We speak to Professional Security Academy about their very unique business.
So far we’ve seen a mixed bag of billboard winners, including an accountant, a marketer and a condiment maker. To add to that diverse bunch we’ve now got the Professional Security Academy, who offer tailored training courses to aspiring security professionals.
Headed up by Orlando Mardner - a decorated soldier who’s served in both the Jamaican and British army - PSA are based in Alperton, North London, and are a proud supporter of the local area. An interesting business we sat down with Orlando (fierce handshake), to find out a little more about him, as well as his shiny new billboard and the future of his academy.
What was the motivation for starting your business?
I realised that there was a lack of private security training programmes out there inspiring others into this type of career. This encouraged me to develop my own training business - the Professional Security Academy - that drew upon my own skills and experience and used it to inspire others.
Essentially, PSA is a stepping stone into security management. There’s hundreds of thousands of people who work as door staff or provide security for events, but who’ll never progress in their career and move up the ladder. Perhaps 1 in 100 will take the step up, so my aim is to get more people climbing the ladder and treating their profession as a career, with prospects and progression.
What is the most difficult part of running a security training school?
What isn’t difficult! There’s a huge amount of planning and preparation that goes into setting up each course. In addition to this the landscape of security has changed a great deal in the past decade, with a new emphasis on brains over brawn. Nowadays customer service is at the forefront of security.
How do you promote your business?
We promote PSA through a mixture of marketing channels, including word of mouth, social media promotion and exhibitions. Speaking at career fairs is key to us too, given the nature of what we do.
How important a role do you feel small businesses like yours play in your local community?
By providing security training to local unemployed people alongside motivational workshops, PSA is proud to play an important role in the local community. We like to go the extra mile, so where necessary we’ve contributed to student costs, covering things like a security licence when they haven’t had the money.
Why do you think Wembley is a good town to run a small business in?
Brent council is increasingly eager to support local entrepreneurs, which is good news for SMEs like mine. We’re in an exciting era where the local council and businesses have a chance to work well together – lets hope it continues.
What’s been the highlight of your year?
We’ve provided security services for the Tour De France, Global Gathering, Wembley arena and even a drive-in cinema!
What are your plans for your business over the next five years?
We’re currently working on our expansion project, which includes becoming a specialist security college and residential boot camp. Supporting vulnerable young people and helping them reach their potential is important to us, and we want to develop a social enterprise that delivers this. We’re hoping to integrate with government schemes and offer an alternative to young offenders’ institutions, as we don’t believe putting problem youths in the prison system is always the best option. Instead we want to offer them a last chance saloon, and give them a chance to build a career.
I know that my own time in the army taught me discipline and took me away from the temptations of gang culture, and I intend to build a structure that teaches discipline to youths whose lives are in free fall. Growing up without a father figure can be hard, and if you don’t have discipline early in life it becomes harder to learn it as you grow up - you get into a pattern of losing and not caring.
Above all else I want to create a path back to discipline, qualification and stable work, providing disaffected young people with a second chance before it’s too late.
Do you have any advice for those considering starting a business like yours?
For me, SME businesses are all about your conviction or a belief in something you want to take or share with the world. A desire to make a positive difference to at least one person’s life is important, at least for a business like PSA.
How will this billboard help your business?
It’ll provide a new marketing platform for our unique academy. We haven’t tried this sort of advertising before, so we’re excited to see how it works!