The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Smart Moves Help Score Pot of Gold
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month we feature John Doyle of Doyle Security Systems
Doyle's BIG IDEA:
“Stay grounded in the moment, and don't lose sight of the predetermined goals tht have been established for the company.
HIS IS ONE PARTY I hope I get an invite to. It’s the 100-
year anniversary of Rochester, N.Y.-based Doyle Security
Systems and what a celebration that should be! Oh, I should
also mention the anniversary occurs on St. Patrick’s Day, and the
company’s president and CEO, John G. Doyle Jr., is as proud of his
ancestry as any Irishman I know.
The company started out as a guard and patrol service as well as an alarm company, and by the time Doyle, the fourth generation of Doyle ownership, bought the company in 1986 it had $100,000 of recurring monthly revenue (RMR) just in the electronic security portion of the business. Eventually, it became totally a full-service electronic security company. Today, that RMR is more than $1 million and is still growing.
CONSIDERING MAJOR CHANGES? TAKE IT SLOW
I’ve always admired Doyle’s management style, and the entire
management team at the company reflects his leadership. So,
with the 100th anniversary rapidly approaching I decided to reach
out to Doyle with my signature question, “If you had just one really great idea for the electronic security industry, what would it
be?” Only this time, I fashioned the question to just address great
leadership in running a company, basically prodding Doyle to
offer a piece of advice to share with other owners of alarm companies in this period of changing times.
He thought about it for a minute, and responded, “Stay grounded in the moment, and don’t lose sight of the predetermined goals
that have been established for the company.” In other words,
during a period of extreme changes and with the temptation to
move in a dozen different directions, stay the course until you
have thoroughly examined and thought out potential changes.
And only then, make those changes slowly and deliberately.
Doyle Security certainly understands change and growth (see
page 16 for details of its latest acquisition). Going from a local
operation in Rochester to serving a population basis that now
extends from Erie, Pa., to upstate New York has changed Doyle
Security into a regional platform that, I suspect, will continue to
grow. The company has its own TMA Five Diamond, UL-Listed central station serving its large base of customers.
I wanted Doyle’s take on managing a large company through
a time of both rapid change and unusually appealing opportunities. Was there something he and his team were doing that could be held up as a model of what smaller companies could do to not only survive, but continue growing?
LOOK LONG TERM BUT DON'S LOSE SIGHT OF SHORT TERM
I and many other industry old-timers have advocated for building
a core business through both bundling of complementary products
and services as well as improving service and product offerings to
existing customers. As business brokers (my day job) we see a lot
of companies that take stock of all the changes that are happening
in our industry — i.e. do-it-yourself, cable companies marketing,
direct selling companies, etc., all using different business strategies than the traditional alarm dealer. Once the alarm dealer becomes overwhelmed by the choices he thinks he has to make it’s just a matter of time before we get a call from a potential seller.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with making the decision to
sell your company, but make sure you carefully examine the reasons you might consider it. If you’re ready to retire, OK, it’s a good
move. If you feel you’ve grown the company to its maximum advantage, OK, it’s a good move. But if you’re overwhelmed by all the
conflicting and competing advice being offered by well-meaning
marketers in the industry, then perhaps Doyle’s words of “staying
grounded” might help you determine if it’s the right decision.
I don’t know if he or his predecessors built up Doyle Security
thinking it would be around for 100 years … but between the shift
to electronic security, the regional expansion, monitoring centers
and more, the company leadership seems to have developed a solid
blueprint for anyone managing an alarm company. A pretty good
operating model might be to build your company as though you expected it to be here for 100 years, but manage it, effectively and systematically, one year at a time.
Though I can’t claim any Irish blood, I can claim a strong passion for Irish culture, music and phraseology. Oftentimes, and without thinking, I greet people with the time-tested Irish phrase “top of the morning” and it generally brings a smile to the recipient’s face. So when you think of Doyle Security and the success that they are enjoying perhaps, like me, you can’t help thinking that it’s a “when Irish eyes are smiling” moment. If so, take the moment and think about what you are doing to emulate the best practices of other successful companies to ensure a similarly bright future for yours.