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Geek Squad Takes Over Best Buy’s Home Theater Installs

Consumer electronics and home theater installations now under the Geek Squad brand.

Geek Squad's brand momentum continues to grow inside Best Buy, as it has become the home theater/consumer electronics installation arm for "big blue."

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.

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Article Topics

News · Big-Box Retailers · Big-box Retailers · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

10 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Shawn Smith  on  03/25  at  09:28 AM

What does this mean for the Magnolia Home Theater® group at Best Buy?

Posted by Shawn Smith  on  03/25  at  09:29 AM

Can Best Buy last new construction installation business longer then CompUSA and Circuit City?

Posted by Lee Distad  on  03/25  at  09:56 AM

If I can speak somewhat irreverantly, despite what Best Buy’s marketing department wants to communicate about Geek Squad’s commitment to diversity in their employment practices, what percentage of Geek Squad’s installer force are serious, determined looking minority women (with great hair), like the one pictured?

I’m all for diversity, sure, but I have trouble reconciling the image they’re presenting with my perceptions about the Geek Squad.

Posted by kevin  on  03/25  at  10:00 AM

I just fixed a mess best buy did in a house yesterday. there installers couldn’t even fish a simple wall for rears. they ran the fronts in a hvac   duct. the tv wires also were in hvac return. Custom shops have nothing to fear.

Posted by audioandnetartist  on  03/25  at  10:15 AM

we are from Puerto Rico can you do a research of how is going to be in PR, we have other facts as concrete walls thats a challenge and knowledge of costumers wish is extremely different based on systems and design, we have to deal with those guys do that we are 100x35 island huu,

Posted by Shawn Smith  on  03/25  at  12:03 PM

I bet they didn’t run “plenum” rated cables through the HVAC ducts.  They probably didn’t even run CL (in-wall) rated cables.

Posted by audioandnetartist  on  03/25  at  12:30 PM

I went to best buy store in PR, see whats the deal and i saw a mini theater with av furniture and seatings they don’t run in wall rated cables, dint see neither do a nice neat cable termination in their wall that use datacomm wish you have to drill in case of concrete wall and place metal box, i think that the services here in PR will have to much develop due to challenges

Posted by Danny  on  03/25  at  05:54 PM

I was told from a friend that he saw on the news about turning down the voltage from your TV. I own a 60” Sony Vega and a Sony Bravia 42”. He mentioned anything over 30” pulled a lot of voltage and Geek Squad could help me with this, true or not?

Posted by Robert Archer  on  03/26  at  07:14 AM

You can’t “turn” the voltage down on a TV. Televisions have power supplies that can handle variations in voltages, but these voltage swings aren’t healthy for any electronic devices. Voltage regulators/power conditioners/surge protectors help to correct these problems and Best Buy and Geek Squad offer these products.
Large CRT TVs and plasmas do draw more current than LCD TVs and because of the growing green trend many people are opting to buy LCDs because they can save electricity.
The only devices that I know that can consistently handle under voltages are tube-based guitar amps. Products like variacs attenuate the voltages to the amp. Eddie Van Halen created his “brown” sound by running a variac with his amps to create under voltages.

Posted by Lee Distad  on  03/26  at  07:28 AM

Robert Archer is dead on in his answer.  The news report on “turning down the voltage” was at best a misinterpretation of the need to scale back the brightness on a new set, or at worst, the sort of well meaning but completely fictitious nonsense put forward by a badly trained kid at a big box store.  If the latter, it would rival the advice I was given by a clerk when I was doing a secret shop that I would have to have the plasma in my set “recharged” every year or so, much like a fire extinguisher.  I still laugh about that, years later.

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