Sal DeRose is looking to expand his franchising success across the Delaware River from Philadelphia into New Jersey.
Sal DeRose is looking to expand his franchising success across the Delaware River from Philadelphia into New Jersey.

Since 2013, DeRose has owned a franchise with Signal 88 Security and his partnership with the brand allows him to focus on two great passions: providing excellent customer service and employee recognition.

Signal 88 Security provides peace of mind to communities around the world through security services for residential, commercial, retail and institutional customers. The brand’s many offerings include patrol services, facilities checks, and mobile-dispatch alarm response.

DeRose joined the Signal 88 network as a franchisee in 2013 and operates the company’s Greater Philadelphia branch. He admits he’s not a typical Signal 88 franchisee. Most Signal 88 owners launch their venture immediately after retiring from law enforcement or military careers. DeRose is indeed a U.S. Army veteran, but he also boasts a long, professional background in accounting and IT. He’s owned and run a variety of businesses over the years, and even worked as an auditor for a big accounting firm.

Over nearly six years, DeRose's favorite part of the Signal 88 experience has been building relationships, both with clients and the security officers he employs. As an owner, DeRose has made it a priority to forge a high-performance culture of professional growth.

“Most of my team members are 30-somethings and 20-somethings,” DeRose notes. “They think a little bit differently and those relationships are interesting to me and valuable to me. Their growth and their ability to learn new things and become good leaders is really cool.”

DeRose and his team often buck the stereotypical image of a security company. They embrace Signal 88's focus on delivering world-class customer service. Even if the contract is small, the company provides a critical service for each client. This attitude means no job is too small or too great, whether locking up a house or securing a construction site. The team never loses sight of their role:

“What we do is sometimes dangerous. You’re making some valuable changes for the client. We’re helping them be safe and secure—and that’s really what we’re passionate about.”

DeRose's passion for working with people extends to his dealings with the Franchise Group, Signal 88's headquarters and support staff. When DeRose and his wife first visited the company’s leadership and support teams in Omaha, Nebraska, they immediately loved what they saw.

“Our values sync up,” says DeRose. “What I value is what they value. They’re salt-of-the-earth, good, loving people.”

DeRose's business began in Philadelphia, but steady success allowed him to expand to the nearby York, PA, market in 2018. Today, DeRose employs roughly 60 people, a mix of part-time and full-time employees working in both cities. He is actively working on another territory expansion, across the river into New Jersey.

Most days are spent working from home, DeRose explains, though he tries to stop into the office about once a week. He takes pride in a hands-on approach to the franchise's daily work. Each morning, DeRose spot-checks reports filed by officers working overnight. He keeps close contact with an IT staffer to ensure all systems remain in service.

“Where I am now, my day centers more around management because we have about 60 officers that work for us, so what I’m typically doing, having been in the Army, is following what we call a battle plan. 55% of my day is going to be focused on client stuff. 35% is focused on officers—the people who work for us—and then the rest is focused on systems, accounting, and bills—your normal 'blocking and tackling' kind of stuff.”

DeRose is currently engineering an employee recognition program to reward officers for hard work and commitment to the brand’s core values.

“We’re trying to build into our culture the things that are most important to us, and reward the officers so they understand why we’re doing it," he explains.

In the new system, officers reward each other with digital "badges" for a job well done. As they accumulate badges, officers can cash them in for prizes, like gift cards or movie tickets. This effort is meant to stave off feelings of isolation and underappreciation. Those feelings, DeRose notes, are common thanks to the 24/7 nature of the security business.

“The system is very much in the early stages, but we’re hoping it builds more social connectivity,” says DeRose. “Officers are by themselves late at night. They’re not with another officer, so you become disconnected. This is a simple little act that’s very easy to do. If we see something and it’s a good thing, we want to reward them for it.”

The franchise offers all employees medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, as well as a 401K plan. DeRose wants potential employees to know that they’ll have “a real job” when they come to work for Signal 88 Security.

“We’re kind of unique, in that we’re one of two franchises in the [Signal 88 network] that offer full benefits,” he points out.

All employees, full- and part-time alike, start at Signal 88 Security with a full week of paid time off. “We really try to help people in their lives so they can come to work as unburdened as they can possibly be,” DeRose says.

In addition to running a franchise and acquiring another one, DeRose is the current president of Signal 88 Security’s Franchise Exchange Council (FEC). Fifteen FEC members spend 3-year terms representing the network's 110+ owners.

With all of these obligations, it may seem that DeRose works around the clock. He insists that he does have ample time for family and friends, even in the busy, non-stop world of security. As a former business owner, he is no stranger to the demands of entrepreneurship. That being said, he barely thinks of franchising with Signal 88 Security as work. He simply enjoys it too much.

“I love it,” he declares. “If you like what you’re doing, then work isn’t necessarily work. It doesn’t bother me to be working with these people—it’s not work! It’s fun.”

The initial Signal 88 Security franchise investment can range from $46,950 to $218,650 with financing available to qualified candidates. The franchise fee is $50,000 per territory with a 10% discount for veterans. To find out more, please visit signal88franchise.com