Many people in senior management positions have had moments where they wished they could pause, reflect and redesign with the benefit of hindsight. In large companies, this sort of full-scale overhaul is difficult to achieve, given the practicalities of time restraints, getting staff buy-in and finding an initial excess of resource.
However, in creating Cobac Security, we were given the unique opportunity to do just this. Formed in 2016, Cobac gave us the chance to incorporate our insights and understanding of the security industry into a best-practice company – building on experience from senior management roles in operational delivery, finance and IT structure; particularly within the retail and hospitality sector.
Playing key roles within a business which grew in a decade from a two million to forty million pound turnover provided unparalleled experience of the phases a security company goes through to achieve this growth, and this experience went on to influence our approach at Cobac Security.
But pulling together prior industry experience with our vision for the new company was no small task. We wanted to achieve the holy grail – combining the best parts of different approaches into one company. With Cobac, we aimed to reflect the engagement of the in-house sector; the passion and staff loyalty of a local provider; the scalability of a large provider; and the innovation of a tech company – all within one provider.
Making all this happen meant creating a company with a different perspective, and underlying strategies and values were formed which guided the creation of Cobac’s infrastructure.
Creating a data-led approach:
We embraced the opportunity provided by available digital solutions to create a forward-facing, paperless, data-driven approach. From day one, Cobac engaged with the most innovative technology providers, partnering with those who helped us to achieve and implement our goals.
Cobac has been a paperless company from the start- with apps, electronic forms, live reports, alerts and automation all part of our standard practice.
The data gathered through this approach, and the ability to use this data, has been key to the proactive service we provide. Our systems mean we don’t need to travel around the country collecting data, and we don’t wait a month to review our performance. Our performance is reviewed and submitted electronically in real time by our clients – which ensures there is no bias, we can react immediately, and our management visits actually add value.
Multiple levels of data are collected, collated and actioned – including tasks and activity highlighting potential risks and incidents. This feeds into risk modelling by tracking the security activity taking place, along with actual incidents – providing clients with a clearer understanding of what may happen if a security wasn’t in place and allowing for more informed decisions. This approach means that decisions about resources can be made in a more gradual manner, rather than the unknown ‘yo-yo’ approach of removing and then reinstating a security resource.
A new personnel structure:
Alongside the digital infrastructure which powers the company, at the core of Cobac’s service is a focus on highly valued security officers. The process of building this workforce was another aspect of company formation which we turned on its’ head: by shunning the usual many-layered hierarchy in favour of focussing on supporting each individual officer to provide the best service possible. We didn’t want to create layers for layers sake - we know that fewer fully trained, high-quality staff members achieve a much greater impact than multiple layers of poorly trained, inexperienced staff members - and this was at the heart of our infrastructure.
At Cobac, we concentrated on understanding what officers as individuals needed to become the best they could be. We work to support officers’ personal growth for them to become an asset to themselves. As a by-product, this in turn gives us officers with self-worth and commitment, who will be an asset to any site they work on.
Focussing on the staff:
This ethos is reflected in our company strapline – “We care for our team, so they care for your business” – and through the access to technology, frequent management support and ongoing training which is provided to front-line staff.
Rather than the typical training shift, at Cobac we focus on continuous training - delivered by highly experienced individuals - and regular engagement between the management team and individual officers.
The real-time data collection leaves management visits available to focus on ongoing training and development based upon the location of the contract. We aim for every management visit to deliver additional value to our clients, and are consistently working to develop officers’ skills, knowledge of the clients’ business and understanding of the location in order to provide the best possible security.
This in-depth knowledge of clients’ businesses and sectors runs through the whole company. We work in partnership with our clients, developing an understanding of their business at all levels. What we do, and the information we provide, should add value and be a true reflection of our services. Each client has an operationally experienced account manager, who is linked to an accountable for the delivery of the service. This is backed up by a detailed understanding of the market places we operate in, not just the services we deliver: ensuring the best practice which we apply across a number of different sectors.
Providing a flexible service:
The straightforward staffing structure doesn’t restrict our flexibility as a provider, however. Previous experience and knowledge of uplifts in seasonal work meant the infrastructure was set up to meet seasonal demand, and our understanding of where the issues can arise allows us to prevent poor service or coverage.
We’ve used our knowledge to utilise what good service looks like, and to building tight measures of control – preventing falling into the trap of ‘well that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ At Cobac, we’re flexible and have the capacity to make changes to deliver the best service with less challenges.
So what’s next to come for Cobac? Our next steps include diversification and a wider product offering, including a unique environment monitoring solution which we’re about to launch in the hospitality sector. We believe that relevant innovation and improvements should always be sought and presented. Staying still isn’t good enough, and neither is limiting innovation to the sector we are in. This is a constant cycle for Cobac and its’ clients, not just a pre-renewal exercise. Everything we do needs to reach the front-line – otherwise it just sounds good and provides no true value.