22 Dec Retail security guards – the right way to use guards in-store
To the average shopper, the role of the retail security guard may look easy. Like a silent sentinel, it would seem, all the guard has to do is “just stand there”.
As most senior store managers would know, however, there is much more to the successful deployment of security guards in a customer-facing retail environment than having some person standing in a certain position.
A growing number of retail stores in Australia, particularly stores located in Melbourne and Sydney, are engaging specialist retail security guard services with intent to provide a strong visual deterrent to criminal activity, and an equally strong sense of reassurance for both staff and customers.
Retail store security is a specialist discipline and not all security companies in Melbourne or Sydney can deliver the most effective security guard services required by retail stores. Disappointment can lead to a high turnover of retail security guard service contracts until the right provider is finally found.
Four common complaints about retail security guard services
The guard's uniform is way too formal for our store environment and we've noticed that it's offputting to our genuine customers.
The guard has no proper uniform so there is no air of authority and hardly any visual deterrent for anyone with crime in mind.
The guard looks bored standing there with no clearly-defined role.
Staff are distracted from their duties by the guard having nothing to do and relieving their own boredom by trying to chat with the staff.
Some of these issues can be addressed by the store manager in consultation with an experienced security provider, as it is the security company who is ultimately responsible for providing security guard services which are tailor-made to suit your store environment and achieve the desired results without negatively affecting the customer’s shopping experience or staff productivity.
Tips for getting it right with retail security guards
Uniform and presentation
The security guard’s presentation should take into account the style and aesthetic environment of the store when determining the most appropriate outfit to wear as a uniform. The most important consideration must be to provide would-be offenders with a clear visual deterrent without the presence being intimidatory or offputting to potential customers.
Depending on the individual retail environment, the ‘right’ kind of presentation might be a more official-looking security guard uniform, or it could be a well-tailored suit.
Aptitude and attitude
Retail security guards should be handpicked in the security provider’s recruitment process based upon each candidate’s aptitude for this specialist security role.
Not all security companies make this distinction in their recruitment processes – a common mistake often made throughout the security services industry. If the allocated retail security guard is usually employed as a security patrolman driving around eight hours per night, visiting hundreds of premises and responding to alarms, they would most likely not perform well in the relatively inactive environment of the retail store. Also, as a general rule, the kind of security guards who are used to working as crowd controllers for licensed venues do not make good long-term retail store guards.
Selecting the right personality-type for the retail security guard role can go along way towards avoiding the bored expression of someone who feels like they’re “just standing there”.
Fixed tasks can help keep the security guard alert and mentally engaged – providing the tasks given are not of the type to cause distraction from the guard’s primary duties.
Tasks can be as simple and helpful as keeping count of the customers entering the store, or keeping a log of periods when the store does not have any customers present.
Guards with set tasks are less likely to distract staff around them. The periodic rotation of guard placements to different stores also assists with the prevention of over-familiarity and associated boredom.
In summary, a great retail security guard will look the part, provide a visual deterrent, be polite and personable to customers, and allow staff to maintain focus on assisting customers and performing their duties.