Film crews have created dozens of bodyguard movies over the past decades. They uniformly tell the tale of individuals offering superior services to their principals, protecting their lives and assets. But unfortunately, all movies fail to mention how the individuals in question sold their bodyguard services to high-net-worth families, business executives, and even presidents.
Before we explore this, let’s touch on our industry’s pulse for a moment. Is it a healthy sector? What are its current trends?
Rapid Growth Continues
According to the US Department of Labor, there were 1,054,400 security guards in 2020. Additionally, a Forbes article asserts that private security members now outnumber police officers in most countries. In fact, an estimated 20+ million private security workers — primarily bodyguards — operate worldwide, with this security sector now being worth around USD240 billion.
When the bodyguard services business became part of the mainstream back in the 1990s, the US was the country to serve as a private security worker. That was primarily due to decent pay and reasonable working conditions.
However, today, around eight million private security workers operate in India, with another 4.5 million security guards in the same sector in China. Additionally, the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) has more than two million registered private security guards with a yearly turnover of over USD44 billion on the Old Continent alone. And other countries aren’t that far behind, with the African continent gaining massive traction in the past few years.
As we have seen, the protection business continues to thrive and will probably expand exponentially in the coming years.
Outsourcing close protection services (bodyguards) is one of the oldest professions known to man, and there are many excellent, capable and honorable providers in the global industry.
However, in most countries, the barrier to enter the business of providing close protection is unfortunately low and hasn’t changed much over the years. This is where you should be concerned when hiring any protective services, as all providers are not created equally.
Some organizations are working on an international standard and certification. Still, until then, this is one industry where “buyer beware” should apply. Your best efforts before deciding on who to hire is conducting a thorough background and due diligence on the company and the individuals you’re going to hire. In the end, this might be the best money you’ll spend on this endeavor.
— Michael Trott, Vice President, Global Safety and Security, Discovery Land Company
What Superb Bodyguard Services Have in Common
This section explores what prospective clients look for before selecting bodyguard services to protect their company, family, or assets. We will provide insight into how potential buyers shop for protection. Hence, those selling bodyguard services will know how to approach buyers, including:
- High-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families,
- Government officials,
- High-ranking business executives and CEOs,
- Celebrities, dignitaries,
- VIPs, musicians, and performers.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The rule of thumb here is to stick to your initial, well-researched price tags. Whatever the outlay you have established, bearing in mind all variables of the country and threat landscape you operate in, don’t make radical cuts to your offer to merely please the buyer. It will backfire at one point or another.
Yes, many legislations throughout Europe and North America incentivize choosing the lowest bidder. Yet, this approach has many downsides. Some of them include but aren’t limited to:
- Compromised performance of the contract. Picking the lowest bidder may result in early contract termination because the costs of performing the original contract may be unsustainable for the private security company that provides bodyguard services.
- Non-compliance with legislation. This point includes disregarding the existing labor law, avoiding paying taxes and social charges, using shadow guards, and subcontracting. Many of these actions are detrimental in and of themselves, leading to poor contract performance.
- Unfair competition. Selecting the lowest bidder — and therefore presumably a low-quality bidder — contributes to unfair market competition. In fact, the lowest bidder will likely be unable to provide services of satisfiable quality, leading companies to compete solely on price and not quality. Most importantly, the buyer of bodyguard services will sustain the most damage.
Accordingly, the first commonality of outstanding security companies entails sticking to your initial pricing and not being the lowest bidder in order to get the job.
CoESS’s manual states that “Buying quality private security services is a win-win situation for the buyer. A well-paid motivated guard is the ‘face to the customer,’ the first person a guest meets when entering a building/site. Quality guards do their work properly and prevent or reduce damages caused by criminals, accidents, fire, etc.”
Following best tendering practices is number two on our list of how to sell and buy bodyguard services. Some of the best-established security companies are aware of the following pillars that buyers focus on:
- Awarding tenders based on best quality-price ratio. This point entails comparing the highest quality against the final objectives and results. Doing so helps ensure that the security staff is adequately trained, knows how to use the appropriate equipment and gear, is motivated and loyal.
- Auditing the bodyguard services company before, during, and after contract implementation. Due to undeclared workforce members, some security companies naturally maintain significantly lower prices. That’s why the buyer usually conducts audits in all three stages of contract execution, with the first check done before the buyer awards the contract.
- Considering the security company as the buyer’s partner. The company or individual looking to hire a bodyguard business needs to help develop a partner-based relationship, not a top-down system. The buyer usually uses a minimum set of technical specifications for the service they want to purchase. And yes, the bodyguard company must address these needs while also providing competitive and innovative solutions and recommendations.
If you are selling bodyguard services, you should consider these three items before sending an offer. This applies especially to the more regulated corners of the world, including Europe and North America.
Structure and Policy
Provided the bodyguard business is registered, it requires a certain level of structure and policies to be competitive. Hence, the third pillar on this list is just that: personnel, contract management, operations, and infrastructure.
Buyers often expect the security company to have a documented process for identifying, selecting, and recruiting personnel. That’s especially important, bearing in mind the ever-present practice of subcontracting and self-employed private security. In fact, competent national authorities should have conducted an in-depth method to establish if the company in question has rules relating to:
- Selection, and
Secondly, the buyer may wish to obtain access to internal policy schemes and strategies for additional bodyguards training. Thus, the existence and quality of training facilities can reveal whether the bidding bodyguard company takes staff skills and qualifications seriously, thereby embracing a philosophy of personal development and investment.
Also, it is beneficial to provide proof of:
- Vertical and horizontal promotion,
- Training programs in action,
- Government-issued certification,
- Additional skills, including language or other contract-relevant capabilities,
- Employment conditions, and
- Experience of individual bodyguards and the security company as a whole.
Remember that internal structure and policies exist to augment bodyguard services, not be another item on the to-do list that needs to be checked off.
We hope this article helped shed light on how to sell and buy bodyguard services in the 2020s.
Finally, it’s important to stress that the amount of bidding documentation has only increased over the years. Thus, most legislations worldwide are expanding the scope of documents they require to even consider hiring a security company or individual protectors.
However, with the constant increase in the demand for bodyguard services comes the need for improved quality. Buyers now mandate state-of-the-art protection anywhere in the world, in all threat landscapes.
Although this article mostly covered qualifications and legislation in Europe and North America, most of the items mentioned here apply to other continents as well. Because, in the end, principals everywhere have the same need: for their assets, company, and family to be safe and sound.