TeamLogic IT Franchise Review: Q&A Steven Serna of Portland, Oregon

Navy veteran and engineer discusses why he chose to open a TeamLogic IT technology franchise

Before Steven Serna and his wife, Stephanie Verzasconi, opened their TeamLogic IT franchise in July 2010, he’d been dreaming about starting his own business for a decade. The Navy veteran spent 10 years with Hewlett-Packard in the 1990s, helping develop laser printers and set up design centers around the world. After stints with RadiSys Corporation and Xerox, a friend from his HP days introduced him to the world of franchising. “There was a lot more to it than just McDonald’s,” he quickly realized. He started working with a franchise broker, who introduced him to several concepts, including TeamLogic IT.

This is his story.

Which franchises did you consider?
When I got it down to my short list, it was CMIT and TeamLogic. I evaluated both of those in early 2010, and it was a hard decision, which is a good thing. One of the strengths that led me to TeamLogic was that it had more breadth and depth in the franchising industry because of Franchise Services Inc., which would be helpful in terms of sales and marketing support.

Was it hard to move into sales for the first time?
I was fairly comfortable with it. I saw that it was going to be a new skill and a set of tools for me to learn. I might have been a little intimidated at first, but I know how important it is to grow the business, to not try to be the guy providing the technical support.

Does corporate provide a lot of support?
A lot of the value was in all the myriad details that go into developing a business: setting it up, getting your services in place and providing really strong tools and support for sales and marketing. Coming from an engineering background, and not from sales and marketing, that was a big deal for me and Stephanie. Eventually, you get to where you understand the game. Now I rely on them for coaching and support and improving my skills and expertise. Denise Denton, who oversees marketing, also provides a lot of value by gathering customer testimonials for us.

How do you divide responsibilities?
Stephanie is also an engineer; we met at HP. She takes on more of the marketing aspects of the business; I am the primary salesperson. She does the accounting, so she’s the CFO and manages the books, and I take more of the operations — managing the service team, delivering products. We have seven total team members — four technicians, the two of us and a person who visits other businesses in the community to drop off brochures and make introductions. She also helps with phone calls and managing lists.

How has your business performed?
We started right at the peak of the recession, when unemployment was over 10%. But we managed to grow. We doubled in size in 2012 and again in 2013. Of course, there is always room for more, and you hope for more and bigger growth.

How big is the market for your services?
Every business, especially small to mid-size business, has a need for our services. There is strong demand, but there is also a lot of competition. The challenge is to find the right clients to whom we can offer a bigger benefit.

Such as?
Right now we are working with a high-end home furnishing business that has a showroom in Manhattan. Thanks to TeamLogic’s national footprint, we can serve their home office directly in Portland, and if they need someone to come out to their showroom, the TeamLogic IT in Long Island can come out to provide local support. I work the same way with a TeamLogic in Boston, which has a client that has an office here in Portland. Companies like being able to work with one IT provider. That’s something that we stress as a benefit for our customers.

How long did it take you to reach break-even?
We got there at 18 months. In year 2, we were able to take a salary out of the business. That matched up with what we were told to expect when we started the franchise.

What does it take to succeed?
It takes dedication — a never-ending focus and desire to make it successful. We have also been willing to take some risks, stretching our capacity to take on projects and customers that had big demands. That makes for a lot of stress and hard work, but it helped get us to where we are.

Would you recommend TeamLogic IT to someone interested in starting a business?
I would definitely recommend it. I would do it again.

Learn more about the TeamLogic IT franchise opportunity

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!