How can they possibly know that?

If you have ever been called in by a client’s meeting planner or a contracted meeting planner to go over or get briefed on an event you will know what I am about to talk about.  Many, if not most of them, have limited expertise with security protocols or recommendations.  Too often  they will tell you, “We need X-amount of specialists for our event”.  How do they know that exact number will cover their event?  The same goes for when many representatives will call on behalf of a principal and say they need an certain amount of people to protect their boss.  Again, I ask myself, how do they know they need that amount of people.

You have to listen to them to gather their rationale on how they came up with the magic number.  You then need to assess the event or detail that they need you for and do your expert assessment of the matter and make a proper recommendation.  In many cases, they may have over estimated the number and instead of using 5 specialists as they’ve requested, you may find that you can do the detail or event with 4.  It is your absolute duty as a professional to tell them that.   You have to reject the urge to make more money and maintain your ethics.  I know that statement is harder than it seems, but what happens when the realize once the event goes “hot” and they realize that you have one person their that really isn’t necessary.  You are the expert and it is your responsibility to know that before the day of the event.

The opposite is also the case when they want you to use X-amount of specialists and you know that you need more to provide effective coverage.  You have to explain that clearly and WHY.  This is not the time to just say, “We need 5 specialists instead of 4.”  Your recommendation has to be backed up with an expert opinion.  In many cases you will have to break the plan/event down to the finest minutia in order to get them to understand.  If they refuse you need to put it in writing to CYA.  One of the biggest hurdles you will have when it comes to an event is the BUDGET for security.  The security budget is often already assigned way before the call to you.  Many times this budget is determined by previous security costs associated with the same type of event, the client’s expectation of how many specialists they will need and lastly, and most often, the lack of importance that is placed on security needs in general.  You have to realize that in many cases these event planners use security for insurance needs and not for the pure necessity of security.  That’s the cart before the horse in all cases.

I can not lower my standards just to make a dollar or to start off on a bad precedent with a client.  If you allow this to happen you will have an uphill battle recovering from this.  The motto I like to use is “Working harder means working smarter.”  Your expertise must always prevail in these meetings even if you lose on the recommendation.  Once you have clearly explained your rationale and back it up in writing you have done your job.  It is up to you at that time to commit or respectfully decline the job.  Either way you can walk away knowing you did the right thing.

The struggling companies and specialists out there that just want to work will find this hard to digest.  The thought of walking away from an opportunity to make money does not make sense, yet if you take that opportunity and something happens your reputation takes a hit.

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