In any service industry, a provider is only as good as the product they deliver. In the Personal Protection business, the product you deliver is a blend of company service methods and the Operator’s performance on the ground.
Note: I use the term Personal Protection to encompass Executive Protection, Celebrity Protection, Witness Protection, High-Net Wealth Protection, Athlete Protection, etc.
I have owned and operated a Personal Protection firm for several years. I had a prior career in protection specific law-enforcement and security management. Additionally, I then spent time freelancing in the Personal Protection market.
As we all do, I worked for anyone who had work, from large global firms to small family businesses. I saw what worked and what didn’t, what clients liked and what they didn’t. It also became clear to me to what operators responded positively and negatively.
Some of these providers were great to work for, but their commercial operations were unsustainable. Even though some of them had great tasks, they were horrible as employers.
Some paid great and others horribly. And some were just plain bad at everything!
Starting My Own Personal Protection Business
When I founded Empire Protection, I wrote the Vision Statement, “To be an Employer and Service Provider of Choice in all chosen markets.” This was to reflect that positive customer experience was essential and that satisfied staff would be vital to achieving that.
I feel a genuine responsibility to provide a safe and positive working environment to allow staff to focus on delivering a valued product.
Starting out as a small boutique business in a limited and niche market, I knew that scaling sensibly would be critical to commercial success. Given that my first clients came from my reputation in the freelance market, I initially took a very active role in all facets of the business. From business development to business administration, from mission planning to operations.
As staffing requirements grew, I reached out to my closest and most trusted network for employment and continued to operate on tasks. I am far from a micro-manager. However, given that the company’s initial success rested on my personal brand, I felt it essential to be client-facing. That way, I could maintain that relationship and guarantee the expected product.
As expansion continued, I took on a business partner who had plenty to offer and who came with extensive relatable experience. In fact, he had spent 15 years in the Army Special Forces.
Together, we restructured our primary roles and worked on achieving shared goals for our personal protection business.
Over the years, we have focused on delivering results for clients that meet our profile with the attitude that money would flow by showing results. Beyond sensible business acumen, the philosophy has always been to deliver excellence and that by doing that, money would be a natural by-product.
With the introduction of another reputable manager and the network of operators that he brought with him, the company continued its expansion with sensible scale. Having a network of Operators with first-degree references made the life of the management team easy as opposed to cold recruiting of unknown quantities.
Over the years, the company has continued to scale and grow and is now using extended networks to fill staffing requirements.
How We Recruit the Best Staff
Now, our recruitment system is different from many and doesn’t seek to involve Facebook, WhatsApp groups, or recruitment sites. We proactively network through our industry and utilize platforms like LinkedIn to initiate contact with professionals in our market.
In a nutshell, we take references from our teams and review the expressions of interest sent to our site and public emails.
Our team takes the time to review potential candidates as to where their skills will be most suited. We follow their socials, undertake quiet reference checks and review OSINT. When we are keen to reach out to an individual, we do not schedule a specific interview. Conversely, we initiate conversation and suggest a networking ‘catch-up’ over a coffee, meal, or even a beer.
We may do this multiple times to understand the person in more than just the tense and forced environment in a formal interview. We get to understand the consistent views of the candidate, and they get to represent themselves in an equal and open forum.
In this manner, we build relationships, and thus when work is on offer, the induction is natural. We provide individual support to the candidate over their first few tasks until they are ready to represent the company effectively and to the desired standard. Their path to becoming valued team members is natural and built on mutual respect.
We chose the above process as it suits the desired outcomes of Empire Protection. There will, of course, be firms with a need for faster scaling and rapid hiring.
While the above outline may not suit other providers, the key takeaways are:
- To build relationships with candidates over whatever period is available, and
- Understand the requirements of the task and the client, and who will be the best fit.
The Problems With Proper Candidate Selection
Globally, the security industry has shallow barriers to entry, and many candidates will often appear the same on paper. They may even present uniformly at interviews. But we all know that the job demands are often strenuous and unique, breaking many who choose the industry.
We also know that prior military or law-enforcement experience on their resume is not necessarily an indicator of their success in private operations. Furthermore, that it isn’t an indicator of completing protection-specific training.
We also know that some resumes and bios (often the loudest ones) are… questionable (to be polite).
Wrapping up on Personal Protection Business
When recruiting for positions with CP Teams, look for specific experience. For instance, inquire into the ability to travel extensively at short notice. Additionally, consider the capability to work effectively after long hours and work alone or in small teams.
Also, examine the capacity to communicate with varied stakeholders, make sound decisions under pressure, and the apparent compliance requirements. That is all part of establishing and growing a personal protection business.
Rather than recruiting to simply fill a gap and then hope for the best, leave your clients in good hands with a product with which you are comfortable.
I advise against lying awake at night wondering how your teams are performing and if they’re representing your brand appropriately. Instead, build relationships with team members until they become a known quality with which you are confident.