How a former LEO now serves through private security
Mark Phillips uses his policing skills to serve the community and earn a living in the private sector with a Signal 88 Security franchise
Sponsored by Signal 88 Security
By PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff
Whether you’re ready to retire, looking for a career change or simply to supplement your income while on the force, private security might provide the right opportunity. One option to consider is operating a local franchise through Signal 88 Security, a nationwide company founded by a former law enforcement officer.
The company’s mission and values appealed to Mark Phillips, a former police officer and FBI special agent, who now owns and operates Signal 88 Security of San Antonio. Phillips says Signal 88 helps him apply his policing skills in a way that serves his community as well as providing a stable income to support his family.
‘A Natural Fit’
Phillips served in law enforcement for 12 years, first as a sworn police officer with the city of San Diego for six years before joining the FBI. He quickly realized he missed local law enforcement and returned to the San Diego PD, where he was promoted to detective.
After he and his wife had their first child, Phillips began considering other career paths. He started working in real estate and property management in Colorado but wanted something that offered a more consistent source of income, so he and his wife started looking at franchises and businesses for sale. They were also looking to move to Texas to be near to her family.
“I didn’t want to start from scratch, so I told my wife, no start-ups,” he said, chuckling. “It had to be an existing franchise or business.”
They didn’t find anything that fit the bill until an ad for Signal 88 Security caught his wife’s eye. Although it was more of a start-up than they had intended, she thought it would be a perfect fit for her husband’s police background.
Phillips agreed. He liked the brand immediately, met with the Signal 88 founders and franchise group leaders and signed his franchise agreement in January 2013.
“It was a natural opportunity for me to come into the marketplace with some built-in credibility to potential prospects and clients,” Phillips said. “When I mention that I was in law enforcement for 12 years, it usually gets the attention of a prospect or a client pretty quickly.”
His law enforcement background helps him advise clients on what they can do to improve the safety and security of their properties, but Phillips relies on the administrative expertise of the franchise group for key functions like billing and payroll. He says Signal 88 provides him with the support he needs so he can make the most of his policing skills and serve his clients without getting bogged down in administrative minutiae.
“As a police officer, I know security, but I didn’t necessarily have a tremendous background in HR and billing and payroll and filing my state sales taxes,” he said, “but the franchise group facilitating much of that effort allows me to focus on building my business.”
For that reason alone, Phillips says, he would advise any police officer looking to retire and get into private security to look into the Signal 88 franchise model.
“I can’t imagine starting this from scratch without the support that we get from the franchise group,” he said. “Billing alone and payroll alone would be very cumbersome to the point where we’d probably have to hire another administrative assistant just to facilitate those two efforts.”
Phillips says the technology available through Signal 88 also plays a key role in his success. In addition to helping him manage day-to-day administrative operations, the company’s 88Edge app enables reporting by officers and provides accountability with GPS tracking. These benefits have proved very attractive to customers.
“Rather than having to pay somebody to drive around all night long to make sure your officers are on site, we use technology to do that on our behalf. The officers, in turn, know that they’re accountable because they know that we can see where they are at any given time,” said Phillips. “When I present our services, I can look the prospect in the eye and tell them that we have multiple layers of verification of services. That’s been a real big selling feature for us.”
All his officers have mobile phones equipped with the 88Edge app to take date- and time-stamped photos and record videos, which are automatically uploaded into client reports for easy reporting and added transparency.
Phillips appreciates the access to cutting-edge technology and says his officers are better equipped than some local PDs.
“Sometimes I wonder if we have more technology than many police departments do in terms of being able to track our officers, seeing what they’re doing at a moment’s notice, taking photos through our app, taking videos through our app,” he said. “We put GPS checkpoints out on sites where the client can see exactly when and where our officer was. That’s about as good as you can get right now in terms of technology and verification of services.”
Phillips also says the support from Signal 88 allows him the freedom to pursue other business opportunities and interests, such as real estate. He sometimes jokes with friends who are still in police work and ask him how things are going in the private sector.
“They thought I was crazy for walking away from a built-in paycheck every two weeks and a retirement, which I can understand,” he said, “but it’s offered me a lot of extra freedom with my family.”