Close Protection Management – Dealing with Difficult Clients
For me the biggest problems when running close protection jobs is firstly finding and babysitting the BG’s I have working the job and secondly babysitting the clients and dealing with their issues… In this article I will primarily discuss the second problem…
To start with, all the time I hear and see BS being posted on social media by supposed executive protection specialists and experts on how their job is to serve and die for the clients like modern day Samurai, to me such people are delusional and liabilities and have no clue how the real close protection business works.
On the other hand, I have dealt with one European close protection school whose owner is telling their students such things as they must take control of their client’s passport, the client must do as they are told, the client should not be ordering their security team around etc. Well, this might be good for this guy’s ego when talking in front of his students but he has obviously has no experience of actually working with clients. Firstly, why would you want the client’s passport, to have a copy sure for their client profile but to have their actual passport is not required. If there is an issue and you get separated from the client for whatever reason, how can they travel without their passport?
It’s a very sad fact that a lot of the problems with close protection contacts are caused by friction between the BGs (Bodyguards) and clients usually resulting from bad management and bad communications between all involved. It’s also a very sad fact that a lot of the close protection schools are not teaching relevant skills to their students, as the instructors have little or no real experience in commercial close protection. So, in many cases their graduated students end up completely misguided and think the close protection business is a cross between playing modern day Samurai and acting in Hollywood B movies. This is really worse than these students being completely untrained. And when and if such people start to deal with clients due to no fault of their own, issues will occur due to their personal behavior.
Now, in a previous article I wrote “Should You Trust Clients” I discussed why you should not trust your clients 100%. Providing close protection is a business and its about providing a service and getting paid, that’s it. And in business there is no time for dramatics or heroics, its about work, work, work, and money!
The close protection business is a very personal business as you are interacting with clients closely on constant basis so you have to be able to fit in with their lifestyle and image. From a management perspective you have to take into consideration such things as race, religion, sex, personal presentation and personality when placing BGs with a client. Such things might be classed as discriminatory from a regular employment perspective, but we are not in a regular industry. Those trying to apply employment regulations to the close protection business are the ones that are screwing it up and destroying the standards. A simple example is if your client is into say winter sports and likes to ski, then you need a BG who can also ski and fit in with the crowd that hangout at exclusive ski resorts… Right?
Things work both ways and when you are considering if you can work with a client you need to understand the problems they can cause for you and if you can manage them. As I said the close protection business is a very personal business and your clients are just like other people with their own personality, egos, habits, quirks, baggage and issues…
There are many instances when a client your providing security for won’t want you around. How would you feel having someone accompanying you and watching what you’re doing at all times? Your privacy is gone, so this is where boundaries and professional distance need to be set and understood. I talk about this in my previous article "Body-Cover & Professional Distance".
All clients bring their own specific personal problems which have to be taken into consideration and managed. Here I am going to briefly talk about a few of the main issues I have come across over the years with clients.
Children as Clients
Firstly, if you’re looking after young children the BG’s need to like and be able to deal with children and their tempers and tantrums. The main issues I have seen is with adolescent children who have been assigned BGs and resent them as they are not being allowed to do as they wish. This leads to these young clients trying at times lose their BGs, especially when they are trying to date or see members of the opposite sex without their parents’ approval. I know BGs who have had nightmare jobs with teenagers who are trying to escape them at every opportunity, usually with the help of their drivers… Good communication skills and mutual understanding are essential with such young and impulsive clients.
The Ego Tripping Client
Some clients, usually those that are assigned security and not used to it can view the BGs as their servants who need to do as they are told. Well, the client most the time is paying the bills and BG’s can be classed as domestic help but there needs to be boundaries which should be clearly explained to the client before the detail starts.
Where there are protocols involved the client must understand how they should behave such as informing the BGs where they are, where they are going, and who they are meeting with etc. so everything can be planned for, prepared, and checked out so problems and potentially embarrassing situations can be avoided. For example, a visiting client of a political status who decides to go on their own and meet with someone who has not been checked out might be meeting with a criminal, corrupt businessman or a political adversary to their host… Where there are active threats involved then the client must understand that it’s in their interest to work with the security team or they could not only jeopardize everyone’s security but also cause major embarrassment and ruin their and other peoples reputations.
One issues that keeps coming up and in some cases is an ego issue is if a BG should carry a client’s bags and shopping? I would say it depends on the threat and situation, carrying a shopping bag can help you blend into an environment, can be used as a distraction in a confrontation etc. All depends on the job and client; you should be flexible but not to the point where providing protection is no longer your primary task in the client’s eyes. Again, pre-set boundaries and good communications need to be in place.
