GEEKS ON CALL: Franchisee Applauds HQ Move

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Wed, Oct 14 - 1:54 pm EDT | 5 years ago by
Comments: 9
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geek squad_featComments posted here and on Unhappy Franchisee reported that the franchisor of Geeks on Call had closed the corporate office.  (Read GEEKS ON CALL: Latest Franchise Rumors, Allegations, GEEKS ON CALL: Franchise HQ Closed?)

Shep Bostin, Chairman, Geeks On Call Franchise Advisory Council and Franchise Owner and Managing Geek, Montgomery and Frederick Counties in Maryland, quickly posted a comment that there was nothing suspicious or negative about the office closing, that it was both pre-announced and a responsible cost-cutting measure.

Shep Bostin wrote:

The comments above, which may very well be from the same person under a variety of pseudonyms, are almost certainly from disgruntled franchise owner(s). While these people may have good reasons to be disgruntled, their comments about the office move contain innuendo, conjecture, and just plain falsehoods.

Geeks On Call did not move in the “darkness of night”. They moved on a Sunday evening because that’s the only night that the call center is not open until midnight. They also announced the move to their franchisees days before it was made. The address of their new offices was also announced, and a couple of franchisees have already visited them there. Since they have only a handful of full time (other than call center) staff, they no longer need the expansive digs on Kempsville Road and, with a greatly reduced income stream, can’t afford to keep them anyway. Moving the computer systems actually improved the reliability of the system since the computers are now in a facility with 24/7 monitoring and redundant connectivity and power – all of which were extremely costly to provide in the old office.

The move is the same sort of cost-cutting effort that many companies have engaged in during the recent economic downturn, which is why commercial real estate companies are hurting. It doesn’t mean GOC is closing their doors. Rather, it is precisely the kind of move that wise franchisees applaud because it keeps more operating funds focused on building our businesses than paying rent.

I’m confident that Geek Expert / Dick Artese / X Geek Stockholder will post some long-winded, manic reply to this message, but at least his version of events will not stand as the only “truth” posted to the Internet on this topic.

Sincerely,
Shep Bostin, Chairman, Geeks On Call Franchise Advisory Council
Franchise Owner and Managing Geek,
Montgomery and Frederick Counties in Maryland
1-800-905-GEEK – http://www.geeksoncall.com

P.S. Unlike the other commenters above, I am courageous enough to share my name.

Geeks on Call news, rumors, opinions and comments continue to come in regarding this once-promising and now-troubled franchise company.  The comments below appeared recently on Franchise Pick blog posts Geeks On Call (GOCHE) Troubles Deepen and GEEKS ON CALL: Franchisee Geeks Squeal on Papa Geek. (Also read Geeks on Call Franchisees Sue Struggling Franchisor & Geeks On Call Franchisees Allege Their Franchisor is Breaking Law.)

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH GEEKS ON CALL OR RICHARD COLE?  SHARE A COMMENT BELOW!

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  • Michael Vanderslice

    I too applaud the move to virtual offices if it will make Geeks On Call and its franchisees more profitable and successful. Utilizing data centers for IT infrastructure and telephony is an attractive solution that wasn’t as viable just 5 years ago. I have consulted with and guided several companies towards virtual call center environments over the past few years with great success. The benefits of these actions have allowed these companies to hire qualified talent without regard to their location, improved service and response time to customers, and reduced overheard.

    While I don’t agree with the direction that Geeks On Call has taken since I left the company almost 4 years ago or like seeing the results from these decisions, I do agree with the decision to move to a virtual work environment that will allow the company to be more nimble and competitive. Hopefully this and other strategic initiatives will help the company return to the success it experienced between 2001 and 2006 when over 350 franchise locations were granted or operating and the company was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as the best new franchise concept of the past 5 years.

    In closing I’d like too say that franchise partners like Shep Bostin should be commended for speaking their minds since honest and constructive feedback between the franchisee and franchise parent company (and vice versa) are critical to the success of a franchise system.

    Michael Vanderslice
    Former VP of Operations at Geeks On Call
    2001 – 2006

    • Tech’s Tek

      They should have kept the helpdesk that was put into place in 2003. That was the beginnig of teh virtual office era. We provided many techs and clients with top notch help that made GOC succesful before the fall. They shoudl have taken our lead years ago and not let us go.

  • Thankful Ex-Geek

    Seriously, Geeks On Call franchise is a joke at this point. Stock is delisted and worth no more than toilet paper. Corporate HQ is cannibalizing its own franchisees who made the company a success to save own hide. How many franchisees are there left? Of those left, how many are happy and making money? There had to be a good reason why many franchisees failed or sued to leave the system, it’s not a coincidence or freak accident.

