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Ottawa franchise sees record growth during COVID-19 pandemic

The willingness of leadership to take on new challenges and adapt in uncertain times has led to franchise expansion while still delivering high-quality service.

When Joey Ferrusi’s last employer shut down right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it left him with a lot of questions: “Will our bills get paid? What do we do next?”

When Joey saw an ad for the Signal 88 Security of Ottawa franchise office, it spoke to his entrepreneurial spirit, and he decided to give them a call. He was introduced to Andrew Ralph, owner and president of the Ottawa franchise. 

“In chatting with him, we shared the same moral compass, ethics, and values,” Joey says. “It was an easy decision to join him and not compete.”

Now as Director of Business Development for the Ontario Region, Joey said he is proud of the product, service, company values, integrity, and corporate sustainability that are all part of Signal 88’s core tenants — tenants that Joey says Andrew and the rest of the team live and work by and what have also made them part of the fastest growing franchise by gross revenue in the Signal 88 network. 

In addition to the team mentality and values, Andrew attributes the explosion of growth to their willingness to take on any security challenge.

“One of the reasons why we grow is that we are a ‘yes’ company,” he says. “If we find anything which comes across our path and it makes business sense, we go for it. … And following it up with operational excellence.”

The Ottawa franchise offers the same great service clients come to expect from the Signal 88 brand, including the signature mobile patrol service, event, apartment, commercial, and healthcare security, fire watch services, and more. But the franchise also takes on other security services, such as parking enforcement, cash management for companies in which their team takes deposits to banks, and security for other venues, such as condominiums.

Basically, if a client comes to them with a security issue that hasn’t been explored, Andrew and his team will never say no. It’s always “absolutely.” 

“We could get a call for something we’ve never heard of, and we’ll be experts by the next morning,” Andrew says. 

“We have so much growth and so many projects,” adds Joey. 

The Ontario office currently boasts around 105 clients, servicing 1,171 client locations with over 100 mobile patrol sites and 1,500 guards on the books, according to Andrew. Most of those utilize the bread-and-butter Signal 88 services, but the franchise also has opportunities to service unique verticals.

Andrew says that just because his franchise is willing to step out and try different things, doesn’t mean that clients will get a different Signal 88 experience. 

“Everything is the same, we just tweak it to work for new verticals in the marketplace we have,” he says. “We’re still the same brand, still the same system, just being used in a different way.”

Customer service and professionalism are key, Andrew says. 

One challenge that their office has risen to is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed their business over the last year and made them busier than ever, with 388 sites currently serviced for COVID-related reasons. With governmental rules and regulations changing all the time, Signal 88 of Ottawa has been called upon to help enforce public health protocols, such as physical distancing, PPE, and sanitization, among their clients.  

“We are seen as a partner to deliver the message to clients, to their own employees, and visitors,” Andrew says. “Many companies would rather use a professional security company to deliver that message with the right training and approach to deal with crowd control and marshal lines for physical distancing.”

Protocols include hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, physical distancing, the proper wearing of non-medical masks or face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting, and maintaining a safe environment for the employees and visitors. Some people are exempt for medical reasons and understanding how to deal with this appropriately is required to prevent confrontations. Guards that work COVID shifts must be tested for the novel coronavirus weekly to maintain their own health and safety at the workplace. 

While he said most people are respectful of the rules, a few guards have been assaulted by individuals who didn’t want to listen.

“It’s just part of the business,” he says. “We try to avoid these situations, as all our guards are trained in verbal redirections and none use force prevention methods.”

Joey says the franchise works on building relationships with the community and the people within it, treating everyone fairly. 

One example Joey and Andrew brought up is a common problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic: homeless individuals in public areas, such as apartment or bank lobbies. Signal 88 will respond by removing the vagrants, often by redirecting them to a homeless shelter. The guards will alert the client then that the now-vacated area needs to be cleaned and sanitized. The people who live or work in those places deserve a clean and safe environment, and the homeless individuals need to be treated with the same respect as well, Joey says. 

“It all goes back to Signal 88’s principle that safety is a basic human right,” Andrew says. “We make sure everyone can live their life freely and joyfully.”

Andrew and Joey say the franchise works at building relationships within the community, so that Signal 88 isn’t seen as an enforcement agency but as a respected partner who deals with everyone in the same fair manner. 

“We want our clients and their communities to see our guards and mobile patrol vehicles and feel we are a part of their community,” Andrew says, “and have trust in us to be doing the right protocols  at the right time.”

Franchise Opportunities

If leading a franchise like Andrew and Joey seems like the opportunity for you, check out our intro video as you aim to discover more about our passions and values. Signal 88 Security is looking for qualified, dedicated candidates to help provide communities with peace of mind in unsure times.

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