A unique new app is set to change the face of the security industry in Ireland thanks to a family-friendly company who aim to rewrite the rules of customer engagement.
The app, developed and launched by Dublin-based firm 1 Plus Security, gives clients real-time information on the exact location of all personnel involved in an event, as well providing a live portal for staff.
Launched in mid-2016, 1 Plus Security has quickly become one of the biggest names in the industry, turning over €2.5m in its first year and employing a core of 130 people which expands to 300 dependent on events.
The company intends doubling its turnover in the next two years.
An experienced mix of event, finance and security specialists, they have succeeded by putting a friendly face on what has been a dour sector, while also working around the family needs of the core staff.
After having a presence at almost every major music festival in 2017, this year the company will be providing event security to Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Festival Republic, Longitude, Indiependence, Forbidden Fruit and Life.
Their distinctive uniformed staff will also be on duty at Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, Culture Night, Riverfest, Metropolis, Oktoberfest and Après Ski.
1 Plus Security have also managed to attract a host of blue chip clients during their first year of operation, including Dublin City Council, DCU, Maynooth University, Tifco Hotels, Gresham Hotel, Copper Face Jacks and Yamamori.
“We are in the hospitality not the security industry, and our whole ethos is based on our staff being the first people you meet at an event,” said CCO Shea McNelis, an entertainment and events specialist for over 20 years.
“If you have just paid €300 for a ticket, you want your first interaction with that event to be a positive one.
“We instil the mantra that we are the leading edge for the client brand, and that what we offer is customer service, not security.
“No-one has asked us to do this, but our client partners are bowled over when they see the way that our staff represent the uniform culture across the organisation.
“We want to emulate customer-friendly businesses such as The City Bin Company, who are known for their client service as much as they work that they carry out.
“People remember extremes of service – and in our case, we want to be the friendliest security service available.
“We don’t provide bouncers, and we believe that chucking people out is the always the last solution. Our strength is not in our muscle, it is in our culture.”
The management team consists of McNelis and CEO Alan Crowley, who has a long background as a CFO in both the finance and industry sectors.
They are joined by joint COOs Mark Perry and Patrick Byrne, both of whom have vast experience in the security industry.
All four are fathers and operate the company in a family-friendly fashion – balancing family time with the necessary anti-social hours of the security industry.
“We had been using security companies for years and always thought that this business could be operated in a smarter way,” said Crowley.
“In our experience, companies were just rocking up and doing a job without focusing forward on the next job that could lead from this one.
“We saw that a fascinating skill set would result if we linked with people who had industry experience to form a public-facing service company in the security sector.
“We don’t take every job that comes along, and in many ways, we vet our clients, working closely with our insurance company.
“As managers, we are on the ground at every event, providing a full briefing to all staff on both our ethos and the client partner company.
“We work with a lot of corporate parks, for example, and make sure that we establish a personal bond with our partners and discover what they actually want out of the relationship.
“Our USPs are in our infrastructure and our development plan, which will be fired by our unique technology in year two.
The 1 Plus Security app, which has been successfully tested at major events, is designed to handle the company’s business from both a staffing and client partner point of view.
After applying for a job through the app, and uploading their training certificates, a new staff member is issued with a log-in which channels their information through the company’s HR cloud.
An operative’s log-in number, which features on their uniforms and bibs, is combined with GPS tracking, to give a client partner real-time visibility over their event.
“The app took over a year to develop and provides unique live transparency for the client partner and our staff, as well as simplifying our HR and payments structure,” said McNelis.
“It was designed to completely replace the paper logs which are such a mainstay of the industry and it gives full vision on how many staff are working and where they are at any point in time.
“The level of detail is so great that our invoices can feature locations and times.
“As a part of the customer service our staff have to give filtered feedback to our partner about their shift experience, for example, it was quiet tonight, but it was snowing.
“Feedback such as that can explain the reason for a sudden drop in numbers if someone is looking at records over a month later.
“Incident reporting is also live, via the app, and provides a permanent digital record for all parties.”
Upskilling is an integral part of the company’s ethos, and 140 of their operatives are trained in anti-terrorist searching.
“We use a UK-based company made up of ex-police officers to teach staff how to identify people at risk at events – and it is surprising how much the profile differs from our preconceptions,” said McNelis.
“We are trying to provide our staff as much as we can with transferrable skills, with many of our supervisors having come in at ground level.
“We have upskilled 20 per cent of our staff into supervisor roles which is very uncommon what has traditionally been a transient industry and is an enormous aid in staff retention.”