Best Buy for Business To End SMB IT Consultants?

IT Business, SMB

That got your attention. A friend of mine, John B. Holmblad of Televerage International, went to Best Buy this week and did some digging about the Best Buy for Business. Many ignored the Geek Squad and dismissed it as a disorganized bunch of rookies that will never be able to understand SMB. John's investigation clearly dismisses this notion: . . . I spent about 30 minutes at a BB store in by area that has a BB for Business section. This store is the one located in Fairfax, Va and according to the person with whom I spoke it is the 6th largest store in the country in terms of volume. My take away is that this is a very serious program that is still quite new but starting to get a grip while extending the Best Buy Brand into the SMB market. If it is successful it will definitely help BB for B move "product" which in this case includes the services, here are some things I learned: * The store has a full time Business Technology Consultant (BTC) who spends 80-90% of his/her time meeting at client sites gathering customer info and requirements in order to prepare a business proposal for the customer. I was not able to speak directly with the individual who serves this particular store although I got his business card. He is an MCSE. Only some of the stores in my area that have BB for B inside, have a full time BTC. In fact this BTC supports another store near me that is smaller and does not have their own BTC even though they also have BB for B. Each BTC drives a Blue Honda Element, presumably with the Best Buy logo on it. * The person to whom I spoke (a floor rep) carries the title of Business Technology Professional (BTP) and he has been trained on SBS 2003 and said he has his SBSC. He also claims that all of the other BTP reps like him have some kind of Microsoft certification. He also said that they have received lots of training on the BB for B program since it is so new * The customer signs one contract with BB for B for hw, sw and installation service. In other words there is not a separate contract with Geek Squad for the installation services. Thus BB for B is serving as the "prime" contractor. * The Geek Squadders do all of the install and break/fix work. Each is equipped with a VW with the GS logo, a UTS 6700 WM 5.0 phone/pda (in fact, they had them before they were broadly available). * The store I was at has a total of 11 Geek Squadders, one of whom is full time on SBS and 2 of whom are part time. The rest are, I assume, non-server specialists (e.g. general PC HW, Client OS, etc.). * The store has a "lab" type SBS server on which the geek squadders can train. I did not learn whether these individuals receive formalized training on Microsoft products. * Prices for Installation and commissioning services are determined and fixed, as opposed to simply quoting an hourly rate. We did not get into specifics of how much they would charge for a standard SBS 2003 install. * The store did not have a live SBS system for customer demo. * The BTP was not certain if/when BB for B would supply pre-installed SBS from, say HP. It would appear that as of now, Geek Squadders do the SBS install manually at the customer site or at the BB store, I am not certain. * For projects that require cabling they can draw on installers that support A/V cabling to perform cabling work * BB for B is planning to expand the range of bundled offerings by means of negotiated deals with other business service providers like Kinkos, etc. * BB for B is staffed on weekends to catch small business owners who may be out shopping for personal items * Currently BB for B does not have any managed network service offering such as the kind available with, say, the Level Platforms technology or one of the MSP's, whose names I have mentioned previously on this list * A customer can Enroll in the BB for B program at no charge. So even if they do not use any of the above services the customer can enjoy some savings over MSRP without having to shop online at Newegg, etc. * With respect to some of Microsoft's more specific products aside from SBS, Windows XP, etc, The BTP to whom I spoke said that BB for B first attempts to find the necessary implementation skillset (let's say Microsoft on CRM) from within the local "network of BTP's but if can't find it inside then they will look for outside consultants. I plan to check this out further when I speak to the BTC for this store. * Because of Best Buy's purchasing power and supplier relationships, they can help BB for B customers get fast turnaround on rush orders. * BB for B does not currently have a regular business seminar program to pull in business customers. It is very ad hoc. This week I will make a point to a) speak to the BTC from this store to get a deeper understanding of their network design capabilities and also b) visit the other store which he services to see what they have setup in the way of BB for B support.

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