If I Were Launching an MSP Now: TeamLogic IT’s Frank Picarello Says It’s Wise to Franchise
This week, we sat down with Frank Picarello, the COO of Mission Viejo-based TeamLogic IT. Frank comes at this with a rather unique perspective, as TeamLogic is an MSP franchisor, providing managed IT services to local businesses through its franchises. Not a model you hear about a lot, but it’s gaining traction.
Having run managed-service companies in the past and now working within the franchise industry, Frank has the advantage seeing things from both viewpoints. Of course, he favors the franchise route, but draws comparisons between the two models and shares his insights on what new MSPs should keep in mind while building their businesses.
He asks that you at least consider the franchise model.
1. Consider the franchise model. No, really, consider it.
The franchise model is an option to consider because it aims to improve and perfect what’s already built, taking a lot of the guesswork and risk out of the equation. From a business-development standpoint, it’s a structured way to bring a dynamic business to market.
“We go to market differently than any large managed service provider,” says Picarello. “There is a commonality in what we do in terms of services and offerings, the market space we serve, the technology companies we partner with, methodologies, etc. But how we do it is quite different.”
The “how” is franchising.
“We have a road map for where we’re going,” says Picarello. “We do a lot of market research around business needs, social trends and other important information. When starting a new MSP, it is really nice, sometimes imperative, to have that to leverage. With TeamLogic IT, we get to tap into the experience of about 150 owners/businesses. It’s a powerful model from that perspective.”
2. Do not compromise on people. Don’t do it.
We tend to get overly enamored with the “stuff” of business, such as the technology, the service offerings, the tools, the automation and best practices. But at the end of the day, it’s a people business, and that should be one of the primary focuses of any MSP.
Your reputation will reflect the integrity, ethics and overall personality of your business, which is driven by the people who run it. This goes hand in hand with building and growing a strong local brand.
“When starting out, the people are the primary objective,” says Picarello. “Put that before anything else. Start out with a smaller facility, use less electricity, eat ramen noodles, whatever you have to do. Do not compromise on the people.”
3. Managing customer relationships is paramount.
Managing accounts and customer relationships may seem like an obvious one, but here’s the thing — you have to do it better than the other guys. So many companies will be offering the same services and doing the exact same thing you are, so as cliché as this may sound, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
How MSPs foster relationships with their customers can have a huge impact on their prospects, reputation and growth opportunities. Offering great service is a solid first step, but you have to dig deeper than that. You must provide something extra, something that adds additional value. Offering services that go above and beyond base product features and functions will most certainly set you apart from the herd.
“We’re in a customer business,” says Picarello. “Go out and seek your technologies and tools, but never take your eye off the prize.”
Frank Picarello joined TeamLogic IT in 2013 to expand the technology road map for TeamLogic IT. He started his career with IBM Global Services then held senior level management positions with MicroAge, Nortel Networks and All Covered. Most recently he ran his own managed services consulting company and held the position of COO at CMIT Solutions. Picarello has extensive expertise in managed services, business operations, sales and innovation.