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Archive for October, 2014

FIRE! Get out, NOW!!

I hope to never have the need to shout those words. According to statistics provided by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, house fires, no matter how they are started, claim someone’s life every 35 minutes, and seniors aged 75 and older have the highest risk of dying in a house fire. I do not want to be such a statistic.

It was National Fire Prevention week (Oct. 5-11) as I wrote this article. My social media feeds were full of articles about fire chiefs across Canada that were expressing their disappointment with the number of homes without smoke alarms. This should not be the case in this day and age.

Since March 2006, it has been mandatory for each household to have a working smoke alarm on every floor of their home. I’ve ensured that my home and family are protected. In my field of work, I’ve attended numerous fire scenes and many times observed homeowners and their families out on the street with literally their shirt on their backs. Sometimes they don’t even have shoes on!

When a fire starts, smoke travels quickly and smoke kills. Smoke travels so fast that time is of the essence and every second counts. Forget about the family photos or your prized possessions, gather everyone in the home and follow your planned escape route (a topic for another time) and GET OUT!

Smoke alarms are your early warning system to alert you of danger and give you every available moment to get out safely!

Do your part. Make sure you have the proper number of smoke alarms in your home. If you already have alarms installed, take a moment and test them to make sure they are working because their job is to save your life. Help them help you.

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Responsiveness

In many ways, the market for security guard services is commoditized and it is challenging to find real differentiators. One of the ways a difference can be made is by being really responsive. Responsiveness can be measured in two ways: by how well the customer has been listened to and the speed in which a request has been fulfilled. Service delivery needs to meet the expectation. This can be accomplished by making sure to have all incoming requests for services directed to someone (a manager) that can make the right decision. This manager needs to ask the right questions to be able to fully understand, spell out and make the request ready for execution. This manager also will not only ensure a person will show up, but he/she will match the job with the right individual. The match should be made based on the requirements and culture of the customer and the capabilities of the guard(s). The speed of fulfillment is important since after confirmation, the customer can be assured his security request is being taken care off. Being able to respond quickly is something that should be part of the organization, and in its DNA and culture. It is a sense of urgency, of always wanting to help the customer ASAP with a short-term request, proposal or advice. The people, processes, systems and infrastructure should all be aligned to make this happen. For some verticals in the security market this is essential.

When my wife and I decided to have some landscaping done, we approached 3 different suppliers. Two of them I assumed were busy as it was difficult to set a meeting for a quote. One supplier was quick to respond and made a drawing and provided a quote within 2 weeks. The difference in cost between the 3 suppliers was not huge, but still relevant. The quick responder was the most expensive, and stayed in this position even after negotiating the price down. However in the end, we chose this company since we believed that their focus on servicing the customer would continue during the execution of the job. We were not disappointed. This is a perfect example of the importance of responsiveness as a differentiator even if a small premium needs to be paid.

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