The $31 billion security services market is facing new opportunities for growth, so it’s a great time to invest in starting and growing a security business. The end of the recession has seen a rebound in corporate profits, making more funds available for outsourced security guard services. Plus, the explosion of new businesses in the past five years has led to an expanded pool of clientele, but competition is stiff. Spurred by new technologies, IBIS World reports that in the next five years, security firms are likely to face stern competition from security alarm service systems, which provide remote monitoring and off-site response services.

If you’re interested in growing a security business, how should you go about it and what growth strategies should you be using to compete effectively? Here are four tips for today’s market:

4 Tips on Growing a Security Business

  1. Be a Tech-Savvy Provider

One of the big distinctions between large, national security companies and smaller, regional players is technology adoption says Gary Kuty of Guardian 8. If you’re looking to invest in growing a security business, technology, particularly mobile technology, can help with almost every task that a security guard does. Real-time incident communications, GPS positional data, web-based reporting tools, and security guard management software are rapidly replacing traditional “pen and paper guard tours”, and small businesses are struggling to keep up.

Kuty stresses that every company needs to integrate technology into its operations or hook up with a provider who can help them do it if they don’t have in-house resources. With so many options out there, you don’t have to go all in, so Kuty recommends that small companies identify the most pressing areas where efficiencies can be realized and services can be streamlined.

“I think prospective end users are looking for companies that are technology savvy,” he said, “because most of the larger companies that guard companies are servicing have the technology internally, and they expect their vendors to have that same technology.”

Technology is also a big competitive differentiator and a nice hiring incentive, and it should be at the core of your growth plans.

  1. Have All Competitors, Even Internal Ones, on Your Radar

As you pitch your security services, don’t just position yourself against the competition. Remember that many companies may be giving serious thought to hiring their own internal team over a private security company. Be prepared for this scenario. Even if it’s not discussed, assume that it’s an option on the table. This article—8 Reasons Private Security Is Better Than Internal Security Staff—by Ahmad Hamidi of Secure Guard Security Services in California offers some useful pointers that you can weave into your customer discussions and marketing materials:

  • Stress the reduced risk of hiring an external company
  • Emphasize the time-savings that can be realized because no training is involved
  • Remind them of the labor costs (salaries, benefits, and employment taxes) that they’d face if they hire internally
  • Talk about how you handle all security staff management, including coordinating staff schedules and filling gaps when one guard is sick
  • Highlight the flexibility you provide in terms of customizing your services their unique needs
  1. Roll Your Team into Your Growth Plans

Don’t fall into the trap of under-investing in your employees. In recent years, security guard companies have fallen into what Courtney Sparkman, Founder and CEO of OfficeReports.com, a company that produces real-time security guard management software, calls “the Security Guard Industry Death Spiral” where guards blame their employers for not paying them enough and their customers get flack for not respecting them enough.

Sparkman stresses that security guard firms need to take responsibility and work to consistently identify and reward high-performing officers, citing the Ralph Day Security Officer of the Year Award program operated by ASIS International. He also encourages security firms to look for ways to establish a dialogue with their team so they have a clear understanding of staff needs and challenges. Go beyond this and remember to share your vision and growth plans with them. Remember, every employee plays a role in your success.

Check out these blogs for more tips on overcoming security guard work fatigue with incentives and recognition and more:

  1. Don’t Sell—Instead, Educate Your Buyers

Most of us hate being sold to. Today’s buying behavior is driven more by self-education. Your customers are educating themselves online, they’re listening to what other buyers say, and they are more informed earlier in the process. By the time you knock on their door, they probably have a strong understanding of what the market has to offer and may even have a price in mind.

Accepting these shifts in buyer behavior and acting on them should be a critical part of your growth strategy.

Instead of just selling, focus on what your buyers are looking for and work that to your advantage.

  • Start a blog and share industry best practices. Here are some more ideas for what to write about.
  • Reach out to your target prospect list and invite them to a workshop or seminar where they can learn about these practices and things they need to look out for as they develop a security guard program.
  • Find out what industry sites your buyers visit. Contact these publications and offer yourself up for an interview or see if they will accept a guest blog/article submission (again with a focus on best practices or industry observations). If you need help, hire a writer to craft your thoughts into a publishable piece.

Good luck and please leave your suggestions for growing a security business below!

Caron is a small business owner, writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron has blogged for the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE ,and other organizations on all matters relating to small business management and growth. Connect with Caron on Twitter and at April Marketing.