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March 2011, Auto Rental News - Cover Story

How Best Buy Integrates Fleet Into Its Total Brand

Best Buy’s “GeekMobile” is a key icon of the company’s image. The unique nature of Geek Squad vehicles and the treatment of those vehicles help solidify the Best Buy brand as “quirky, trustworthy, and expert.”

by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

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(Left) Best Buy's Jason Pucely, senior manager of logistics & transportation, and Rosa Baumanis Hakala, VP, supply chain - transportation, stand with one of the "GeekMobiles,"  a black and white Volkswagen Beetle, one of the key icons of the company's brand.
(Left) Best Buy's Jason Pucely, senior manager of logistics & transportation, and Rosa Baumanis Hakala, VP, supply chain - transportation, stand with one of the "GeekMobiles,"  a black and white Volkswagen Beetle, one of the key icons of the company's brand.

As the leading global consumer electronics retailer, Best Buy focuses on bringing technology solutions to customers around the world. This innovative, nearly $50 billion Fortune 50 company depends on its brands to remain at the forefront of the industry.

Headquartered in Richfield, Minn., Best Buy has more than 4,000 locations in 14 countries. Many of these locations are in large, established markets, including the United States, Canada, and the UK, where the company has strong market share. Other countries, such as China and Mexico, will play a crucial role in Best Buy's future growth.

"No matter where they are located, our brands are distinguished by the same attributes," said Jason Pucely, senior manager of logistics & transportation at Best Buy. "We advocate for the customer by providing a broad selection of products and services combined with our most important asset - knowledgeable employees who now number 180,000 strong worldwide."

Pucely, who reports to Rosa Baumanis Hakala, VP, supply chain - transportation, also pointed out that as our increasingly connected world enables entire industries to rethink how they do business, it also causes extraordinary confusion among consumers. This is why Best Buy, with its multi-channel presence and distinctive relationship with consumers, has emerged as a major player in the smart industries of the future.

Through open innovation, an extensive network of partnerships, and an internal venture capital program, the company is placing smart bets on concepts, ventures, and businesses that are shaping the industries of the future, including transportation, energy, healthcare, and mobile telecommunications.

Best Buy Vehicles Seen as Fun & Reliable

Best Buy's 5,200-plus-vehicle fleet remains crucial to its total brand image. The company's fleet features the Volkswagen Beetle (GeekMobiles), full-size Chevrolet and Ford cargo vans, cutaway box trucks, pickup trucks, Ford Transit Connects, Chevrolet HHRs, and DOT-regulated Freightliners.

Vehicles are primarily used for the delivery, installation, repair, and haul-away of consumer electronics, including computers, home theater, appliances, and home automation devices. The company operates 942 flex-fuel capable cargo vans and box trucks.

Geek Squad is the first national, 24-hour task force dedicated to solving technology challenges, according to the company. Comprised of highly skilled and specially trained computing agents, home entertainment installers, AutoTechs, and appliance repairers, 20,000 active Geek Squad technicians patrol Geek Squad precincts in all U.S. Best Buy stores, Geek Squad standalone U.S. store locations, and service centers nationwide.

The "GeekMobile" has become one of the key icons of the brand. It is both the unique nature of the vehicle - the VW Beetle - and the treatment of that vehicle that drive impact with customers. "Determining the make and model of the vehicle hinges on the attributes of the brand," Pucely said. "For Geek Squad, brand attributes, such as quirky, are balanced by trustworthy and expert. The VW Beetle lines up with these attributes because it's seen as fun but reliable."

The black and white Beetles bring to mind police vehicles, which share the same color scheme, helping uphold the idea that Geek Squad agents are protecting customers from troublesome technology. It helps drive home the image that Geek Squad agents are the authority over technology woes.

The Best Buy fleet is as diverse as the customers the company serves. Geek Squad agents provide computer support and are readily identifiable by "Special Agent" badges, black pants, white shirts, break-away ties, and signature GeekMobiles.

Other vehicles in the fleet include decked-out vans driven by Geek Squad Installers (GSIs) and Magnolia Audio Video installers, who deliver the home theater experience to family and game rooms far and wide, as well as by Geek Squad Repairers (GSRs) who make in-home appliance repairs.

The company's Pacific Sales installers provide delivery, haul-away, installation, and setup to customers, including builders, contractors, designers, and consumers, and the store-based Best Buy Home Delivery teams ensure customer appliance needs are met by delivering and installing a full line of appliances. Additionally, the company's Audio Visions Installers elegantly weave technology into customers' lives, homes, or businesses.

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