This is the eighth instalment in a monthly series of articles for the readers of Risk UK where we shine the spotlight on NSI-approved businesses for the benefit of risk and security managers who purchase security guarding as well as systems-focused solutions. Answering our questions on this occasion is Francis Cole, managing director of Cole Security Services.
Risk UK: Can you briefly describe your business’ activities and what you consider to be your USP as an organisation?
Francis Cole: Established back in 2006, Cole Security Services is a leading supplier of integrated managed security and facilities support services for organisations operating in the public and private sectors across Greater Manchester and the North West region. The company protects people, assets and professional reputation.
We set out with a clear mission to provide a different approach to security services whereby quality, reliability, flexibility and customer service cease to be just words on a piece of paper and become ‘The Total Customer Experience’. We determine to take the time to understand our customers’ needs and make good on our claim to have the customers’ interests at the heart of the service.
We’re committed to conducting our business through values that promote professionalism, integrity, respect, honesty and a safe working environment. We’re also committed to minimising the impacts that Cole Security Services has on the environment. As a business, we aim to act in a socially responsible manner at all times, ensuring that we consider our employees, customers, supply chain partners, the local community and the environment in all that we do.
Risk UK: What do your clients value most about the services you deliver?
Francis Cole: Our customers are educational establishments, healthcare providers, environmental services companies and other private businesses. They tell us that we’re reliable, responsive, professional and flexible.
We’ve listened to the views of our customers to develop a set of principles that make doing business with Cole Security Services a great experience. We call this our Experience Charter. It’s centred around eight ‘experience principles’: delivering superior levels of service, responding promptly and professionally to all situations, taking the time to understand our customers’ needs, not cutting corners to win contracts, being accessible and attentive, investing in training and developing our workforce, always being polite, sensitive and respectful towards our customers and other partners and acting in a socially responsible manner, while also being fully committed to all of our business undertakings.
Risk UK: How do you feel accreditations have assisted your company?
Francis Cole: Since July 2013, our services have been continuously certified under the National Security Inspectorate’s (NSI) Guarding Gold scheme for the provision of mobile patrol services, static guarding services, key holding and alarm services.
We’ve been a Security Industry Authority (SIA) Approved Contractor since 2006. The company is certificated to BS EN ISO 9001, BS 7499 (static guarding/mobile patrol services), BS 7858 (security screening) and BS 7984 (focused on key holding).
The NSI has been immense in ensuring that we comply with the above standards and all legal obligations pertaining to the company, and has also been a positive driving force in assisting the business to achieve a higher standard of service delivery.
Our clients have benefited from the rigorous audits the NSI conducts by dint of enhanced service delivery. These audits propel our team forward, delivering confidence and assurance throughout our workforce.
Risk UK: Specifically, what value does ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval bring to your business and its clients?
Francis Cole: I’ve always supported moves towards a more responsible and professional industry that understands and delivers on the key objectives of protecting people, property and premises. To this end, I believe the SIA’s Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) and NSI Guarding Gold have significantly contributed towards ensuring those operating in the industry are fit and proper to do so. Hence, they’ve assisted in raising the levels of public trust and confidence in our service.
Risk UK: In practice, what are the main differences between ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval?
Francis Cole: SIA ACS registration and NSI Guarding Gold approval are the most important benefits to our company when it comes to ensuring that standards are maintained and continuous improvements realised.
Being registered by the SIA and the NSI demonstrates that our company is committed to customer service and the compulsory licensing of all staff. Registration and approval mean that our customers can rest assured we deliver a quality service at all times.
Risk UK: How do you think technology has changed the industry over the last couple of years and what do you feel will be the direction of travel in the future?
Francis Cole: Cole Security Services partners with forward-thinking providers of secure technologies that support security guarding services such as static guarding and mobile patrols. Systems support technology includes access control, asset tracking and CCTV. We provide uncomplicated reports and analytics to meet specific requirements and help to improve client organisations’ security strategies and operational performance.
Clients enjoy the efficiencies and operational benefits realised by combining security guarding and systems. We’ve researched, explored and begun to implement new technology to enhance the business’ operational communications, systems and processes. We’re achieving this through improved compliance with customer and legal regulations, enhanced knowledge of our officers’ locations at all times, the monitoring of officers’ activities during patrols and live view reporting with e-mail message alerts, etc.
We’re able to provide a secure Customer Portal, enabling customers to log in and view security activity on their contract in real-time. We’ll soon be investing in more training and improved operational systems as well.
Risk UK: When it comes to negotiating contracts and responding to tender requests, what aspects are of most value to customers and how are these changing?
Francis Cole: I think both the public and private sectors recognise that SMEs can offer better value, higher quality service, greater flexibility and be more innovative than larger companies.
Although I suspect that cost is more often than not what drives customers’ buying decisions, at the same time customers are seeing the benefits of spending more for greater flexibility as well as a quality service.
Risk UK: How has Government legislation (eg the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage and holiday pay) affected your business? Do you believe such legislation is a good thing?
Francis Cole: I’m in complete support of the National Living Wage. I do believe that individuals’ wages/salaries should reflect what it is they do. The National Living Wage has enabled companies like ours to enhance staff pay whereas this would have been difficult to action without such legislation.
Risk UK: What are the most important attributes you look for in your security officers and staff members in general?
Francis Cole: We’re immensely proud of our people. We take direct and personal responsibility for each and every one of them.
When recruiting, we pay attention to the attitude of the candidates, ensuring their willingness to understand and embrace our values as a company, although competence does play a big part in the final decision to hire.
Risk UK: How can the SIA, the NSI and industry standards best serve the sector in addition to the needs of your company’s clients and the wider public interest? Will the introduction of business licensing be a positive step?
Francis Cole: Standards have improved over the years since the industry became regulated, but the SIA in particular must work with leading organisations such as the NSI who are ‘on the ground’ with security companies like ours and perhaps have a better overview of necessary improvements, the need for continuous development and the challenges we face.
I’m not completely certain that business licensing is the way forward, but I do believe it could be a positive force for good.
Time in the security sector
I have been involved in the security industry since February 2001 when I moved from London to Bolton, leaving behind a local Government position as an assessment officer for the London Borough of Redbridge
Location of the business
Cole Security Services has built its reputation among customers as the security services supplier of choice throughout the Bolton, Greater Manchester and North West region
Areas of expertise
Our security services include static guarding, mobile patrols, key holding, concierge services and Front of House security, facilities management, event security, emergency cover, personal security escorting and security training
NSI Guarding Gold, SIA ACS (Security Guarding, Key Holding), SafeContractor
About the National Security Inspectorate
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is a wholly-independent, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and operates as a UKAS-accredited certification body specialising in the security and fire safety sectors.
For over 40 years, the NSI has served to protect businesses, homeowners and the general public alike, raising standards by providing robust and high quality audits of both security and fire safety service providers.