Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drayton Mayers traveled the world for almost three decades, as an executive for agricultural trade groups, promoting U.S. food and cotton -- and as president and CEO for two of those concerns. He and his wife Martha even started their family abroad, in Hong Kong. But when Mayers got the yearning to seek other opportunities back home in Tennessee, a franchise consultant led him to a whole new sector: technology. In the three-and-a-half years since, Mayer has thrived as an owner of the internet technology franchise TeamLogic IT.
Name: Drayton Mayers
Franchise owned: TeamLogic IT, Memphis, Tennessee
How long have you owned a franchise?
I knew that I did not have the time, talent and treasure to create the technical, financial, marketing, sales and administrative systems required to meet the needs of my clients [for a nonfranchise business]. I also liked the idea of having a comparative advantage over my competition. Most competitor businesses are “homegrown.” My clients and engineers both tell me that our total service package is much better than our competitors'.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? I worked for three companies during my career. I was president and CEO for two of my employers. I spent 28 years travelling around the world developing international markets for U.S. food companies and for U.S. cotton, one of America’s largest exports. My wife Martha and I lived in Hong Kong for five years. We started our family there.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I love technology. It’s a strategic partner to an organization, not a necessary evil. I learned this the hard way during my first president/CEO position. I quickly became an early adopter of technology and used it to grow and manage international businesses.
TeamLogic IT was a natural fit. More importantly, Martha and I were impressed by its model and inspired by its culture. We also liked the fact that Franchise Services, Inc. (the owner of TeamLogic IT, Inc.) had been very successful launching other franchise concepts in the managed-print space, namely, Sir Speedy & PIP printing. Finally, we liked the fact that Franchise Services, Inc. does not own any offices or print centers. This means it is totally focused on supporting franchisees -- like me!
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent $40,000 for my franchise fee; $6,000 for legal fees (to become a C Corp, and to create a new defined benefit plan, a refined employee handbook, etc.); $3,000 for travel and per diem -- training and the company's "discovery day." I also spent time learning what it takes to be a business owner, researching franchising opportunities and validating finalists. But the value was. . . priceless!
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My wife and I worked with Anna Wilds, an executive franchise consultant at Franchise Locators, to determine whether or not business ownership and franchising was the right path for us to pursue. She was a superb coach and guide. She quickly developed an excellent rapport with Martha and me and earned our trust. Anna is organized, efficient and extremely competent. I also used relevant web sites like Entrepreneur, Franchise Business Review and Blue Mau Mau.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Finding the right staff. We are a team of people -- not just a bundle of technologies. Having the right mix of experience, professional skills, competencies and the right soft skills is critical. The quality of my engineers is the secret behind our success.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Measure twice, cut once. Beware of frauds. . . one company that sold web, SEO and search engine marketing distributorships tried to "hard-close" me. They wanted me to sign a post-dated check for $65,000 and a post-dated contract during my discovery day, so I could “quickly start training”! Very dodgy! I started working with Anna immediately after that debacle. So [my advice is], invest the right amount, and do not start an undercapitalized business. Trust the system provided by the franchisor. Have realistic expectations. Remember: You, not your franchisor, are responsible for your success. Hire right!
What’s next for you and your business?
To continue to exceed our clients' expectations by achieving their outcomes, not my own.