  • Ex-Geek

    As an x-employee of GOC I saw first hand the mismanagement of the companies rescourses. Trips that were extravagant and un-needed, personal expenses being charged to corperate credit cards. Bonuses paid to executives when the company was not paying its bills or providing promised raises to its hard working employees. Collection agencies calling all day requesting payment arrangments only to be ignored or lied to about payment. Vendors promised payment and then no payments being rendered and then having the vendor refuse to do business with Geeks.

    In the middle, the franchsie owners, who I am sure felt frustrated. They were being told time and time again that things would turn around. Owners while towing the company line and standing up for the good public image were certanly expressing real consern over the management of the headquarters.

    It was a very smart move to cut the expensive overhead of an office they didn’t need. (whether they were forced to move or not) If the technology is there to have people tele-commute then by all means do it. I hope that there is a real and possitive change in the minds and hearts of the executive staff. If the same folks are there that were a few years ago they can’t be there for the money. Geeks used to be a really good idea that can work if everyone is headed in the same direction, good service at a good price led by good leadership.

  • http://www.geeksoncall.com who didnt see this coming

    Here is a letter from Richard Cole notifying owners that the company’s assets including name, number, customers and franchise agreements were taken over by its largest secured creditor. Stay tuned for the email from their new CEO.

    From: Richard Cole [mailto:richard@geeksoncall.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 4:30 PM
    Subject: Geeks On Call America

    To Staff Members and Franchise Partners;

    Over the past several months our team at Geeks On Call America (the wholly
    owned operating subsidiary of Geeks On Call Holdings) has weathered many
    storms trying to chart a new course for the Company. Everyone has worked
    hard and made sacrifices so that we might keep the business running.

    Unfortunately, our country is living through the worst economy of our time.
    Although we have tried to raise the capital necessary to satisfy our debts
    and to keep the business running we have been unable to do so. Our debt
    financing included a bank loan secured by the assets of Geeks on Call
    America. It has become impossible for Geeks on Call America to service that
    debt and it is currently in default. The bank, which is the largest
    secured creditor of Geeks On Call America, recently informed us that they
    have assigned their right to enforce and collect the debt to a company
    called On Call Holdings International, L.L.C.

    On October 23rd, 2009 On Call Holdings International, L.L.C. notified us
    that they intend to foreclose on and take possession of the assets of Geeks
    On Call America, Inc. in accordance with the security agreement that pledged
    the assets as collateral for the company’s debt. The foreclosed collateral
    includes the registered name and all of the trademarks, brand rights,
    franchise agreements and other assets of Geeks On Call America. Without
    these assets, Geeks on Call will be forced to cease operations.

    In order to minimize the disruption to our franchisees and customers, Geeks
    on Call America has agreed to cooperate with On Call Holdings repossession
    of the collateral. By facilitating an orderly transition, we hope that On
    Call Holdings will continue to service our former franchisees and customers.

    Effective immediately, On Call Holdings International L.L.C. will take
    possession of the assets and operations of Geeks On Call (the brand) and all
    services including call center services, services to franchise partners and
    services to customers.

    We have been told that On Call Holdings International intends to continue
    the operations of Geeks On Call and that you will receive separate
    communications directly from them regarding future operations.

    We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this may cause and hope that you
    will be able to keep the Geeks on Call name alive.

    It has been my pleasure to work with and know all of you. I wish you all
    success in life and business.

    You have my warmest personal regards,

    Richard T. Cole

  • http://www.geeksoncall.com who didnt see this coming

    Here is an email from new CEO Glenn DAvis of OnCall Holdings International who appears to now own all of Geeks on Call’s assets.

    To All Franchise Partners and Staff of Geeks On Call,

    I’d like to introduce myself to all of you and tell you a little about what is going on with Geeks On Call. My name is Glenn Davis and I am the CEO of On Call Holdings International, L.L.C. My Company recently acquired a promissory note that was secured by the assets of Geeks On Call Holdings, Inc. Those assets include all of the operations of Geeks On Call America, Inc. and all franchise agreements, accounts, inventory, equipment, systems, customers, etc. Prior to my acquiring the note, the bank had notified Geeks On Call that they were in default under the obligations of the note. After determining that Geeks On Call would be unable to cure its default we proposed that Geeks On Call America surrender all of the assets of the Company in complete satisfaction of its note. Geeks On Call America has agreed to these terms and we have taken possession of the Company’s assets.

