Officers speed up patrols, customer interaction
SANTA MONICA, Calif.--A Segway pilot program in Macerich's shopping centers is expanding to the company's other U.S. facilities after use of the personal transporters increased security response and sped up patrol times.
Anthony Lauro, assistant vice president of security and guest services for Macerich, one of the country's largest owners, operators and developers of major retail properties that currently controls a total gross leaseable area at 73 centers that exceeds 77 million square feet, said the company was looking for a way to improve patrols and increase security's interaction with guests.
"The Segway is a quiet and eco-friendly mode of transportation that fits perfectly in the shopping center environment," he said. "We strive to create a safe and enjoyable shopping center atmosphere. Without that, there is nothing to market."
Officer response time has greatly improved, Lauro noted, since the Segways can go as fast as 12.5 miles per hour. Before Segways were implemented, it took security officers 53 minutes to patrol a location in California, which has now been cut in half.
Macerich has expanded the program to its six regions -- Eastern, Central, Westcor, Northern California Pacific Northwest, Inter-Mountain and Southern California -- in 2007, with other select centers coming online in the beginning of 2008.
"Security in this day and age is a complex topic," Lauro said. "We have to find ways to do things smarter and faster, and the Segways fit into that approach."
Macerich has a history of taking a 'road less traveled' approach to its security operations. In late 2003, when companies such as General Growth Properties and Simon Property Group were outsourcing guard services, Macerich implemented a different strategy, Lauro said. The company merged its security and customer service into one department, took the money it would have invested in contract guard services and reinvested it in front line employees.
"Since we have combined these departments, we've conducted two customer satisfaction surveys," he said. "We found that those guests that have had positive interactions with guest services or security officers stay longer in the center and spend more money. We feel that is great for the local economy."
For more on this story, see the October issue of Security Director News.