The RSS Experience
Recap of the Retail Security Services 2019 Vendor Conference
By David Lopez
Artwork by Sarah Augsbach
On Wednesday, August 14th, Retail Security Services played host to its 4th Annual Vendor Conference from the cordial Radisson Hotel Grand Ballroom in Hauppauge, Long Island, New York. For the past few years, Retail Security Services (RSS) has reached out to various security vendors across the country to welcome them to its home of operations on Long Island. The goal was to go over pending and current events, hot topics, new training, open forums and discussions, networking, and face-to-face meet and greets with the entire company staff. The genuine concept is to continue building incredible partnerships while training and learning from each other, strengthening respective businesses.
At 9:45 am, guests from all over the country began to trickle in with morning pleasantries. Vendors and representatives from Texas, Jacksonville, California, New York, Colorado, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee filled the room, anxious to start the day and excited to see what RSS had planned out for the conference.
The pregame introductions of the RSS staff kicked off the day’s event in grand style, as David Lopez of Professional Retail Services took the microphone as if he were center stage in a 3-ring circus and announced each RSS member who was participating in the day’s events with interesting career credentials and individual fun facts to the themes of the Star Wars and Rocky movies.
Director of Operations Danielle Procida opened the actual conference by recapping the last few vendor events, as well as explaining the goals and expectations set forth by the company leaders going into this year’s show. She reintroduced the company heads, such as CEO Kathleen Larmour, PRS Director of Operations Amanda Fredette, RMS Director of Operations Jenn McCoy and RSS manager Allison Seguine, and explained that their company doesn’t come close to taking its current shape without all 4 of these amazing women. She then let the audience know that not only are these businesses women-owned but when they say they are family-run, they mean it. Procida went on to offer a recap of the day’s events and kicked off the show with a warm welcome and an even warmer smile.
Client Manager Jennifer Burton kicked off the presentations by diving into possibly the most important question of the day: “Why?” Burton made it very clear that the biggest reason these vendors were called in today was out of appreciation for everything that guard services do every day for RSS, explaining this group was this year’s representation of every company in the RSS family. She then went further into who and what Retail Security Services is as a company, how the model of RSS’s “4 Cs” is the guideline to everyday operations, and how the words Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, and Communication are the basis on which the company operates. She closed with an incredible slide that showed RSS’s security guard assignment response rates, which averaged nearly 97 percent in all of our crucial categories such as emergencies, priority calls, and so on.
Following Jenn, Client Manager Jennifer Sparling took over and went into the subject of meeting client expectations. She discussed the importance of staying within RSS’s lanes in terms of pricing, check-in and check-out procedures, guard etiquette, and so on. Sparling made it clear that their vendors don’t get service calls if their clients aren’t consistently pleased with the work that is provided by the company and vendor, so hammering this point home was necessary for the day.
At this point, dispatch team leader Ashley Trent tagged in and discussed in great detail how the dispatch process operates. She explained the division of her team per region to give vendors a sense of comfort and understanding by being familiar with the same voices when issuing work orders to specific vendors. Trent would further touch base on the importance of maintaining ETAs and setting up calls as quickly as possible while keeping rates where they need to be.
Sabrina McCann, a Senior Security Coordinator, followed up and went on to explain the importance of a particular service that the company offers: Web Confirmations. This is an automated email service in which RSS keeps track of guard service and estimated time arrivals. If done correctly, it moves the information process along swiftly through shift changes if applicable. McCann explained the steps in a simple manner that was easy to follow and understand and kept the attendees continuously engaged.
McCann then passed the buck to Frank Struffolino, who is currently the night crew supervisor. On the East Coast, Frank and his team work from 4 P.M. to midnight, Monday through Friday, with the OnCall process beginning at midnight and going until 9 A.M. the next morning. Struffolino explained in great detail RSS’ 24-hour service that allows guards to get someone on the phone at any time, day or night. He then explained the biggest challenges that he and his team face on a daily basis, and how vendors could make overnight work more fluent for the team–both vendor and client. He closed by explaining that when using voice recognition or texting apps, be detailed and speak clearly, as voice recognition can indeed make errors. He also explained that a guard calling in and simply saying “I’m here” is never enough information for his team to help the vendor follow-ups.
Kate Sullivan, vendor relations, closed out the presentations out strongly with insight into the daily operations of her department. She threw in some humorous anecdotes about some of the more unfortunate guard stories that she and Meri Vogt (VR Supervisor who was also in attendance) deal with on a daily basis. She again spoke on expectations, proper dress code, paperwork, identification, and proper use of IVR systems. She let everyone know that even though some of her crazy guard stories were rather funny in a not so positive light, she’d much rather keep the comedy out of the VR department.
“Our speeches were to convey the day in the life of a work order in order for the vendor to understand all that goes into providing guard service for our clients. We were all suffering from nervous knots and sweaty palms, despite having practiced for days and using index cards. Kathleen, our fearless leader, told all of us we don’t need the index cards because we know our “stuff” so own it. That’s precisely what we did. Like a rapper about to spit a verse, each person stepped to the mic, pushed through their nervousness, and did their thing.”
– Jennifer Burton
Artwork by Sarah Augsbach
It was here that Allison Seguine let everyone in the room know that they would be taking a slightly different approach to the day’s events. She introduced a very special guest speaker that has been on the silver screen as well as television, Joshua Lozoff. Lozoff played Carla Tortelli’s (Rhea Pearlman) son ‘Gino’ on the incredibly famous television show “Cheers,” and played opposite Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd in the movie “Clueless.” The actor-turned-professional-magician and speaker has performed at many supersized company conferences, such as McDonalds’ and Microsoft’s. On this day, Joshua made the trip from North Carolina to attend the RSS conference and dazzle the crowd with some unforgettable words and tricks.
