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Contracting of security officers is difficult. Guard contracts are historically low-bid based. A majority of a guard contractor's expenses are personnel costs. Contracts based on the lowest salaries hire the lowest-paid employees. Keep in mind the adage: You get what you pay for. A corollary, however, is that you get what you ask for.
Simply put, any guard service is only as good as the contract. Guard contracts typically run on slim profit margins, meaning contractors can't be expected to operate beyond the terms of the contracted services and still make money. As a result, facility managers should be sure to get the services they expect to receive in writing and in the contract.
The contract begins when a security specialist establishes need and justifies the expenditure. Typically a security manager then approves and obtains funding. The specialist or manager submits requirements for the contract, including the number of guard posts, and written standard operating procedures.
A "post" is a specific assignment staffed by a security officer. A post can be fixed or mobile. A typical post would be a lobby of a facility. A post might be Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (40 hours per week), 24x7 (168 hours per week), or anything in between. Often overlooked is the number of hours involved in a contract. The general rule of thumb is that it takes five people to cover one post twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This number includes staffing three shifts a day, seven days a week, and includes hours for training, vacation and sick days.
Security contracts differ from other service contracts in one specific aspect. Most security posts cannot go empty. For other services, if a worker misses a day because of illness or vacation, the job simply doesn't get done that day. Security positions, by their nature require that every post is filled every time. This requirement means that when a position is open, overtime might be required to allow other officers on the contract to fill the vacant post.