If you have a current security firm providing services on your campus and you’ve made the decision to change to a new provider, there are many areas you need to consider to ensure a smooth transition.
Depending on the relationship you have with your current provider, you may have concerns that they will not be invested in maintaining student safety once they are notified that you’re making a change. For this reason, you’ll want to be sure that your new provider is ready to go the same day that you tell the existing provider that you’re discontinuing service.
KEYS AND ALARM CODES
Often on school campuses, the security provider is the only resource that knows all the codes, keys, locks, alarm functions, surveillance tools and other security equipment and resources available for the community. When changing companies, you’ll want to ensure that someone on your team has access to all of these systems and can transfer the knowledge and information over to the new team. Additionally, once you transfer over these assets, you’ll want to change combinations and codes so that none of the former officers have access to your campus or any of your security tools.
Remember: if changing codes on an alarm system, you can’t just give old codes to new team members. You have to delete or disable the old codes so former guards can’t access the system. Then, you have to create new codes for the new officers- codes that nobody else has previously had.
EXECUTING THE TRANSITION
You’ll want to do some thinking and perhaps some role-playing to better understand how current providers will react to the news that you are making a change. Depending on their level of engagement, you may need to consider how you’ll notify them about the change. If there is ANY expectation that a provider being terminated will have a negative or violent reaction, care should be taken to share the news when students are not on campus and/or at a remote location. It may be tough to ask people to meet off hours or off campus. However, anything you can do to minimize any potential disturbance on your campus should be a top priority.
When a security firm or personnel is notified that you are terminating service, they should be escorted off campus and asked not to return to engage with students or faculty. If necessary, you may want to hire an outside security firm to assist with this transition so it doesn’t create a tension between the previous firm and the new security vendor taking over.
COMMUNICATING TO INTERNAL STAKEHOLDERS
Often security guards build relationships with your community. It is natural for students and faculty to be confused about a transition to a new security firm because they probably don’t know about everything going on behind the scenes. For this reason, it is helpful to have a message prepared to share with students, faculty, and families to explain the transition.
In the message, you shouldn’t say anything that would suggest that the campus was not secure and safe with the former provider. This could cause unnecessary panic and make parents feel uncomfortable about sending their kids to your campus. Instead, your message should focus on the school’s practice of reviewing operations and partners on a regular basis so as to identify areas of improvement.
In announcing a new security provider, you should express confidence and excitement about the new partnership. You can share information about your new provider that highlights their experience, the relationship with the school administration, and any plans you have to create a safer and more secure learning environment.
It is important that this communication is distributed just as the new officers are taking their post on your campus. You want to do what you can to ensure that the community is aware of the change as it is happening so they do not feel surprised or unsure about the security services being provided.
PULL TOGETHER A FACEBOOK
While it is helpful to prepare your community for the new security officers, it is also useful to provide information on the community to your new security firm. You may want to assemble a Facebook of the important school leaders and associates who frequent the campus. It is also helpful to assemble information about any vendors or other ancillary members of the community so they can become familiar with the people that make up your extended family.
A Photo Book is the best way for officers to start to recognize faces and put them together with names. If officers are responsible for controlling entry and exit access at your campus, the more they know about who is going to be coming and going, the stronger support they can provide. Your new security officers will get better over time. Anything you can do to help advance their learning curve so that the campus environment maintains a warm and welcoming atmosphere will make the transition easier.
MAKE IT A RELATIONSHIP, NOT A ONE-TIME THING
When welcoming a new security provider onto your campus, you’ll want to develop ongoing opportunities for the officers to learn more about your campus and community. Try to invite them to support school functions so they can get to know the community and better understand your culture. Include them in drills and all-school events so they are a vibrant presence on your campus and not just a gatekeeper. A new security company represents an opportunity for a stronger engagement and a stronger environment. Use a security team to help build toward the best campus environment you can build to support the students and faculty that make up your school community.
Chief of R.O.G.E.R. - Relationships, Outcomes, Growth, Excellence, and Rewards & Recognition