The nation’s largest security franchise grows through team members’ initiative and confidence
Many of Signal 88 Security’s Franchise Owners have experience in law enforcement or the armed forces, where they exhibited the best qualities and skills of a leader. United by a dedication to serving and protecting, the nation’s largest security franchise has excelled at finding driven men and women who want to provide peace of mind in their communities.
One such owner, Salvatore DeRose, Sr., is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a medic in Washington State. With more than 20 years’ experience in business, accounting, security and information technology, he decided to open a Signal 88 Security of Greater Philadelphia in 2013. But this wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision – entrepreneurship runs in DeRose’s blood.
“I’ve owned other companies, so I’ve been an entrepreneur for a while, and my dad was an entrepreneur – he owned a small butcher shop and deli – so it’s kind of ingrained in me,” said DeRose. “I worked in that location so I grew up in that environment, and I don’t know anything different.”
DeRose explained that his background as a consultant and small business owner allows him to “think outside the box” and develop as a creative problem solver. This mentality, he noted, lends itself to successful franchise ownership.
“I like being able to help people, so I don’t think about traditional security and the way things have always been done, but I expand and look at the franchise and the opportunities that are here, including the different ways that we can meet someone’s needs, save someone money, or do something better and more effectively,” said DeRose. “I think the growth of a leader happens by constantly studying, reading, and joining groups about leadership, joining mentor groups with individuals that I want to work with that are further along their path and know more. I can sit down and talk to them, and in turn they give me advice, and show me what I can learn.”
One strength of a franchise system is ample opportunity for such mentorship. DeRose has benefited from a CEO leadership book club offered by the company each Friday morning. Signal 88 Security’s CEO, Reed Nyffeler, hosts the weekly call, and participants are invited to discuss a topic from a book on leadership. The ability to have such consistent access to a CEO and fellow owners looking to better themselves is a great opportunity for Franchisees.
DeRose commented that his success has come primarily through “simply participating.” He has taken an intentional approach to living Signal 88’s core values, working with other franchises to stay involved, and a fanatical desire to learn and be involved within the system.
“It’s about giving – it really is about opening up and being driven, and getting out there,” said DeRose. “You need to inspire the people who are working for you, and you’ve also got to be humble and really listen to clients, franchise owners, and your staff. You have to show them your vision and you have to constantly praise others for their good work, you have to be the bright sparkle in the day and lead that way. And sometimes you have to lead by being quiet and listening, and they pick up on that.”
DeRose is the President of the Franchise Exchange Council, consisting of 15 Franchisees who serve as liaisons between the 100-plus Owners and the Franchise Group. Their mission is to discuss owners’ issues and concerns, ranging from uniforms to sales opportunities. The Council brings these findings to the corporate team and helps in innovating solutions.
Business experience is certainly no requirement for business success. Franchise ownership has proven profitable for veterans with no background in entrepreneurship. One success story is Jason Bourgeois, who has flourished to become a valued leader in the Signal 88 organization.
Bourgeois enlisted with the Marine Corps Reserve as a Military Policeman, completing a seven-month deployment to Iraq before transferring to the United States Air Force in 2006.
Though military law enforcement had been his career choice, Bourgeois said, “I wasn’t really cut out to be a cop. When I transitioned into security, it was a welcome change of pace. After leveraging my military career into the private sector, I looked at an avenue change. My wife and I chose franchising because I didn’t know anything about business.”
Bourgeois briefly considered the restaurant sector, but came away dissatisfied with the opportunities. Signal 88 offered him the opportunity to capitalize on his unique background, and in 2013 he launched his Signal 88 Franchise. Since then, Bourgeois has already hired more than 20 employees.
“First and foremost, you don’t have MBA graduates applying for this job, so the people applying sometimes need help to develop their careers. The only differentiating factor I can bring to the table is how we as a company can develop our employees – this is the one thing that sets us apart from other security companies,” explained Bourgeois. “We focus on teamwork. I’ve read some books that have been really helpful in deciding criteria for me, like the three core values. Every person in the organization needs to be humble, hungry and smart – not intelligence, but people smarts. Humble doesn’t mean shying away from praise, but accepting praise while putting the needs of the team ahead of an individual’s needs, being hungry is having the drive to succeed within the team.”
Bourgeois has organized his interview process to pull these traits out of the candidates.
“I have really good team member cohesion and commitment from everyone now. I subdivided the organization into teams to prevent confusion for who everyone is reporting into and should be communicating with,” said Bourgeois. “I would say that my background never included evaluating people or developing people. I discounted leadership coming into this. I looked at the business from a dollars-and-cents analytical standpoint, and I discounted the importance that my role as a leader would play.”
Bourgeois reflects that, at the beginning of his journey, he “probably wasn’t cut out for that” personal development. Through involvement with a local business owners’ association, plus mentorship and hands-on business coaching through Signal 88, he has found success in building on his skills and background to become an effective leader of an effective team.