A little over a year ago I had the worst buying experience I’ve ever had at my local Best Buy store.  I thought that the two associates in front of me were going to toss a coin to see who was going to be inconvenienced by my presence.

Within the past month I had two occasions to visit that same Best Buy store.  Once to replace a printer that had died and one to get headphones for my iPhone for an upcoming webinar.  What a difference a year makes!

During both recent visits I received an excellent education in the advantages and disadvantages of the various options available to me.  The associates’ recommendations, which I followed, have proven to be exactly what I hoped they’d be.  In both instances I came away feeling that the associates really wanted me to find the right solution.

The store itself appears cleaner, more inviting and brighter.  Whether that’s true or simply a perception born of my satisfaction with these two experiences doesn’t matter, it’s the perception that counts.

Based on these experiences Best Buy has become my ‘go to’ store for all things electronic.  What does this have to do with you?


There are several valuable takeaways from the Best Buy story:

  1. You can fix a broken brand.
  2. The fix can be accomplished more quickly than most people envision.
  3. One person can make a huge difference.
  4. You don’t need industry experience to be successful.


It’s not only likely, it’s inevitable that at some point we’re going to make decisions that will have an adverse effect on our brand.

To illustrate my point I like to use pro golfers as an analogy.  Anyone who has watched a PGA tour event has marveled at the pros ability to hit amazing shots from sand traps, the rough or from behind a huge tree.  Their skill leaves us in awe as we wonder ‘How did he/she do that?’

The better question is ‘Why are they able to do that?‘  The biggest difference I see between pro golfers and those of us in business is that pro golfers have accepted the inevitability of errant shots.  While we, in business, tend to think that everything will work as planned.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason pro golfers are phenomenally successful is that they prepare for and regularly practice recovery shots.  Something we, in business, fail to do.

Start preparing for and practicing your recovery shots and you’ll find that the dings to your brand are less severe and more quickly overcome than previously envisioned.

Quick recovery

Hubert Joly, Best Buy’s CEO, has been on the job roughly 10 months and already we’re seeing this huge shift in the customer experience from painful to delightful.

Prior to 2010 I would have thought it would have taken longer to establish or fix a brand.  On January 1, 2010 I decided to change the focus of my business from part-time CFO services to pricing.  In early September of that year, a hair over 8 months after my rebranding, someone I met and with whom I’d only exchanged names said “Oh, you’re the pricing guy.”

I was astounded and pleasantly surprised to discover that my efforts had produced a new brand so quickly.  The key is consistency in your messaging and in the experience you create.  That’s what Huber Joly has achieved with Best Buy in only 10 months.

One person

None of us accomplishes anything on our own, we always have help from others.  But that doesn’t diminish the fact that one person can have a huge impact on an organization.  What we’ve seen at Best Buy is Mr. Joly’s influence at work in creating great customer experiences.

You can do the same in your organization.  It may seem easier to accomplish from the top, but the reality is that it’s the person’s strength of character, passion and commitment to excellence that effects change quickly.

There are many CEOs who have failed miserably even though they’ve had positional authority and non C-level employees who have made huge contributions without any power at all.  Don’t ever discount your ability to effect change.

Industry experience

Mr. Joly came from the hospitality/restaurant industry.  He had no previous ‘big box’ experience or electronic retailing experience.  Yet we’re seeing dramatic improvements in a company that’s facing a myriad of challenges from a variety of competitors.

There are two explanations for this:

  1. There are timeless business concepts that transcend industry boundaries.
  2. The best and brightest leaders port best practices from one industry to another.

When hiring for your company place your emphasis on the person’s ability to get results in markets similar to yours, not within your industry.

Kudos to Mr. Joly and the Best Buy team for providing us with so many valuable lessons.