The moment you are managing two or more VIP/Executive protection tasks simultaneously you are running a business, delivering a technical service. This fact is often not recognized by technical professionals or it represents the single point of failure for those that move up from close personal protection professional. Despite the courses, training, and experience attainable within the executive protection market, there is insufficient experience and preparation for this business transition which often results in poor customer experience/perception, operational disruptions, poor financial controls and the inevitable frustration/anger of those protection professionals under management and trying to deliver the service.
The customer is paying for and expecting a result. The real “wow” factor for customers is the ability and option to have access to a “we get things done” team of dedicated, driven and capable professionals. Well-run executive protection teams achieve just this. Once a business has experienced this level of service and expertise, they won’t got back. Once you educate and demonstrate to a client that there is more to “it” than just standing around, the won’t go back. This represents significant, opportunity for businesses, providers and protection professionals alike.
Managing a single team, or being a member of a single team environment is a technically dominant experience. You may at times assume broader responsibilities and business management demands but for the most part, it is a tactical realm. Adding one or more teams to this environment requires a high level of technical protection experience, in addition to a host of new, expanded skills and experiences.
In order to even obtain a new customer, there is a requirement to master business and commercial skills. Understanding the market, determining the clients ‘appetite’, crafting a proposal, contract or engagement documentation, managing business administration, and even finances are all essential to the process, before you even start!
Anybody that truly understands and appreciates professional VIP/Executive protection knows that there is a lot that goes into the “backend”. Team leaders and members know there is a lot to it but they often don’t understand and appreciate all of the unseen or commercial aspects. Firstly, you are now managing and administering the personal support requirements of each protection professional under management. This can be a compounding factor in its own right. Now, there are a number of other essential elements required in the delivery such as just in time logistics, procurement of third party vendors and services, accommodation, meals, fuel, budget forecasting, cost containments, contingency planning, customer service, business communications, operational planning, quality control, vehicle fleet management, emergency services integration, regulatory compliance, insurance. Your ability to manage contemporary business communications, software and other “soft skills” are also essential. It’s not hard to see now why so many technical professionals struggle/fall short when assuming this management responsibility. Not to mention why so many fresh out of the military/police/government sectors also fall short or take time to develop. Sadly, providers and professionals never get the chance if they get it wrong or loose the customer.
Post service delivery also invites a number of commercial and business-related demands. Invoicing, financial reconciliation, business reporting, updating operational resources, debriefing teams/members, etc.
Despite the views of some companies and managers, in my experience, it is essential that multi-team management possess significant technical protection skills and experiences too. Whilst I have highlighted a lot of the business elements here, this is all happening whilst you are also planning, delivering, mentoring and managing the technical service. If the service isn’t up to the mark or your team/individuals aren’t operating at the required standard…that is also on you! You MUST know what to be mindful of, what to look for and how to get the most from your people…and WOW the client. Throughout the process, from proposal all the way through delivery, the client will be relying upon you to help them make decisions and jointly plan operations…thus the requirement for technical protection knowledge.
NEVER FORGET, when delivering VIP/Executive protection services, you are there solely to support the VIP/Executive…they are not there for you!
Nearly all the bad experiences and poor opinion of protection services and personnel is due to a failing in this multi-team management business aspect. It still amazes and dismays me that providers and the industry fail to focus on and invest in this area. It seems there is a belief that as if by magic, a technical professional will wake up one morning with these new skills, expertise, and competencies. If only!