Marketing – The Only Sure Passport To Success In Contract Manned Guarding

There are reputed to be approximately 2000 contract manned guarding companies in the United Kingdom and of these, there are some 730 which have voluntarily signed up to the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS). Arguably there are only two, perhaps three, which do not need to do active marketing to promote their services and I refer to G4S, Securitas and MITIE. They have arrived and their very name is a marketing tool within itself. There are others who are not quite yet household names, such as VSG, OCS, Wilson James, The Corps and Carlisle, who will realise that they still have to pursue new business with an active marketing strategy promoting their services.

In other words there are still more than 1990 companies out there who need to spread the word about their services and yet how many do I see who actually do it through the trade press? The last edition of Risk UK showed that CIS Security Limited and Contract Security Services Limited were the only manned guarding contractors to take sizeable advertisements in the magazine. In addition to those two companies, I often see Pilgrim Security take a slot and all three of them are so right to try to keep their company in the public eye. I cannot understand why more companies do not follow their example.

There are many ways for contract manned guarding companies to market their services. Every company needs a quality website, a house magazine and a brochure to send out, as and when required. Some companies may feel that membership of either the BSIA and/or IPSA gives them a marketing advantage and I would not wholly disagree. I would feel happier if I did not sense that the Trade Associations sometimes appear to concentrate more on promoting their own services rather than those of their membership, but I recognise that my view may be clouded by past experience and therefore not up to date. There are also, of course, a plethora of Industry Awards which give good marketing benefit to those companies which take the trouble to enter.

I am certain of one thing and it is that, in today’s market, you cannot just rely on referrals as your sole marketing tool. If you go down this route, you have to totally rely on the conversation between your client (making the positive referral) and the potential client taking place at exactly the right time (just before the potential client goes out to tender) and that the potential client hasn’t already got at least two or three others which have had a similar referral from their existing clients. Good marketing is all about keeping the name of your company constantly in the public eye and on as wide a front as possible – so to rely on word of mouth is a dangerous cop-out which just might enjoy the odd success, but certainly nothing more. In times of recession it is arguable that you need to increase your marketing budget and certainly not abandon it in some misplaced cost cutting exercise.

THE LIFE OF A MANNED GUARDING CONTRACT If we agree that the standard life of a manned guarding contract is three years and that, as a result of poor performance, a number will terminate early then it is highly likely a very significant number will also go out to tender at the end of three years. You will all have contracts which have run very smoothly for the three year period with the result that the client automatically signs up to a further such period, but this has to be a very definite minority. I do not have a clue how many manned guarding contracts, of varying size, are put out to tender each year in the United Kingdom. It could be 50,000 but it could also conceivably be more and do you really want to meet that opportunity without a dedicated marketing budget?

THE ACS PACESETTERS We have taken the 700+ contract manned guarding companies who have voluntarily joined up to the ACS and separated the top 15% (those with a minimum score of +94) in the annual ACS inspection and invited them to join The ACS Pacesetters. This could give us a total of approximately 110 companies which we are able to market as genuinely the best in the Industry. The bi-monthly ACS Pacesetters Supplement always produces the updated “Hall of Fame” and is rapidly becoming an essential document to a growing number of end-users in drawing up their tender list. We have a very clear conscience that we are marketing our membership at a very cost effective rate – an annual fee of £425 + VAT – which, in our view, is not being similarly matched elsewhere in the Industry. If you have the right score it would seem to make sense to take the benefit of such active marketing on your behalf.

THE PACESETTERS PAVILION—THE GLOBAL SECURITY SUMMIT (10/11 OCTOBER 2012—LONDON) Contract manned guarding has been at war with major security exhibitions for years—it believes that they are a waste of time, very expensive and very few, if any , end-users visit such exhibitions to place an order for a manned guarding contract. Unfortunately, after more than 10 years of taking a sizeable manned guarding stand at IFSEC, I would support that view. It was a complete waste of my marketing resource. The Global Security Summit at London Olympia on the 10th and 11th October 2012 has invited me to change my mind. They have established a Pacesetters Pavilion and restricted entry to those 110 companies which can prove they are in the top 15% in the ACS annual examination (a score of +94). They have allocated a maximum of twenty 9m2 stands at a total individual cost of £4950 +VAT. The stand comes completely ready for use – can you remember when that has ever previously occurred? – and no matter what your size you will only be able to take a stand of that size in the Pacesetters Pavilion. The stands will encircle a Conference Area which will be given over to a Seminar on exclusively manned guarding matters. The Exhibitors will have dedicated use of a free Hospitality Area for the purpose of entertaining their own customers and those which have been specifically invited by the organisers.

So now we are down to 20 contract manned guarding companies out of the original 2000. As part of our own marketing strategy for The ACS Pacesetters we will be producing a special Supplement which will highlight in detail the 20 companies taking part as well as showing an updated version of “The Hall of Fame”. I think you will agree that alone comes into the category of real marketing – and it is on your behalf!

UBM are very excited to be launching the new London-based, end-user focused Global Security Summit in October at London’s Olympia. Plans are well underway and we are pleased to be working with FM Contract Watch to put together the Pacesetters Pavilion. This area will highlight the key players within the manned guarding community and give them a platform in which to highlight their services to our senior decision-making attendees. Manned guarding services hold a significant amount of each organisation’s annual security budget and so this pavilion and event will provide an ideal route to market for the ACS Pacesetters to reach their target audience. Tracy Bebbington Event Manager – GLOBAL SECURITY SUMMIT

If you are eligible and wish to either join The ACS Pacesetters or to take one of the remaining slots on The Pacesetters Pavilion at The Global Security Summit (10/11 October 2012 – London Olympia) then you should contact Lynda Moore of FM Contract Watch without delay either by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone on 01844 260350.