visitor management system

When an Excluded Visitor Creates a Disruption

If you’ve established a visitor control process for your business, school, or church, good for you. Being aware of who is entering your premises and making sure you keep people who don’t belong there from getting in is one of the best ways you can ensure the security and well-being of the people you want to protect.

Whether you use technology like SafeVisitor or have some kind of manual system or list that identifies people who should be denied access, eventually you’re going to encounter a situation in which someone who’s on that list will demand entry. How you and your front desk staff react will make a significant difference in how the situation will play out -- whether the unwanted visitor leaves on his or her own, or whether things escalate to the point of violence or arrest.

The most important thing you can do is plan and train before the situation occurs. If you haven’t prepared for the inevitable moment when you need to inform someone that he or she can’t come in, you or your staff won’t know how to act effectively. The wrong actions can quickly turn a simple disagreement into a traumatic event.

Part of that training will be strategies for staying calm and dealing with the individual in a polite manner. Someone who is being refused access to your premises is likely to become angry, highly emotional, and even agitated. If they’re met with anger and yelling from your staff, that response will quickly escalate. It’s also a wise idea to have a backup person nearby who can respond right away if it’s clear the unwanted visitor is becoming agitated.

The visitor may not be aware that he or she isn’t allowed in your facility, so the first step is to gently and politely explain that they cannot come in because of your policies. Your employees shouldn’t make it seem as though they’ve made that decision on their own. Instead, they can say (for example), “The school district has a policy that people who have been placed on the no-visit list cannot come into our school, and your name is on that list.” They can also explain who the visitor can contact with questions or to obtain more information.

 Some unwelcome visitors may be on such a list because of domestic violence or custody issues, such as a noncustodial parent illegally trying to contact his or her child at school. They may be aware that such contact is prohibited, but in their anger and frustration, they’re willing to take a chance. It’s also possible that their name is on the list as the result of human error. It’s important that the person at your front desk not try to resolve the issue on his or her own, because that can create a distraction and shift the visitor’s anger to that person. Give the individual the contact information, ask them to leave, and allow them to take care of it.

Visitors who are angry may begin to raise their voices or yell at your front desk staff in an effort to intimidate or frighten them. Often, they’ll create a disruption to gain sympathy from onlookers or in the hope that your staff will let them in to avoid an embarrassing situation. Train your staff to hold their ground and contact security or law enforcement if the level of anger increases. The same is true of an unwanted visitor simply refuses to leave.

 If the individual appears to have a serious mental health issue, is incoherent, or appears likely to become violent, your best strategy is an immediate call to law enforcement as a precaution. While police officers and paramedics will tell you that dealing with individuals who have mental health issues is one of the more unpleasant parts of their jobs, they do have training and experience that you and your staff probably lack. First responders would rather you err on the side of safety than risk having a situation become more dangerous.

Finally, teach your front desk staff to trust their gut. When a visitor’s presence or actions make them feel uneasy, there’s probably a good reason for it. It’s better to call for assistance early in the process than to find themselves in a situation that quickly worsens.

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How to Protect Yourself at Work

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Since the most recent church shooting in Texas my inbox has been flooded with emails from friends, prospects, clients, and even casual acquaintances all asking the same question:  how do I protect myself at work?

This year alone we have seen several high profile workplace or church shootings related to domestic violence.  So what is happening?

Sadly, this is not a new phenomena.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act.  I was a young police officer in Nashville, TN, and we used the funding to start the largest law enforcement-based Domestic Violence Prevention Unit in the U.S.  It became an entire detective division of our police department.

I learned very quickly that domestic violence was a huge workplace problem.  Think about it, domestic violence had always been a hush, hush problem that was to be kept behind closed doors.

In the early 1990s, there were very few states that had even criminalized domestic violence.  Seriously.  Of course if it was a felony assault, then law enforcement could intervene and prosecute on behalf of the victim.  But since more than 70% of domestic violence is reported as a misdemeanor, this provides few options for law enforcement intervention if the victim does not want to prosecute.

As Nashville shouldered the responsibility for prosecuting domestic violence offenders and providing safe options for victims like shelters, we were also flooded with cases of stalking that were disrupting the workplace.

Why should we be shocked?  If communities do a better job of protecting victims, then those that harm them have to work a little harder to find them.  But where is the one place they almost always will be able to find them?

Work!

However, most of our workplaces are no match for these sophisticated manipulators.

