What does the budget mean for the security industry?

What does the budget mean for the security industry?

Yesterday, the Chancellor announced possibly the widest scoping budget in many years, possibly even in my lifetime, but the question is: What is it going to mean for us?

At K9 Protection, we understand that our customers are looking for a solution to a problem, and that security is often a reluctant purchase, as let’s be honest – we can rarely fully quantify what we do for you. Did our diesel stop going missing because we got security, or did the thieves just find God? The fact we’ve had no incidents on site for over a year – is it really down to the big fella in the yellow vest that we see walking around from time to time through all weather conditions, or is it just because it’s never going to happen to us? When you cannot quantify a service, the temptation is to buy the cheapest that money can buy, especially when security is often a box ticking exercise for an insurance company’s questionnaire.

The current situation in K9 Protection is that we have never paid minimum wage, and we try to track at about 12% above the minimum wage as our basic rate for “standard” low risk guarding sites. Within the management team, we decided some time ago that we like the work being carried out by the Living Wage Foundation, and we are, albeit slowly, working towards the Living Wage for our employees. As a guide, in 2013-2014, 80% of work taken on was at the lower rate, whereas so far in 2015, about 65% of tasks undertaken are at the lower rates.  Within the security industry, Minimum wage brings all kinds of problems, ranging from recruiting from within a pool of staff with low expectation and no experience, to people being fatigued simply through having a desire to feed their families and pulling hours which are simply unnatural. The current minimum wage allows us to legally discriminate against our staff based on their age – One of our most loyal and trusted guards was 19 when he started working with us; under minimum wage laws we as a company could have paid him a rate lower than the older guards who work for us, yet expect him to do the same job as our other staff – Not something that fits in with our ethos, and even the fact that we could have done so leaves a bitter taste within the management team.

What will K9 Protection be doing? After spending a day to digest the budget information released, K9 Protection will be looking at internal processes in order to adapt and modify in time for the new living wage rates coming in to play. It is our intention that we will remain one of the employers that pay based on role rather than on age, and it is our intention to remain at least 10% above the £7.20 minimum rate announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for ALL employees, not just those aged over 25. How are we going to fund this? Whilst some of the money to fund the pay increases will come from the lower corporation tax rate announced at the same time, it is inevitable that we are going to have to pass on a large proportion of the rises through increases in rates to our customers; something we do with a heavy heart. We will be looking at a timescale where contracts renewing after January 2016 are affected.

In addition to aiming for Living Wage, I have tasked our administrator with finding out about offering both NVQ training and apprenticeships to our staff – not as a way to reduce costs, but as a way to further add to the value of our team through training and new skills. This benefits not only our staff, but our client-base too, as the new skills learned can be applied to their role.

K9 Protection have always believed in adding value to our offering and we feel that by offering our employees that little bit more than our local competitors, they become part of that value: We keep employees who know and understand how our client’s sites operate, and as a result can ensure that security blends in to the background, but remains effective.  In addition to staffing, we are continually evolving as a company – the move to technology, allowing both lone worker protection and guard management from the same in-house developed system has helped us to streamline our management operations. The fact we have a solid ISO9001 procedure manual which we’re holding off until ISO9001:2015 is launched, simply to ensure it’s future proof, the fact we aced our SafeContractor assessment using procedures written in house and “from the heart”, and the fact we are continually looking to work with our clients to improve security at each site we look after mean that we wholeheartedly believe in what we do, and completely believe that our offering is amongst the best money can buy.

As I write this, I wonder who my audience is going to be. I suspect there are clients of ours reading my words and reaching for the Yellow Pages. I also suspect there are one or two competitors out there who are rubbing their hands with glee, as they feel we’re going to be pricing ourselves out of the market. Whilst I hope that our clients will understand our position and work with us, I will understand if the Yellow Pages is tempting – All I will say is, whether it’s me or David, call your account manager and talk it through with us first. When we have competitors desperately phoning our team to cover a dog handler job, but offering rates close to the current minimum wage, then specifying that a “dog handler” isn’t needed as long as the guard has a “good looking pet dog”, We all know this is going to be an up hill struggle, but my belief which is shared in the office today is that the quickest route to extinction would be failing to evolve, I hope you all choose to evolve with us.

Paul Green

Operations Manager

K9 Protection Ltd.

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