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The PCologist
03-01-2010, 04:40 PM
Back in NOV03 I attended The North American Conference on Customer Management in Orlando, FL. One of the most memorable speakers from this conference was Robert Stephens, the founder of The Geek Squad.

His speech, "Geek Squad Case Study: Differentiating Yourself By Staging A Customer Experience" explores how he started The Geek Squad and gives a peek into how and why he made his business stand out from his competitors.

Regardless of how we feel about this company, there are valuable marketing lessons to be learned from Stephens' story that can be applied to our own businesses.

I would like to share an audio recording from this event for anyone that's interested.

http://www.mediafire.com/?2oqmkimtmml

I hope you find something of value here that can help improve your own business. :)

-Craig

callthatgirl
03-02-2010, 03:01 AM
Well, I was going to download it, but then I realized why I got into this business...to do the opposite of what "those guys do" (aka...my referring partners)...so I stopped.

GS is doing everything wrong, they were good when they were just a small Minneapolis business. Now they are just robbing people. It's sad to hear the stories to be honest.

I was told by a client today, "you may want to raise your prices" :eek: after comparing my quotes...

Here was his problem: "Open with" was popping up for anything he tried to do.

GS, they said $200 to bring it in, $100 to fix. :eek:

One of my local competitors "$150 an hour, 3-4 hours" :eek:

Me "You have a virus, I can do it for $75"

I told him to call around and get quotes and he did and decided to wait for me to be available (as I'm on 'vacation'). I squeezed him in today and figured that a system restore was a best option, then I can do a virus cleaning and throw in a computer cleaning too.

That worked, and now we booked his next appt for later this week. He was thrilled.

I told him that I have fair market prices!

btw...this is the 2nd "open with" I have seen this past week....I don't really know if it's a virus, but it's very suspicious...the first pc in the shop, the owner opted to just get a refurbed computer as his jack was all messed up too.

The PCologist
03-02-2010, 06:29 AM
I understand why you feel the way you do about Geek Squad because I feel the same way. But does that mean we cannot learn from them? I think you are missing the point here. This speech was given almost 6.5 years ago shortly after they were purchased by Best Buy. At the time they were only in 6 cities and just starting to expand nationwide.

This speech has nothing to do with overcharging, providing inferior service, Agent Johny Utah, stealing data (porn) from customers, or any of the other underhanded stuff that gives them such a bad name in tech circles these days.

This is about a guy, having dropped out of college twice, pouncing at the chance to turn the boring world of computer repair on its head. Instead of marketing his small business the same way all the other repair shops did, he created a unique brand, and focused on providing memorable experiences for his customers. He made computer repair "fun". It doesn't matter if he ran a repair shop or a doughnut factory. He was an innovator by creating and marketing his brand in a way that had not been done before. It's hard to deny that he must have been doing something right with his business back in the day. Not everyone gets a chance to take their small business national on the back of a well known big box store.

If it makes any difference, this was NOT a tech convention. It was a customer service convention focused on putting the customer at the heart of your business. Stephens shared the same stage (well, there were actually a few stages) that week with Seth Goden, Tim Sanders, Stephen Covey, Tom Peters, and a host of other well known leaders in the world of business.

Listen to it...or not - that is your choice. I'm not trying to stick this down anyone's throat. I just wanted to share what I felt was something that could inspire, motivate, and challenge us to improve our businesses by providing greater service to our customers.

Lisa, believe it or not...there are a few similarities between YOUR business and the Geek Squad of old. And, I mean that as a compliment.

-Craig

callthatgirl
03-02-2010, 01:10 PM
Thanks Craig for the compliment, but he is not a guy worth "looking up to"...he built his dream business and sold it to a company that is ruining it. What can we learn from him? How to mess up a fairly decent company (at one point?).

That's not someone I want to know more about period.

Not many here are advocates of Geek Squad Craig, you will not find followers here. Just sayin'.

trapped
03-02-2010, 03:51 PM
I listened to it and found it very interesting. Obviously GS has lost its way, but I think he makes a few good points about the industry and running a business in general.

SThompson86
03-02-2010, 04:01 PM
An agent at the geek squad tried to hire me this weekend. I was like no.. but thanks. I think if I worked for GS I would end up getting in an arguement with my manager.. I think my attitude is too sour and too far gone to work with those guys, plus I do not want GS on my resume' lol...

Nonetheless like to reverbate what CallthatGirl said. If I worked for GS I could not bring myself to diagnose a simple issue like that and then quote that outrageous GS price. I would probably slip them a card under the table and whisper (call me ) !

lgtechcomputers
03-02-2010, 04:24 PM
Thanks! I am sure there's something that can be learned and turn that to my advantage!

wimwauters
03-02-2010, 10:51 PM
Excellent work, thanks for sharing.

