TeamLogic IT Franchise Review: Meet Kalamazoo Owner Nick Zafer
An early TeamLogic IT franchise owner talks about growth and evolution in the tech space and how TeamLogic IT franchise stays on top of it all
When engineering manager Nick Zafer wanted to step away from his job as a “manager of managers” for a large pharmaceutical company, he knew he wanted something a little more hands on. He also knew that he had strong leadership skills, so building a team had appeal. Would a franchise make sense? It would if it were a TeamLogic IT franchise, as he’s found over the last seven years.
Why did you want to change careers and do something different?
I always had an itch to try something small. I’d always worked for large companies since college, first with Amoco and then with Pfizer. I began looking at small business opportunities. As a part of that, I researched what a small business operates like and how they are successful. It boiled down to three things: sales, sales and sales. It really kind of grew out from there.
How did you find out about TeamLogic IT franchise?
I’d volunteered to be downsized, and as a part of my severance I got some outplacement assistance. During that period, I bumped into an agent who asked if I were interested in a franchise. I was thinking they were all food, and I really didn’t want that. But he worked with me to see what might be a good fit and we came down to five different models. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an IT franchise, so TeamLogic was interesting right away. I began looking into it.
What attracted you to the business?
I was looking for an opportunity for someone who wanted to transition into small business but didn’t have a lot of experience. TeamLogic IT was a great opportunity because I could learn sales, and I knew I wouldn’t be out on my own.
Also, the franchise was fairly new; I liked the idea of being in on the ground floor, and the possibility of a lot of growth. Then I met the corporate team and thought they were all really good people, and we had a solid chemistry. They are highly educated, skilled pros, and I worked with a lot of people like that in the project management and engineering world. I thought the experience I did have would come in handy as I moved out of the corporate world because I knew I could manage people, and I knew they would help me with the rest.
What kind of businesses do you serve, and how have you created space for TeamLogic IT in those verticals?
They need help right away, and they need immediate feedback. Managed IT services lets us provide both. We work with a lot of professional services: medical, legal, dental offices, as well as some nonprofits. We also have some logistics and transportation companies, as well as insurance and financial services. So we see a wide variety of people and are able to manage their needs.
One area where we’ve carved out a unique vertical niche is in small manufacturing. We have a lot of those, because Michigan has a lot of those companies that feed the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. There’s a lot of research and development for those industries, so we have opportunities to serve them as well.
How have you helped a customer out of a jam or helped them dramatically improve the way their business functions?
We’ve actually had a lot of those! Most recently we got a call at 7:55 p.m. from a dental office. It’s actually my dentist, across the street from our office. They’d taken a long weekend and were getting back to work. The office manager had come in because there’d been a power outage over the weekend, and some of their computers were difficult to start, while one wouldn’t start at all.
We got the info and first thing the next morning we grabbed the computer and confirmed what was going on. There was damage to the main computer’s hard drive, the one that had all the practice management software on it, but we’d set them up with a backup system of their practice management system. We grabbed another computer, restored the backed-up data to it and they were up and running by the afternoon. Managed IT services really does help, and we have a lot of examples that show just how much.
What personality or values do you think are needed to succeed as a TeamLogic IT franchise owner?
I think it’s a lot of different skills. The main one, which fits with our name, is the ability to build a team. It takes me back to my project management days, when I had to grab the right people and get them together and all moving in the right direction.
If you’re not already, you need to learn to be good at sales, at keeping an eye on finances and also supporting the technical side. Keep an eye on the bottom line, because this is your investment. But above all else, be able to put together the right employees, advisors, partners and suppliers to have a great team.
How large is the opportunity for your business to grow?
We’re still growing, and have plenty of opportunity even after being around for awhile. Our growth is slow and steady, which is OK for me because I want to balance my resources properly. If we move too fast, we’ll need to bring more people on board and that will affect cash flow. I work to balance customers, tools, facilities and infrastructure. The main focus I have is to make sure we don’t sacrifice the quality service we are providing existing customers as we pursue new ones.
How do the tools offered by corporate help you market your business and serve your customers?
They are wonderful. Everything we get for marketing has a professional look. If someone doesn’t know us, they are great reference materials. Our marketing collateral gives us a much larger feel than a business of 5-10 people that’s been around seven years usually would have. I think our materials put us on an equal footing with any competition out there, and really grow our business presence in the community.
How helpful are other franchisees when you have questions? How do you work together?
A huge benefit is our yearly get-together in Columbus, Ohio. That’s for us in the Midwest, but all of us have phone conferences and trainings pretty continually. It’s great to talk with everyone and see what’s going on, and then throw out ideas and get feedback.
I love going to the owners’ summit every year. I only skipped one year, because my lead tech had just had a baby and so I had to stay home. And I think it’s great that I am still in touch with the other owners who went through TeamLogic IT University in the summer of 2009 with me. We’re all still around!
What does your typical day look like?
I hate being caged up in an office, so I love to get out and meet people. I drop into as many events as I can, and also pop in on existing clients. I want to see how things are going. I get out to drop off proposals because I want to get face time with potential clients as well.
I even take our rent check to the landlord, and over time he’s referred a lot of his tenants to us, so even that has worked out for me.
What do you enjoy about the business?
Getting out and meeting clients. I like working with my team and working with our clients. The worst punishment for me would be to sit in an office, closed away from everyone. I like to jump in the middle and see how I can help solve a problem.
Is TeamLogic IT franchise elping you meet your personal and professional goals? Would you recommend the franchise to someone else?
There are pros and cons in any business. I get a lot of satisfaction in something smaller than I did in a large organization with competing goals and agendas. With TeamLogic IT you just have to keep your clients happy and in the long run, they’ll be more successful and you’ll be successful right along with them.
I would tell someone that I work very hard to understand what my 250 bosses want, and it’s very satisfying to meet and especially anticipate their needs. If you want to do that and support great businesses all day every day, this is for you.
TeamLogic IT is the technology franchise small and medium-sized businesses increasingly turn to for turnkey support. TeamLogic IT’s managed services contracts give clients peace of mind around their technology needs, and provide franchise owners with a steady, predictable revenue stream. TeamLogic IT now serves a wide and growing variety of clients in every business sector, from tourism and hospitality to healthcare, legal and accounting. Along the way, TeamLogic IT has grown to more than 80 locations around the United States, and continues to expand in both new and existing markets.