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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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News & Articles

June 24, 2024 |

MSP Franchising: How to Determine If It’s Right for You

IT services franchisors like NerdsToGo are on the lookout for recruits. But how can you determine if this business model is your best bet?

If Jim Howe has his way, it won’t be long before NerdsToGo managed services franchises are everywhere.

Howe, who took over as president of the IT services franchisor in 2021, wants to make the brand a go-to favorite for home offices and small businesses needing IT services.

Jim Howe of NerdsToGo on MSP franchising

Jim Howe

About 40 NerdsToGo franchises operate in places such as Chicago; Las Vegas; Tampa, FL; North Hampton, NH; and Guilford, CT. By year’s end, Howe expects to break the 50-location mark. The next milestone will be 100, after which Howe expects the floodgates will open as NerdsToGo franchises pop up everywhere.

“It’s taken some time to get all the systems and processes and place to really have a solid foundation for our franchisees,” said Howe.

The franchise model, though not terribly common in the managed services market, is not new to IT services. It has existed in the market since the 1980s, when names such as MicroAge and Intelligent Electronics started to appear. More recently, brands such as CMIT Solutions and Cinch have implemented the franchise model for MSPs.

But there are several things to consider if you’re trying to determine whether or not it is a fit for you.

Garner Support and Relationships

By going the franchise route, MSPs get guidance and support on setting budgets and goals for the business, shaping marketing programs, and tailoring their offerings for customers, said Howe.

NerdsToGo has a solid team in place to support franchisees, as well as a PSA platform, helpdesk support tools, vendor relationships, and marketing programs. Plus, there’s a host of best practices that franchisees can leverage to serve their customers, Howe explained.

NerdsToGo franchises provide clients with services such as data backup and recovery, wireless networking, new computer setup, maintenance and repair, cybersecurity, and small business remote IT support.

Paul Ongioni, NerdsToGo franchisee, on the benefits of MSP franchising

Paul Ongioni

Overcome the Barrier to Entry

Franchising may be an easier path of entry into IT services for newcomers. That’s what attracted Paul Ongioni, who runs a NerdsToGo franchise in downtown Chicago.

Franchising allowed him to leverage a proven business model with established technical and business resources and vendor relationships, he said. “I looked at the savings from having existing relationships with various vendors at a much lower rate than what I could get if I started a new MSP with no volume.”

Stand Out

How effective is franchising in a market that reveres specialization and uniqueness? It clearly has limitations, according to Shawn P. Walsh, partner and senior consultant with Encore Strategic.

Shawn Walsh, Shawn P. Walsh

Shawn P. Walsh

While franchising provides MSPs with standardization and best practices, it can be difficult for individual providers to stand out, he noted.

“No franchises are bringing a unique strategy. They are helping commoditize an industry that is already commoditized,” emphasized Walsh, a co-author of “The Pumpkin Plan for Managed Services: The Roadmap To MSP Prosperity.”

But Howe has a different take. The franchising model gives MSPs plenty of chances to stand out. It comes down to how you serve your customers, Howe said.

As a franchisor, NerdsToGo provides standardized business practices, but franchises can find their own niche, per Howe.

“Our job is to make sure our franchisees have a menu of programs and marketing support that they can take to the customer,” he said. “Each individual franchisee is going to interject their personality into the business.”

Be Prepared

Those thinking about franchising must do their homework, advised Ongioni. Consider your previous experience, how much you’ll save from tapping existing vendor relationships versus paying franchise royalties, and the effort and capital involved.

“A fair number of new franchisees think it’ll be easy since there’s an existing business model,” Ongioni said. “You still have to find your own business in your market. I called dozens of existing franchisees to get a good sense of the business.

“You are investing a large sum of money, so do your research.”

Image: iStock

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