Close Protection Business: Your Behavior and Reputation
Your personal behavior and reputation are the most important factors in you gaining regular employment and close protection contracts. There are many people who have attended lots of close protection, firearms and driving courses, etc. who might be able to talk about the close protection industry, but they have never done any actual close protection work.
The same can be said for many of those teaching close protection courses, who even though they class themselves as instructors have never actually done a commercial close protection job. There are many tactical firearms instructors who have never carried a firearm for defensive purposes, they are competition shooters if that, but overnight they have become close combat experts. There are also many martial arts instructors who are teaching self-defense who have never been in a street fight. This is just people being people. Everyone wants to make money but to me teaching something you have no experience of is just fraudulent. Would you take lessons on how to fly an airplane from an instructor that had only flown in a simulator? If you wanted to play with simulators sure, but not if you were serious about flying real airplane...
Its easy to check someone’s experience and I would sooner work with or employ someone who is honest and wants to learn rather than a bullshitter… As far as instructors are concerned, always check their experience and not just their certificates. Many are just teaching what they have just been taught by their instructors, who were teaching what they were taught by other instructors. So, no relevant skills are being taught just made-up theories and techniques of what people think happens in the close protection industry. Just like the people in Hollywood do…
One scam is people teaching the British SIA close protection course curriculum without the course being an accredited course for the actual British SIA close protection license. The British SIA close protection course is a licensing course and not really relevant outside of the UK. I understand that they have just brought in a self-defense / conflict management component for the courses after about 13 years of the courses first being established. How you can run a close protection course without at least a basic self-defense component? Well, it seems stupid to me but, it only took the British SIA 13 years to apparently realize and rectify…
The British SIA close protection course does not cover any weapons or firearms training as all weapons are banned in UK. The only reason I see for people copying the basic British SIA close protection course curriculum is because they are too stupid or don’t have the experience to write their own course programs, which is pathetic. So, always be very careful who you’re training with as there are many close protection instructors who due to their behavior and reputations who's courses are a worthless sham.
I have personally come across quite a few experienced people who still do not know how to act when working with a client, this usually results in their contracts drying up very quickly. The common downfall of a lot of people is their egos; they think because they have done some courses or have some experience that they are better than everyone else. One person once said to me, after they completed a 4-week close protection course in 1995, that he was trained as a team leader not just a team member! At the time I was working hotel corridor details for VIP’s visiting London, which were extremely boring jobs, but you have to start somewhere. I was happy for the experience and the money as we can’t all be made “team leaders” in 4-weeks. This guy was talking shit due to jealousy, which is extremely common in the close protection world and to my knowledge this guy was only ever a regular security guard until he moved on.
Many off these people see themselves as hot-shot bodyguards that have hit the big time because they are looking after a client and get to hang around five-star hotels. I have seen this type of bodyguard walking around the lobby of five-star hotels in London with their radios in shoulder holsters and no jackets on, just to make sure everyone knows they are a bodyguard. Getting your first close protection job can be difficult, getting jobs after that can be easy or hard, it all depends on you!
Another downfall and a sign of inexperience is people who overreact to the slightest thing and see threats where there are none. You can't push people out of the way of your client or stand in the road and stop traffic for their vehicle to pull out, and you most definitely can’t manhandle your client just because some walks near them, all of which I have seen happen. Work to the threat level of the job, blend in with your client and the environment you are working in and don’t behave like a nervous virgin on their wedding night. Also, please forget the Hollywood black suit, black tie, white shirt and shades bullshit.
If the threat level is high enough and the laws of the country you are in allow it, then you will most probably carry weapons: spray, batons, firearms etc. In UK for example you cannot carry any weapons, but I came across a few people doing so when I was working there. I have came across people in UK carrying ASP's, coshes and stun guns, all weapons are banned under UK law! If such people were caught carrying illegal weapons by the police, they would be arrested, even though some people believe in their small minds that the police will turn a blind eye to them because they are bodyguards! If you are working on a job where there is a threat and can't carry weapons, then you must learn to adapt everyday items. If you are allowed to carry weapons then carry what’s required and legal, maybe a pistol, back-up pistol and pocketknife say in the US. But not 4 pistols, 2 daggers, pepper spray, baton and an assault rifle in a backpack... Keep it real!
It is easy for people to be keen on a job for a few active days, but it takes a different type of person to remain alert and professional over a long period of time. Self-discipline is very important as well as the ability to get on and communicate with others. The last thing you need on a job are people who are always arguing, complaining, backstabbing etc. All this does is bring down the overall morale of the job and in the end the friction in the team will affect the service being supplied to the client.
You will find people all the time that will creep up to the client and their close staff trying to win brownie points. There is a big difference between doing your job and creeping up to the client. Influential and rich people are used to people coming to them for favors or money and usually have little respect for them and will lose respect for you if you do so. The main thing that people forget is that they are just another member of staff to the client. The client can sack their whole security team if they feel like it for one person’s mistake, it happens. Your attitude should be to go to work, do your job, and go home again, stay out of the politics and petty arguments. I said earlier jealousy is a huge problem in the close protection world, so trust no one, people will sabotage you to take your job or get you replaced by one of their friends etc. It’s a job, the people you work with are not your friends!
