POP-A-LOCK, ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR STRATEGIC PARTNERS FROM FLEET
Pop-A-Lock loves strategic partnerships and is always looking to partner with other franchise businesses.
From fleet management to employee benefits, the company has a number of programs that it can use to partner with other franchise businesses.
Based in Lafayette, LA, Pop-A-Lock’s business is security.
“Our job is to protect what matters most to people; their families, their homes and their businesses and we do that with a wide variety of security products and protections,” company CEO Don Marks said during a recent phone interview from the Pop-A-Lock headquarters.
As for those programs that help Pop- A-Lock build its coveted strategic partnerships, one example is Pop-A-Lock Smart Track. Smart track confirms service requests, keeps track of the vehicles via GPS and sends updates to customers via their smartphones that include confirmation of their orders and even photos of the driver. With Pop-A-Lock Smart Keys, the company is able to duplicate and replace keys on the spot for vehicles including those that utilize Smart Key technology.
As for employee benefits, employees with partnering franchise businesses can get a Pop-A-Lock Smart Security Audit, which provides expert advice on how best to beef up physical security of their home.
And, since security is their business, Pop-A-Lock also provides site security to a lot of franchise businesses through its Pop-A-Lock Smart Security Systems, which encompass the most state of the art security technology; and Pop-A-Lock Smart Locks, which enable people to control their door locks and other systems in their homes or business via the internet from virtually anywhere.
But, it’s not just franchise businesses that Pop-A-Lock has useful programs for, they also provide the PAL Saves Kids service, which is a free service to rescue children who accidentally get locked in vehicles. Through this program, the company has rescued about 350,000 children thus far.
Not only does the company have these programs to help it offer all kinds of security related services, but it has its finger on the pulse of security by sitting on a security committee with major vehicle manufacturers, companies in the insurance industry and even working with the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Pop-A-Lock has come a long way since its inception in 1991. Back then, the Louisiana Sheriff’s Department used to unlock vehicles if people were locked out of them. However, as vehicles became more sophisticated and more difficult to unlock, the Sheriff’s Department found that it was not a good use of its time to unlock vehicles.
Seeing a business opportunity, two Louisiana Sheriff’s Department officers, Carl Vincent and Steve Gremillion, started Pop-A-Lock. The company started franchising in 1995 and is now in about 8,500 communities across North America.
From its origins of unlocking vehicles, it was easy to expand into general security. It’s something that every home and business needs for protection and often to comply with regulations, Marks said.
Brought in as a business consultant, he came on board in 2004 and ushered in an era of rapid expansion for the company. Marks said he decided to get involved with Pop-A-Lock because it has sustainable, strategic competitive advantages.
“If you don’t have something that others can’t or won’t do, then eventually you become a commodity or you go out of business,” he said.
The security industry was extremely fragmented at the time and he saw an opportunity to consolidate it and become the leader in the industry through the adoption and development of new technology, the ubiquity of franchising, strong branding and building those strategic partnerships.
Pop-A-Lock has two types of franchisees that can join the company. One is an owner-operator for small markets and the other type would be a senior executive or investor for large markets that pull in a lot of revenue.
The company services markets of all sizes, Marks said, from cities of millions of people down to small communities of
The process of onboarding new franchisees is an involved one, the Pop-ALock CEO said, as the company wants to ensure potential franchisees are a good fit and will succeed with the company. Once they are vetted and welcomed aboard, they travel to Lafayette to meet the entire team and see Pop-A-Lock in operation. They are then thoroughly trained either in Lafayette or at a Pop-A-Lock franchise with a certified instructor.
Once a Pop-A-Lock franchisee is up and running, they are privy to a vast amount of support from the company.
“We really do A to Z and I can tell you after 35 years in various aspects of franchising, I’ve never seen as much support as we do,” Marks said.
The company has a full system that runs almost every aspect of the business, plus they have their own in-house software development group to continually improve their security software. Support includes 24/7 internet support and live call operators, public relations, operational assistance, new owner calls, periodic business building calls, periodic operation calls and in-house marketing.
While Pop-A-Lock is in almost every market across the continent, there are a few places where the company hasn’t cracked, but it’s keen to get into. Los Angeles is one area where the company has set down some roots, but would like to expand further. The French-speaking
part of Canada is another area where the company is keen to expand into, Marks said.
“We want to be ubiquitous,” he stated. “We want to be everywhere.”
To that end, the company is in talks about possibly expanding beyond North America.
With so much to offer and virtually no competition, Pop-A-Lock seems poised to further develop and nurture even more of those strategic partnerships it so loves.
Pop-A-Lock has brought home a bevy of awards since its inception in 1991. Some of the highlights inside the company’s vast trophy
• Entrepreneur Magazine # 1 in Service Category 2010-2014 • Entrepreneur Magazine Fastest Growing Franchises February 2013-2014 • Entrepreneur Magazine “Best of the Best” May 2012 • Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500 2011-2014 • Entrepreneur Magazine Top Home Based Franchise 2011-2014 • Franchise Research Institute World Class Franchise 2010-2014 • Entrepreneur Magazine Top Global Franchise 2011-2014 • Franchise Times Top 200 • BlueMauMau Top 25 Chains with the Happiest Franchisees • National Minority Franchising Initiative 50 Top Franchises for Minorities October 2009 • Franchise Business Review Best of the Best: Top 100 Franchises for Veterans 2013 • G.I. Jobs Military Friendly Franchises 2010-2012