To answer the question of why you aren’t working, you must first know what it takes to be successful in the protection industry and what the client expects from you.
Often when I see people who constantly complain about not working or the problems in the industry they often fall into one of two categories:
Tenured agents who have been fired or whose contract has expired or new agents with unrealistic expectations. New agents, often confuse enthusiasm with competency. When it comes to tenured agents, it is often a feeling of entitlement. They feel I have done this before, so I deserve to be selected. Some seem to forget we have to earn that right every day.
Staffing a team is often as much about fit as it is function. It may not be a function of, does an agent have the skills to do a particular assignment, but can their ego stand down as they fill another role on the team, which may not be detail or shift leader? Unfortunately, they miss whether through a lack of understanding of the other critical roles, or the perceived glory of the body-man position, that all roles and functions are important. When agents feel they are under-employed, it often manifests itself in a lack of focus, insubordination or negative energy. These dynamics put both the client contract and the protective strategy at risk.
Many agency owners or detail leaders will pass on the “Negative Nelsons,” of the world, despite how good they look on paper. In protective services, the hours are often long, and the breaks are often few. No one wants to be around negative energy all day long. Once you start questioning the approach of the existing detail or shift leader you put execution at risk. That weakens the overall morale and esprit de corps of the team as fellow agents start to second guess if you are engaged at that critical moment of truth. Also, if you talk about the detail leader when he is out of earshot, will you talk about the other team members in their absence? Many naïve self-promoting agents will try and question the team strategy in front of the clients, to try and demonstrate their knowledge and enhance their own position. They fail to get that clients see right through this and also understand that if someone will breach the trust of their team, how can they trust you with their family, business and other assets?
Clients also feel the negative energy, and when that negative energy manifests itself in insubordination with the client, it may not only lead to that agent being sent home it may put the entire contract at risk. We are more than just our brother’s keeper; we are our brother’s feeder also. A negative encounter with a client may mean 3 – 4 families are now without a steady source of income.
The other thing which often impacts opportunity is availability. Too many people want to work when it is convenient to them, not when the client has a protection need. Client needs are dynamic, and threats rarely present themselves when it is convenient, so flexibility and availability are key to both short-term success as well as long-term sustainability.
For the new agent understand the agency owner may be looking for the right opportunity to give you the nod. Remember sometimes we have preparation and no opportunity. Other times we have opportunity and not enough preparation for that particular assignment. Also know, for tenured clients, the existing team has already established a service standard and client/team chemistry and clients are often protective of their space, so it is a delicate balance in making the transition with someone who doesn’t have a proven body of work for concern of a reduction in service levels.
So, what is the new guy to do? How do you build some experience? For the tenured or new agent first change your attitude. Keep training to keep your skillset contemporary with today’s challenges. Clean up your social media pages as both clients as well as agency owners will review your digital footprint. Repeated long negative posts are pattern of behavior not an aberration, and will be noted as such. Find the vocal ones on social media and scroll back to last year’s pages, those same agents were still complaining this time last year also. Get the point?
How do you go forward? For new agents, focus on becoming the lead advance agent in your marketplace. Since 80 – 85% of the advance agent’s job is done away from the principal, you can often avoid some of the internal politics and client chemistry concerns as you build credibility. Since so much of our business is done on referrals, you may pick up additional references from other satisfied detail leaders. Also, consider potential clients who may not have big budgets but can give you experience and often big exposure. Think about pastors, school board members, and state representatives. While state representatives and school board members may have law enforcement coverage at major events, they often don’t have coverage outside of board meetings. Not only are legislators good high-profile clients, during campaign season they often interface with many high net worth (HNW) individuals looking to make donations to their campaign or help influence future policy. The transferred credibility may give you the inside track to potential HNW clients.
For those who feel they are tired of working for someone else then consider opening your own agency. Get credentialed, apply for your license and pay the insurance and start doing your own business development (securing clients). That way as you take on the additional responsibility and assume more of the risk and liability you now control the staffing and profit distribution. You also get to see that despite client’s payment terms, employee payroll and expenses are ongoing. This allows you to create your own desired agency to your respective standards. However, it may just give you a sense of appreciation, that being an employee is often far easier than being an owner.
Why You Aren’t Working
Mark “Six” James CPO, EPS, CAS
For additional safety tips visit www.pantherprotectionservices.com. Mark “Six” James is Founder and Executive Director of Panther Protection Services, LLC. He is an internationally published author, keynote speaker, security consultant to educational institutions and frequent contributor to a number of print, broadcast and online media, and the author of a number of security, firearm and protection publications. Panther Protection Services is a full-service protection agency focusing on Risk and Crisis Mitigation, Protective Services, Self-Defense Training, and Firearm Instruction.