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Glen Bhimani of BPS Security: Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Transparent Communication — Communication is absolutely paramount to good leadership. If your team hears something important from someone else, they may begin to doubt you and think you are trying to hide something from them. Once, one of our clients was going through a merger which I informed my staff about. Even though it was about a year out from being finalized, I let them know and was able to answer their questions about whether or not they would be able to keep their jobs (they were kept on the job). So when the merger happened a year later and our client’s employees were worried about losing their jobs because they didn’t know what was happening, our staff was calm and didn’t think much of it. It was a stark contrast between their employees who were panicked with only a week’s notice and ours who were aware and calm.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Glen Bhimani.

Glen Bhimani is the CEO and Founder of the fastest growing Security Firm in the United States and has over 20 years of experience under his belt. His business savvy and technological expertise are just one part of the reason his company is growing so quickly, and his quick thinking and vast understanding of the small business world makes him an expert in the field of small business.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Getting started with BPS Security was always about not settling, for myself and for others.

Prior to starting BPS, I worked in a larger security firm. And one day I found myself arguing with my Regional Director of Security about how there are more efficient, cost-effective methods to increase the service to the client while reducing the cost to the security company. He told me “No this is how we have always done things and if you don’t like it you can leave.” I was done settling for less than great service for clients and employees, so I said “Sure, I’ll leave.” I handed him my two week notice and I walked out of his office.

A similar situation occurred with my Commanding Officer when I served in the United States Army. I couldn’t settle for less than excellent service and they just didn’t care.

I spent a lot of time thinking about growing up in poverty, and how I would go to bed hungry some nights. I remember that my family members who had a blue collar job were having a hard time getting by and those who were professionals were doing well but were constantly lonely. But my family members who had opened a business were happy, doing well for themselves, and making changes in the world. That was when I realized that I needed to open a business.

My lovely wife and I opened BPS Security both for ourselves and to improve the lives of those around us, clients and employees both.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was following a movie quote. I listened to the quote from Field of Dreams (“If you build it, he will come.”) and thought it was great life advice. I thought if I built a security guard business the amazing service that no one else was offering, all the clients would just appear.

Boy was I wrong. No one came.

The lesson that I learned was that just because you have a better service or product does not mean you will sell more. A great service/product does not necessarily cause people to flock to you, because there is more to business than just a better product.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Yes, my best friend and former business partner Omar Gonzalez.

When we started, he just came alongside me to help me out. He said to me, “Glen, I don’t want to be in the security business or have that kind of responsibility. But I am here to help you with your dream.”

Omar helped the business and me by working many hours for free in the beginning until we were stable. Until we were able to pay the employees and vendors needed to grow the business, he poured his heart and soul into it. Three years after we started the business, he separated from the company and moved on to follow his own dreams.

If it was not for Omar and my wife, BPS Security wouldn’t be successful today.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Our original vision was to help and be a resource for all the small businesses that needed quality security guards but could not afford them. Bigger firms charge a lot more because they have higher overhead, and our purpose was to be able to provide the small businesses with security so they could be safe and protected on their own property.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

I believe clear and consistent communication is crucial to leadership, and I utilized this during an uncertain time in BPS.

We pay our guards on a weekly basis, and when we began to gain more corporate clients who wanted to pay on a monthly basis, our employees were worried about payroll. It was a major concern, because we wouldn’t be able to make payroll if we took on these bigger corporations on their terms. I was working on a payment arrangement that would allow us to get paid weekly (thereby making payroll), and I made sure my staff knew what I was doing.

I knew it would work, even if my employees were worried about the uncertainty of it. But through consistent communication so they were aware of everything going on, they realized it would work and weekly payment arrangements became easier with each new client.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

There were several times I considered giving up.

The first time was because we could not figure out how to get clients the first year we opened (see my mention of “build it and they will come” earlier). The second time occurred in our second year in business, when we almost ran out of funds.

The motivation came from my wife. She encouraged me so much and said we just needed to get over the hump: if we made it past two years, we would survive. She told me that we were almost halfway there. Because of her encouragement, we redid our website and changed our marketing a bit and at the end of our second year in business, we got our first client that allowed us to remain open.

My drive comes from knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of our employees. The quality of life my security officers are able to have is based on the living wage and medical benefits they receive with us, which they wouldn’t get with other companies. Knowing their lives are drastically different drives me.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

The role of a leader during challenging times is to help their employees at all costs. Even if sometimes it doesn’t seem in the best interest of the company. Here’s why: employees do not typically remember when they were hired, but they remember when and why they were let go. They return the favors you send their way, and they will go above and beyond if they truly feel you have their best interest in mind.

If you want to fulfill the role of a leader during difficult times, find ways to prioritize your team and staff.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

When the future seems uncertain it is important to be there for employees.

For example, one way we boost morale on a regular basis is by getting individual employees their favorite meals and having it delivered to them (or their families) for dinner.

Another way to inspire, motivate, and engage employees is to just honest and transparent with them. Ask them what their thoughts are on the issues that are coming up. Get their recommendations, and listen to what they have to say. You will be surprised by the great information some employees have, and they will feel like their input and place in the company is greatly appreciated.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

In my opinion, difficult news should not be a surprise to your team or customers. It should come as a confirmation based on a prior conversation (Going back to consistent communication).

For example, in the middle of covid last year we ran into staffing issues when many of our staff and subcontractors staff came down with covid. I called my clients three weeks in advance and informed them we might be running into a shortage and might not be able to provide further services until my staff recovered. My clients stated they appreciated the heads up and to give them weekly updates. Thankfully, in the end, we did not have the shortage because we were able to make other arrangements for temporary staff. But it could have been a much different conversation, had I not been proactive about being clear when I saw issues down the road.

