Western Michigan is a treasure trove of natural beauty, where the landscape shifts from the serene coastline of Lake Michigan to woodlands that sprawl into the center of the state. Mike Kosmet owns and operates Signal of Western Michigan throughout the region and has transformed the business into a thriving franchise.
Before venturing into the world of security franchising with Signal, Mike had a long career as the director of a crisis facility. With a background in social work, Mike had dedicated himself to helping people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, positively impacting lives across the state of Michigan. His father-in-law was the previous owner of Signal of Western Michigan and when he approached Mike with the opportunity to transition to the franchise, Mike was initially hesitant.
“I already had my dream job,” Mike said. “So, I wasn’t too interested in it at the time. However, the older he got and the closer he got to retirement, we started getting a little more serious with the conversations.”
Mike’s perspective gradually shifted. After researching Signal, he saw the opportunity for personal growth, even if it was in a completely different field, and was impressed by the growth of Signal. The allure of entrepreneurship, combined with the prospect of continuing to help his community, led him to reconsider his pervious stance.
“I can still help people and do this,” Mike said. “I quickly changed my perspective that I’m still helping people, it just looks different.”
Mike decided to embrace this new path and joined Signal in 2014 as a director working alongside his father-in-law. He later purchased Signal of Michigan outright and has been successfully running it ever since.
Over the last several years Mike has grown Signal of Western Michigan into a thriving franchise, encompassing Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and smaller towns in the area as well. He’s currently ranked 58th out of 168 franchises in the Signal Network for Key Performance Indicators. His growth over the last year, along with his commitment to the Signal Core Values and building relationships across the network, are a few of the reasons he has been chosen as Franchise of the Month for August 2023.
Leveraging Social Work Skills
One might wonder how a background in social work translates into success in a security franchise, but Mike says that there are many parallels. Many of the communities Signal of Western Michigan serves are the same ones he worked with as a social worker. He says that his prior experience allows him to coach his team in interacting with a diverse population. This unique perspective helps him, and his team effectively connect with individuals and adapt to various situations, while bringing peace of mind to the communities they serve.
Challenges in the Transition
While transitioning into his new career as a Signal Franchise Owner, Mike faced his fair share of challenges. In his previous role he had direct, daily contact with his staff, allowing him to understand their strengths and weaknesses and coach them. Now, his territory is large and diverse, and his team is spread out over six cities, requiring him to develop a new set of management skills and find strong key players for upper management.
“Keeping people incentivized and honest when you’re not in front of them and managing from afar is a whole new ball game,” he said. “You have to have a really rock-solid team to operate efficiently and have systems and processes in place to make sure you’re doing so.”
Success and Growth
While Mike’s journey has seen challenges, he’s also seen a tremendous amount of success. He’s expanded his territory in Michigan and, along with another Signal Franchise Owner, he purchased an additional territory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thanks to an incredible event with Michigan International Speedway (MIS), he increased his revenue for August by over 200%. Although the franchise has worked at large events before, Mike says the NASCAR race they serviced over eight days in August was different.
Typically, events like this are built out with a minimum of four to six months’ notice. Mike was contacted 60 days before the event, giving the team a very tight deadline. The team also had to deal with the massive venue they had to service. MIS sprawls across 1,400 acres with campgrounds, event spaces and 67 different entry gates. When preparing for the event Mike and his team visited the site every week leading up to the race to learn the layout. After running 9,000 hours over eight days and hiring countless new employees, the event was a success, with the team at Signal of Western Michigan delivering exemplary service.
The Key to Success
When asked about the driving force behind his success in western Michigan, Mike emphasized one word: persistence. He takes proactive measures and isn’t waiting for opportunities to come knocking. Regular follow-ups, consistent communication and staying front of mind with clients are crucial strategies that have helped him grow his business.
When asked what advice he had for Franchise Owners new to the Signal network, Mike emphasized the importance of staying profitable.
“Sharpen your pencil when writing proposals,” he said. “Otherwise, none of this makes sense. Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.”
As far as the future goes, Mike has big ambitions. He wants to continue leveraging his relationships to grow his business, and move into new, larger industries.
“I want to start looking at bigger verticals,” he said. “Apartments are great but the more we grow, it’s going to be harder and harder to hit goals in just apartment communities. My goal is to be the biggest security company in Michigan. It just makes sense. If Signal’s goal is to be the biggest security company in the world, I have to be the biggest one in my state.”