TeamLogic IT Franchise Review: Q&A with Davis Merrey of Oklahoma City
2013 TeamLogic IT Franchisee of the Year discusses his business and what it takes to succeed
Davis Merrey couldn’t stay retired. After a corporate career in which he helped develop electronic testing equipment, provided quality control for calculators, oversaw manufacturing and product development of medical X-ray equipment, helped bring surround sound to movie theaters and installed massive sound systems in places like airports and Euro Disney, he retired once, only to be recruited back into the workforce for five years before retiring again. But he wasn’t ready to grab a rocking chair. Instead, he met a buddy and old work colleague once a week for lunch to discuss the future. “Neither one of us was ready to stop contributing,” Davis says.
Eventually, they started talking about franchises, which led Davis to TeamLogic IT. This is his story.
What attracted you to TeamLogic IT?
One of the things I liked was the longevity of the opportunity — it was a need that would go on forever. And I enjoy helping people succeed. My belief initially was that my son and daughter would take over the business once I decided to hang up my cleats, so I took them with me to Discovery Day and I met Chuck Lennon and Don Lowe, and I was very impressed with them as people, but the thing that impressed me most was, as I walked into the Franchise Services building, there was a sign that said “our mission statement.” Having been in the corporate world a long time, I expected the typical corporate missions statement — “to enhance the wealth of stockholders” or “to serve customers” — and what I saw was “to make our employees and franchisees successful.” I thought, whoa… corporate America could learn a lot from that. That tells me that these people get it. From there, it was listening to them tell their story and figuring out how I could fit into that whole idea. That’s what convinced me, other than fact that it was a great opportunity from a business standpoint. I figured if I am going to pursue this business, this is a good group of people to pursue it with.
Why did you want to keep working?
You know, I think about my father, who worked for the same company his whole life, and when he retired he just wanted to go play golf with his brother in Florida for the rest of his life. That just wasn’t for me. I love golf, and I love Florida, but I didn’t see that as something that would make me happy if it occupied the rest of my life. I wanted to find something that would make me want to get out of bed in the morning and create, and help somebody be successful. I just had that appetite.
How does TeamLogic IT fulfill that desire to contribute and help other succeed?
I have an empathy for business leaders and I can understand the emotional triggers that cause them to do things a certain way. IT is a vital part of what they do everyday and how they run their business, and I enjoy meeting with them and finding out from them what we can do to make their business more productive, successful and profitable, so their lives are more enjoyable. Just about everybody we deal with is a small business owner or leader. Now that I am one, I understand their world a lot better than I did before, but I also can use my corporate business experience as a model or template for how a successful business can be run and how it can utilize its technology to its advantage.
What are the advantages you offer your customers?
We look for ways they can use technology to make their employees more productive. We also provide tools to make their intellectual assets more secure — all of the data about customers and your own company that are essential to running the business. How can you make that data accessible to the people who need access without having it be visible to the whole world? That data security extends into having backups in place and a plan for keeping the business running in spite of challenges. For instance, how do I keep my business running if my server has crashed or an ice storm makes the office inaccessible for four days, or if the building is hit by a tornado? We can build value by making employees more efficient, securing data and providing a cloud-based backup of your business data that allows you to continue to function even during a disaster.
How do you get your customers?
Usually, referrals. Anytime we meet with a prospect, even if they say no, we ask for a referral — they often know someone who has a strong need for our service. Once we have been invited into a business, our approach is to let them tell their story about how technology impacts their business. If in the first 5 minutes we don’t hear that they have some sort of pain related to technology, we don’t pursue it further. We may call six months later or put them on mailing list for follow up, but if they don’t have some pretty serious pain affecting the leader of the business, we leave them alone. Not everybody is going to get the value of managed services — some see it as an ongoing expense rather than an ongoing investment. But the people who are working too many hours, paying too much OT, constantly fighting viruses, and worrying what will happen if the hard drive they take home every weekend fails or gets lost — those people are going to understand the value that we deliver.
Do you need to have a technical background to succeed with TeamLogic IT?
I think it helps, but no. I think my engineering background helps in that I learned to use a very logical problem-solving process. A TeamLogic IT owner needs business experience more than anything else. The engineering background has helped me, but there is no way the engineering background has prepared me with the ability to impart the technical skills that my technicians use on the job. I had to hire somebody who had experience. I handle the business aspects of TeamLogic; he handles the technical part. I know a lot of the franchise owners have a right-hand person who helps run the technical team.
What values do you receive from corporate?
The technical tools and the vendor relationships have been the strongest contributions. They also provide a good bit of marketing material, which helps. Frank Picarello and Mike Celayeta, two newer guys who both come from managed services provider businesses, have a lot of in-depth knowledge, and that’s been a very exciting addition. I would say that this is a significant advantage — two guys who have been doing it for years and years and have seen the good, bad and ugly, and know what to do and not to do. They are passing that knowledge along to the franchisees.
They also allow us to tailor our services to the local market. Some things we all have to do the same way, but there are other things that are guidelines provided by TeamLogic, which we can use or not. You know, selling IT services is not like selling a Big Mac — it can’t be exactly the same everywhere in the world. The products are unique and tailored to each customer’s needs. One of the most valuable things they bring is an understanding that you can’t take a cookie cutter approach.
They provide a lot of resources, too. Each one of us has access to B2B management consultants that they have on staff and who I can call and bounce ideas off of.
Tell us about the vendor relationships.
They form relationships and secure better deals for us. They get offers from suppliers all the time, and they check out their reliability and history, and will negotiate the ability to resell services and earn commissions when we connect them to the right customer. TeamLogic also negotiates better service level agreements so we can get in direct contact with technical people if there is ever an issue.
Do you have to have certain values or a certain personality to succeed?
I think the values are more important than personality; thinking back on the last owners summit, I can think of all sorts of different personalities that were represented (laughs). A desire to provide service to others is very important, and that extends to your clients and your employees. I think you have to be somebody who believes in the dignity of man. You should be honest, fair, and value excellence in your employees, so the people you depend on to run the business every day feel like they are rewarded and recognized for what they do. Those kinds of values I think are very important. Anybody who doesn’t have those kinds of values is going to have a really rough time of it.
Would you recommend a TeamLogic IT franchise?
If the person had the right skills and attitude. It’s not a part-time job, and it’s not something to do because you’re bored. It’s something you have to be passionate about, and you have to have the right values and energy and drive to make it work. If you have those things, definitely they should consider it.
Learn more about TeamLogic IT
TeamLogic IT provides managed IT services to small and medium-sized businesses. Its 50 franchise units and 200-plus technicians give the technology franchise a nationwide footprint and a massive knowledge-base with which to provide exceptional service to clients. TeamLogic helps its clients become more productive and secure, and that focus has helped franchise owners earn double-digit average same-unit sales growth for three years in a row. To learn more about the business, including startup costs for a franchise, visit our research pages. You can read interviews with TeamLogic franchise owners on our blog. For even more information, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!