Safety, Security… & Hospitality?

Article Written by Salvatore Ingui

In today’s environment, there is an obvious need for safety and security as it relates to every
person living in and working with community associations throughout the State of New Jersey.
Regardless of whether the association provides gatehouse security, stationary front entrance
security or mobile patrols, security providers should be held to a high standard of
professionalism and exceptional hospitality service. Oftentimes the hospitality service that
should go hand in hand with safety and security services is either neglected, taken for granted
or dismissed altogether. The association contracts for exceptional service in every capacity and
as a result that service should be provided as a routine course of business by all vendors,
including the security company.

In today’s day and age of “cost saving”, hi-tech security such as Artificial Intelligence Video
Analytics, remote mobile guarding, and video surveillance and monitoring, the real-life human
element is becoming less prevalent. Conscientious live guards provide a proactive, real-time,
real-life presence and deterrence, along with safety and security. They perform a crucial
community caretaking function which cannot be accomplished by technology alone. Every
personalized interaction provides an opportunity to deliver top notch hospitality service made
up of safety, professionalism, care and compassion.

When the association looks for a well-rounded, successful security service, at a minimum, they
should demand well-trained NJ State Police Security Officer Registration Act (SORA) certified
guards who provide not only a sense of safety and security as their primary responsibility, but
as a paralleled second, specialty services consisting of a blend of concierge and hospitality. This
added layer of hospitality service helps create the Security Specialist position as compared to a
guard. A Security Specialist must be impeccably groomed and uniformed and should be
expected to undergo site specific training. Punctuality, reliability and accountability are prerequisites for a good relationship between the association and their security company. Staff
continuity and simultaneous duty shifts with supervisors also help create consistency among
performance and productivity. Finally, Security Specialists shall be easy to identify, both by their
uniform and by their company identification.

Typically, security guard training includes, but is not limited to theft prevention, Homeland
Security, basic fire safety, ethics, and professional conduct. In short, security guards are trained
to detect, deter, observe, and report. They are not trained in hospitality. It is imperative to hire
a security company who also stresses hospitality. Therefore, best practice dictates the security
company recruit and hire not only SORA certified professionals, but personalities capable of
satisfying this added ingredient. There are numerous SORA certified security guards; both
armed and unarmed, throughout the State of New Jersey. There are far more security guards
than available positions to employ them. As a result, security companies have a large pool to
choose from and must be thorough and diligent in their pursuit of recruiting and hiring the
highest quality Security Specialists for the association.

In choosing a security company, the association must provide their expectations. These
expectations should not fall short of hiring Security Specialists rather than guards. Security
Specialists serve not only as the first line of defense based on their SORA certification and
training, but also the first line to a positive interaction and creation of a perfect first and lasting
impression for your guests, visitors, residents, workers, and contractors. These Security
Specialists must preserve and cultivate the image and reputation of the brand of the
association and the community.

In closing, property managers and associations should not be complacent in selecting and hiring
a security company based on cost, popularity or exposure and advertising alone. Oftentimes,
large well-known security companies employ large numbers of replaceable guards at low
salaries who lack pride and the ability to provide the personal touch expected by residents.
Residents contract for and deserve this personal touch. Consider a security company who pays
their personnel well, knows hospitality as well as safety and security, and trains their SORA
certified guards to be more than just guards. Personnel should also be trained as all-encompassing Security Specialists. These Specialists must exhibit pride in representing the
community they serve and willing to be involved with the community through daily interaction,
involvement and communication. Associations obviously represent the best interests of their
residents. To that fact, a Security Specialist would satisfy those same residents greater than
your typical guard.

Salvatore Ingui is the Regional Director of APC Security Services, Inc., a Division of APC
Hospitality, LLC in Verona, NJ. He is also a retired Captain with the New Jersey State Police.