    On its own, Geeks On Call has lacked the resources and capabilities to reach its full potential. We made the decision to acquire the note, and ultimately were willing to accept the assets of the Company in satisfaction of the note because we see potential in the synergies between our companies. On Call Holdings brings additional resources and skills as well as new services, all aimed at growing the Geeks on Call brand and in turn the franchise owners business.

    For now we are carefully overseeing the day to day operations of the Geeks On Call organization and of the services provided to you and our customers, which will continue as usual. The Call Center is fully operational and all of your systems and data are secure. Revenue submission and drafting of royalties as well as marketing and advertising will continue as usual.

    Over the next several weeks, I will be communicating with you on a regular basis regarding the future of the Geeks On Call brand and the services provided to the franchise partners. I fully expect to get to know each of you as we work together to help grow your business.

    Please be patient as we do what is necessary to complete this transition.

    I look forward to talking with each of you directly in the future. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Glenn R. Davis, CEO
    On Call Holdings International, L.L.C.
    GDavis@oncallholdings.com

  • http://www.geeksoncall.com Who R they kidding

    Who are these guys kidding? They let this guy Davis foreclose on their company with Telkonet and Inovaone present on the board at a fire sale and they are helping him with a nice transition? Does that sound like the Richard Cole anyone else knows?

    No Chapter 11 filing; no attempt at all to hold on or stretch it out in hopes of paying the note? Who do they think is stupid enough not to see this is an end around their stock holders, creditors, litigants and possibly their few remaining franchise owners?

    They secured their only assets to a loan no one knew about that could be purchased by some guy with a company that only did $2.3M in revenue in 2007 when their 2 largest franchise owners that were put out of business to save their own paychecks did $3.2M alone the previous year?

    I would love to hear this change of management is legit but the loan sold to Davis was from the same bank where their buddy and long time Geek Doug Glenn works who just resigned from their board. What are the chances of that?

    Someone needs to look at the money trail or some connection between Davis and Geeks on Call executives besides his COMVERGE website previously listing Geeks on Calls as customers before the big announcement.

    One thing to also note is that GOCA was heard to be purchasing CDs in excess of $500K each in 2005 while its assets were still tied to RTC Enterprises. I do not recall ever seeing these CDs listed in the assets of the public company. These CDs were said to be purchased from the same bank where Doug Glenn now works and where his wife has been a director for years.

    Something sounds very fishy in Norfolk and I urge all creditors, franchise owners and stock holders to contact the proper governing offices to protect their claim to these assets.

  • http://www,geeksoncall.com R U Kidding?

    How can anyone commend something it appears they had no choice but to do? Weren’t they just being sued by their landlord in Norfolk for back rents last month? Did they have any choice but to run the business now from their homes and virtual offices like many of their remaining franchise owners?

    I question why this was not done way before they lost their largest and most successful franchise owners who were probably paying the highest royalties and advertising fees ever seen in franchising? Why was the model not adjusted before since few if any of their owners were making money and very upset? Why wait after closing Washington DC, Chicago, Portland, KC, Boston, NY and Phoenix? I know there has been more but these are the biggest and brightest I could think of.

    How many owners are left? How many total franchises are open? Did the executives take a cut in those high salaries and bonuses or did they just keep taking away from the business presence and services their owners rely on? It seems to be a free fall from the 350 units they advertise; why wait until you have 50 or so left to make the necessary changes when many in the system already knew what needed to be done.

    Why do you think they could not sell franchises anymore? Why could they not run company owned stores under the same restraints/conditions as their franchise owners? It appears few if any owners were making any money unless they bought a few territories in someone elses fire sale and were now the only ones left in their region.

    I do not think the virtual offices will help the franchisees except to keep the corporate entity out of bankruptcy if the money saved is not used to bring more calls to their owners or provide them with better services. If the money saved in the transition just goes to executive bonuses or high salaries how will this help? I guess we could monitor their SEC filings to see where the savings goes if they were not trading in Pink Sheets.

    Hopefully there is a plan in place to reduce the 11% royalty that was primarily there to pay for a call center, salaries and office space they no longer appear to have. Hopefully they will not wait to reduce the royalties after the rest of their owners have fled or went bankrupt.

    Good luck to the rest of the franchise owners who are left and continue to struggle. You always have options. Hopefully they will not be running the business from their cars next year.

  • Not Richard Cole

    I reject this explanation – and knew it was going to get explained away like this! GOC is not just another victim of these bad economic times – It failed because of poor inattentive management – and would have failed despite a great economy.

    I cry “bullshit”.

    How much of Mr. Coles, Mr. Artese et al personal assests were tied up in and lost with this little experiemnt of playing company? I bet not much if any – and they made a bundle off of inflated salaries over the last few years – and bonuses for NOT performing.