In 2007, after six years working in the Escambia County Sheriff’s office outside of Pensacola, Florida in the K-9 unit, Reggie Bruster saw an opportunity to extend his experience with dog training to a full-time business. He decided to leave the sheriff’s department and opened up shop as a dog trainer specializing in security and police dogs. Bruster ran his dog training business for the following six years, and in that time, he developed a keen entrepreneurial spirit.
“My initial drive to start the dog-training business was a desire to start something new, and dog training was something I had an expertise in,” Bruster said, “but as I got that shop off the ground, I realized I had a taste for business.”
In 2014, Bruster leveraged another area of his expertise to open a private investigation business, something he’d long wanted to do but only recently developed the business acumen to pull off. Two months later, he opened his third business, a Signal 88 Security franchise location in Pensacola.
Bruster’s path to Signal 88 is a familiar one to the franchise’s corporate team, who have seen a community of military- or police-turned-entrepreneurs grow under the Signal 88 brand. Bruster not only worked in the sheriff’s office, but he was also in the Marines Corp for a decade. According to Reed Nyffeler, Signal 88 Security’s CEO, that background is shared by many of Signal 88’s most successful owners and often extends to multi-business ownership.
“The majority of our franchisees came to Signal 88 after a career in military or law enforcement,” said Nyffeler. “For many of those people, Signal 88 allows them to continue doing what they know how to do, protect and serve. It’s now just transferred to bringing peace of mind to the local communities where they live.”
To help their franchisees grow, and to entice business-minded security professionals to join their ranks, Nyffeler said the Signal 88 operational model is designed to allow owners the flexibility to manage multiple businesses.
“Our system draws from the knowledge and experience of hundreds of security professionals from diverse backgrounds, and it has a tried-and-tested solution for virtually any security concern,” Nyffeler said. “With the right staff, many owners are able to step back from the on-the-ground operations and let their team apply the model.”
Bruster, who now runs a restaurant and works as an adjunct instructor at a police academy in addition to ensuring his Signal 88 operations are under control, said a strong staff has been key to his success as a Signal 88 owner.
“I recently started a restaurant, so I spend most of my days there working to get that business off the ground,” Bruster explained. “I have a great manager at Signal 88, and I’ll speak with him a couple of times a day to make sure everything is running smoothly over there. He’s managing a strong team, so they don’t need me to put out too many fires.”
Bruster comments that piecing together a strong team required more than just a hiring spree. Bruster dedicated himself to learning the ins and outs of all the day-to-day operations during his first months as a Signal 88 owner so that he knew exactly what he was looking for in his employees.
“You’ve got to put yourself on the ground floor in the beginning,” Bruster said. “You need to know exactly what’s required to effectively run every aspect of the business, then you can start to build a team of qualified people.”
Bruster isn’t alone in dabbling in a variety of different business ventures. Another Signal 88 Security owner in Wichita Falls, Mindy Bohn, joined the franchise after a career owning and managing retail stores. Like Bruster, Bohn was interested in pursuing work in private investigation, and she saw Signal 88 as an opportunity to apply her business experience in a similar field.
Bohn found that her experience in the retail world translated effectively to Signal 88, and she was able to get the business up and running quickly.
“My skillset is oriented around management and client relations, and those are essential components of Signal 88,” Bohn said. “The operational elements are built into the model, I brought an expertise in HR and customer service.”
Bohn’s work with Signal 88 served as a thorough introduction to the world of private security and law enforcement, and she was soon prepared to start her own private-investigation business.
By the time Bohn’s private-investigation business was up and running, Bohn had built a strong enough staff at her Signal 88 that, like Bruster, she could rely on her managers to handle the daily operations of the business, allowing her to maintain ownership of the Signal 88 and her new business at the same time.
For both Bruster and Bohn, a strong team was crucial not only to the success of their Signal 88 businesses, but also to their ability to operate multiple businesses at the same time, something both owners said was an essential component of their career growth.
According to Nyffeler, Signal 88 is eager to support franchisees that run other businesses outside of Signal 88.
“Our priority is having the most qualified and capable professionals representing the brand,” said Nyffeler. “We know that the most qualified people are often going to be the most ambitious, and the most ambitious people don’t like to sit still, they want to be managing multiple projects. We’re proud to have built a system that can allow our owners to thrive both within our system and outside of it.”