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Affordable Care Act - Is Your Contractor Raising Rates Needlessly?

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The Affordable Care Act takes full effect on January 1st 2015. It does have quite an impact on our industry due to language written in the law and due to the current state of security officer benefits. The next problem contract security company's face is a lack of infrastructure to deal with these new challenges. Everyone is busy!

However, if you do your due diligence and spend time learning about the ACA and all of its requirements we have found that we can mitigate the impact felt by the client while still providing our employees with qualifying coverage that is not only affordable but fully qualifies under the law so that they may avoid the penalty.

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The Transition Phase

One of the most critical phases in a security contract is the "transition" phase. During this phase the client is transitioning from one contract security provider, or an in house (proprietary) guard service, to another. The transition is crucial because during this time the duties and responsibilities of the security officers are being passed on to the new provider. There are many ways this can go horribly wrong, but it is also during this phase that the new company has the opportunity to showcase the differences between their service and the previous provider. There are different challenges when going from a proprietary guard service to a contract service and I will save those for another article.

If you are considering switching contractors it is important to be aware of your new provider's transition plan, and how it may affect your productivity. A well devised plan that takes into consideration your company's needs is critical. Three things you should consider when preparing for this phase:

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Message To Garcia

"There are no stupid questions." How many times did we hear this when we were young and going through school? For the record, it is true. There are no stupid questions when you are in a learning environment. However, once you are in a working environment it is necessary to modify your approach. The statement then becomes, "There are no stupid questions, but there are lazy ones."

Let me explain. When you ask an employee of any organization to perform a certain task, especially if it is outside of their job description, you will often be met with a battery of questions. When do you need this done? How do you want it formatted? Can I get John to help me with this? Wouldn't it be better for Michelle to do this because it is really her job? All of these questions are non-productive. The real issue at hand is getting the job done! If we work as a unit and we have the appropriate processes in place so that everyone understand our expectations then any member of our team should be able to complete the task at hand. I would like to make a disclaimer here: I understand that certain positions are "skilled" positions and require a certain level of knowledge, experience, or training for someone to be able to accomplish their duties and responsibilities.

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The Affordable Care Act and The Contract Security Industry

In March of 2010 the President of the United States signed into Law the "Patient protection and Affordable Care Act" which is commonly called the "Affordable Care Act" (ACA). The intention of the bill was to provide quality affordable health insurance to all Americans. Everyone is required to participate either through the "individual mandate" or the "employer mandate." The employer mandate states that every company that employs 50 or more full time employees, full time now being defined as 30 hours per week or more, must provide qualifying coverage to those employees or face a penalty.

What does this mean for the private security industry? The issue at hand is complicated. Typically, the level of health insurance coverage from company to company varies greatly. However, due to budgetary constraints all contract security companies face the complicated task of ensuring they offer qualifying coverage to their employees who work an average of 30 hours per week or more. Now, we are at the heart of the problem: overhead will go up, and the additional costs are not currently included in existing pricing. What is the answer?

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Customer Service and The Contract Security Industry

Contract security officers often have a difficult task. They are responsible for securing the client's assets by limiting access and ensuring that the rules and regulations set by the client are being upheld. As any security professional will tell you they are to "observe and report" any infractions, incidents, or issues that they may see or hear. However, the duties and responsibilities of a security officer often go well beyond the fundamental security roles. When we add value added services to the mix the security officer must be a very detail oriented individual that still understands the need for excellent customer service. I believe that many security officers confuse customer service and quality of work. No matter how "great" we perform our job function, whether it be access control, foot patrol, or even scale house operations, our attitude towards visitors, contractors, and clients dictate our customer service level.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary define service as:

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