Barry Simmons is the President of SafeStreets USA, the home security company with a long history of proven success. SafeStreets USA works with primarily residential clients and some small commercial clients as well, and is one of ADT’s oldest and most respected Authorized Dealers.
The company was formed in 2011 as a result of the merger between Alarm Team, which Simmons founded, and Eversafe Security, two successful companies in their own right which then combined strengths. SafeStreets USA has an ongoing partnership with ADT as an Authorized Dealer, a role they’ve proudly maintained since 1996. In addition, the company partners with Honeywell and GE as manufacturers and with key marketing companies for leads and sales.
Simmons has been in the security business for most of his life. He comes from a traditional security business background, formerly dealing with large commercial clients like the City of Raleigh’s Police Department, Parks & Recreations and Water Treatment.
He explains that ADT came along in 1996 and changed the field dramatically. The whole notion of owning a home security system experienced a shift in perception, and Simmons watched closely as the trend unfolded.
“In the past, they were for the rich and famous, so to speak,” he says. “They were expensive. They were thousands of dollars. Up to that point, the monitoring of an alarm and the purchase of an alarm were two independent actions, and one was not dependent on the other. Then they began offering discount alarm systems and devalued what was occurring up to that point. All of a sudden alarm systems weren’t hundreds or thousands of dollars anymore. They were ninety-nine dollars, and you just sign up.”
ADT changed things not just for the client but for the provider as well. As a dealer, Safe Streets USA is given a percentage of the ongoing revenue that ADT receives from the customers that it generates for them.
“There was a shift at that time from the consumer paying us for our goods and services to ADT or the host company paying us for those goods or services,” says Simmons.“It became at that point a numbers game.”
It was a numbers game that Simmons knew he could play well. In 2008, AlarmTeam and Eversafe began the plan to combine their marketing, management and operational resources and to further grow their already existing ADT partnership. They completed the merger in 2011 by forming a single company with the new brand of Safe Streets USA. Today, the company operates two main processing centers, one in Garner, NC and one in Elmwood Park, NJ along with two call centers and numerous branch offices. Safe Streets USA operates in over twenty-six states and installs in excess of 50,000 systems annually.
Once the merger was in place, Simmons says he was able to “make significant leaps and bounds in growing the ADT brand and business.”
This experience required a paradigm shift and a completely new way of doing things.
“ADT provides the services, and they’re billing you,” he explains.“We don’t service it, that’s the other beauty of it. ADT has a national network of corporate offices. So, after the initial 90 days, they want, and rightfully so, to make sure that they’re the ones who are maintaining that brand. So, it’s their service truck that’s rolling up if you have a problem. They’re providing the monitoring services and doing the billing and so forth.”
Regarding starting his company, Simmons says the process was initially an intimidating one.
“It was like climbing out of a window, rappelling down the side of a building and just having enough confidence to take the first step, that leap, you know?” he explains. “It’s about having enough confidence in what you’re going to attempt to do that you have a reasonable shot at doing it and then putting forth the effort and the work ethic. It was struggling with that decision for two or three years and then saying, ‘I can’t be in this unless I’m committed a hundred percent.’
Like most entrepreneurs, Simmons describes the kind of full responsibility load that comes with being in charge.
“You’re up at six o’clock, and you’re the guy that’s ordering the equipment, and you’re the guy that’s got to write the payroll checks at night. You’re putting in long hours, and you’re putting in the sweat and equity to run a business.”
As far as marketing its product, Safe Streets USA outsources those efforts to companies that can focus on that role more exclusively and efficiently than Simmons says he could. He explains that despite even the best marketing efforts, it’s almost always a life-changing event that serves as a catalyst for people to purchase a home security system.
“Historically, people buy alarms three times in their lives. After a birth, death, things of that nature. If they’ve bought a home or they’ve been victimized, or know somebody who’s been victimized. And you can do anything that you want them to, you can spend all the money that you want to on marketing, but I guarantee you, they’re going to get an alarm when one of those three things happen. It’s just the way it is.”
Simmons says that his challenge right now is to create the Safe Streets USA identity. One attempt at this has been the recent launch of an employee web portal called Safe Town, which is based loosely on the popular Facebook game Farmville. The idea is to promote unity and connection among employees who are spread across twenty-six states.
“If you log on to Safe Town as an employee, there’s this entire little village,” he explains. “You can take your mouse and click on the Safe Streets building and then you can access the employee manual and there’s a bank which links you to your payroll and your 401K. There’s a movie house in which there’s a video showing clips on key employees. There’s a park in the center of Safe Town that’s a place where employees can write blogs to each other.”
Despite an unsteady economy, Safe Streets USA is flourishing. Some of this may be due to the fact that life-changing events keep happening despite any economic condition. Simmons also explains that during bad economic times typically crime goes up, which is good for business. That trend is tempered by the fact that in a bad economy homes don’t sell well and this can affect security system sales.
“I can’t say that we’re totally recession-proof, but we’ve continued over the past four or five years to have very steady growth, sometimes phenomenal growth, as in ten or twelve percent month over a month,” says Simmons.
As for the future of Safe Streets USA, it’s safe to say continued growth is the name of the game. Simmons has a lot of energy and passion for his company that show both in his efforts and in the way he describes the business. He has formed alliances with affiliated dealers out west and in the New England area to combine marketing efforts and to continue the company’s stellar success.