Barnes offers quality of life
Five years ago, Jim Barnes would get up, put on a suit, straighten his tie and look outside to see what city he was in. As a salesman with a large software company, working out of Washington, D.C., Barnes traveled most of the days of the week, scurrying back and forth between speaking engagements.
But that was five years ago. Since then, Barnes and his wife have had two kids — 5- and 3-year-old boys. They’ve moved to Ocean View and traded in his six-figure corporate salary for family time, the beach and an all-around better “quality of life,” he said.
And after taking off two years, sitting on money made in the fast-paced, lucrative D.C. business world, Barnes has returned to business. In January of this year, working out of his home, Barnes opened a local branch of the nationally franchised home security company Signature Alert.
“I wanted control of my own destiny,” Barnes said. “I love the security we provide. I love keeping people safe.”
Barnes said that his business combines the best of both worlds: the local business with a national backing. But he has tweaked his Ocean View business to make it unique. Barnes not only offers a security system — with alarms and whistles he compared to a car alarm that could still be blaring as the thief drives away in it — but adds home monitoring as well.
After purchasing the initial security system, Barnes’ Signature Alert customers have the choice of adding a monitoring package for as little as $21.95 to as much as $49.95 a month. For the latter, Barnes will take monthly trips to the home, inspect it and make sure everything is running smoothly — an invaluable resource in this, a land of second homes.
Recently, one of Barnes’ 30 customers called him, asking him to make a check on his second home in Seaford. All the customer knew was that water in the Wal-Mart parking lot was climbing up the side of cars parked in its lot. And his home was located less than a mile away.
A 30-minute trip, routine check and a phone call later, the customer was relieved to learn that a knocked down tree that did not affect the house was the worst of the damage on his property.
And the 30-minute trips — which are likely nothing compared to routine plane flights across the country – are just one monitoring service the business provides.
Each time an alarm is sounded in a Signature Alert-protected home, the monitoring center receives a notice; Barnes receives a call and checks the problem. Customers can check their alarm history on the Internet to verify the monthly checks and, for an additional $10 per month, a two-way intercom can be affixed to the system so the customer can directly reach the monitoring station. And, still, those are just some of the monitoring options.
Unfortunately, Barnes said, with other national security giants looming, his security company with a “service” has not yet reached its fullest potential.
“The hardest thing right now is to get people to know who I am,” Barnes said, adding when “they’re thinking about getting a new system, call me.”
Barnes’ young entrepreneurship is, obviously, still in its earliest, growing stages. But while it grows, things aren’t so bad, he said. Instead of traveling, he now watches T-ball games. And, working out of his home, he spends as much time as possible with his wife and his two boys. And early this week, he entertained a group of family members by taking that long, arduous, five-minute drive to the beach.
This certainly isn’t Washington, D.C., or Chicago or Los Angeles or New York … anymore.
“It’s a drastic change,” Barnes said. Sometimes, like earlier this week, sitting on his screened back porch, he even asks himself, “What did I do, leaving a six-figure salary?” But then he quickly answered. “I traded money for quality of life.”