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How to Choose Between Live Virtual Monitoring and On-Premise Security Guards?

According to the FBI, there are more than 1.4 million break-ins every year, with 57.5% involving some form of forcible entry. Break-ins and vandalism can damage your bottom line, increase insurance liability costs, and decrease business. The average robbery cost is more than $7,000 but that number can be much higher if insurance premiums rise or tenants leave your building.

As a business owner it’s vital to invest in a security solution that protects your assets and gives your tenants peace of mind. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In this post we examine six factors to help you better understand the benefits and drawbacks of on-premise security guards versus Live Virtual Monitoring, so you can make an informed decision when evaluating security for your business.

Live Virtual Monitoring Vs. Security Guards:

6 Step Assessment

Every business has unique security needs. Consider your ultimate goals for improving your security system and use this guide to determine which options can help you achieve them.

1. Response time

One of the main benefits of hiring on-premise security guards is their immediate response time. When a guard sees someone loitering behind an apartment community or witnesses a potential break-in at a warehouse, they can respond immediately.

Response times can be slower for Virtual Monitoring Systems. While Virtual Security Agents can call the police or report a potential incident, they don’t have the benefit of being on-site, meaning the suspect could get away before responders arrive on the scene. Virtual Agents can engage with suspects and would-be vandals via integrated speaker systems to deter them, but sometimes this may not be enough.

That being said, in-person guards still have their weaknesses. A security guard can’t act if they aren’t aware of an issue. They might be attending to one part of the building while a break-in occurs in another area. Additionally, security guards are trained to “observe and report,” and not to engage so response times can still be lengthy.

Consider investing in a hybrid security solution that uses both on-site guards and a Virtual Monitoring System. The Virtual Security Agent can alert on-site guards to an issue, increasing coverage while decreasing response times.

2. Potential for human error

When you hire on-site security, you trust the guards to protect your employees, tenants, and assets. Unfortunately, many security guards are undertrained. Your guard could freeze when faced with a criminal or they could seriously hurt someone if they are overzealous and aggressive.

There are more than 1.1 million private security guards in the US that comprise a $7 billion industry. On average guards are paid $16.24/hour with half of security companies paying their guards less than $15.13/hour. Low wages and dangerous working conditions create high turnover rates and unhappy employees, decreasing the likelihood that a guard will take his or her job seriously. Many private guards also undergo minimum amounts of training as companies need to fill positions quickly because of turnover gaps.

Unless you thoroughly vet your guards, you don’t know how they will react when faced with a difficult situation. Plus, even the best-trained guards make mistakes. Untrained guards can result in damages or worse, liability lawsuits from tenants or suspects.

Virtual Security Agents are much less likely to make costly errors. They are highly trained to identify incidents and there is reduced liability because they are not on-site. Liability is passed to the police if they need to be called. In most cases however, Virtual Agents can talk down suspects, eliminating the need to get law enforcement involved.

3. Cost

As you evaluate different security solutions, consider affordably versus coverage. A $15/hour minimum wage guard represents around $30,000/year in costs if employed full time. and that will only give you one security guard that works 40 hours per week. If you need additional guards, you could easily be looking at $100,000/year in security costs.

This is only the baseline. Consider whether you’re willing to pay more than the minimum wage to hire better-trained guards and decide whether you need coverage on nights and weekends. Another huge cost driver is armed versus unarmed guards. Armed guards typically make upwards of $65/hour and there are added costs for licensing, training, and weaponry.

You will also need to determine the benefits you’ll provide. Will you give your staff healthcare, a 401k, or vacation time? These factors can have a huge impact on cost and can inflate your annual budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hiring a security company will help reduce costs because you won’t have to worry about benefits, but you also lose the ability to vet your guards, potentially increasing your security risk.

Our team at American Virtual Monitoring has a Security Savings Calculator to help you determine how much you can expect to pay for on-premise guards and how much you can save by using a Virtual Monitoring service. Check it out to help you determine the best path forward.

Video monitoring is a much more affordable option than hiring on-site guards often costing 75-85% less. It can also help reduce your monthly insurance premiums. For a flat monthly fee you get full coverage of your property without the liability of an on-site guard. This makes it easy to budget. Plus you never have to worry about your guards calling out sick, quitting, or leaving you without coverage. Keep in mind that your security solution is meant to save your company money in the long term. Think of it as an insurance policy that protects your property against costly criminal activity.

4. Property coverage

Consider the size of your property and the amount of coverage you need to feel secure. Will a single guard be enough? For smaller properties a single guard stationed at an entry point, that does regular sweeps of the grounds may be sufficient, but for larger properties such as parking garages or apartment complexes you will need multiple guards for adequate coverage, or run the risk of an incident.

Virtual Monitoring Systems don’t have the same limitations. You can place cameras in strategic locations to effectively monitor every corner or your property without having to worry about guard coverage. Security Agents can keep an eye on your whole campus at once and immediately detect and deter unwanted activity as soon as, and often before, it occurs.

American Virtual Monitoring Security Agents are also able to communicate with would-be vandals in real-time through integrated speaker systems to let them know they are being monitored and to leave the premises immediately.

5. Equipment malfunction

In the same way that security guards are prone to human error, Virtual Monitoring comes with its own technological risks. Your system might not work if there is a power outage or internet failure in your area. Even if you have a backup generator, a lack of internet could prevent live monitors from watching your premises. The good news is that if there is a system or camera error, you will be alerted immediately so you can take corrective action, instead of finding out a camera hasn’t been working for weeks.

You might also need to repair and update your cameras and sensors periodically. If you opt for Virtual Monitoring, consider building a flat equipment update cost into your annual budget to keep your system running at peak performance.

6. Recording incidences

The final factor to consider is the aftermath of a security incident. You may need to file a police report and will have to work with your insurance company if there are any damages. While a security guard can provide a written account of what they witnessed, they might not notice important details in the heat of the moment. It’s also hard to base evidence on one person’s account.

A Virtual Monitoring System can save footage of the incident for your records. You can also send the footage to the police to help apprehend potential criminals and will have official proof when filing an insurance claim. Overall, Virtual Monitoring Systems make reporting events easier and create less work for you.

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

Both Virtual Monitoring Systems and on-site security guards come with pros and cons but when all factors are considered, Virtual Monitoring Systems are more cost-effective and secure than on-site guards. You eliminate the risk of human error and can file claims more effectively with video evidence.

All things being equal, live video monitoring tends to provide the best return on investment and the highest levels of security. That is because the monthly costs are lower than hiring a security guard.

American Virtual Monitoring offers full-service video monitoring solutions, designed to deter vandalism, loitering, and theft for a fraction of the cost of a full-time security guard. If you are interested in learning more about Virtual Security Monitoring, contact our team at American Virtual Monitoring. Our Security Experts are standing by to help address your security concerns and create a tailored package that fits your needs.

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