Though main streets and malls around the country brim with excited customers during the weeks leading up to Christmas, for the Best Buy Geek Squad, the real work begins Dec. 26 as large numbers of customers seek help with the new gadgets they found under the tree.
“The day after Christmas we definitely see an uptick in the amount of traffic that goes to see our Geek Squad,” said Israel Hernandez, sales manager at the Santa Maria store. “That could be trying to figure out the new tech they just received, or how to set it up. Or maybe they just have questions about getting professional Geek Squad installation. I’d say those are the big three things people come in for — trying to learn about the product, trying to set up the product or if it’s something more advanced, getting someone into their home to teach them how to use that product.”
Hernandez said the post-holiday influx of work results in about three times more work than normal for the Geek Squad, which is made up of a 15-person team at the Santa Maria store.
During a normal business period, the Geek Squad in Santa Maria assists around 50 people a day both in-store and at home, Hernandez said. During the post-Christmas period, that number increases to well over 100 people a day. Employees at the Santa Maria store serve customers with home deliveries, tech support and home installation all the way from Nipomo to Lompoc, Solvang and Buellton.
On Monday, Geek Squad member Santiago Saucedo had been booked solid with appointments from 10 a.m. into the early afternoon. Saucedo said the schedule was full of appointments every day during the post-Christmas period, he said. “During regular months, the number of appointments varies a lot. Sometimes we can be stacked up until 3 p.m. Other days, there’s only a couple appointments.”
This year, the Geek Squad has been scheduled to do a large number of television deliveries and installations, Hernandez said. “Bigger is better when it comes to TVs now so customers have been coming in and inquiring about getting brand-new TVs mounted on the wall because the Geek Squad can do that professionally for them, and nothing’s worse than dropping your brand-new TV or setting it up crooked or something like that. Those are definitely popular this year.”
On the smaller side of the tech product spectrum, smart devices were among the best-selling items. “That’s all of your smart lighting, Alexa-enabled devices, Google Home — anything you can control with your voice. So customers coming in to to say, ‘How can I get my iPhone to turn off my lights? I got these Hue lightbulbs and I need to figure out how to do that.’”
Fitness devices and smartwatches have also kept the Geek Squad busy. “Anywhere from a Fitbit to a Samsung Galaxy watch to an Apple Watch. The Apple Watch Series 4 can do an EKG, which is a super cool feature. So we’ve had a lot of customers come in who’ve received a previous generation of the Apple Watch but, then, want to come in and exchange it because they’re looking for that particular technology.”
The Geek Squad will likely remain busy until at least mid-January, Hernandez said. “But it’s a very small lull because then customers are excited about the playoffs and the Super Bowl, so they’re utilizing Geek Squad in a different way. It fully doesn’t really end for Geek Squad until post-Super Bowl, honestly.”