Hiring a security firm can help protect your restaurant from crime and unruly customers, but which firm do you hire? If you are going to trust someone else to protect your restaurant, it is critical to find the right match for the job. There are a lot of choices in security firms but not all may be the right fit. Having worked in law enforcement and security for over twenty years, here are some questions I suggest you ask before hiring a security firm.

What happens in an emergency?

If someone breaks into your property, you want to be sure there is a procedure in place to deal with it in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

A security strategy should encompass elements such as responsibility, response time and security equipment. Having a procedure in place in case of emergencies will put your mind at rest and hopefully if the worst was to happen, damages can be minimized. These procedures should include calling law enforcement, protecting customers and employees from danger, escorting people from the area and being a good witness for the police.

Ensure that the security guards you hire know how to deescalate a situation if a guest is getting out of hand to ensure the surrounding customers and staff remain safe. Guards do this by using a three-step process: assess the situation, adapt to the state of the situation and attend to the situation. Your restaurant staff should have similar training to quell such situations. This training should be updated regularly and held yearly to ensure all staff know how to give the best customer service, even in a bad situation.

Does your security firm have proper licensing?

The first thing you want to do is make sure the security firm you are considering is legally licensed in your state. A legally licensed security firm ensures that you’re hiring a true professional, capable of protecting your property and patrons. This does not necessarily mean an individually licensed guard but a licensed security firm as a whole.

Are your guards trained and how much do you pay them?

Asking the firm you are interviewing if they have well-trained guards will ensure they are experienced to do the job properly. Ask your potential security team if the guards are trained with weapons? Do they know how to execute a perimeter search? Do they know how to tell if someone is acting suspicious? How do they deal with unruly guests who may have had one too many drinks? Trained guards will be able to perform these tasks and provide better security for your property.

When hiring a security firm you also want to make sure the guards are paid well. You ask this about the guard’s pay because, as in any job, you are more likely to get someone who is interested in doing their job, and do it well, if they are getting paid more.

What is your experience working with other businesses in my industry?

The security company you plan to work with should have knowledge and understanding of the environment in which you operate and the individual processes that need to be put in place to keep your business, employees and customers safe. Additionally, if you are interested in working with a particular company, you should ask to receive ample references.

Using these questions when evaluating potential security firms will help you make the right decision and ensure your property is in safe hands.

Bill Herzog is the Director of Operations with LionHeart Security Services. Herzog has been in law enforcement for over 25 years before joining LionHeart’s staff.

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