After September 11, 2001, our organizations spent money to beef up security to protect ourselves from foreign terrorists when it was the domestic terrorist that posed the greatest risk to us.

Paul Dvorak, SafeVisitor Advisory Board Member & a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent, has spent his entire career creating safe perimeters for dignitaries like President Bush and United Nations Representatives.

Once a person of danger gets inside the perimeter, it is very difficult to protect yourself or others.  Paul talks of controlling how close people can get to high value targets like the President, and how anybody that gets within arms reach has gone through an extensive background check and security screening process.

How does this apply to my workplace?  Well, there are 5 things that every employer should focus on. Listed in order of importance they are:

  1. Controlling the Flow of Visitors.  Many of your employers think they are doing this with a clip board at the front desk or a security guard at the door.  This does not work.  You need a visitor management system that can ensure your different levels of visitors have received proper vetting before they are allowed into your facility. If an employee discloses they are going through a divorce or has taken out a protective order on a spouse or partner, then that person who represents a perceived threat could be placed on an Excluded Parties List to keep them out of the workplace and away from you and your peers. What are the key components of a quality visitor management system? It is one that:
 
  • Scans Government Issued ID.  Validates and confirms identity.
  • Mobile ID’s for Frequent Visitors.  Requires volunteers, vendors, or more frequent visitors to undergo comprehensive background checks before they are issued an ID.
  • GeoFencing.  Uses geofencing to ID approved visitors before they are allowed inside the building.
  • Background Checks.  Ranges from checking Excluded Parties Lists to conducting comprehensive national background checks.
  • Accurate Visitor Logs.  Accesses a prior visitor’s information.

2.  Training. This is not a one-and-done training module but an ongoing process.  How           do we handle domestic violence?  What happens during an active shooter event?

3. Active Shooters.  We are starting to see more workplaces implement training and             policies related to active shooters.  How  do we prevent, contain, and protect                   employees?

4. Communications.  During an active shooter event or security incident, it is critical to        have communication options that instantly inform your employees and moves them          away from  danger as quickly as possible.

5.  Culture of Confidence.  Organizations lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each             year to low productivity related to security issues.  Implementing a comprehensive           security program raises productivity and can be a great recruiting tool in an                     economy with low unemployment where prospects have multiple employment                  options.

I wanted to write this article directly to you employees to say that you need to make your voice heard.  Work with your employers to educate them on options for creating a safe work environment.

If you would like to learn more about how SafeVisitor can protect your place of employment, click here or request more information on a security assessment.

What’s the Purpose of a Visitor Management System?

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Visitor management systems have many different purposes and functions. They ensure increased safety by offering peace of mind for students, teachers, and parents, and they allow schools the freedom to address other areas of concern in creating a successful educational experience. SafeVisitor Solutions is a visitor management system that does all of these things for schools and businesses.

In a building that uses SafeVisitor, all visitors must scan their state-issued ID in order to enter. Their information is run against the National Sex Offender registry and against any exclusion lists the building may have in place. This ensures that schools have screened and identified all visitors for the protection of those within.

These screening procedures allow peace of mind for anyone involved in a school that is using SafeVisitor’s system. Students will know that their school is safe, thus freeing them from worry about the wrong people entering their school. They can focus on school work. Teachers will be able to focus on teaching and the needs of the classroom. Parents will know that their children are in a safe environment every day.

With such an increased sense of safety, the school can perform at a higher level. Because the system allows for the administration to trust that their school will be safe, administrators can focus their time on other areas to improve the school. Knowing the building is protected is very important not only because safety is a big concern, but because it will allow all concerned to perform at a higher level.

Safety is crucial for all schools. A visitor management system is very useful to enhance security. If you would like to learn more about SafeVisitor Solutions, please join us for a free webinar!

 

Visitor Management System: Cloud Hosting vs Local Server

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For SafeVisitor, we use the synonymous terms “cloud hosted” or “cloud based” to describe the software; however, someone with minimal knowledge of software may have no clue what these terms mean. We want to provide some insight into the meaning and benefits of being cloud based.

What Does it Mean to be “Cloud Hosted”?

A cloud hosted software is one that is made available through the Internet. The software is not  uploaded to one’s personal computer, as it can simply be accessed through the Internet. Data can be stored and processed through this online software. Basically, cloud based software does not require servers or computers in an office to run it. Instead, it is all accessible online.

