Your Background and Experience are part of your Credibility, and it does matter.

Are you projecting an image of credibility to potential clients? How about your peers? As the saying goes, “perception is reality.” What perception are you giving?

To many it is not big news that in the security and executive protection business there are many people who are not all they say, or claim they are. More to the point, what image they are projecting is not necessarily true. To others like potential clients, they may be completely unaware.

There have been some recent articles and news stories about this lately, such as this one about a security company allegedly offering questionable services. I looked at the company web site, the wording is a bit sketchy in my opinion. Here’s a direct quote;

  • All of our professional officers that visit your property could be active or former law enforcement officers, US Government agents, private security professionals, video specialists or US Military.

A potential customer might assume that this company actually provides active police officers, US Government agents, and even US Military personnel. Of course many of us know better, but there are people out there that will not. How does that make the rest of the honest security providers look?

Then I ran across this article, while it isn’t about the security business, it’s about firearms training which often relates to security, and it is about credibility. It speaks volumes about how unsuspecting people will buy into something without actually doing some fact checking. Even after some people are found to be lying about their background they still have people supporting them. Personally, I don’t get it. I would be quite upset if I found out someone providing me with training lied about their background. I’ve actually cut ties with someone because I know they lied about their military background, although that wasn’t the only reason.

The above article makes a lot of good points, please read it, then go back and read it again and apply “executive protection” as the industry that they are talking about.

See where I’m going with this yet?

Almost every week we come across another security company web site filled with what I call “cool-guy” pictures. Some of those actually have the experience they are trying to project to potential clients, a good number of them I suspect don’t. Just as with the firearms instruction business, the executive protection business has them as well. There, I said it. If you are angry about that then you might be one of the people I’m talking about. If this didn’t upset you, then you probably have not embellished your experience, or projected an image that may not exactly represent your actual experience. And more than likely this upsets you too.

I’m not talking about people who post pictures of training at the range in 5-11 gear, I wear mine to the range too, it keeps my jeans from getting ruined and they are comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

What I am talking about are those people who have their web site plastered with similar pictures, yet don’t have the experience or background they are projecting to people. No, I’m not going to name names. Click this link; “Executive Protection companies,” it will take you 5 minutes or less to find one I’m guessing.

Not long ago I saw someone expounding on the virtues of professionalism in the Executive Protection business. So I checked their company web site and there it was, a picture of a couple guys in suits and sunglasses holding M-4’s and Shotguns while protecting a client at what might have been a local public establishment. Seriously. When is the last time any private detail was allowed to openly carry M4’s and Shotguns downtown? If there is enough of a threat against your client that requires the carry of rifles and shotguns then I doubt they are going to be going out to the local coffee shop with you carrying an M-4 openly. Not to mention that the local police are going to take issue with you openly carrying those weapons. What will the local population will think? Is that really the right image to project in town? Ever hear of “low-profile?”

This is just my personal opinion, but this makes us all look bad. One of my clients actually asked my opinion of security companies or people who do that, as well as the following situation. He agreed with my assessment and won’t hire them, yet I’m sure they will get work regardless.

The one that I really take issue with is the “contractor” pictures. If you were a contractor I have no issues with that, I was one myself, as was Richard. It is the people who are giving potential clients the impression that they were, thereby implying they have a certain background, or experience, when they actually were not. Clients may not always have time to completely check your background (even though they should), and may hire someone based on perceived experience from what they see on your web site. What happens when there is a real threat, or actual attack on your client? What happens if your client is harmed either physically, or their reputation is harmed? Do you think the lawyers are going to question you about that?

While I do my best to remain professional at all times, I’m not perfect, and I sometimes find it hard to hold my tongue when I see contractor posers. Especially when they are out there providing training to those trying to get into this business. The only thing worse is the military fakes in my opinion.

A week or so ago I saw a Facebook comment in one of the security related groups that just astounded me. Someone mentioned that he was starting a “high end” protection company. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, just last year that very same person hadn’t even been to an executive protection course, let alone had any experience. Apparently now that he had been to a 3-day course and has done a couple jobs he is fully qualified to open a “high end” protection company. I’m hoping that all that talk isn’t true, how could any client take him seriously? Which brings up my next point.

I often see, or hear my peers talking about how the pay in our profession isn’t always what it should be, or how the daily rates have degraded. Just a thought, some of the things I mentioned here are directly related to that happening. These people are degrading our entire industry, one that should be thought of as highly professional. But how can I, or anyone else, including clients, take them seriously when they are presenting a false image?

Not long ago I was called by a potential client that was looking to replace their security. The company they were using is a local guard company. Things didn’t work out too well. When I met the client they had no idea what protection was about, but also didn’t want to listen to suggestions either. My impression was they wanted bargain basement prices for top level people. There were a number of other issues I won’t go into here. However they had a preconceived image of tough guys walking around their backyard with guns out, but didn’t want to see security or have it during the day….and paying them $10 per hour.

You’ll notice that on our web site the only “cool-guy” or “contractor” pictures are used to illustrate a point, and not to advertise our services, except for firearms training. We are trying to attract a certain level of client. I still haven’t figured out what type of client would want security carrying M-4’s around him when going downtown for coffee here in the US.

Lastly, here is what is happening in Florida. Four charged with fraud, Five charged with fraud. There have been almost 5,000 licenses suspended, 4,000 have been concealed weapons licenses and almost 1,000 security guard licenses. 33 firearms instructors (13 arrested) and 4 security guard instructors have been suspended as well. The Division of Licensing has started 2,183 investigations state wide. I’m sure those numbers are a bit higher by now. Does anyone wonder why security gets a bad reputation? Thanks to where I found those statistics.

I’m asking my fellow professionals to honestly think about this, start saying something to your peers that may be doing these things. But do it professionally. If you want to be taken seriously, then start acting seriously. If you want potential clients to take you seriously, then don’t try pulling the wool over their eyes, so to speak. Even clients who don’t have a solid grasp of our procedures will eventually figure out the posers.

As they say, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool everyone all of the time.

If you still don’t believe me here’s a good article to read on how people will take advice from anyone who puts out a sign.

As professionals we need to start cleaning up our image as well as our industry, starting with honesty and integrity. If you expect higher pay and to be treated as a professional, then you need to show the clients why they should pay you a higher fee over the fakers, posers, and frauds in this business.