Lozoff spoke about interpersonal relationships, open communication, the power of perception, and his patented line of “believing in the mysterious.”
He referred to three core skills for the most effective communication:
He explained that each one of these skills requires true connections. It’s from these connections that the power to really connect with an audience, a potential partner, a boss, or anyone of importance derives from. He would go on to explain how much more important body language and the signals that we give off are than what we actually say verbally.
Lozoff would go on to dazzle the audience with tricks that included an incredible playing card gag that baffled the operations manager of PRS, Amanda Procida. He guessed the nicknames of 5 different audience members with just name tags and a series of funny commands like, “Say ‘I’m Batman,’” performed a color-by-numbers trick that saw the operations manager for Retail Mechanical services (RMS), Jenn McCoy, guess what color socks he was wearing based on a cartoon she had been coloring, and wrapped up with a subliminal messaging trick that made a guest guess a word that was sealed away in a box that was located on the front table for the entire show.
“He (Joshua Lozoff) really blew my mind with his impressive magic tricks, but more so with his outlook on communication. He was reading everyone in the room with just a few words, our mannerisms, and the way we carried ourselves. He was a welcomed addition to the day’s events and definitely left an impression with the room.”
– Amanda Fredette
Following an hour for lunch and the delicious spread that the Radisson staff prepared, Seguine brought everyone back and formed three giant round table sessions that allowed for open discussions, networking, further teachings, suggestions, and takeaways. Each table had a supervisor facilitating the conversations and note-takers to document the meetings with the vendors. The goal here was to bring back information on how these companies truly work and to learn about their struggles and successes of their daily operations and to better gauge what RSS would need to tweak or change to better serve their vendors and clients.
“The breakout sessions were informative and enjoyable. It’s really crazy how different the rules are regarding security guards are from state to state. It was fun to see the vendors interact with each other and bounce ideas off of each other.”
– Jennifer Sparling
Throughout the conference, Client Manager Casey DeCesare ran four raffles that gifted many great prizes for our vendors to take home, including a Yeti thermos and an iPhone speaker. Marketing Director Adriana Soler made her way through the room to document the day’s events for the company’s websites and social media. The RSS accounting department also had representatives on hand. Supervisor Lisa Rivera and senior accountant Tiffanie Thermilius were in attendance to answer any vendor questions, and they added to the round table discussions, specifically regarding invoicing and requirements.
When the conference winded down, and all of the meetings and information had concluded for the day, it was time to bring back a little more team-building with company awards to be given to all participating vendors. Danielle Procida and Allison Seguine took the microphone and one by one welcomed each member with their own personal award in jest. Awards ranged from “The Hungry Hippo Award” for the Vendor that always calls looking for work, to the “Deep Fried Chatter Box Award” for the Vendor who talks your ear off every time, and the ever-popular “Dandy as Candy Award” for the Vendor who is always the sweetest to deal with. These were wildly popular and set the stage for the night’s activities.
Around 4:45pm, the conference officially concluded, and the vendor guests were taken by coach bus to a beach-themed bar and restaurant about a half-hour away in Patchogue, Long Island named “Off Key Tiki!” for dinner and drinks hosted by the entire RSS company. Company coordinators, dispatchers, accountants, and the documents team met up to meet with the visiting vendors so everyone could put a face with the people that run everyday operations with the visiting vendors.
Dinner included an array of delicious seafood, Asian cuisine, and American delicacies. A complimentary free bar was open for RSS visitors and staff to kick back and enjoy the beautiful night outdoors on the water with live music in the background. Approximately 3 hours and many mixed drinks later, the party moved indoors for karaoke and dancing, including a sparkling performance with all three directors of operations‘ spicing up the party with their rendition of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe!” You can’t make this stuff up.
“We were all pretty anxious and a little nervous to meet our vendors, but once they arrived, we automatically started to have a blast! Conversations started to flow effortlessly; the nerves and anxiousness automatically went away. It was such a great experience getting to know our guests and sharing some of our island with them. ‘Off key Tiki’ was a great environment for everyone to really enjoy themselves. We ended off the night dancing and singing karaoke; needless to say, this was one for the books, and we are all excited to meet more of our vendors at our next conference!”
– Kimberly Dar (Client Coordinator)
Overall, the 2019 RSS Vendor Conference was an absolute success, from top to bottom. From the greetings and introductions to the speeches and teachings, to the round table discussions, the hotel hospitality, the restaurant hospitality, and even the coach bus, everything came out the exact way that upper management of RSS intended it to.
“Everything we worked on, everything we put together, everything we wrote down, practiced, and put into this folder played out right in front of my eyes… perfectly. That speaks volumes for every single person that put work into this. I have never been more proud of a team than I am of this group.”
– Allison Seguine
At roughly 10:30 P.M., the company leaders bid farewell to their vendor guests and took well deserved time off to recharge after working tirelessly on a successful event. Upon returning, Retail Security had already reset the blackboard and begun making notes for the 2020 Vendor Conference. If you are a vendor and are interested in receiving more information on our Vendor Conferences, please reach out to Allison Seguine at ASeguine@RetailSecurityServices.com for more details.
“The connections made by security guard companies from across the country allowed them to network with us and each other. Our staff presents on our specific department roles and internal processes to help our vendors better understand who we are and how we have become so successful over the past five years. An event like this is a prime example of where we are at and why we are here.”
– Danielle Procida