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Walmart, NEW Talk Installation Program

The retailer and third-party installer network discuss the venture.


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Will Walmart TV Installations Catch On?
Walmart is now installing TVs, PCs, and home theaters, charging $99 for a basic TV installation $399 for a premium TV service. How big of a market is there for this? And…
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When specialty audio/video installers learned that Walmart and Sam’s Club began rolling out an “HDTV and home office installation” program to 3,600 stores, it spurred some questions.

The biggest ones:
  • Can a big-box retailer handle installation?
  • How will the company’s massive reach affect relatively small CE companies?
First of all, Walmart doesn’t intend to handle installation, explains spokesperson Melissa O’Brien. “We aren’t in the business of installation; we’re in the business of retail,” she says.

Dave Tovissi, meanwhile, has been in the installation business for years. As senior director of delivery and installation for Walmart partner NEW Customer Service Companies, he’s the guy in charge of making sure Walmart installations work.

Tovissi was vice president of custom design and engineering for Sound Advice, a Florida-based 33-store specialty chain. When Sound Advice was acquired by Tweeter, he was retained to run the entire company’s installation department.

After Tweeter, Tovissi was president of Criteria, a Dania Beach, Fla.-based custom installation company.

So, if he’s a custom installation guy, why is he working with Walmart?

NEW Approach


NEW has actually been working with Walmart for years providing extended service plans for the retailer. It partners with other retailers as well as manufacturers.

Tovissi says NEW saw an opportunity to build a network of professional installation providers across the country that it could manage on behalf of its retail clients, but he acknowledges that custom installers don’t necessarily warm up to the idea.

“When you’re a small, independent and you feel you have a premium service, you kind of pooh-pooh the networks that are out there because [you feel] nobody can do it as well as you,” he says. “But the industry has evolved. Whether people are buying products online or from Walmart, the level of installation that’s required to do it shouldn’t change.”

Brian Hertia, director of delivery and installation service management, maintains that NEW has high standards for its network of 11,000 installers. He says they are certified, but he can’t make a blanket statement about types of certification because installers are enlisted to do different things.

“There’s no rubber stamping,” says Hertia, adding that everybody is licensed and/or certified for what they are assigned to do.





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Article Topics

News · Big-Box Retailers · Best Buy · Big-box Retailers · Installation · Walmart · New Customer Service Companies · All topics

About the Author

Tom LeBlanc, Senior Writer/Technology Editor, CE Pro
Tom has been covering consumer electronics for six years. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Now, as senior writer/technology editor of CE Pro magazine since 2003, he dabbles in all departments and offers expertise in marketing. Follow him on Twitter @leblanctom.

10 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by AVguy1080  on  11/17  at  11:07 AM

I worked extensively with NEW in my last job as Retail Operations Manager for a pretty large national retailer (over 800 stores). My experience with them was AWFUL. I never had so many customer complaints in my life regarding warranty repairs that take forever, multiple call centers that only handle specific regions, so if you call thr wrong one, you get transfered around 5 times, lost repairs, etc. And good luck if you misplaced any paperwork and don’t have your warranty number.

This was a couple years ago and I am sure my old company’s somewhat convoluded operating procedures didn’t help, but the only good thing I can say about NEW was I had a really good account manager who immediately tried to help track down problem solutions. Other than that, I thought this company was horrific to work with. We lost a lot of customers and a lot of revenue from people turning down warranties on future purchases.

Posted by AV Pro  on  11/17  at  04:27 PM

Does anyone know how much NEW pays AV installers for their work?

Posted by FRR@AS  on  11/17  at  04:36 PM

Yes, outsourcing was so successful for Best Buy they had to start their own installation division.

Posted by JamesCarlson  on  11/17  at  06:16 PM

If I was Zip, I would sue the you know what out of these copy cats.  I was a skeptic at first of the model that Zip uses, I had pretty negative comments when you wrote an article about them last year.  But, I would now say that 20 some odd percent of my business is because of them now and I would like to grow it more if they can provide more work.  I stopped by my local Wal-mart tonight to see this and everything I saw was ripped off from Zip.  Wow…I guess it takes all kinds, you should be ashamed of yourselves….  James w/ Innovative Audio Systems

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/17  at  08:07 PM

James, it’s all about the implementation. Hopefully some dealers will chime in about the difference b/w Zip and NEW/Walmart if you’re doing both.

Posted by Doc Rings  on  11/18  at  12:43 AM

If the installer can’t do ANY upselling, how in the world can they even recommend a service menu level calibration to even make the monitor look good?

Just mount it, turn it on and walk away?

I think most consumers would be interested in seeing a standardized list of options that could be available through NEW, e.g.:
1) video calibration of all monitor input channels
2) audio calibration
3) universal remote programming & training
4) networking of HTPC and gaming machines with media file sharing/networking bewteen PS3, XBOX, PC
5) Personal DVR installation/setup

That would be a “win-win” for everyone, and consumers would benefit without the hard-sell… just a brochure, perhaps, with options and consumer benefits of such.  The consumer can always say “no” or “I’ll call you later when the budget allows”, with no pressure.

Just brain-storming as a consumer,

  Doc

Posted by Chris  on  11/18  at  06:38 AM

If you’re interested in being a hanger ‘n’ banger, then this is a great opportunity. If you’re an actual CI, then this is a bad deal. Their premium install service at Wal-Mart is $349. That includes mounting, concealed wiring, and hookup of 2 additional components. At best, you’re going to get $200, most likely less. I’d guess about 50% of my TV hangs encounter horizontal studs/blocking. At $200, I would lose money on that job. And a guaranteed no upsell? I don’t see the upside.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/18  at  06:47 AM

Doc, my understanding is that they CAN upsell, but the proceeds are split between installer and Walmart, with installer getting the bulk of the sale.

Posted by Tom LeBlanc  on  11/18  at  06:54 AM

I was told that they can’t initiate an up-sell. However, if the customer asks about a feature or a service they can explain it and close the sale ... then they call the office and have the up-sell added to the original ticket.

Posted by davenport  on  11/18  at  06:23 PM

I equate this shift in low-end CI to somebody that doesn’t recycle.  Tossing everything in the trash doesn’t really make a difference on their daily life; but if everyone properly disposes of their trash the world is a better place.  These mass install companies wouldn’t survive without desperate CIs fueling the commoditization of our industry.  However, companies will line up so that they can eat and pay bills.  We can all pretend that these Wal-Mart customers are not our customers, but it is simply not true.  Our ideal customers are being lured into Best Buy, Costco and Wal-Mart more than ever before.  Customers that would appreciate a more professional service are being shortchanged because they will become conditioned to expect only what the big boxes have to offer.  No matter what their PR hype says about independents thinking that they are superior, the outsourced chain services cannot compare the level of detail and personal attention that many of us offer.

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