BUCKING THE TRENDS—GROWTH AND EMPLOYEE RETENTION IN A VOLATILE INDUSTRY
Sunstates places great value on employee
recognition and client partnerships.
The security industry has long been one of mergers and acquisitions, with larger firms swallowing up their smaller competitors. Industry consolidation has been the norm for decades. Comparatively small companies are finding competition more and more difficult.
In spite of this trend, Sunstates Security has achieved phenomenal organic growth throughout the 15 years of its existence. With average annual growth of more than 20%, the company has almost doubled in size in the past four years.
The Right Person for the Right Job
One of the ways that Sunstates has been able to achieve such phenomenal growth is by retaining talent, not only management but also top-quality security officers.
The key to finding and retaining quality officers and support staff is screening applicants thoroughly. Sunstates has launched a state-of-the-art vetting program that allows applicants to apply online. Application questions establish personality traits, which are then used to assign applicants to the positions for which they are best suited.
A high proportion of Sunstates employees have been with the company for longer than five years, many of them more than 10 years.
Sunstates President Glenn Burrell says, “We treat employees like we treat customers—with respect and a positive, professional attitude. We’re planning for the future,” Burrell says. “I want people to stay with us for 10 years or more, not just to get through next week.”
Professional Respect and Attitude
After an auditor recently visited the Sunstates offices, her firm offered a tremendous compliment: “Great job to all of you for treating her according to Sunstates’ company morals: professional respect and attitude.” She departed feeling how Sunstates Security wants everyone to feel – from the UPS driver to security officers, to the client – that they feel better about Sunstates than when they arrived.
Burrell credits this philosophy with Sunstates’ outstanding client retention rate, which exceeds 95%. This philosophy also allowed them to beat employee retention goals last year. In fact, the company has reduced employee turnover in each of the last five years, coming in at roughly 25% of conservative industry estimates.
Why Is This Better for Clients?
Burrell says, “Our number one goal is to treat our employees better than any other security company. In the world of conglomerates and board meetings, the folks at the bottom of the totem pole tend to be snowed under by numbers on the bottom line. The simple truth is that happy employees stay longer and perform better, and in the case of the security industry, it means that they do a better job for our clients.”
But in the world of impersonal spreadsheets and all-powerful profit margins, do employee incentive programs siphon away profit margins?
According to Burrell, the bottom line is not the only measure of success. “I base decisions on what is going to be good for my grandchildren—even though they’re not even born yet—not what our would-be shareholders want for the next three months.”
Sources: “Turn Away Turnover,” Security Magazine, 1 September 2004.