The rapid rise of the private security company in South Africa has been mind boggling at times, both in terms of scope and speed of expansion. Like one day there was a lonely guy on a mission, sitting guard at the bottom of his road (probably on a deck chair with a cooler box underneath a faded umbrella) and the next he had multiplied into a multi-million Rand industry. One that dwarfs our own South African police force in size. In fact, according to some data, there is estimated to be about three registered private security guards to every one police officer and to be honest, we think that’s conservative. So how do you know what you should know when choosing a security company? Keep reading.
Private Security In Numbers
Brace yourself, we’re about to throw some more stats at you… if that’s not your thing, maybe just skip to the next paragraph, we promise not to judge you! But if stats make you tingly then consider the following: PSIRA (the Private Security Regulatory Authority here in South Africa) has more than 9,000 companies registered with it. We’re gonna let that sink in for a sec while gently muttering 9,000 again. Now consider that there are about half a million active and registered private security guards and about 1.5 million qualified (although not active) guards. *mind-blown emoji*
That said, there is always a ‘but’ when it comes to this sort of thing, so here it is… BUT not all security companies are created equal. And while there are certainly a lot of us, there are also a lot of fly-by-nights out there, with big talk and no action. Personally we far prefer a small talk, big action approach to things (ignore the fact that you are reading an article of ours right now), and honestly that should be your first clue that a security team knows what they are doing… you know, they actually do it. But we digress.
Our Guide For Choosing A Security Company
Anyway, here are the things that you, consumer, human, wife, father, friend, future client *ahem* should be looking out for when it comes to choosing a security company. Because make no mistake, bigger isn’t always better, and what is the right choice for one area or community, may not be the same for another.
1. Response times matter.
They are pretty much what a good security company is built on, apart from being able to, you know, secure things. A reaction officer needs to get to you fast so that we can help in a time of crisis. Rocking up 34 minutes later isn’t going to help anyone.
A key element to consider is how many residents an area vehicle can monitor, until it becomes over-loaded and an additional car needs to be deployed. A response officer at optimal capacity will be closer, faster and available to respond to any emergency. Too many security companies’ vehicles are well over capacity, which means their guys can’t keep up with visibility or acceptable response times.
Now also bear in mind that different security companies have different response times in different areas. Why? Because of how and where they patrol, and where their central control centre is. This is why you should pay special heed of a response time in YOUR area. Don’t let them tell you about their national footprint, who cares, let them tell you about their local footprint and how efficient they are there, specifically. In other words, how do they serve YOU effectively, not Sandy in Sandton. PS. We hope Sandy is safe, but she is simply not relevant right now.
2. Visibility matters.
Visibility is a big deterrent for would-be criminals, especially the opportunistic variety. So make sure that your security firm of choice has sufficient feet (or wheels) on the ground, and that they make themselves seen. This also ties back into point 2 – response times matter. If you have patrol vehicles doing their thing down your street, you know (and the bad guys know) that when that ‘panic’ goes off, your security company will be there pretty quick.
3. Results matter.
It’s one thing to be a deterrent, and then another to provide lasting security by taking criminals off the streets. So, ask your security companies this… how many arrests do they make on average, AND do the bad guys get convicted from there? In addition, how well does your security company play with others? Yes, it’s a competitive industry, but at the end of the day YOU, the client, have to come first, which means there should be a fair bit of KUMBAYA without the off-key singing. AKA working together to get results.
4. Technology matters.
There was a time when it was enough to be a dude with a car and a whole bunch of personal conviction. Not anymore. Now we need to combine conviction with technology, (because trust us, the bad guys are using it) to stay ahead of crime trends and curves. So ask your sales dude what technology their security team has employed, or even pioneered. Not to toot our own horn or anything…. Okay fine, we’ll toot it. We were the first security company in KwaZulu-Natal to introduce ANPR cameras. We’re pretty proud of that fact, especially because it is revolutionary tech that has really helped us ‘capture’ (ha-ha see what we did there) bad guys.
5. Special Operations matters.
Many security companies are content to go through the motions. They do enough (barely) not to raise too many consumer red flags, but they aren’t special, and that, when it comes to safety and security is simply not good enough. Find yourselves a team that does more. That invest in their communities and that have special operation teams that address larger crime situations and issues. Proactively.
6. Experience matters.
We have all met that dude at our mate’s braai who thinks they can do a thing because they shot a paintball gun that one time. He may be passionate, but he isn’t an option okay. Just, NO.
Investigate how long your security company has been around… and if possible investigate if your management team or owners have any experience in the field (if they have any they will be upfront with this). If they were ex police or are reservists then you know, they know what they are doing and they do this because it’s important, and because they want to make a difference, AND CAN.
7. PSIRA registration matters.
We’ve mentioned them already, and in order to at least half counter the ‘fly-by-night’ contingent mentioned above, this is a necessity. If they aren’t PSIRA registered, please ask them to exit stage left. That still leaves you with over 9,000 choices. Read up on PSIRA for more information, but just for the record, we are in fact fully registered, compliant etc. etc.
You Do Research, We Respond
We feel confident that after you have done this 7-reason checklist that you will have more surety when choosing a security company to protect you and your family. And if you are in our footprint (Durban North, North Coast and Morningside) well, let’s just say we’re standing by our phones waiting to take your call. In case you want to sign up… or In Case of Anything.