vendor background checks

Visitor Management: How Well Do You Trust Vendors in Your Facilities?

You take pride in the way you control access to your building. Your employees wear badges that double as access cards. When salespeople show up, they’re required to sign in and have to be escorted back to an office. Your receptionist is a tiger when it comes to enforcing those rules.

 So who just walked past your office? Oh, it’s the fire extinguisher guy, doing his monthly inspection. Takes him a couple hours to work his way through the entire building. Or maybe it was the Bobby the plumber, who’s here to fix the leaky valve on that urinal. Could have been the guy who restocks the vending machines -- you’re always amazed at how much candy and how many soft drinks your team goes through in a week.

 You make sure employees are identified and you keep an eye on those occasional visitors. But to me, it looks like maintenance and other service people wander anywhere they want without a second thought on your part. Oh sure, your receptionist would never let them past her desk without getting a signature and clipping on a visitor’s pass, but once they’re in the building, nobody pays much attention.

 Does that make you nervous? Not really? You’re giving these people who you may not know all that well unlimited access to your entire building. They stroll into important areas, past tables and desks loaded with proprietary and confidential information, and around cubicles where employees leave purses and expensive technology. They’re free to interact with any of your employees. They have access to restrooms, stairwells, and other out-of-sight places.

 You’ve known Bobby for better than a decade. He’s the most reliable plumber you’ve found, and you hope they guy never retires. Bobby brought a helper today. You don’t know his helper, but Bobby would never hire anyone unreliable. If you knew more, you’d learn that the helper attends Bobby’s church and was hired at the pastor’s request because he needed some guidance and support. He’s 23 and has already done four stints at the county jail. Handful of thefts, narcotics … stuff like that.

 The fire extinguisher guy is pretty quiet, but very diligent and efficient. You haven’t noticed that he has an eye for the ladies, particularly the young, friendly pair in customer service. You trust that the fire safety vendor has vetted him thoroughly, but their bargain background check missed that arrest for a sex offense that his attorney pleaded down to a lesser charge.

 If you looked in the empty cases the vending machine guy wheeled back to his truck, you’d notice they’re not always empty. He hasn’t taken anything really valuable … well, not yet … but he thinks it’s okay to help himself to things. What your employees assume they’ve misplaced has actually been stolen, and it’s been happening for years.

 What kind of screening do your vendors perform when hiring someone? How often do they take a closer look at their existing employees? If you can’t answer those questions, you have no idea whether your business and your employees are safe from those friendly service people. You’re simply assuming that your vendors are as careful about hiring as you are, and I think that’s a pretty dangerous assumption.

 So what can you do to protect yourself? First, find out exactly what your vendors and service providers are doing to ensure their employees deserve your trust. If their vetting process does not make you completely comfortable, perhaps it’s time to initiate a process of your own. One possible approach is to use our SafeVendor visitor system, which requires vendors to register before they enter your facility and allows us to perform a background check so you know if there’s a reason to be wary. It also issues badges and tracks who’s in your facilities (which is handy if an emergency occurs).

 Second, give serious thought to limiting access for those vendors or service people. That may involve assigning an escort to bring them to the area where work is being performed and possibly even remaining with them while they handle their tasks. Or it may be that you allow them to occupy specified areas for specified time periods. If the plumber is making a repair in the first-floor men’s room, he shouldn’t have any reason to be upstairs.

 Letting vendors and maintenance people wander freely through your building is like creating a big safety net and cutting large holes in it. You and your employees deserve better.

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Do Visitor Management Systems Integrate with Comprehensive Background Checks?

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Are you looking for a visitor management system?  One of the most critical components for securing your organization is knowing exactly who it is that is walking through your doors.  A clipboard and self-disclosure signature might work for the majority of honest visitors to your buildings, but it will not stop someone bent on gaining access for nefarious reasons.

An Internet search for ‘visitor management software’, will show that all providers claim to provide background checks, but the term ‘background check’ has no standard definition or requirements.

I have audited thousands of background-screening programs and have found the term ‘background check’ defined as a ‘driving history’ or a‘ sex offender registry check’.  A driving history gives you a slight glimpse into their driving history and any crimes related to driving, but each state varies in how far back this search extends.

The same principles apply to a ‘sex offender registry check’.  I have owned Safe Hiring Solutions for thirteen years and we have conducted over 100,000 background checks a year, and I will tell you that a ‘sex offender registry’ is NEVER a quality background-screening program.  Sex offender data is highly inaccurate and incomplete. 

So when you are researching a visitor management system, ask what they include in a background check.  99.9% of the time that will be some level of a sex offender check and possibly an internal client-created exclusion list that includes individuals not allowed on their property.

We had a client switch to our SafeVisitor system a few months ago, and they were under the impression that their prior visitor management system was conducting a state-wide criminal background check on their volunteers before they entered a building and at each ensuing visit.

It was discovered that they had used this system -one of the largest in the school market arena- for several years with thousands of volunteers being allowed entry into their 10 school buildings and they had only been receiving a sex offender registry check.  The risk management problem is:

·         Someone convicted of a sex offense but not required to register as a sex offender would not show on this type of check.

·         Violent felons could have been wandering their hallways as volunteers with none the wiser. 

·         The lack of transparency by this visitor management system put thousands of students and teachers at risk. 

So understanding the definition and components of a comprehensive background check is critical.  Otherwise, you might be operating with a false sense of security thinking that your visitors have been properly vetted.

SafeVisitor visitor management system is the only visitor management system I am aware of that conducts comprehensive background checks on visitors.  We are integrated with Safe Hiring Solutions, our sister background-screening firm, who is a recognized global leader in background checks.

SafeVisitor allows you to define your different types and levels of visitors and match that up with an appropriate level background check which can range from nothing for a temporary visitor to a national criminal background check for a vendor or volunteer.

You can even manage your current employees, their background re-checks and logging them in an out as they visit different areas or buildings in your organization.

And you can define how frequently you require a new background check and have the flexibility to make this unique for each registration type.  For example, a volunteer might be required to have a background check every 3 years but a sensitive contractor might be required to have an annual background check.

The key to selecting the right visitor management system is understanding the role that background checks play in the security of your organization. 

Would you like to learn more about SafeVisitor?  Join us for our free webinar that we host each Thursday.  Click here to register.