Over the last several years, Shawn and Ivana Verduzco have faced a plethora of challenges. Throughout all of their hardships, the couple has persevered to find success and reach their business goals. Their struggles have helped them become better leaders and grow in the communities they serve. Today they run a thriving organization spread across the North Bay area and, because of their incredible growth and perseverance, are Signal’s Franchise of the Month for October 2023.
In 2019, the Verduzcos were ready to close up shop. Their privately owned security company was failing. Recognizing this, they came to the difficult decision that it was time to move on from the business. At the same time, Shawn came across an Instagram ad highlighting the support Signal provides to franchisees. While he was intrigued by the prospect, Ivana was less sure.
“It scared me,” she said. “I just wanted to close this chapter. I wanted to be done with security. It had been dragging us down for six years. We wanted to have a successful company, but it hadn’t worked out for us at that point.”
The Verduzcos saw the potential offered by Signal, specifically the support and structure of the business. As small business owners, the couple said they didn’t have a long-term vision or strategy for their company. Signal offered a clear-cut path forward and brand recognition they didn’t have before.
Over the last three years, the couple has seen incredible growth, but not without facing challenges. They launched as a Signal franchise in early 2020, right as the world was shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They lost nearly all their existing clients through the transition, lived an hour away from their market and, as a new franchise, didn’t have any employees.
Sleepless nights quickly became the norm, they said, with Shawn working patrols seven days a week. The geographical challenges of living outside the market prompted him to spend the weekdays sleeping in his office, returning home for the weekends.
Ivana’s days were equally full. With Shawn out doing operations, she stepped into the sales role, spending her time looking for new contracts in the area. The couple has two children, who were three and six at the time and, with schools shut down due to the pandemic, she was balancing homeschooling and childcare as well.
That same year, devastating wildfires also impacted Northern California. Shawn, a volunteer firefighter, stepped up and spent an additional sixty days away from home. The family felt his absence, and then the fires hit even closer to home.
“To top it off,” Ivana said. “The fire hit the area where we live. We got evacuated for two weeks, then returned home and were evacuated a second time. That was a really challenging time.”
When faced with these challenges, both Shawn and Ivana said that the importance of believing in oneself and having a partner to rely on helped them keep going every day. There were moments of doubt and tears shed, Ivana said, but being committed to showing up every day became a driving force in their success. Their mutual support and the shared responsibility of managing a business created an environment that allowed them to overcome obstacles together.
Shawn emphasized that the partnership extended beyond just the business. Having a supportive partner allowed them to lean on each other when times were tough.
“I honestly don’t know how other owners without a partner do it,” he said. “There’s no way I could handle the load by myself. I think it takes a team; it really does.”
After the initial challenges of launching their franchise, the Verduzcos were finally able to hire their first patrol officer, freeing the pair to focus on running a successful business. The pair learned the importance of placing the right people in the right roles to optimize performance. A turning point in their success was their intentional focus on Signal’s Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.
They hired an outside consultant to guide them through the process, honing in on metrics like patrol completion, labor efficiency and employee retention. They also began dividing up the KPIs among the leadership staff, holding one person accountable to the growth of each metric on a weekly basis.
Over the last year, Shawn and Ivana have also taken a look inward, and recognized the need for active change in themselves. They’ve made a concerted effort to develop their leadership skills, which has, in turn, helped grow the leaders around them. The realization that effective leadership wasn’t just about finding better team members, but rather developing the ones they already had has helped their team and business grow.
After a stressful first few years, the pair also realized that their personal lives had begun to suffer. They both said that their priorities were out of order, and they had to make major changes. Both recognized the need to shift faith, fitness and family ahead of financial concerns on their priority list, a change that has had major impacts on their lives, both personally and professionally.
“I did a self-assessment earlier this year,” Ivana said. “And I had work as my number one priority. Number two should have been me, but I was all the way at the end. I had neglected myself. So now, our number one priority is faith. Then number two is fitness. Not just exercise, but mental fitness and everything as a person. If you’re not well then you can’t serve anyone or anything else on the list.”
Shawn echoed this statement, adding that the pair’s new approach to their physical and mental well-being has had effects on the business as well.
“If you put your business first, like we did for three years, it will run you into the ground,” Shawn said. “There’s tremendous burnout for business owners, and even our coordinators were burning out. We’ve joined a gym and are focusing on our physical well-being. Next year we’re planning on incorporating employee benefits and wellness more into our company resources. We’re only as strong as the people that surround us.”
The story of Signal of North Bay is one of resilience, adaptability and continuous growth. As the Verduzcos look to the future, they’re able to reflect back and give advice for those just beginning their business ownership journey.
“Just showing up is half the battle,” Ivana said. “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Everything that happens or any challenge that comes along is just another chapter in your story. You have to keep going and growing with the challenges. One day is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but one day after another is how you’re going to grow.”