • Contractor discloses wages to be paid to guards assigned to your site. A good security guard contractor should be willing to discuss openly all cost drivers and the fee or profit margins it expects to earn for the services to be provided.
  • Contractor’s periodic invoices list wages and bill rates for each security guard. Invoice detail provides a good audit trail and shows contractor professionalism.
  • How will security guard pay increases be handled? Inadequate or stagnant wages are a frequent cause of staff turnover.

Wage increases should be proposed in advance by the contractor especially for long term contracts, based on officer incentive and merit, reflected logically in billing rate adjustment and mutually agreed upon by the contractor and client before implementation.

  • Will any additional charges be made for uniforms, equipment, supplies, etc.? Again, these should be proposed, justified, logical and mutually agreed upon.
  • Is the total estimated average monthly cost for security guard services within your budget? Your monthly security guard budget can be calculated by multiplying the hourly wage rate.
  • Security Guard Contract

    The security guard contract defines the rights and responsibilities between you and your contractor and ensures that the contractor will meet your needs. There are numerous questions and criteria that a security guard contract should specifically address in order to ensure that the security company or security guard firm is responsible and dependable. These serve as guidelines to refer to and are listed below:

    • Does the security guard contractor indemnify you for all security-related liability for which the contractor is responsible? In cases where partial liability is determined by a court of law, does the agreement clearly specify how such indemnifications shall be applied? You should discuss client indemnification of the security contractor.
    • At contract time will there be a price increase? How much? Why?
    • Do you retain the right to terminate the agreement at any time and for any reason? Is this right mutual?
    • Is the amount of notice required for contract termination — by the security guard contractor or client — reasonable? Thirty days is the standard.
    • Is the agreement sufficiently flexible to meet your needs?
    • Does it assure fairness to the security guard contractor and adequate control to the client?
    • Can you replace a security guard if necessary? For any reason?Selecting a security guard contractor is not easy and should not be taken lightly but by asking the right questions upfront and reviewing the proposal based on the above criteria you will be able to select the right security guard contractor for your organization. by Ryan groom –

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