The Troublemaking Client
I know of one guy who was working in-house with a client in South Florida, and who was very well looked after by his client but to my knowledge was arrested three time while dealing with fights his client started. His client’s lawyer was always sent to bail him out of jail, but the arrests were on his record as was the issues of potential lawsuits and getting convicted of a crime. But for this guy, the issues were worth it as he was well paid and looked after for the moment.
No job will last forever so, always ensure your saving you money because as I said earlier, this is a business, and you can end up being fired or the contract cut at any time. If a client thinks they can go around disrespecting people, causing fights and their BGs are there to jump in a save them then they would not be a client I would want to deal with. Too much liability…
Misunderstandings can and do happen but if a client makes a habit of causing unessicary trouble then they need to be let go, even if they are paying you well… You can only spend so much money in jail and your choices will be extremely limited…
The Clubbing Client
Night clubs can be very challenging if not an impossible environment to be able to provide protection. If the client is into clubbing, then the BG’s will need to be able to fit into that environment, a bunch of middle-aged guys in blazers and slacks won’t work…
The threats in clubs are too many to talk about, ranging from issues with the club bouncers, drugs, drinks being spiked to random fights kicking off. I remember years ago doing one short job where we ended up in a club and one of the guests of our client was getting agitated and wanted myself, and the other guy I was working with, to stop guys grinding on his wife on the dance floor, we ignored him… Firstly his wife was not objecting to the attention she was getting so, there was no issue, and if there was an issue it was for the club bouncers to deal with…
The club world is potentially very dangerous, and you need BG’s that understand it and can fit in with the environments of the clubs the client is going to. Hopefully the BG and client will have a good repour and the client will listen and follow the BG’s lead if potential issues are identified.
The Drinking Client
Heavy drinkers are a danger to everyone including themselves. If they get drunk and fall asleep that’s one thing and if they get aggressive and confrontational its another.
A client getting totally wasted in public can be embarrassing for them and it’s difficult to protect a client if you have to carry them to their car etc. Then there is the issue if they are drunk and alone in their rooms they can choke on their own vomit, drown in their bath, fall off their balcony or wander off to their car and decide to go for a drive etc.
If the client is cooperative, then they need to get professional help and head to rehab. If the client goes on the occasional bender and is manageable then you need to ensure they are doing so in a safe environment and are supervised until they sober up!
The Druggie Client
To me clients using recreational drugs is a big NO as they can end up causing way too many problems. Firstly, to buy illegal recreational drugs the client must deal with criminals, secondly, they don’t know what they are snorting or swallowing and if they end up taking bad drugs and dying people will be looking at you for answers. Thirdly, if the client has illegal recreational drugs on them and you’re in a say a car with them, and the cops stop and search the car, and the drugs found then you’re all going to jail.
With the legalization of marijuana is many states in the United States you need to be very aware of the laws if your client is using it. And you must ensure if crossing a state lines or borders into an area where marijuana is illegal the client does not have any of the drug on them, as this can land them and possibly you in jail.
If the client has an addiction issue with prescription or recreational drugs, then they will need to get professional help. If they are cooperative and manageable to work with then in addition to any external threats, you need to ensure they do not harm themselves in anyway…
A client’s sexuality is a very important issue that needs to always be considered but many are too prude to talk about such things until there is a problem. At a basic level if the client is cheating on their partner with a lover, then the lover needs to be included to some extent in the overall security plan. Many people are more emotionally attached to their lovers than their spouses and an illicit relationship can be a big vulnerability to many people’s reputation just to start with.
If the client is into one-night stands and prostitutes it can lead to major headache for the BGs. For more on the problems with people using prostitutes and the sex industry the read my articles “The Sex Business” and “Honey Traps”.
A homosexual client might can need special considerations as you need to ensure the BGs working with them is not homophobic and OK with their lifestyle. If the client is in or out the closet will determine if special precautions need to be taken to protect their reputation. If they like to hangout in gay bars and clubs then again, the BG needs to be comfortable working in those environments.
If the clients are into the swinger or fetish scenes then you need to ensure the BGs are opened minded and disciplined, their job is to protect the client and join in with the party, even if the clients want then to… I know one BG whose client like him to watch when he was having sex with the partners he picked up. Apparently, the client asked the BG to join in the fun on several occasions, but boundaries were strictly enforced, and the BG provided overwatch to ensure the client and his partners was safe and protected when at their most venerable…
If your client is involved in illegal activity you need to understand that you can also end up getting into a lot of trouble just by association… Quick and questionable money can lead to big problems and is always best avoided!
From this short article hopefully, I have high-lighted some of the issues of working with clients in the real world. The clients might have money and social status, but they are still people and have to deal with life the same as everyone else. I have dealt with very wealthy people over the years who have been far from happy with their lives even though they had the money to do whatever they wanted. So, view your decent clients as people and not money machines, build good relationships and work every job as if it’s for the long term…
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