Use Smart Scheduling in your Job Costing Strategy

Increase security company profit margins with scheduling.

Robert H. Perry’s white paper has measured deteriorating security industry profit margins through the second half of 2021. Looking into the new year, it’s important to look at how you can strengthen your profit margins. One tactic to consider? Use scheduling, particularly smart scheduling, as a part of your job costing toolkit.

What’s smart scheduling?

It’s a system that does the heavy lifting for you when it comes to scheduling security officers. A comprehensive workforce management solution should be able to consider your contract needs against your available officers. Schedulers can then make data-driven decisions on the right officers for the job based on qualifications or pay rate.

The result? Fulfillment on contract SLAs, on-budget scheduling for shifts and reduced last-minute coverage demands.

Use smart scheduling to keep jobs profitable.

One simple way to keep jobs profitable is to deploy smart scheduling early in the process. When scheduling, include a parameter search for available guards that fit within a job’s contract bill rate. That way, you know officers on shift are within the scope of what’s budgeted per job. If you skip this step, wage creep could get ahead of you, and it can show in your expenses.

If this isn’t something you’re used to doing, start by using smart scheduling reports to examine your labor margin direct labor (DL) percentages. If you know that a particular job should be performing at a DL of 60%, you can compare that against your actual percentages to see if a job’s material costs are performing higher or lower than budgeted. If it’s higher, drill down into the report to identify the problem.

Pro tip: if all of this sounds new to you, the first step in gaining access to this data is by looking at a workforce management solution specializing in job costing software benefits.

Chances are, if there’s a problem with one job going over DL, it’s a problem across your business. Is a manager scheduling officers without factoring in pay scale? Are you scheduling officers for a shift when a different job is needing their certifications? Is wage creep pushing you over budget?

Look at jobs performing below your DL benchmarks and earning you more profit and see what processes you can repeat. From there, it’s only a matter of adjusting and measuring outcomes.

Pro tip: we recommend reviewing your DL percentages with regularity. Assuming schedules are updated daily, a good rule of thumb is to review at least weekly. That way, you can catch any budget deviation before it becomes an issue.

Flexible scheduling to support smart scheduling.

While software solutions can help automate your scheduling needs with smart scheduling, they improve scheduling in other ways, too.

Think of scheduling as a larger job costing strategy. Self-scheduling through a feature like a mobile job board can improve employee engagement. In turn, this can improve retention and even reduce high-cost activities like overtime.

Where smart scheduling helps identify officers who are the right fit for a given shift, self-scheduling helps empower officers to offer their shifts to others without needing to involve a scheduler or supervisor. Others can then pick up the open extra work, keeping shifts filled without needing to go back-and-forth with a manager.

Pro tip: Keep compliant with your contract needs (and bill rate) by configuring criteria on your self-scheduling job board so only qualified employees can fill certain shifts. This helps support job costing by keeping direct labor expenses reasonable per job.

Scheduling for profits — and retention.

Here’s a crazy idea: instead of filling gaps, consider creating them. We know — crazy — but hear us out.

Expand your current, labor-intensive scheduling processes to include self-scheduling. This reduces some of the manual work demands of your managerial staff and engages your officers to have a say in their own schedules.

We’ve heard of some security companies piloting scheduling programs that strategically leave a small percentage of the global work schedule unfilled. By hiring a portion of your workforce in a self-scheduling-only capacity, you can have a subset of officers set their own schedules by filling open shifts. This is interesting, as it approaches the smart scheduling, and retention, strategy from a whole new angle.

For example, let’s examine an officer who’s decided to leave your company. They could be leaving to work a different job, but still be hoping to make some extra cash on the side. In the pilot program described above, that officer could choose to stay an active employee within the self-scheduling program, picking and choosing shifts that fit around their new work schedule.


  • Your company doesn’t lose out on any investment you’ve put into their hiring.
  • The officer has a flexible avenue to earn extra money choosing jobs from your available contracts.
  • If the officer ever chooses to return to working for you full-time, their employee records are still on file. This streamlines your rehire process and cuts out added hiring expenses dipping into your margins.

Are you new to the possibilities of smart scheduling? We’d love to show you how it works.