We talked to Tony Ricciardi of Templeton Group on how its technicians is offering full Apple support companies during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Tony Ricciardi: We are doing as well as can be imagined, following guidelines, and being as cautious as possible. Lots of handwashing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Templeton Group.
Tony Ricciardi: In 1997, I was working for a technology consulting company in New York City. I was part of a small department that concentrated on Apple’s support and solutions for businesses. At some point in early 1998, the company executives came to us and explained that they didn’t have any faith in the Apple platform moving forward, and they wanted to disband the department. We were told to go to our clients and explain to them that we would be winding down support and would be releasing them from their contracts. As we explained this to each client, they responded by asking us if we could continue to support them on our own, in our free time, weekends, etc.
I quickly realized that these companies had made significant investments in Apple technology, and they had come to rely on us. The company I worked for began to downsize the department as they said they would, and I was let go. I met with the others in the department, and we decided as a group that we were going to leave together and continue to support those clients on our own. The Templeton Group was formed and began operating within two weeks. Of the 15 clients, we had been working with, 12 of them came with us to Templeton. 7 of them are still with us today, 23 years later.
How does Templeton Group innovate?
Tony Ricciardi: As a technology consulting firm, we always need to be aware of the latest technology solutions that might benefit our clients in some way. In that same regard, I am perpetually looking for solutions that might help me better manage my business and provide tools to my staff that will make their jobs easier. Every morning I spend at least an hour reviewing the tech news from the last day, including any new hardware or software that might be relevant to our work.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Tony Ricciardi: COVID-19 presented us with some significant challenges. Nearly all of our clients made the tough decision to close their offices and have their employees work primarily from home. This required a tremendous amount of preparation and strategic planning to ensure that they all had the tools and services they required to perform their jobs from home. It also presented us with additional challenges in terms of support. We would be unable to support our clients in person as we normally would, so we needed to rely almost exclusively on remote support options.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Tony Ricciardi: I did have to make some difficult choices regarding some of our clients who were impacted at far higher levels than others. We work with several casting agencies who, because of the Broadway shutdown, had literally zero income for now and the foreseeable future. We made the decision to provide them with hours of pro bono work to help ease the burden of what they were dealing with. I felt good about the decision then and still do now. Even though it hurt our bottom line, I knew I made the right decision when one of those casting agents called me and tearfully explained how much she appreciated what we were doing.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Templeton Group in the future?
Tony Ricciardi: I deal with stress as I always have, through some basic meditation. I’ve been using two different meditation apps daily for years, and I find they help keep me balanced and focused. Some good Scotch helps too!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Tony Ricciardi: Our competitors tend to be more generic support companies that offer broad IT Support services that also include Apple support. We have always and will always focus exclusively on Apple technology. I believe that gives us a significant advantage over a lot of our competitors who simply dabble in Apple technology. It’s the difference between going to a Diner that happens to serve Steak or going to a Steakhouse that serves it all day long and has for years.
Your final thoughts?
Tony Ricciardi: COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we do business and has changed the way we have to approach our clients. The entire work model will be different, moving forward, and our clients will be relying more and more on cloud-based services, remote technology, and collaboration tools. Previously these technologies were helpful in them getting their work done. Now they have become essential. Supporting these services and the people who use them will always be a critical part of any business, and we will always be there to help.