Geek Squad Jumps Into the Channel

Geek Squad, the wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy, wants you. The IT services company, which was founded with a focus on SMBs but in recent years has targeted consumers, is kicking off its indirect channel program at the Spring 2012 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Specifically, Geek Squad is recruiting master agents, network and cabling experts and IP telephony systems resellers to sell Geek Squad’s phone, online and on-site IT help desk support, except for hardware repair, to SMBs around the country. Geek Squad employees will carry out the actual work. Ideal end users have one to 20 computers in their offices and cannot afford a full-time IT expert. The standard Geek Squad package, billed at a per-seat price each month, covers network integration, client and server administration, and diagnostics and repair. The advanced package comes with those same services, but costs more because it also includes unlimited on-site diagnostics and repair.

Geek Squad also is targeting residential customers and multi-dwelling units through channel partners, at different monthly price points. These services hone in more on PCs, and issues such as email, MP3, software and printer problems.

To support partners, Geek Squad has developed interactive, Web-based training, as well as a portal with co-branded sales and marketing materials. The company also employs a dedicated channel accounts team, led by AJ McDougall, senior director of strategic partnerships, and Al Afflitto, partnerships manager.

Geek Squad has settled on a one-time/residual compensation method. Partners will earn a lump sum that equals the amount of the first month’s revenue for example, if an end user commits to the minimum 12-month contract for $500 per month, the partner receives a one-time $500 payout as well as residual commissions based on volume. Geek Squad declined to disclose its recurring commission rates, but said they were in double digits.

Despite its more well-known emphasis on the consumer space, Geek Squad actually began in 1994 as an IT outsourcer for businesses. And since Best Buy purchased managed services provider mindSHIFT in fall 2011, it’s returning to its SMB roots and pursuing the channel as one path to greater market share among those buyers. "This is a critical focus for our entire company," McDougall said. "We know we’ve got the capabilities."

Best Buy bought mindSHIFT for $167 million, for its traction among SMBs. mindSHIFT provides cloud, data center and professional services to more than 5,400 clients in the United States. The mindSHIFT acquisition will allow the company to beef up its nationwide capabilities.

Look for Geek Squad to expand its offerings through the channel over the coming year. As a hint, white labeling will be an option for partners. "The SMB space is huge to us," said Brian Hutto, vice president of business services for Best Buy. "You’re going to see a lot more coming from us."

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