Emphasis on service drives success for Planned Security's Dino Iuliano

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Randy Southerland

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Dino Iuliano had given up on the security field.

After spending years in the military and working in law enforcement and private security he had grown tired of putting on a uniform. He didn't want any more short-term gigs, late nights and weekends spent working while friends with corporate jobs were at home with their families. He was ready for something different, and a sales position for one of those large corporations looked promising.

But getting away from the field was easier said then done. One day while meeting with a potential client named Robert Francis, Iuliano told him about his security background that included stints with the U.S. Marines and a position as sheriff's deputy. Iuliano was serving as an executive protection specialist with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, when his team was called upon by the Secret Service to assist in providing protection for President Bush while he was delivering an address at the local AT&T headquarters.

That's when Francis told him about an emerging company he was building to provide security services to corporate and commercial clients in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area.

“One thing led to another and next thing I knew, he was asking me to come to work for him as the vice president of the company,” Iuliano recalls.

Getting back into security wasn't something he had considered, but the more Francis described the type of company he was building, the more appealing it sounded. Planned Security had a different approach from the typical guard service. It was the largest provider of concierge services in the Northeast region.

“I was able to combine all the skills I had acquired in customer service with all the knowledge I had acquired in the security field to provide services for our clients,” Iuliano says.

After coming on board, he worked with Francis to set up an ambitious plan to grow the company. Over the last five years, Planned Security increased the number of security hours it provides from 4,000 a week to more than 20,000. That includes more than 450 concierge, doormen and security officers at locations throughout the three-state-region. It has also achieved a 95 percent retention rate among its clients.

As chief operating officer, Iuliano has been at the forefront of creating a new kind of security company with a new kind of security guard. Candidates for positions must not only know security, but must be equally well versed in the nuances of customer service.

“We don't hire the first 10 people who walk through the door because we need 10 people today,” he explains. “We hire for attitude. If someone can come to us with no security knowledge at all and has a great attitude and understands customer service, we will train them on how to be a good security officer.”

In addition to overseeing local managers throughout their service region, he helps to ensure that officers are well-trained. That includes giving instructions on what they can expect to find on the job and how to deal with a variety of circumstances in the buildings they cover.

“We put them through an extensive training program that has nothing to do with a videotape,” he explains. “We don't stick them around the table and say, ‘here, watch this videotape from 1950 and when you're done, you're a certified security officer.’ It's all hands-on training. It's me sharing my experiences with them. It's my managers sharing experiences with them.”

They also receive extensive instruction in the soft skills of dealing with clients, customers and residents because in most cases they will be dealing with quite ordinary situations.

“As part of my training, I tell people that I'll get more phone calls about how nice they are than whether you can catch bullets in your teeth,” he says. “People want to be treated right.”

Iuliano is hands-on when it comes to management of the company. He meets regularly with managers to discuss plans and issues for each territory. He gives them a clear picture of important issues within the company and also provides them with direct support. When managers need assistance, he doesn't hesitate to roll up his sleeves to help with day-to-day operations.

He also spends time visiting customers to hear about their experiences firsthand and to find ways to improve service. His approach has helped contribute to the company's high retention rate.

The company is now poised for even more growth, and Iuliano expects its security hours to climb to 30,000 in the near future. With the acquisition of Planned Security's parent company, Planned Companies, by Toronto-based FirstService Corp., the firm now has the resources to expand to other market. Plans are being developed to expand the company's services to Delaware, Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

During his career with Planned Security, Iuliano has seen a significant shift in the security market that is reflected in the types of services Planned Security offers. When he came on board five years ago, the company's service offerings were more than 90 percent security oriented with less than 10 percent in the concierge area. Today that figure has shifted to more than 60 percent concierge. Those figures reflect a change in their customers.

“They demand and expect a lot more,” he says. “People are looking for a more personable security officer. Whether it's front desk personnel or a security guard, their expectations are higher that you're going to treat them right.”

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