By John R. Lehman
I’ve been asked for over a year to address the subject of contracts. Specifically, contracts between Personal Protective Operatives, (or their companies), and the people they protect.
In this posting, I will try to simplify the explanation of the “Contract” and offer an approach from our perspective on the creation and use of this form of agreement.
The Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the contract is really quite simple.
Let’s start with the “Why?”
If you have ever been in a hotel room and looked up at the sprinkler, you noticed the little coat hanger symbol with a big red line through it on a label next to the sprinkler. That symbol means “Don’t hang anything on this”. One has to assume that someone had to have hung a coat hanger on the sprinkler head causing a very wet result AND it had to have happened more than once to justify the expense of putting stickers by every sprinkler in the country..
The written contract is needed because someone before us breached a “verbal” agreement. The contract in our case is needed to insure that all parties agreeing to a set of conditions, allowing them to operate with each other, are doing so with equal and clear understanding.
Who needs a written contract?
Anyone who enters into any agreement with anyone else.
A contract between the Principal person to be protected and the protection provider is only the beginning. Agreements between the “Client” and members of his domestic staff, Protection team and limousine and rental car agencies, apartment lease agreements, and even in between individual members of the protective team are all necessary.
What is a contract and what should be listed within it?
“A written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, which is intended to be enforceable by law”. A “protective services” contract should specify:
- Responsible entities or persons entering into the agreement
- The signer’s legal address and contact information
- Specific tasks to be performed
- Locations (with addresses) where work will be performed
- Conditions under which you will perform the required tasks
- Conditions under which you would cease performing these tasks
- Responsibilities of each party to provide certain or specific equipment
- Expectations of each party
- Restrictions on each party
- Insurance requirements
- Start and end dates
- Penalties for issues such as non-performance/non-payment
- Rates of pay, schedule of payments and due dates
Additional items to consider as attachments to the main contract might include:
- A Non-Compete, Non-Disclosure (an “NCND” or “NDA”). Each party signs the other’s agreements.
- A copy of regulatory rules and statutes under which you might be working
- Copies of other agreements to be signed, i.e. Rental, Lease, Memberships
- Assigned Equipment Agreement (radios, weapons, credit cards, vehicles…)
- Affidavit to allow access to Client’s personal information
Remember that the Client signs the same agreements that you do.
When is it appropriate to bring up “the contract” or set up a time to sign a contract?
My typical conversation starts out with a greeting and “How may I help you?”
The Client or their representative answers “I am considering using a Bodyguard, What do I need to do?”
My Answer is usually “We can help you, but I need to ask you a couple of quick questions”
“I assure you that I will not ask for personal identifiable information now but I need to establish what type of help you need.”
Are you in danger at this moment?
Do you currently have someone protecting you?
Are you armed?
You don’t have to tell me where you are yet, but you can if you want to…
Are you in a safe location?
Are you using your normal cell phone?
Are you driving your own vehicle or one assigned to you by someone else?
If you are in hiding, are you using your own identity or credit cards?
The “Where” is very important. You must choose a place that limits the client’s public exposure while still offering them the feeling that they are surrounded by people and free to get up and leave at any time. I will offer immediate security and pick up and escort of the Client but it’s rare and even rarer that they accept.
Once I have established the person’s real need or level of fear, and current level of safety, I will ask for a place and time to meet. I will suggest a Law Enforcement building or if the person is in extreme duress and fearful, the person’s Attorney’s office or a bank lobby.
I never suggest the movie line that they must “come alone”. If they are in real fear, a companion may ease their tensions and make it easier to negotiate with them.
Have an Attorney draft and design your contracts and all attachments. Get your Attorney to read anything you will sign. AND , I always have a contract package with me!!
The “How” involves considering the frame of mind of the client and their safety.
I introduce myself to the client and we sit. I always sit within arm’s reach of them.
I open my brief case and place the contract package on the table. The top contract is an agreement to not disclose anything about the ensuing conversation to ANYONE. It also establishes my legal right to the person’s personal information through his permission via an Affidavit which we have notarized.
I explain who I am, what I will and won’t do, I explain that I am not a “Bodyguard” but rather a “Personal Protection Consultant” AND I explain the difference between the two.
I continue asking open-ended questions to allow them to explain their situation. This process establishes trust and prepares the person to sign the Operating Agreement.
I explain that I will need to perform a few tasks and explain that I will get some personal information from them and run a background investigation on them. And if I decide to help them then I will contact them in 24 hours and require a 5000.00 dollar cash retainer and that I will need them to answer as many questions as is possible on a “Client Questionnaire”. The Client Questionnaire that I designed is a minimum of 430 questions and as many as 700. (Depending on the Client and the size and expanse of the estate).
The agreement also states that if I am not retained, they will get 3000.00 dollars back and they will keep all of the information I discovered. I secure a cashier’s check or U.S. Postal money order before we separate. The cashier’s check or money order helps to insure that the funds are legitimate.
Once we have discussed the safety and security issues and I have established the validity of the concern and the client’s legitimacy AND their financial ability to pay for my services, we discuss the rate and cost of expenses. We discuss issues with travel and clothing and equipment and weapons and my team’s intrusion into the client’s private world and more. We agree to meet again within 24 hours and sign the final contract to engage in business. We separate and I run a complete background on the Client and everyone they know.
When we meet again, we sit, I open the file, I hand the client a pen and the contract is signed within 60 seconds. I then discuss our Personal Protection Officers, show the client a file on two officers who can work within the client’s parameters and he picks his lead man. It is then up to the Lead man to pick his team. I then call the chosen lead man and he is at our location within 2 minutes. The lead then takes possession of the Client and I depart. The now Close Protection Officer (CPO) begins training the Client and if required, building his team.
This may seem completely strange and one can argue that this is just not the proper way this is done. So do it your way. But I sign 90% of the potential clients I meet with. Of those, 40% are for terms in excess of 90 days. The 60% are clients needing less than 10 days. Naturally, I have left a few things out to protect my strategies and real methods for meeting with the client, but this is as close as I can come to a quick education on contracts.
As far as Taking possession of the Client, That’s for next time.
About the Author
Mr. Lehman is the Vice President of Athena Academy. He is the founder and CEO of White Star Consulting, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. He is a certified TCOL (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) classroom and Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, Federal Protective Service authorized Instructor, Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor, ASP Baton/Handcuff Instructor and unarmed defensive tactics Instructor using the Russian Systema discipline. He is a Texas Licensed Instructor for unarmed and armed Security and teaches the Texas Personal Protection Officer (PPO) course. Mr. Lehman joined Athena Academy Instructor’s team on January 2013, with over 27 years of corporate and private security experience