At CallThatGirl: I agree with your angle, but if he hadn't sold out we would've never heard from him :) I reckon this talk might serve to inspire others to do the right thing(s) and not sell out :rolleyes:

mekon
03-03-2010, 12:26 AM
Thanks Craig for the compliment, but he is not a guy worth "looking up to"...he built his dream business and sold it to a company that is ruining it. What can we learn from him? How to mess up a fairly decent company (at one point?).

That's not someone I want to know more about period.

Not many here are advocates of Geek Squad Craig, you will not find followers here. Just sayin'.

That's just plain silly. Every business man or woman worthy of the name has an exit strategy.

I think few people would turn down the opportunity to stop working if the right offer came along.
How the new owners choose to run the business is no longer your concern.

If Richard Branson sold Virgin tomorrow and afterwards it all went pear shaped it wouldn't make his achievement any less spectacular or cast doubt on his business acumen to most right thinking people.

I know absolutely nothing about Geek squad but we have their equivalent here in the UK; some of the people they employ are a waste of space and yet others are some of the finest technicians your ever likely to meet.

Nobody is ever likely to come on this forum and say I had this customer come in and I couldn't fix his computer, then they took it to PC world and they fixed it straight away; where did I go wrong?

I can assure you it happens; I know because I have worked for them.

The PCologist
03-03-2010, 12:39 AM
What can we learn from him?

The answer to that question is in the speech! :p

It's obvious that you have some very passionate feelings about this company that prohibit you from even considering the idea of learning anything from Stephens. That's fine. We can agree to disagree. :)

But, let's make one thing clear. At no point in this thread have I tried to find "advocates" of GS or "followers". I've only suggested that there is something to learn about how a small business grew to dominate an industry from a marketing and advertising point of view. That's the focus of this particular forum, right?

I used to manage Tech workers and customer service was HUGE at that company. I'm kind of passionate about staging legendary experiences for customers and find marketing/advertising fascinating. I have a ton of recordings from some incredible speakers. Next time I feel like posting one here, I promise it will be someone a little less controversial. :D

Have a good one!

Craig

Eddie
03-03-2010, 12:49 AM
Geek Squad sell a product, we sell a service.

I did listen to it and he made a few valid points.

ComputerClinic
03-03-2010, 04:49 AM
I listened to it, and he did have some good points.
-its easier to be stand out in service industries than others (if you have the creativity)
-you don't have to find a market (your market is anyone who has a computer who isn't technically inclined)
-the competition usually isn't doing anything to stand out (I'm realizing this is very true in my town and I'm working on taking advantage of that).
-its important to be anal about the details your brand. It pays off in the long run

However, excellent marketing and branding do not replace quality service at a fair price. It doesn't matter how memorable you are if your service sucks and your prices are outrageous. I'm sure geek squad will be around for a while, but they are probably not getting much repeat business. I do not feel they are a threat to us in any way. Honestly, I'm glad their service sucks because if it didn't we'd all be in trouble.

ProTech-MN
03-04-2010, 01:34 AM
I've followed the Geek Squad for many years - long before Best Buy acquired them. Early on, the Geek Squad was very good at what they did... all of their agents were all top notch. They did a better job than anybody at the time.

Whatever your feelings about the Geek Squad today, no one can deny that Robert Stephens Geek Squad concept was nothing short of brilliant. THAT is what attracted Best Buy's interest - they wanted the image. I'm willing to listen to anyone that's been that successful and is offering up advice, tips, or simply telling their story...

I still catch interviews and occasional presentations by Robert Stephens around town here (Twin Cities, MN) and always enjoy listening to him - he's still very passionate about technology and I think offers some excellent insight to many technology trends what the future may bring.

Randy
ProTech Computer Solutions

john_guthrie_jr
03-04-2010, 12:37 PM
I agree with the points made earlier; even though the company is less-than-stellar with its customer service reputation, you can't argue with the results they've had. Or, failing that, the thought that the original owner put into it.

Basically, like the original idea, don't like what it ended up as.

Luudee
03-06-2010, 03:32 PM
so because he posts about gs hes looking for followers? yet that guy that started off good and "ruined" his business has still been more sucessfull. Its about taking the good and seperating the bad. Many businesses do what Geek Squad originally did, why? cause it works. Theyre the ones who helped LogMeIn be around, theyve been the ones supporting it... your two licenses dont amount to their massive amounts. Just saying, no reason to bash what they were, or attempt to learn something. But ignorance is a personal choice.