If you are proactively communicating with clients and team members about potential issues, you head them off at the pass and make it easier to have those conversations when they do have to happen.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

By simply making plans that are flexible. One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Forrest Gump, where he says “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” And unlike earlier, this is an actually applicable quote. It’s better to make a decision and move forward than be paralyzed by fear.

Jeff Hoffman, the inventor of the Airport Checkin Kiosk, once said “It’s easier to turn when you’re going down the highway at 70 mph than when you’re still parked.” And that’s very accurate. Regardless of whether you make the wrong decision or not (or have to change it), it will be easier to pivot if you have already started down the road.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

My number one principle is to not make decisions based on emotions (Or worries, such as “am I going to be able to make payroll in 2 months?”), but rather to use logic based on facts (such as “I have the money for payroll this month, I’ll worry about next month if it’s an issue.”)

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

1: Cutting vendors (especially marketing and suppliers) in order to save cash short-term.

2: Shutting down communication out of fear.

3: Waiting to adjust because “it might pan out down the road.”

The best thing to keep in mind is that you cannot act out of fear. Be proactive about potential issues and make the best, most long-term logical decisions you can to avoid these mistakes.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

The primary strategy I utilize is to be proactively engaged with the world, and shifting my business to adjust for the changes in current events that will eventually impact my industry.

For example, right before COVID-19 hit the United States I was noticing China closing down their country. I knew this might come to the US, and that people would need more security in buildings that would no longer be occupied. So I placed a large order of supplies because I knew there would be supply chain issues. I bought firearms, ammunition, security uniforms, and placed hiring ads well in advance to be prepared. As soon as COVID-19 caused the United States to close, we had the influx of clients I’d anticipated. Instead of running into supply chain issues, we were able to hire 23 full time employees within 5 days and take on thousands of hours of work from incoming clients.

Being proactive is one of the best and most effective strategies you could ever use.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

1: Lead By Example

I can’t say this enough, it’s imperative to lead by example. When we were struggling to cover all the security sites for clients, we were often asking guards to work close to 60 hours a week. They only wanted to work 40, so they could spend time with their families which is understandable. So I made sure I was out there working 60 hours/week with them myself so they could have a little more time to themselves and to ensure our clients had coverage. The security officers later told me that they could not believe I was out there with them, and that it led to them being more dedicated and loyal to BPS because other owners would threaten them with losing their jobs instead of helping with the insane assigned hours.

2: Listen

Even in ordinary times it is important to listen to your staff and care about their personal lives, but more so in turbulent times. And I truly mean listen. Most employees won’t tell you directly that something is going on, but if you listen and carefully ask if everything is okay they will likely let you know. We once had an officer that was having personal and financial issues at home after separating from a significant other. It soon became apparent something was going on, because work performance began to suffer and there were constant requests to leave early or come in late. When initially asked if everything was okay at home, the officer shrugged it off. But when we said anything spoken was confidential and free of judgment, we found out that childcare was a necessity and work hours needed to change as well, but the officer was too afraid to ask because of how recently their employment had begun. At that point, we knew we had to take care of the employee and worked with the officer to give a week of paid leave and a readjusted schedule so childcare could happen. It drastically changed the performance as well as the officer’s life.

3: Transparent Communication

Communication is absolutely paramount to good leadership. If your team hears something important from someone else, they may begin to doubt you and think you are trying to hide something from them. Once, one of our clients was going through a merger which I informed my staff about. Even though it was about a year out from being finalized, I let them know and was able to answer their questions about whether or not they would be able to keep their jobs (they were kept on the job). So when the merger happened a year later and our client’s employees were worried about losing their jobs because they didn’t know what was happening, our staff was calm and didn’t think much of it. It was a stark contrast between their employees who were panicked with only a week’s notice and ours who were aware and calm.

4: Take Care of Your Employees

Taking care of your employees is one way to lead extremely efficiently and effectively. Earlier this year, when sick leave for COVID was no longer a mandatory payment for employers, we had a security officer that was out sick for two weeks. We knew she wouldn’t be able to work, but she needed the income so we paid her for those two weeks off. She called us when she got her paycheck, stating that we made a mistake with her paycheck and that she hadn’t worked those two weeks. When we told her that it wasn’t a mistake, she was extremely grateful because she hadn’t known how she was going to make rent that month. On the back side of that incident, she has become one of our best employees and will do anything to make sure our clients are taken care of no matter what.

5: Appreciation

Effective leadership is about more than just holding people accountable to do their jobs (although this i important), and efficient leadership often comes down to making sure your employees know they are appreciated so they will do their best for you. One of our favorite things to do (before and now during COVID) was to randomly buy all of our staff meals and get the meals sent to their work sites or homes. It has proven to regularly boost their confidence in us and perform better, for more than just the fact that we bought them food and saved them a little time and money. Food is always good to have, and it shows them that we’re thinking about them and know what they’re doing for us.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes is actually tattooed on my left arm: “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”

It speaks to me and is relevant because it encourages me to enjoy life and not worry about what might happen. It has encouraged me to do so much like joining the military, picking up daring hobbies such as motorcycle racing, and helped me jump into entrepreneurship.

How can our readers further follow your work?

My social media is pretty active with my content (I’ll include links below), and the website for BPS Security is a great place to find my blogs. I also post regularly to my youtube channel.

The Company Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BPSguardservices/

The Company LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/33251061/

My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/glen-bhimani-8a6863151/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjyS-Q8uyQkikZoqf5RcAFw

The Website: https://bpssecuritysa.com

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market

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