Managing Director of Security and Reception services provider
We caught up with Theo Nicolaou, Managing Director of SmartSec Solutions to find out what he does all day.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Ok, when I’m good, this will usually start with an early morning personal training session in the gym. I know you probably wouldn’t think it looking at me, however I do like to stay fit.
Before leaving home I will check my emails to ensure I am fully aware of anything that may have developed overnight.
After the gym I will usually head in to the office for about 08:30am and kick off with a nice coffee.
I value the early quiet time to prepare and plan for the day ahead.
Customers always take priority – most days I will have meetings with existing customers and also spend time looking to develop relationships with potential customers.
I receive numerous inbound enquiries every day from various customers and members of my team.
I make a habit of connecting with as many people from within the organisation on a daily basis as possible, as it’s important to share practices and discuss customer responses. This includes my Operations Director and Account Managers, as this is the most effective way to keep on top of any potential issues.
The security industry is ever changing, it’s fast, pressurised and extremely demanding. Our business is evolving quickly, and listening to our customers is the best way to continuously enhance and develop our solutions.
I also regularly tap former colleagues or read up on various security articles for a third-party perspective on the market.
If I have been out in the West End or City all day, early evening usually finds me back in the office catching up with various business matters.
Finally, its home where I will spend the evening with my family, relaxing, oh and continuously checking my emails.
Being in the security services industry it is not always too easy to switch off!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
The breadth and variety of responsibilities help me leap out of bed every day. No two days are the same and that is very motivating. I absolutely love watching an account develop. We work with many customers who may at first be reluctant to select a ‘smaller’ security organisation. However, we find, once we have been tried and tested we often can enjoy watching that account flourish. We work with many customers where we started off by securing one building and now we look after most of their portfolio.
Equally the opportunity to visit our teams continues to be a big draw for me. We have an excellent product, a great team and an even greater opportunity to continue building something great.
I get huge satisfaction in knowing our security or reception personnel enjoy what they are doing on a day to day basis. Our role really, is to support them in any way possible so that they in turn can look after our customers. I believe it was Richard Branson that said ‘look after your staff and they will take care of your customers’. Probably true in any business, however it is critical in the security service industry.
What sucks? Hmmmm I guess nothing much really and that is the beauty of waking up every day with a fresh challenge.
What kind of goals do you have for SmartSec Solutions? What are the most useful measures of success?
My short-term focus is on business growth, customer and staff satisfaction, new business wins, and retention.
That will fast develop into greater scrutiny of profitability. I am confident that if we continue to deliver the standard of service we do, we will continue to grow and become one of the industry leaders.
Our longer term goal is to be the supplier of choice in the security manned guarding and reception arena and to secure some of the most iconic buildings on London’s beautiful landscape.
We are a hands on management team and I make it my own personal goal to develop as many of my own relationships with customers as possible. I guess the ultimate measure of success is a steady and continued growth.
SmartSec Solutions is in its relative infancy, having been established just seven years ago. We now secure over 100 properties in London and the surrounding counties. We have an excellent and motivated workforce and we have built our business on the basis of solid foundations and principles.
On a personal level, my ambition is to continue to enjoy every day. That involves building a super talented team who aren’t afraid to bring brave new ideas to the fore.
What advice do you have for people in the security or reception industry?
My advice is simple. No matter what your job role, no matter what you do, do it to the absolute best of your ability. I say this too many of the security officers I speak to. You never know where this job will lead and who is watching. I have seen many examples of our officers who have been so impressive, so enthused by their role and so self-motivated and I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting back and watching them go on to bigger and better things.
I have worked with security officers who have gone on to be building managers, facilities managers and receptionists who have done the same. Indeed, a number of CEO’s within our industry were formally security officers themselves, it is fabulous to see.
So, keep doing what you are doing and never be afraid to learn. I always say to my own team, I am learning every day.
What are the skills required to be effective in your role?
First and foremost….. Patience. I am not easily phased and I am a naturally very calm leader. If there’s an issue, let’s work collectively to make it right.
My management team and I support over 200 security and reception personnel every day and the most important skill I try to impart on them is the need to continually coach our security officers and receptionists.
I wear multiple hats every day. That means I must be a manager, salesman, spokesman, office manager, finance manager and human resource manager.
All of these roles require strong relationship management skills.
In our industry, customers are inundated with fresh ideas and new business opportunities, so articulating the marketplace, our value within it, and our USP quickly – but with some degree of playful charm – is important in all discussions.
It is critical to be a strong decision maker. This can be as much about what we won’t do, as what we will do.
In small teams and early-stage businesses, it’s very easy to be distracted by inbound noise that only steers you off track. We have always tried to focus on what we are good at. It is easy to be distracted by the lure of a large account, that you frankly have little or no chance of winning. We know our target market and we firmly stick to this as our main focus.
Strong and effective leadership is about bringing talented individuals together to work hard towards a common goal.
No one individual will make SmartSec Solutions a success – it requires an interconnected team effort.
Having the capacity to be the conductor of these various disciplines is the most important skill I can deliver on.