Geek Squad Takes Over Best Buy’s Home Theater Installs
Consumer electronics and home theater installations now under the Geek Squad brand.
If a customer goes to the Best Buy Web site or visits a brick-and-mortar store seeking home theater installation, he is directed to Geek Squad. Previously, Geek Squad installers only handled computer repair and other IT networking services for Best Buy.
The move may put Best Buy/Geek Squad in a prime position for forging national installation deals with large production builders.
On the Best Buy and Geek Squad Web sites, a menu of installation options is presented. Each one has a brief description of the service provided and a price (the Web site includes the caveat that prices may vary based on region).
The range of services starts with a basic in-home consultation ($100) to different levels of flat-panel mounting ($300 to $500) to home theater set-up ($200).
The services also include TV recycling ($100), speaker mounting, front projector mounting ($600), remote control programming ($150 to $300), wire runs ($125 for under 100 feet), ISF calibration ($300) and more.
Hybrids and integrators may scoff, but the fact that the company does have ISF-trained personnel on staff points to how seriously it is taking this venture.
The company has created a "Home Theater Installation Unit" and even has a "5-Point Home Theater Installation Pledge" that says it will always:
- Perform the work to your satisfaction.
- Work with your schedule.
- Teach you to use your system.
- Respect your home as if it were our own.
- Remedy any defect in workmanship for up to 1 year.
According to Robert Stephens, chief inspector for Geek Squad, company technicians are the "plumbers of the IT industry. We are at the bottom rung," and he says that is exactly where the company wants to be.
Does that same positioning apply for home theater? Yes.
During his keynote address at the EHX Fall in Long Beach, Calif., last November, Stephens told attendees that he sees Geek Squad being "a feeder" for the custom installation industry.
"The dream of the Geek Squad installer is to work for you someday," he says.
The 5-Point Pledge is not accidental. Stephens says he has heard over and over that one of the best qualities of his company is that the technicians show up on time, return phone calls, and "don't smell bad."
He says that 95 percent of the company's business is referral.
"All small companies want to grow in size, profit and reputation, while all large companies want to be more nimble," he says. Stephens believes getting employees motivated is the best way to achieve those goals.
"When you are a small entrepreneur, you can eat lunch in the lunchroom with all your employees and influence them. But when you are larger, you need to have leverage. Who has the most leverage in the industry? Best Buy."
Geek Squad, which has been around 16 years now and part of Best Buy for the past eight years, has built an almost cult-like following among its own employees and consumers.
Stephens believes technology has become the major influencer of people's opinions. He cited Wikipedia and YouTube as examples of how people use technology to influence others because the information on those Web sites is populated by users, not corporations.
As for the future, he does not believe the A/V installation business can be franchised, nor does he believe venture capitalists should get involved in this business.
"Watch what happens with Target because that's what Best Buy is going to do," he says, adding that Best Buy will be "swimming upstream" in its offerings.