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 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 — know-ledgeable 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.
Fleet Team Decreases Cost Per Vehicle & Carbon Emissions
For the past five years and with the support of Wheels Inc., Pucely and a fleet team of six have managed Best Buy’s fleet and DOT operations. Previously, Pucely spent three years as a retail general manager and as one of the company’s Loss Prevention Market managers. The team has done an outstanding job of understanding and delivering on the needs of the fleet, while at the same time ensuring company vehicles and drivers uphold the Best Buy brand.
Under Pucely’s leadership, the Best Buy/Wheels fleet team has realized a 19-percent decrease in cost per vehicle month and a 15-percent (approximately 22 million lb.) reduction in total carbon emissions since 2009. Working closely with Wheels, Pucely has undertaken major projects that include quantifying the optimal lifecycle and protocols for vehicle branding, participation in annual vehicle reviews and analytics to understand the “right vehicle for each job,” establishment of vehicle retirement policy and retirement planning, and management of major ancillary Best Buy fleets (Magnolia Audio Video, Audio Visions Inc., and Pacific Sales).
Pucely has also worked to implement fleet-wide MVR and safety training programs, which contributed to an 8-percent reduction in accident rate for the Best Buy fleet in the 2010 fiscal year. As a participant in numerous pilot programs — including pilots for emerging telematic technology and electric vehicles — he has demonstrated a consistent commitment to innovation not only for his fleet, but for fleets from numerous other companies worldwide.
As a member of the Wheels Client Steering Council and the Ford Fleet Advisory Board, Pucely believes in proactive fleet management.
“As in any business, the needs of our customers and the customers they serve are always evolving,” Pucely said. “Remaining proactive is a must in order to meet the ever-increasing demands put upon fleet to meet economic, sustainability, and operational objectives.”
He also relies on key partnerships to help achieve the fleet organization’s mission: to provide unparalleled support and service to its retail field and corporate partners while staying focused on sustainability and cost control measures that provide real and tangible value to its employees, customers, and shareholders.
The fleet organization is embedded in Best Buy’s Supply Chain Enterprise Capability, specifically within the transportation function of Supply Chain. The fleet organization helps enable Best Buy’s holistic services enterprise.
A large part of the fleet’s success stems from its partnerships. These strong partnerships with the entities fleet supports provide line-of-sight to key initiatives that are either under way or on the horizon. This visibility allows the fleet team the opportunity to engage and support endeavors in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Risk management, legal, human resources, employee relations, corporate responsibility, finance/treasury, and marketing departments all play an important role in how the fleet team operates.
“These teams are very important to us because we must stay ahead of their constantly changing business to ensure that the services/solutions we provide them are applicable to the operating model they have in place or are developing,” Pucely said.
Due to the extensive branding display on Best Buy vehicles, marketing is an especially strong partner to the fleet team, and due to the very nature of driving a vehicle, other strong partners are risk management and safety.
Pucely and team also work closely with vendors for the purpose of branding the fleet to upfitting the vehicles with shelving, power inverters, ladder racking, and other storage solutions.
“Strong partnerships with our vendor community are key, as our vendor base consistently plays a central role in helping fleet provide solutions for a dynamic services environment,” Pucely added.
New Initiatives Result in Reduced Operating Expenses
In 2009 and 2010, the Best Buy Fleet team implemented a number of cost reduction initiatives that resulted in a 9-percent reduction in fleet operating expense and a decline in the company’s accident rate of 8 percent. These initiatives included:
■ Branding lifecycle analysis — incorporating the value of brand impressions into vehicle lifecycle analysis.
■ Telematics pilot (ongoing) to evaluate ROI.
■ Multiple site visits and upfitting changes to accommodate the needs of the company’s varied technicians, including adding power inverters/laptop stands; developing a storage solution for the VW Beetle; and reengineering shelving configurations to accommodate changing product/tool assortments.
■ Branding changes to more clearly call out service offerings.
■ Working on creating global contracts and standards.
■ Implemented a no-idling policy.
■ Implemented a no-cell-phone-use policy.
