By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Five months after the walls went up, Geek Squad City, Best Buy's new national IT repair center, has officially opened for business.
Technically, the 165,000-square-foot facility, located just outside Louisville, a UPS shipping hub, commenced repair operations in July.
But now that most of the operational bugs have been worked out, Best Buy has opened the doors of the four-acre facility to the public.
The retailer anticipated the need for a central repair center as Geek Squad ramped up operations on a national scale and services became the new battleground for CE dealers. The computer repair business is now represented in all Best Buy locations; online at a dedicated Web site; through a toll-free number; and in a number of freestanding stores. Best Buy has said it plans to have upward of 50 of the 1,500-square-foot outlets up and running by next year.
Moreover, the chain's aggressive Best Buy For Business initiative has put additional demands on the repair service, and the company has also begun outsourcing its technicians to other retailers. Presently, Geek Squad departments are being tested in 11 Office Depot stores in Florida, and founder Robert Stephens hinted at further retail alliances.
To that end, Geek Squad City was established with the goals of processing repairs on a national scale; reducing dependence on third-party providers; and cutting turnaround time from three weeks to three days. "Mayor" Wes Snyder, who runs the facility, sees that time coming soon: He plans to double the workforce to 600 by year's end, and will eventually move to a three-shift, around-the-clock schedule that can accommodate 4,000 repairs a day.
The center is designated to handle repairs and data recovery that are either beyond the capabilities of local outlets or that require out-of-stock parts. In addition, vendors have arranged to have software and hardware beta-tested by technicians at the center, and Stephens suggested that Geek Squad may also pursue home automation support and proprietary software development, in addition to educational programs for kids.
Meanwhile, the art school dropout who launched the business 12 years ago with $200 and a bicycle appeared unfazed by the opening day hoopla. "There's more to come," Stephens promised. "I have big plans for Best Buy. They just don't know it yet."
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.