Archive for January, 2015

Lost in Spaces

Not too long ago I had an appointment with a colleague who works at a downtown office building. I arrived 15 minutes early and parked in the underground. As I locked my car and started to walk toward the elevator I heard a call for help. “Can you help me?” said an elderly lady who approached me from another aisle. I looked up and wondered what she wanted. Again she asked “Can you help me?” and this time she added “I can’t find my car!”

Now, I am one to help someone in need and I had a few minutes to spare, so I replied “Yes”. I asked her where she thought she parked her car and she started to look around. She was adamant that when she arrived she parked quite quickly in the underground lot, walked a short distance to the elevator and rode up 1 floor to the office for her appointment. After walking around and looking for 5 to 10 minutes I began to wonder. What if she had the wrong floor? What if she forgot just how far she had to walk to get to the elevator? What if she didn’t have a car? Should I give up, let her deal with it and get to my appointment?

Sensing that the car wasn’t close by, I decided to use my car to drive us around to look for her car and I asked her to get in. Up and down the aisles we travelled, looking for her car. As time passed she began to question herself. “I couldn’t have been in this area. I must be somewhere else.” She asked, “What will I do if we don’t find the car?” I suggested going to the building security. Perhaps they would have video footage that could help determine where her car was.

I decided to broaden the search and ventured far away from our starting location to look around the other end of the lot. Then it happened. “There it is!” she exclaimed. I drove up to the car, waited for her to get in and start it just to make sure she was OK. She thanked me profusely and drove away. I parked my car and got to my appointment, albeit 20 minutes late.

Now I’m a bit paranoid about forgetting where I’ve parked my car, as it happened once at the Toronto airport. So, I’ve made a habit to write down the floor and post number to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If it ever does happen, I sure hope there will be someone close by who will offer to help me find my car.

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One unfortunate characteristic of the guarding industry is the relative high turnover rate and the most effective way to reduce turnover is creating a culture of engagement. In the guarding industry this is often a challenge as the guards are working at customer locations and contact with the company may be limited. Even with frequent manager site visits, the guards see way more of the customers they work for than of the guard company management. One effective way to stimulate engagement is to involve the customer.

For example, at a mining site up north a customer agreed to quarterly meetings with all the guards. Around shift changes, two meetings were held, each an hour in duration, so that all guards were able to attend. The meetings consisted of an update by the customer regarding their business, an update from the guarding company and an overview of the scores achieved by the guard force. After a few meetings they started asking more and more questions, getting more involved and their performance improved.

When you work as a partner with your customers they become more receptive to these kinds of arrangements, especially if you can clearly explain the benefits of their involvement.

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