Punctuality is another subject not covered on a lot of close protection courses but is very important. You should always be at least 15 minutes early whether it is to relieve another team member or to go out with your client. If you are working a static job, it is very annoying to be relieved late, especially if your relief does not have a good reason for doing so. This can cause friction within a team and lead to dismissals. If you are going to be late, for whatever reason, inform the person you are relieving or your client ASAP. Being late or missing a shift can cause major problems for the client, team leaders and managers.
Your appearance is an extremely important and your clothes should always be clean and neat. If you are dressed immaculately you will appear to exude confidence and strength and people will assume that you have the knowledge and the ability to take care of yourself. You should always dress to the client’s requirements; for corporate clients this usually means in a suit, but some clients prefer their security to wear casual clothes.
Suits should be of a dark color; a conservative fine pin stripe is preferable to a fashion suit. You should always get a big double-breasted jacket that can be done up and conceal what equipment you are carrying on your person, i.e. radios, phones, note books/diaries, first aid kit, weapons, extra ammo, etc. If you are carrying weapons, you will usually keep your jacket undone. A double-breasted jacket will conceal what is under you jacket better than a single breasted one. And remember an oversized unbuttoned jacket is a good indication that someone is armed.
Your shirts should always be clean. Try not to always wear white shirts, most people who wear suits all the time wear colored shirts, dress to blend in with your environment. In hot weather, colored shirts have the advantage of not showing sweat or dirt so much as white shirts. Where possible, always keep a spare clean shirt to hand and change when possible. Your tie should be silk, it should be a darker color than your shirt, and the knot should be of medium size, but this size should match the collar.
Do some research on how to dress properly if you’re not use to wearing suits or formal cloths. You don’t have to spend big money to dress properly if you know how to match and wear the cloths properly. You can spend a few thousand dollars on a suit and still look like a sack of shit if you don’t know how to dress properly. Personal presentation is a very important part of your skill set!
You might need to wear a belt and braces (suspenders); belts are a necessity for carrying radios or weapons. Braces will keep your trousers up with all the equipment you've got on your belt. Black shoes will go with any color suit except brown, laced shoes are preferable to slip-ons, no buckles, and no combat boots. Personally, I prefer laced dress boots, wingtips or Chelsea boots. Always ensure the shoes or dress boots you are wearing have a good griping sole. There seems to be a fashion habit these days of people wearing brown shoes with dark suits, well I think we are bodyguards not fashionistas, so best to keep things conservative! Socks should be dark in color and should match the suit. The only expectable jewelry is wedding bands. If you have tattoos, they should be covered.
Dress codes should always be checked with the client and match their requirements, the environment, and the locations you’re visiting. If the client is OK with tracksuits, shorts and t-shirts and with tattoos showing that’s fine and up to them, they are paying the bills. On long term jobs you want to be comfortable, and the team leaders and managers should work out an appropriate dress code with the client.
If you smoke, never smoke when you are on duty or around your client, even if the client smokes. Don't scratch, pick your nose, chew gum, etc. when with your client. Hygiene is very important when you are working with other people. Normally, when you smell body odor on a person, the smell is from their clothes rather than the person. Shower and wash your clothes as much as possible, use deodorant but not as a substitute to washing, use mouthwash but not as a substitute for brushing your teeth. Keep your hair well cut and tidy.
I spoke to someone recently who said on one job they had a complaint because their aftershave was too strong. I remember on client I worked with specifically asking that I never wore aftershave, they were paying the bills so, OK… Remember, we are there to blend in, to be in the background. We don’t want to be noticed, we don’t want to out dress the client, wear better watches than the client, take attention away from the client, as I said previously, we are not fashionistas!
Where possible, always keep a washing or grooming kit handy so when you have time you can freshen up, this will make you feel better as well as sparing other people from smelling your BO! A simple washing or grooming kit can consist of the following: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, comb, sewing kit, shoe polish and brushes.
If you have a security room, be it a hotel room or a purpose-built room in a residence, it always needs to be kept clean and tidy. If there are no cleaners, then it will be your job to dust, hover, mop and clean the toilets. If you are working a shift system, this needs to be done every time before the next shift takes over. I know you will not have seen a bodyguard with a mop and hover in the movies, but this is reality.
When you are working you will come across many idiots who live in a fantasy world which is a cross between a James Bond movie and whatever special forces stories that have been told to them in the pub or seen on Facebook. This industry attracts this type of person. The big mistake a lot of people make is to forget than this is a very small industry and it’s easy to check someone out. If you bullshit about your experience, you will be found out.
If you don't know something then ask, don't bluff it. If you are working for a good team, they will help you and respect your honesty. If you claim to know everything and done everything people will class you as being full of shit, and if there is a problem they will stand back and watch you sort it out. It’s easy to test people to see if they sink or swim!
Be careful of who you associate with, the local big shot in a small city, who has done a few courses or is a ex-local cop and touts themselves as high-risk bodyguard etc. would not being doing so if they were. Remember: When the big fish leave the small pond to swim in the sea there is a very good chance they will eaten by sharks, this is why most big fish prefer small ponds! Think about it!
As I said in the beginning your personal behavior and reputation are the most important factors in you gaining regular employment contracts!
Books on Amazon
Close Protection: Luxury & Hostile Environments
This book is relevant for bodyguards, investigators & those working in hostile environments.
Kindle @ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CNSKXJF
Paper Back @ https://www.amazon.com/dp/1980900388