The old adage and wisdom about first impressions counting applies to all professions from salespeople to restaurant hosts to doctors. And it really applies to security officers. I’ve been to many stores as a shopper (not as a security executive) and during my shopping tour I don’t look for security guards, but if I do see one I look at the first impression of how they present themselves to the shoppers in the store. The first impression of the store’s security person or persons really communicate to me an ongoing impression of the store I’m in. This is all a rapid evaluation, which includes how the security person looks in terms of facial expressions, body language, alertness, wearing of a uniform, if they’re armed or not. What I’m looking for in this first impression – whether it be a man or woman – is a pleasant look to me, a look that is humanly caring, friendly and says I’m here to protect you and everybody else here and this property. It’s both friendly and professional. I like that. I’m assured by that. They walk straight, alert to what’s going around them, yet don’t strut or be too intrusive. They have a very important job, but they’re also part of the human fabric of that store. This is the case in very large stores or a small boutique. Overwhelmingly, the people in their protection space are just good people, good shoppers looking for whatever they’re there for. So, a friendly face on a security person is natural and expected, and it’s also inviting to ask for help. I’ve asked security officers for help because I needed it and they were there, and also just as a test.
We work with and train our officers to be ultra-aware of their first impressions. Practice a friendly, available face in the mirror. Take pride in their posture, walk, their thinking patterns as they do their patrols, being helpful when it’s obvious they’re the ones to respond.