■ Consolidated fleet and DOT operations into one operating group.
■ Ongoing vendor negotiations.
■ Implemented a driver safety program.
■ Evaluation of total cost of ownership (TCO).
“We have a very diverse fleet, and as a result, each type of vehicle has its own unique lifecycle,” he said. “Prior to each order cycle, we evaluate all of the factors that contribute to TCO to ensure that we are making the best financial decisions possible.”
To ensure that fleet financials stay in line with company goals, Pucely and the team constantly monitor controllable expenses and work with their vendor community to remove cost from the fleet structure.
“We have a never-ending and overarching principal to take cost out and form strategic partnerships where possible,” Pucely said. “Given the wide array of capabilities Best Buy has to offer, there are many ways to strategically leverage our fleet spend and integrate non-fleet components of Best Buy value propositions within the vendor community. Our goal is to maximize the value of each relationship in a mutually beneficial way that extends beyond fleet.”
Technology also plays a central role in how effectively Pucely and his team manage the Best Buy fleet. Specifically, Wheels’ FleetView application allows management to drill down to specific vehicle costs in order to monitor and report to the field teams on how well they are managing vehicle expenses.
According to Pucely, FleetView is extremely flexible in how it allows him to pull data and monitor vehicle performance through many different lenses.
“We are also piloting telematics technology for the purpose of evaluating the ROI,” he added.
Telematics technology, in concert with in-vehicle WiFi and better routing tools, will allow the team even more visibility to its fleet in real time.
“Our efforts are driven by ensuring a world-class customer experience,” he said. “Better visibility to our fleet helps us meet customer expectations in a more effective manner.”
Sustainability Helps Reduce Best Buy’s Environmental Impact
The company puts the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road whenever and wherever possible. It is also testing electric vehicles for application in its Geek Squad business.
The telematics pilot provides management with real-time usage data that helps the team ensure vehicles are burning as little fuel as possible both from a driver behavior perspective and from a routing perspective.
“Technology has an impact on how people connect and how power is used to make those connections,” Pucely pointed out. “And our employees create technology solutions that help people connect with each other.”
Sustainability for Best Buy means placing a priority on people, technology, and the power to drive it in the digitally connected world. The company:
■ Actively engages with its employees, customers, and others across its supply chain.
■ Listens to customer needs and provides them with sustainable technology solutions.
■ Ensures these solutions have a positive impact on the planet’s ability to support the power they require.
■ Operates a comprehensive retail recycling program — it collected more than 120 million lbs. of waste in 2009 and has set a goal to collect 1 billion lbs. moving forward.
■ Experiments with energy-saving technologies for consumers and for Best Buy business, such as Smart Grid, transportation, and renewable energy sources.
To date, fleet is in the midst of replacing 636 full-size cargo vans with smaller vehicles, such as the Ford Transit Connect. Fleet has also replaced 772 V-8 engine cargo vans with smaller V-6 engines that produce better fuel economy.
As a result of ensuring the smallest/lightest vehicle for every application, the company has reduced its carbon emissions by 15 percent over the past three years — a reduction of more than 22 million lbs. of CO2 emissions over the same time period.
“Not only have we been able to substantially reduce our CO2 emissions, but smaller vehicles and smaller engines are less expensive to own and operate and therefore have provided additional financial benefits without compromising on function,” Pucely said. “We have been able to reduce our cost per vehicle.”
Pucely has found that the best way to get buy-in at all levels when it comes to sustainable fleet initiatives is to find solutions that provide sustainable, financial, operational, and brand benefits.
“Buy-in is created when you find the sweet spot between the needs of the employee, the customer, and the shareholder,” he said.
Moving forward, Pucely anticipates a few changes in the composition of Best Buy’s fleet with the availability and cost of various fuels and technology.
“Because there is, and will continue to be, a plethora of fuel and technology solutions, it will continue to be incumbent upon us as fleet managers to evaluate and implement the most effective and efficient vehicle solutions that accomplish cost, sustainability, and operating model objectives,” Pucely concluded.