An inside look at the security consulting industry.

For many years security was an afterthought in the residential and commercial construction fields. The use of security equipment in new construction was a product for the few who had a special need, such as banks. As problems arose in the area of personal safety, however, so did the need for consultants with expertise in construction and thorough knowledge of security systems, from closed circuit television systems to access control to security guards.

Today, a good security consultant can save his clients tens of thousands of dollars before they even break ground. At Kent Security, we like to say, "Know now, not later." To spend needless amounts of money and time trying to build a security system "later" can result in a poor system with too many unsecured areas. However, if it becomes necessary to add onto existing security systems, a knowledgeable security consultant can demonstrate many different ways to tackle that challenge.

With construction prices always on the rise, one can easily see why spending a few dollars up front can be beneficial. More than ever, people realize the necessity for good security planning, and with this knowledge the demand for security consultants has multiplied. This has actually boosted the quality of security consultants themselves. It is a special field requiring many talents. A good consulting firm will have people with many years of experience in different areas: engineers, licensed security personnel, ex-law enforcement officers with experience handling burglary and larceny crimes, security directors and contract managers, as well as operations managers with experience running large commercial properties or communities.

Consulting is not just meeting with clients and telling them "this is what you need" without taking the time to find out about their specific circumstances. If done properly, it is much more than that. Consulting usually starts with a quiet conversation, an attempt to understand clients' needs and to find the best and most cost-effective way to meet them. The cost of a job must be clearly justifiable and, if at all possible, stay within budget. When this happens, a certain trust develops between the consultant and the client. Some concessions will be made in the coarse of planning, but the goal should always be to preserve the total concept of security and safety for that particular project.

Some security consultants disregard cost completely, only concerning themselves with what they think is the proper system for the job, without any consideration of the bottom line. Others are only concerned with making the sale. They often just give the client what the client thinks he needs, even when better choices could be made. This is why it's so important to deal with someone who wants to provide the products and integrated systems that will not compromise the value of a project. True professionals work with clients as a partner, knowing that both parties want to build something they can be proud to put their names on. Money is fleeting, but reputations last. In the field of consulting, nothing is more important than a good reputation.

Always keep the following in mind:

- Cost: To match the value of the systems and/or products with the requirements needed. Money is almost always the only priority.

- Client Requirements: Don't overkill but never sell short. Too little is trouble. Give your professional opinion as your see it.

- Life Expectancy: Design a system that will not be obsolete. Use up to date standards.

- Product Reliability: Do not recommend inferior or untested products. Go with the time tested manufacturers.

- Workability of System: The system design must accomplish all requirements. Make sure this covers room for expansion.

- User-friendly: Keep it simple and to the point. If it's too complex to operate or understand people will not use it.

Remember, when you're about to embark on a security project, it's important to seek out a professional. When it's too late, you really pay the price. Maybe even twice.