Q&A with TeamLogic IT Franchise Owner Todd Harrell
This pharmacy exec spent years helping major companies operate more efficiently. Now he helps small businesses leverage IT to do the same.
When he was downsized, marketing and advertising executive Todd Harrell knew the time would never be more right to begin his own business. From a background in the pharmaceutical industry, he knew how important problem solving and communications could be, so a TeamLogic IT franchise made perfect sense. Several years in, he continues to grow his operations in the Morristown, New Jersey, market while also offering advice to new franchise owners around the country.
How long have you been a TeamLogic IT owner?
We opened in October 2011. It’s been a wild, crazy ride, and we’ve loved every minute of it. There are a lot of challenges in operating a small business today, but our own struggles help us all that much more when it comes to meeting clients’ needs.
Why did you want to change careers?
I get asked this a lot, and my answer is that I’ve always been interested in technology and how it’s used to meet business needs and offer business solutions. Where I was before, on the account services side, I worked with clients to leverage what they were offering in order to grow their brands. I worked with their sales forces, and on their products, to make that happen.
I also worked in the sales force automation industry for a long time, and there I saw how a company’s data was aggregated into laptops so that sales reps could show the impact a product was having. I worked on technology that helped build a presentation with that data. All that combined to show me how powerful, innovative IT can reach and grab customers. From there, it really was a logical step to do basically the same kind of thing for medium and small businesses from an IT services standpoint.
How did you find out about TeamLogic IT?
When I was looking at franchises, I wanted something that was business-to-business, rather than consumer-based. I also wanted to act more as a consultant to business leaders involving technology. TeamLogic IT popped to the top pretty quickly, and the more I talked with the team at headquarters, the more I enjoyed getting to know them.
What attracted you to the business?
Everyone at TeamLogic IT has a very similar outlook, and we all shared a similar viewpoint on the technology culture. Since I’m pretty far away from headquarters, I wanted to make sure that we all fit as far as management style and company culture. Their warmth and vision really sealed the deal for me.
I also really like the managed solutions aspect of the business. I don’t think I would be interested in just “break-fix” kind of work. That’s very transactional and very tough. I think the idea of going in as a partner and advisor, not just a tech vendor, is the way to go. It helps you develop a lot of credibility over time as you not only keep clients’ IT going, but help them develop plans to grow it along with their operations. Just stopping by a client’s office to say hello and catch up is the highlight of my day.
Why do small and medium-sized businesses need your help?
These are the businesses facing the most challenges today. From complying with health care regulations to worrying about competition, the environment is changing so rapidly for smaller businesses. On the one hand, that’s very exciting. On the other hand, there’s just too much going on sometimes.
We take a lot of the burden off our clients. They have a lot of anxiety about their IT, and we relieve them of it. If they’re just calling an independent IT vendor for repairs or new equipment, they’re working with somebody who’s reactive. Because we are proactive, we optimize solutions for them now, as well as map out what they need going forward. We give them the solutions they need to make their business operate better. We have clients who have been fine with their old vendor, but they’ve come on with us because they want to go to that next level, to have a partner.
How have you helped a customer dramatically improve the way their business functions?
Dealing with a crisis is the entry point to most of our clients. They’re usually working with somebody who isn’t looking at the whole picture, so they have a “pain moment” where something goes really wrong — and they are stuck. For example, we work with a law firm with about 30 attorneys, and their email was always going down. They called us; we went in and made some recommendations. What they had was something someone had set up in-house, and it was a mess. We moved their email accounts to a hosted format, and it’s working beautifully for them. We also manage a lot of their other needs now, and work with them practically day to day because when they add new users to their systems, we set all that up to make sure that it’s working properly.
What personality or values do you think are needed to succeed as a TeamLogic IT owner?
You must be pretty outgoing and really want to meet with people. You’ve got to be someone who likes to resolve problems and issues. You’ll be willing to go the extra mile to find solutions for your partners.
I also think that you’ve got to want to be out in the field, not just going to your office. You’ve got to get out to see existing clients and visit potential clients. Always have a target list, because these businesses are very busy and it’s hard to get in. Then once you do, be sure you follow up. That’s the only way you can be front of mind when they have a problem or need to talk to someone about IT needs.
How large is the opportunity for your business to grow?
The sky’s the limit. We have competition here, but we run into people every day who need our help. A lot of businesses here have “a guy,” or a vendor they’re not too happy or satisfied with, and they feel they can do better. We offer broader, deeper services than our competitors, and people are aware of that.
We will continue to go forward and help those folks who value that advisor/partner relationship, and we will grow our business alongside theirs.
How do the tools offered by corporate help you market your business and serve your customers?
I have built marketing campaigns my entire working career, and it was interesting to me that I needed help with that when we got going. But when you are running a business and building it up, that doesn’t come to mind right away. There is a tremendous benefit in the top-notch marketing that corporate puts out for us to use. The materials are excellent, with a great message, and they really help us pull in business.
We’ve also revamped our website, and I am pleased with the work that corporate is always doing to the main website. All the work around Google ads and SEO optimization is really paying off for us, and I’m pleased that corporate is paying attention to those things.
How helpful are other franchisees when you have questions? How do you work together?
When I talk to prospective franchise owners, I tell them that the best part of the whole network is what we are doing right there. TeamLogic IT is small business owners reaching out to others and getting the help they need. Somebody always has the answer, and you’re not alone. I’ve been taking advantage of the other owners since day one, and without exception they have been so helpful — even when I was asking dumb questions early on.
Would you recommend a TeamLogic IT franchise to someone else? Why?
Absolutely. It’s the intangibles, really. You can certainly make a boatload of money, but I like knowing that I have helped somebody grow his or her business, and at the same time have grown mine. I like knowing that my clients appreciate the results we get for them, and that they really like working with my team and me. That’s really what makes this worthwhile.