Benefits of Cloud Hosted

There are many benefits to having cloud based software:

  • It is available anywhere there is Internet access.

  • The user can log-in on any computer.

  • It provides real-time data - meaning edits can be made and automatically integrated into the software.

  • Updates to software do not require any additional downloads.

  • Multiple users can access the software at the same time.

  • Data is continuously backed up to minimize data lost during crashes.

When it comes to running our SafeVisitor software on your system, the cloud based accessibility is a huge plus. It makes using SafeVisitor to ensure safety of any building or facility extremely easy. It also diminishes the fear of experiencing a system failure. As long as there is electricity and Internet access, the cloud-based data is available to protect the safety of those needing it,

 

For more benefits of SafeVisitor, click here.

Top 5 Problems with Vendor Background Checks

Vendor background checks is an area that still exposes organizations to a lot of risk.  Most organizations have a policy on requiring vendor background checks, but do they actually audit this process or even understand how to audit the process?

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When evaluating the security of organizations, the first line of defense is to always know exactly who is entering the facilities. Employees are a priority for screening, but often visitors, vendors, and volunteers are screened at a much lower level or not even screened at all.

I recently spoke with a friend who works for a large multi-state law firm.  She is an attorney in their Government Relations Group.  With that role, it is not uncommon for her to be working after hours. On more than one occasion, she has bumped into a man working for the cleaning contractor and had no idea who he was or if he had a violent criminal history.

Her experience pinpoints a serious problem for organizations.  Would her employer be held liable if she was harmed on their property by a vendor who had a violent criminal history?  Quite possibly.

Let’s look at 5 problems with vendor background checks:

  1. Self Certification.  This is the most common form of vendor credentialing.  Companies require their vendors to conduct employee background checks, and then certify to them that they have done so.  How can these companies ensure compliance has been conducted with an acceptable level of screening?
  2. Definition of “Background Check”.  There is not a standard definition of what constitutes a background check.  How does a company ensure that their vendors require the same level and depth of screening?  To do so requires specific documentation or clearly defined requirements that are supplied IN WRITING to vendors and followed by periodic audits.
  3. Date of Background Check. Are vendors conducting regular background checks on their employees?  Many organizations only require background checks when an employee is hired.  What protocols are in place for checking employees that have been employed for 10 or 20 years?
  4. E-verify/ Legal Right to Work.  The federal government’s E-verify program is being increasingly  legislated across the U.S. for organizations that provide services to cities, states, or the federal government- including schools.  This is not a service that can be conducted by a third party.  Employers are the only entity that can conduct E-verify, and it must be done within the first 3 days of employment.  So E-verify is a post-hire check.  It is important that vendors provide a Letter of Agreement stipulating that they are using the E-verify program (if this is a requirement for your organization).
  5. Privacy Issues.  The recent Equifax breach has certainly raised the awareness of millions of Americans to the possibility of their personal information ending up in the wrong hands. Privacy issues are a concern when conducting vendor background checks.  One option would be to include any third parties in an Authorization Form, so the information can be shared with business partners who have a business necessity.

SafeVisitor has created a SafeVendor module that makes this process secure and comprehensive while removing policy concerns.  SafeVendor has a policy requirement to be able to be SafeVendor Certified.  Once you are certified, then any organization using SafeVisitor can check a vendor to ensure there is a completed background check.

To ensure strict privacy restrictions, SafeVisitor does not share the background screening report with third parties, but only shares the vendor’s ID badge, photo, and certification that stipulates the level of background check completed and passed

Join us for a webinar to learn more about how SafeVisitor and SafeVendor can help protect your organization while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of your vendors.

Are You Keeping Students Safe with a Quality Visitor Management System?

There can never be too much safety for our schools. As technology advances, it is vital for schools to make technological advances as well. A main advancement that many schools are implementing is a visitor management system.

Visitor management systems not only keep children safe, but they also provide a sense of comfort for your district’s parents. SafeVisitor Solutions can provide safety for your school, comfort for parents, and organization for the school’s office. Here are a few key features that SafeVisitor offers:

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  • Monitors temporary visitors by checking the visitor’s identification against the National Sex Offender Registry in a matter of seconds.

  • If cleared for entry, SafeVisitor will print a time-expiring badge for the visitor.

  • The software allows the school’s attendant to know who is in the building at all times.

  • SafeVisitor Solutions can screen and manage school volunteers.

