At one of the city’s newest security companies, Clarion Security LLC, there are no guards with clipboards patrolling in pickup trucks.
Clarion, founded in 2009 by Kim Heathcott and her husband Larry, began with an eco-friendly business model in mind.
“We realized we had the opportunity to do things completely differently, ”she said. “It all came together when we were putting together our business plan.”
Clarion guards carry Droid phones and cruise their territories in hybrid vehicles.
Guards stationed in guard shacks use iPads to document entrances and exits to the property and all patrol reports are done without the use of paper.
When the company purchased its small fleet of vehicles, the Toyota Prius was the car of choice.
“It just made a whole lot of sense to choose hybrid vehicles,” said Larry Heathcott, president of the company.
Gas consumption is a big issue for security firms because one of the services they provide is patrolling. By purchasing the hybrid vehicles, which travel 48 to 52 miles per gallon, Clarion’s fuel costs are about 75 percent less than they would have been if the company had chosen the small trucks most of their competitors use.
“On a typical eight-hour shift, they are in play the whole time regardless of whether it is someone patrolling or if it’s a supervisor, that car is constantly checking our sites, so that car is moving all night (or day) long,” said Kim Heathcott.
Clarion customers do not receive a fuel surcharge on their bills, which is standard practice in the security industry.
The company diverts the money it saves in fuel costs toward taking care of a more important asset —the workforce.
Clarion has a policy of helping its employees out with transportation if there is some reason they can’t get to work. Recently, an employee was picked up at home in Walls, Miss., to come to work.
“That’s when you really appreciate having the Prius,” Larry Heathcott said.
While Clarion started off with a small fleet of the hybrid cars, the company is adding to its current fleet and even more energy efficient car, the Nissan Leaf.
The company took delivery of the first one in September, and has three more on order. Using the Leaf has translated into mega-savings for Clarion.
At a cost of 2.3 cents per mile, the electric car runs for 80 miles on an overnight charge.
A company car travels about 60 miles a day between checking on the guards and delivering meals to them, which are provided during each shift, free of charge.
Clarion’s attention to the safety and well-being of its guards is an aspect of its business model that clients appreciate.
Rick Raffanti, real estate manager for CB Richard Ellis, said his company hired Clarion in January. The way the security company's owners treat employees was one of the things that impressed him most.
“They take care of their employees, so there’s not a lot of turnover,” he said.
Being able to retain its guards translates to customer satisfaction for the 45 businesses that occupy ThousandOaks Park, which is managed by CB Richard Ellis.
“Clients feel better when they see the same face at the gate,” Raffanti said.
With 54 full-time and 100 part-time employees, Clarion’s workforce is the core of the company. Because the jobs are low-paying, the owners feel they have a commitment to their employees.
“We need them to be able to rely upon us to furnish them with a full shift and not dock their pay. It helps them keep their lives together,” said Larry Heathcott.
Clarion’s efforts to do the right thing have saved countless reams of paper, and its clients reap the benefits by receiving a higher level of service at a lower cost.
“The technology with reporting is incredible and it’s not just the convenience thing for us,”Raffanti said. The reporting technology also saves his company time and money.
With the previous company CB Richard Ellis used, if there was an incident, such as damage to a gate, it had to be documented on paper. Then the guard had to make a call to the on-call customer service representative.
That person would, in turn, call Raffanti to report the incident, describe the damages and ask for payment authorization for the repairs. If a Clarion guard detects property damage, it can be photographed and sent directly to Raffanti.
“Now, it’s instantaneous,” he said. “And, you always have that record online.”
Use of the Droid phone is an incentive for the guards to perform at a higher level because everything is in real time. The phones are also used for them to clock in and out, by logging on and off.Guards record video notes of any irregularities and snap a photo on the phone of anything that seems unusual.