Security as the value add
Jennifer BrownFeatures Opinion
Security is rarely used as a selling point in a corporation but it should be. In large high rises and other multi-tenant facilities it should be part of the Power Point presentation, the corporate brochure and the real estate tour.
Case in point is the Sears Tower in Chicago. As director of security
and life safety for the Sears Tower, Keith Kambic has a lot of eyes on
him. From the owners of the building to the tenants and the media, they
all want to know what he’s doing to secure the tallest building in the
But despite the scale and significance of the property he has to
secure, Kambic still has to sell himself and his department. During a
presentation at ISC West in Las Vegas last month, Kambic spoke about
the importance of customer service, especially when your clients
include more than 100 tenant companies the likes of Ernst & Young
and half a dozen law firms. All told, the Sears Tower contains 15,000
people — a small town, not to mention the Skydeck tourist attraction at
the top of the building.
He says customer service is the most important thing you can provide high-powered tenant clients.
“I sell the building as though if you’re not in the Sears Tower you’re not in the safest building in the city,” Kambic says.
After 9/11, the Sears Tower dropped to 72 per cent occupancy and the
number of uniformed security guards shot up from 45 to 145 (that was
eventually reduced by about half) and a visitor management system was
installed. Thanks to a combination of things, including Kambic’s
efforts to boost security measures across the board, that occupancy
rate has increased to 82 per cent.
Kambic says he is present on about half of all leasing tours given by
the property management department. They also “advertise” to clients
when security upgrades are being made.
Security, he says, is now part of the package for tenants. “It’s something we see as a value add.”
Some of the measures that add value include turnstiles — install them
he says, and vandalism goes down and street crime stops. The building
also has 140 CCTV cameras monitoring 4.5 million square feet.
But when considering return on investment (ROI), Kambic doesn’t always
think of technology. There are non-traditional investments that can
deliver big dividends. For example, by adding a life safety manager,
the Sears Tower is now one of only two buildings in Chicago with a
dedicated person in that capacity who is also a Certified Business
Continuity Professional. At $100,000 a year, he says it’s one of the
best recurring investments he makes in the security of the building and
safety of the tenants.
As a result, Kambic’s non-traditional return on investment includes
increased tenant satisfaction, increased program awareness and
In a recent survey of tenants at the Sears Tower, many said they felt safer at the tower than they do in their own homes.
When was the last time you looked at what your department delivers as a marketable value add to the tenants in your facility?
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