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Do Security Measures Have a Return on Investment?

Dec 17, 2014

We spoke recently with Mitch Gitter, a security expert with over 30 years of experience working with businesses including many in the real estate industry. Mitch is the founder and President of Defender Security Services, Inc.; a Board Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Private Investigator (PI); and has assisted building owners with implementing security systems. 

A proper security professional generally will not sell or limit select services or products and will look at a security program with a holistic approach rather than a compartmentalized view. The first step for best practices Mitch always recommends is performing a vulnerability assessment and risk analysis of the current security operations onsite. The first phase would involve some of following tasks: defining the building physical attributes and analyzing tenants’ profiles, business needs, and the surrounding areas.

Security measures are often looked at as having no revenue-added value but the reality is the benefits of having a security program far outweigh the costs. Security options should be guided by best practices, which can be tailored to fit into your budget. Some companies may not want an advanced security program because of the cost. Many companies see their security program as a pure expense without valuing the return on investment consideration. Security tends to be a budget-driven center and not every building has the same security needs. All buildings may have similar features such as pedestrian entryways, delivery entrances and elevators. However, not all of these features have the ability to accommodate the same security measures. Security can come in a variety of different forms: front desk security, in-house management, in-house security staff, outsourced personnel and security equipment.

The greatest assets of a building are the tenants, employees, and building visitors. A building owner has a moral and legal responsibility for the reasonable protection of the people inside the building. As we see in the news every day, bad things can happen anywhere at any time. Building owners and property owners should prepare and plan the appropriate security measures to help thwart crime and terrorism. There are no absolute guarantees a security system will not be breached, but security can greatly reduce the probability of occurrence happening outside or inside a building.

Security is an additional responsibility and an important business concern, so a properly developed and implemented security program is a valuable attribute to any building. The program should be designed to accommodate that determined risk to lessen risk and add value to the property or building and be the place people feel secure where they want to visit and work. A properly designed program could have an intangible return on investment that can translate into higher attraction of and desirability to tenants, better quality environment for tenants, lower insurance premiums, and higher liability defensibility. A properly designed security program could limit legal exposure and probability of unforeseen criminal events. On the other hand, a poor or non-existent security program could put your building at risk of increased crime, loss of tenants, physical damage, and bad public relations.

There is no “one size fits all” security plan. The most important part of any security analysis is defining the needs of each particular location and creating a tailored security plan. For example, residential and commercial real estate operations generally require two completely different approaches. Each business segment has to be analyzed and evaluated separately. In the case of new construction, the best approach to crafting a security plan would be to collaborate with the building’s architects during the design phase.

A large part of a security program deals with security staffing needs. Security experts work with their clients to determine the right individual for the proper job based on their skill sets.  Staffing needs at a nursing home may require an individual who has previous elder care experience and a temperament for handling patients who have special needs. A security guard who is stationed at a front desk of a corporate headquarters may need to have strong interpersonal skills dealing with the large amount of building guests and understand the specific corporate structure. “The key is to find the right individual for the appropriate position; it all comes down to the people, proper training and supervision for each job,” according to Mitch. At the end of the day, it’s people who ultimately make or break a security team’s effectiveness.

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