Episode 162 – Reflecting on the Effects of COVID-19 on the Profession

As 2020 comes to a welcome end, we reflect on the effects COVID-19 had and look into its impact on the profession. There is no doubt that Covid-19 has changed Secure Transportation; the question remains: for 2021, how long the changes will last, and will those changes be permanent.

It is impossible to accurately predict the overall impact that the COVID crisis will have on the Protection industry, but as we move into 2021, these are some thoughts and metrics.

Thoughts and Metrics

As in any crisis, those who can adapt to the changes will survive, and those who can’t – won’t. The financial impact on the Secure Transportation profession is unmeasurable. Not only was Secure Transportation, but also the Pandemic had a profound effect on Executive Protection and Event Security. How long this will last and can all of us survive is a question that, at this time, is hard to answer. But there are some basic business concepts that we can use as a guideline.

Adaptability was the keyword for any business to survive in 2020 against the economic fallout from COVID. EP and ST training providers had to adapt to online classrooms and webinars. In-person conferences and training became online virtual events. Zoom became a household name and a business need. You had to understand the technology and how to market an online event. Businesses needed to rely more heavily on social media for marketing and communicating to clients on safety policies.

Those that supply Secure Transportation and own their vehicles may have to look for other revenue sources outside the security. Many have already done so.

Something that you can do. Market that your cars have been sanitized.  We suggest creating a marketing program outlining your sanitation process. We recommend that you read Joe Autera/VDI article – Guidelines for Disinfecting and Sanitizing Executive Vehicles; a link is supplied in the show notes.

When this is all over, and it will be, there will be a pent-up travel demand for corporate and high net worth, but they’ll be a new paradigm as far as what is required from those who supply Secure Transportation; we suggest you get a head start. Inoculations and vehicle sanitization will be vital to the decision-makers.

This also applies to sub-contractors that use rental vehicles while supplying Secure Transportation. Whether you are for or against vaccinations for COVID-19, we suggest you keep in mind that your personal beliefs are not what needs to be marketed.

Talking to our corporate members in the future, those who subcontract Secure Transportation will require proof of vaccination and evidence of the vehicle’s thorough cleansing. 

These are not facts but predictions; insurance providers will require proof of vehicle sanitization, and those close to the principal, including the driver, will need to show proof of vaccination.

Training

The effect of Covid-19 on EP and Security Driver training is immeasurable; it is our opinion that the major training providers, those that have an established market base, and were successful before the Pandemic, will survive and will do well in 2021, and well beyond. We see a trend by those who conduct training to get into the online training market, which, Pandemic and no Pandemic, in our opinion, is the right business decision.

Some metrics from our training survey, when the question was asked, “How did you hear about the training program you attended? 72% answered Word of Mouth (WOM), and 10% answered through Facebook or LinkedIn posts. Those training providers who had a strong word of mouth working for them before COVID-19 will still have word of mouth working for them when this all comes to an end.

Look at those offering online training and understand that not all providers are created equal, this is not a criticism, but an observation backed by 45 plus years in the profession.  We suggest practitioners concentrate on soft skills. 

We also suggest that practitioners take this time to learn more about the IRS regulations concerning Secure Transportation and get very familiar with the K&R insurance business. As far as Secure Transportation is concerned, those are the two primary drivers for high-end market corporations and high net worth people to use Secure Transportation. 

We suggest that you concentrate your knowledge and learning experience on the business end and your profession. It’ll be those who understand the concept of marketing in the post-pandemic environment that will have an advantage. 

Another survey question asked, What was the deciding factor for you attending the training program? 85% answered the reputation of the training provider. So, those training providers with a strong client base and a good reputation before the Pandemic, in my opinion, should thrive in 2021.

In 2020 the increase in those marketing EP and Security Driver training programs increased exponentially. We have no metrics to back this up. Our opinion is that they will not make it through 2021. But it is also our opinion more will take their place in 2021.

Also, as we had mentioned many times in the past, those training providers who supply

knowledge at no cost before attending their training program do well. They did well in 2020, working through the Pandemic, and they’ll do well in 2021. Sharing knowledge was a powerful marketing tool during the Pandemic, and it will be in the future.

The Future?

History says that vehicle ambushes are not going away. Over the last six months of 2020, a series of vehicle attacks have gathered a considerable amount of news. Two of which were discussed in previous podcast episodes – 161 and 143.

The statistic that has been around for decades is still in effect. 85% of all attacks against the principal occur in or near the vehicle. That statistic did not change in 2020, and it will not change in 2021 or anytime soon. All one needs to do is look at 2020. The attacks on Omar Garcia Harfuch and the Iranian nuclear scientist made international headlines. Vehicle attacks in Mexico are almost a daily occurrence. The truck hijacking of the Apple products in the UK did not make major headlines. However, it’s still a problem for those who need to supply Secure Transportation.

This is 100% certain – what will not go away in 2021 or the future is the IRS regulations and code concerning executive travel and Secure Transportation. As we have said many times, the IRS has created and still will have one of the best motivators for using your services. We cannot stress what we mentioned above understand the IRS code and, if applicable, use it in your marketing. The same is true concerning the kidnap and ransom insurance. K&R has been around for decades. It also will be around for the foreseeable future. Again, we suggest you understand it and use it to your advantage.

In 2020 our membership, by volunteering their knowledge and skill through articles shared through our network, reached more than 50,000 Executive Protection and Secure Transportation professionals. Since the inception of ISDA, through our members, we have shared well over 400 pieces of knowledge to the community at no charge. ISDA is confident that our members will continue sharing their knowledge in 2021.

That will bring us to the end of another episode of the EPST podcast. The last of our podcast episodes until 2021. I hope you’ll join us then. Show notes for this episode are available at the SecurityDriver.Com website.

On behalf of myself, Tony Scotti and our members, we wish you a safe and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As David Cameron once said,

“Christmas gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.”

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