Contract Security Service: Quality vs. Price

Q: When it comes to contract security how do I balance quality vs. price?

The question I’m asked most often is, “How do I find a quality contract security service that will perform their duties responsibly for a reasonable price?”  To answer this question you must first accept certain facts as being true.

Accept the fact that the words “quality and reasonable price” are often contradictory terms. Accept the fact that paying the highest or lowest price for a contract security patrol officer doesn’t always equate to the quality of service, although there are exceptions. Accept the fact that all contract security companies are drawn from the same labor pool for potential employees. If your market area has high employment the security guard labor pool may be substandard. In fact, many poor quality security officers will drift between security companies until they exhaust the supply of employers. Security guards are often transient and this is the first job they find after hitting town. Because of this fact, it can become a crap shoot as some security companies send a different security officer to patrol your property each night.

A: What is the Solution

As a rule of thumb, you can increase your options and success if you select a larger or well established security company over a smaller low budget one. A larger company can usually replace no-shows or unacceptable officers, even at the last minute, because they have a larger pool of employees. Also, larger companies tend to retain officers longer because they can offer better training and supervision, more benefits, and can provide a defined career path. This doesn’t guarantee success however, you still need to accept or reject poor quality security guards when it becomes apparent that they are not meeting the challenge.

You can drastically improve your success potential by setting up strict compliance standards as part of the written contract. These are usually called “post-orders.” Post orders should be detailed and always in writing. They are given to each officer as the basis for how they are to service your property. Any breach of the post-orders could be grounds for not paying for the sub-standard service, for replacing the officers, or for replacing the security company.

The following are key points the contact person should discuss with the company and the guards:
• Requirements of the assignment
• Purpose of security during the prescribed times
• The scope of work should be explained and written to include concise expectations
• Institutional contact and how to immediately reach him/her
• Layout of the facility
• Facility security and/or fire regulations
• Any vulnerable areas
• Locations of telephones, fire-fighting equipment, fire alarms, emergency exits, etc
• Location of stairways and doors
• Clear operational guidelines to be used in the event of an emergency (fire, suspicious package, bomb threat, etc.)


The best way to ensure that you are receiving quality service for your price is to set high expectations and standards that are both reasonable and attainable. Be sure to do a review of the service you are receiving on a regular basis to make sure your expectations are being met.