These features are only a few that SafeVisitor Solutions offers to keep schools safe. Along with the features listed above, the software can also manage existing employee background checks along with all background checks for any vendors that come into the school. These features ensure that anyone in contact with students on school grounds, is thoroughly checked and vetted.

With SafeVisitor, schools are able to manage the safety of students and teachers with ease. With SafeVisitor Solutions, both safety and visitor management will be enhanced in a more organized and efficient manner. If your school does not have the latest in a visitor management system, please check out a webinar on how SafeVisitor Solutions can help your district.

Please click here to register for a free webinar!

What is the Cost of a Visitor Management System?

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To many background screening firms, when a potential customer asks ‘What is the cost of a visitor management system?’, it may seem like a loaded question. One would assume that the cost to implement such technology is far outside the logical range for something that can be done with pencil and paper. Other visitor management companies may dread getting asked the price of their product, but not us at Safe Hiring Solutions. We like getting asked the question, and we’d like to provide some insight on it.

What makes our visitor management software so unique is that we don’t just have one set cost. We also don’t have one set software. Let me explain.

Our visitor management software (SafeVisitor) can do many different things, including:

 

  • Monitor temporary, infrequent visitors within your facility

  • Manage background checks/rechecks for existing employees and new-hires

  • Screen volunteers to determine who may engage with your company, organization, and/or its constituents

  • Manage background checks for vendors

  • Integrate with Reflynk, a reference checking software for management

  • Implement geofencing technology for increased facility security

Any of the above features can be part of your tailor-made visitor management package. We strive to serve the differing needs of our clients. Our visitor management software price reflects this flexibility of services.

SafeVisitor visitor management system is designed for use by organizations with as few as 30 employees or as many as thousands. We can accommodate nearly any budget, and firmly believe the value of our increased security will outweigh our visitor management software price. With so many different features, we can create the ideal visitor management software for you and your organization.

Click here to sign up for a webinar for more information on how Safe Visitor can increase security for an affordable price.

Or visit us at:

https://safehiringsolutions.com/

https://www.safevisitorsolutions.com/

 

How to Create Visitor Management Excluded Parties Lists

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When managing visitors to a location, especially a school, the focus is usually on keeping out “bad” people – specifically, sex offenders. Sometimes, however, the people you need to keep out of a particular area are not so easily identified.

Temporary restrictions might be necessary for certain life events such as:

  • Spousal Separations

  • Divorce

  • Child Custody issues

  • Court Orders e.g., Restraining Orders

With our SafeVisitor visitor management system, a front desk attendant can seamlessly determine if a person is on the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) or has a temporary restriction by using an Exclusion List. This exclusion can apply to a single location or at all locations of your organization or campus. Since our software is cloud based, any changes made are instantly applied to all locations within your organization.

When excluding a person, you simply  enter their first and last name. A date of birth (DOB), if known, helps to ensure accuracy, but is not required. You can also specify the reason for the exclusion.

  • Failed Background Check

  • Trespass

  • Terminated Employee

  • Violent or Threatening Behavior

  • Restricted Access

There is an “Other” option where you can type in the exact reason for the person to not be permitted onsite. There is also an option to upload a picture of the person if one is available.

Now, when a visitor enters your facility and scans their drivers license, they will be checked against the NSOR and your Exclusion List.

An exclusion list can be a very important tool from an administrative viewpoint because people don’t always know what’s going on in a coworker’s private life, and that person may not want to share personal issues with their coworkers.

A tragic example of this happened recently in a San Bernardino school. The husband of a teacher supposedly showed up at school to drop off something to his wife, a teacher. Since everyone knew him they let him go to her classroom where he proceeded to pull a gun, kill her, as well as a special needs student before killing himself. It was an incredible tragedy that possibly could have been avoided or minimized had some additional visitor safeguards been in place.

A visitor management system  that utilizes exclusions could have flagged him when he walked in the door and denied him access to the building.

Would you like to learn more about SafeVisitor and managing an exclusion list?  Join us for a free webinar we host each Thursday.  Click here to register.

Visitor Management System: Do You Really Know All of Your Visitors?

When I am talking to small schools about SafeVisitor and visitor management in general, I will hear comments like:

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“I don’t think we really need something like this.”

“Mary works the front desk and she’s lived here all her life.”

“She knows everybody!”

Coming from a large family in a small community, I completely understand that mindset. In a small community, it can seem that everyone knows what’s going on with everyone else . . . or at least they think they do. While I am sympathetic to this point of view, something happened a year and a half ago that caused me to see things differently.

