Last week, Best Buy unveiled Total Tech Support, a paid 24/7 tech support membership powered by Geek Squad. The membership promises customers around-the-clock support for all of their technology, no matter where or when it was purchased. Originally piloted in 10 select markets, Total Tech Support is now available nationwide and will sell for $199.99 a year.
Reactions across the CEDIA channel have been predictably mixed. There’s no shortage of confusion about what the membership entails and skepticism about whether the plan will be a success. However, most integrators I’ve had the chance to speak with in person are quick to recognize the significant upside Best Buy’s move represents.
Total Tech Support sets a much-needed precedent for paid support models in the connected home. Best Buy’s move provides validation for the growing number of home tech pros (HTPs) who are looking for more sustainable and profitable ways of delivering service and support to their clients.
Here’s a breakdown of Total Tech Support and the reasons why HTPs should be rejoicing at Best Buy’s new offering:
What it Includes
Best Buy’s annual fee of $199.99 provides customers, referred to as “members,” with unlimited tech support on all of their devices, no matter where they were purchased. This 24/7 tech support can be accessed via chat, phone, or in-store. It’s important to note that in-home services are not bundled with the plan (a decision we at OneVision wholeheartedly endorse). Members do, however, receive a flat rate of $49.99 for what the company calls “basic” services. These include offerings such as Harmony/Savant remote setup, TV mounting, or smart home hub configuration. Total Tech Support members also receive a 20 percent discount on “specialty services” such as wire runs or projector mounting.
Total Tech Support includes a few other bells and whistles. For example, members receive 20 percent off of electronic repairs. Members also have access to a variety of IT services, including internet security software for up to three devices, data backup, and virus removal.
A Much-Needed Precedent
While Best Buy’s plan does leave plenty of room for skeptics ($49.99 for a smart home hub setup seems frightfully cheap), Total Tech Support should be welcomed with open arms by the CEDIA community. In my role at OneVision, I get to work directly with HTPs all over the country to make their service operations more profitable. Although we do this in several ways, our primary vehicle for improving service profitability is through the sale of service memberships that, along with many other value propositions, help HTPs monetize the 24/7 support they used to give away for free.
When it comes to enabling HTPs to sell these premium service memberships, one of the biggest hurdles we have to help them overcome is a lack confidence. Their hesitancy to present paid service memberships is not surprising. After all, to date, there has been little to no precedent in our industry for positioning recurring revenue-based support models to clients. Total Tech Support finally provides this much-needed precedent on a national level, and from a well-known and respected brand.
Make Your Move
If you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether or not to create an RMR model around your service department, Total Tech Support should give you the confidence you need to finally make your move. If a successful company like Best Buy has put their chips down on a recurring revenue-based support model, it’s likely because they:
- see pent-up demand for premium support services in the market and are aiming to address it
- recognize a need to create a more sustainable model for delivering service and support within their company.
In all likelihood, the underlying strategy behind Best Buy’s Total Tech Support is a mix of both. In light of their decision to take this program national after a 10-city pilot program, it’s reasonably safe to assume the offering is getting traction.
Like the growing number of HTPs we work with at OneVision, Best Buy’s move is indicating that the market has an appetite for premium services. In this light, Total Tech Support should be seen as an enticing springboard. If Best Buy can charge roughly $17 a month, what can you charge? You provide a concierge-level technology experience to a highly discerning clientele.
Combine this premium market positioning, highly trained team, and focus on personalized solutions, and you are in a position to create a very valuable offering. A relatively simple offering (i.e., guaranteed access to 24/7 remote support) will easily sell for $30/month in almost any market. Create a tiered offering by layering on features such as preferred service-labor rates, priority advanced/in-home support, and proactive monitoring, and you’ve got a right-sized solution for any client who comes your way.
Best Buy’s new program represents a significant step towards educating the market that, much like in commercial and MSP verticals, guaranteed access to 24/7 support carries a recurring price tag. If you and/or your sales team have been struggling to find the confidence you need to begin positioning premium services on a recurring revenue basis to your clients, you should welcome Best Buy’s move enthusiastically. Use Total Tech Support as validation both to your clients and within your company that recurring revenue models for technology management in the home are the way of the future.
Best Buy has placed their bet. Now’s the time to place yours.