AGB’s security services back up retailers with highly trained professionals who excel in the human touch

When retail stores approach AGB to enlist our security services, we always enter with the goal of forming a long-term relationship. Some of the best advice we can give is this: Physical security needs to be part of every retailer’s plan.

As more retail stores utilize digital technology to serve security needs, owners and operators need skilled security officers who can de-escalate conflicts, spot trouble before it starts and bring the human touch to daily operations. Shoppers and staff want to feel safe and technology alone can’t make that happen or offer merchants a sense of control.

For starters, seeing an officer present will give any person who’s thinking of doing something nefarious some serious second thoughts. Even if you have cameras or bright lights in the parking lot, it’s just not the same as having physical security on hand to prevent perpetrators from damaging property or harming people.

For our security officers on-site during business hours, customer communication skills come first. The personnel we hire must possess the ability to calm customers and work with everyone at the store—including management, the maintenance crew, and cashiers. It’s key to deliver great service and practice patience when things get heated.

Security companies also must hire for the location. Even though we always do our very best, not every person we train is ideal for an assignment. We want to make sure the personnel fit the contract and so we strive to evaluate an officer’s disposition to get the right people out there. To accomplish this, we stress a level of cultural competency when engaging with diverse communities.

In part, cultural competency means knowing what bad behavior looks like and being able to stop incidents before they happen. The best security guards possess what I call situational awareness. Situational awareness could mean recognizing when a fight might break out, for example, just by reading the way people stand; up to 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. We can also make that work to our advantage. Just a guard’s posture, or how they hold their stance, can send a powerful message.

Behind the scenes, it is a must to build solid bonds with a retail client before the issues happen. We consider it crucial to have a contact person on both ends, for AGB’s retail security team and the retailer. We need one person we can speak to about our issues, while the client needs the same. Streamlining communications can’t be stressed enough and in my role as a director, a direct line to my counterpart at the store means a clear connection and quick troubleshooting.

Certainly, we use technology to aid what we do. While some retailers may not be aware of our cutting-edge technology, they find it to be a great asset. Our workforce management software allows the client to track the performance of our security officers in real-time, they don’t have to question whether the officers are doing their rounds. Completed incident reports go directly from our system to the client in real time, a huge improvement over paper-based systems.

Among the many things we’ve learned over two decades—and we’re always learning—one stands out as essential to our success: The best security services start with bringing on the best personnel. That means hiring within the communities we serve, where guards are more apt to understand the culture. Additionally, individuals who once could have been part of the problem now become part of the solution. We want to give local residents and retailers an upper hand, every day. Because we shop local for the best talent, everyone can shop and sell with peace of mind.

Daryl Griffin is Director of Operations for AGB Investigative Services.