One day we received a frantic call from one of our clients. They had a hit on the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) for a temporary visitor. “John Doe” had come to school with his wife to have lunch with his stepson. When the possible hit came up on the screen, the picture shown was tagged with a completely different name then the one they’d been given. The secretary was certain that the picture was of the person standing in front of her although the individual appeared to be several years older than the registry picture.

The name on the possible NSOR hit came up as “Tom Buck” (not the actual name). They questioned the guy who agreed there was a resemblance, but maintained it wasn’t him. His wife agreed saying, “His name is John, not Tom”. Apparently not wanting to make a fuss, John said it was ok and they left. His unusual lack of concern alerted the staff to a possible problem, so once they left, I was on the phone again with the staff trying to determine exactly what was going on. It was an interesting story . . .

In SafeVisitor, when a possible hit comes up there is the ability to click on the person and go directly to the NSOR page to get additional information. Initially, there was confusion because while the names didn’t match, the picture was undeniably similar to the man who’d just left. A quick click on the picture and everything was revealed. “John Doe” was an alias of “Tom Buck”. “Tom” had been convicted on multiple charges of violent sexual assault in another state 19 years earlier. Somehow, he was able to get a driver's license under his alias in a neighboring state where he had been living for several years while never registering as a sex offender. Even his wife had no idea about his previous life!

The police were notified, but I have no idea what the final outcome was in this case. I do know SafeVisitor enabled the school to avert the presence of a dangerous individual. When the wife was alerted to her husband’s dangerous history, she too, was able to take steps to protect her family.

This experience was an eye-opener for me, and I now use it as an example whenever I conduct user training. It’s a real-life reminder that you don’t always know who is living in your community or what their past may have been. You can never be too careful when it comes to knowing who is around you, your family, your co-workers, or

your students. With the National Sex Offender Registry and an internal Exclusion List option SafeVisitor can do quite a bit to help ensure that you are aware of who is visiting your school or business. In this instance, social familiarity would have allowed a sex offender to have repeated access to children and no one would have ever been the wiser until something bad happened. When it comes to safety, a proactive plan is always better than a reactive one.

If you are interested in learning more about how SafeVisitor can protect your organization you can sign up for a webinar by going to:

 

Webinar Registration

 

 

 

 

Visitor Management: How Can A Geofence Protect My Organization?

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“Geofencing” is a term that is foreign to many people. In simple terms, a geofence is a GPS hotspot. It is similar to a Wi-Fi hotspot that you would purchase from a phone carrier to give you Internet access within so many feet of the hotspot.

Our SafeVisitor Visitor Management System (https://safevisitorsolutions.com) paired with our free mobile app, utilizes geofencing to alert you when someone with the app on their phone is approaching your building.

Let’s discuss how this can be used for additional protection of your organization and provide convenience when checking in people who have previously been vetted by your organization.

Setting up a geofence is a simple process. First, you must determine the area you want to cover at a location. You may want to cover the entire building, the building plus parking, or maybe just the front entrance. Once that has been determined, the geofence is active and ready to be used.

To fully utilize the geofence in SafeVisitor, a few things have to be done by the person who has been vetted by your organization. They must :

  • download the SafeVisitor mobile app. This app is available in both the Apple and Android stores.

  • enter their SafeVisitor badge ID number that they would have received via email and the email address they used to register with SafeVisitor.

Once completed, if they have visited a building before,  they will see their badge in the app along with their picture.

That is all that’s needed. When a person comes for a visit, they will open the app and make sure that Location Services is turned on. When they approach the building and step inside the geofence hotspot area, the attendant will see them on their dashboard in the “Visitors Nearby” tab. The moment they are within that hotspot, the system will log them in the “Nearby Log”. The attendant can choose to leave them in the Visitors “Nearby tab” or click the arrow next to them and check them into SafeVisitor. Either way, their arrival to your location has been logged by the system in an efficient manner.

Geofencing can be especially useful when you are expecting many volunteers to arrive. By looking at the dashboard and verifying the person, the attendant can simply click the arrow next to the person on the dashboard to check the volunteer into the system. This allows the attendant to have a visual of the volunteer to compare to the picture on the dashboard without the volunteer having to physically scan into the building.

If you are interested in learning more about how SafeVisitor can protect your organization, you can sign up for a webinar by going to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/4163182413889495042

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.