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Does size matter in the security industry - is big beautiful?

Doug Hewitson, the Managing Director of G4S Secure Solutions (UK) introduces his sixth blog on
G4S, security blog

Doug writes: “One of the many things that really enthuses me (and my senior management team) about the UK security industry is its sheer variety. Our industry is a colourful one with providers ranging from the very big, to the much-smaller scale; from traditional guarding services to niche and bespoke security utilising new technologies and fresh approaches.

Basically, we come in all shapes and sizes.

A key debate that we have as providers of security and safety solutions, and one that really matters to our customers, is: does size matter? Are large firms preferable to smaller ones?

As can be often the case in security, the answer is sometimes not immediately apparent. So, let’s reframe the question slightly and look at the fundamentals. In my view, this is a no brainer – we’re here to minimise and mitigate risk for our customers by providing services which in turn offer stability. If we’re looking at the debate on size, we must never lose sight of what benefits the customer.

Few can seriously deny that larger firms tend to possess a level of financial stability that customers can rely on, where concerns over cash flow are either highly negligible or entirely absent. In our experience, this gives an extra level of reassurance to customers and ensuring customer confidence is all a part of the service. Reassured customers are happy customers, after all.

The same can be said for the checks and balances that size can provide through compliance and standard processes. The customer benefits of suitably well-established industry-leading practice, governance procedures and audit are clear.

On top of reassurance, I believe it’s important to tackle a number of myths that creep into the debate on whether size matters to customers.

Some argue that smaller firms are more adaptable and innovative. In reality greater size adds to the scope of services a security company can provide. My view is that as the risk profiles of our customers change and their complexities increase, the need for adaptable solutions is more critical now than ever before. It’s therefore logical that the bigger the business, the greater the adaptability.

Surge capability is a great example of this. Our Enhanced Guarding division would not have been in a position to ensure the integrity of a potential nuclear site – in the face of 700 protesters – without the capacity to deal with such surge requirements swiftly and effectively. This is a particularly critical customer benefit in the utilities industry that realistically only the larger firms can deliver.

In the same token, innovation and change should always be married to stability because you simply cannot have one without the other. Size is a greater guarantee of stability in change.

Another myth in the debate is direct customer access to MDs in smaller firms. With appropriate account management structures there should be no need to go straight to the MD. Of course MDs should be accessible when needed, but it might be prudent to question the underlying circumstances of why a customer would need direct MD access in the first place!

The debate will no doubt continue and we as security professionals will continue to examine what benefits our customers and the size of firms will play a part of that. In my view the case is overwhelming – big is beautiful and it is well placed to deliver the best for our customers.”