ZenMike
03-08-2010, 11:35 PM
Excellent recording. Thank you for sharing. There were many good points made and a lot of relevant marketing insight to learn from.

PDG Technologies
07-13-2010, 12:21 AM
I am going to bring up a necrothread here to share some info.

Robert Stephens and the Geek Squad is what inspired me to create my own company.

What this man created with $200 and a bicycle, should be an inspiration to us all.

Initially, founder Robert Stephens only had a bicycle to do his work, but soon shifted to using a 1958 Simca Aronde Elysee. In 1995, the company's second vehicle was a 1970 AM General mail vehicle, which was painted black. A year later saw the addition of a 1963 Renault Dauphine.

Seriously... a SeaFoam Green Simca..

You can see the Best Buy produced video on Geek Squad history here : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7519770909905424825#

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Say as you will, Best Buy has RUINED Geek Squad. Even thought Stephens still works for Best Buy. While they try to do good by it, it is the local and district management that screw things up. Instead of encouraging their employees to do better and get certified, they would rather hire people who have minor computer skills i.e. built their own computer, likes computers, can sell etc. Best Buy also created a central Geek Squad City, where people do nothing all day except line work of warranty repairs of various computers. HP line, Gateway line etc...
Check it out here.. http://www.tabletpcreview.com/default.asp?newsID=871

So most the people who work for Geek Squad NOW.. are ignorant, some have no customer service skills, other have no clue about computers. They are pushed by management to hit budgets of thousands of dollars a day and told that their hours are based off how much money they make.

If you want to read the old history of Geek Squad, you can check it out in these articles I dug up. Forget about how Geek Squad is now, just check out how they were THEN.

http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/1999/08/stephens.html

http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5032222.html

If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

Oh added in.. here is an article about a company you may never have heard of http://www.startribune.com/business/24536824.html?location_refer=Business created by Robert Stephens also.

Mushin
07-13-2010, 12:53 AM
the key is that Geek Squad put a name and face to computer services for the consumer market. They created a brand... They found a way to reach people that didn't know someone who "knew" computers.

They/He was one of us that got noticed in a big way.

Now.. many techs copy or imitate GS with name varrients and the like BUT.. few are working on becoming the next generation computer service company.

Few have a competitive differentiator.
Most compete only on price.
Many are me too techs making a living (Noting wrong with this)
But....

If you have a vision and a drive the industry is wide open for someone to gobble up the tons and tons of market share left on the table AND even take it from GS.

So love em or hate em GS is what it is and GS is successful at what it has done so far.... but no one has really challenged them to see what how strong their foundation is.

keeperofthecode
07-13-2010, 10:47 PM
Pesonal opinion the man is genius. He inspired me back when I was starting with my business. When I started my business I had nothing but the clothes on my back. When I see where I'm at today I attribute it to being able to look up to him and many other business owners like him to push me harder.

MobileTechie
07-13-2010, 10:54 PM
Thanks Craig for the compliment, but he is not a guy worth "looking up to"...he built his dream business and sold it to a company that is ruining it. What can we learn from him? How to mess up a fairly decent company (at one point?).

That's not someone I want to know more about period.

Not many here are advocates of Geek Squad Craig, you will not find followers here. Just sayin'.

Yes god forbid I build my business up and sell it making myself a multi-millionaire in the process like he did...

Hercomputers
07-13-2010, 11:15 PM
I just finished listening to his presentation and wow. I'm big on taking notes and I found myself jotting down a lot of points in regards to the creativity and marketing aspect of the business, what to do and what not to do.

Mushin: Thanks for sharing this with the TN family, very much appreciated!

Mushin
07-15-2010, 03:39 PM
I just finished listening to his presentation and wow. I'm big on taking notes and I found myself jotting down a lot of points in regards to the creativity and marketing aspect of the business, what to do and what not to do.

Mushin: Thanks for sharing this with the TN family, very much appreciated!

Actually it was not me that put it up. But... thanks :D

kagman
07-15-2010, 03:58 PM
I hate to say this but Compusa, the hell hole i used to work for, was the same when it came to ripping off people. I think Compusa pioneered ripping customers off when it came to computer repairs. The techs that I worked with where the best and cared about the customer. However the managers and the higher ups where all about the all mighty dollar and not about the customer. Same is true for the big retail tech chains, its all about the money and the customers.

We care about the customer, which is why I believe we all will succeed in our businesses :)

Hercomputers
07-15-2010, 06:39 PM
Actually it was not me that put it up. But... thanks :D


Then I take it back-:) Why am I thinking YOU posted the link up?...lol


Craig: Thanks for sharing that link. Much appreciated!!!!