Moving the HME Industry Forward

Manufacturer/Provider

Educating Customers for Informed Decisions

March 9, 2015

LAS VEGAS – For several years, there has been a tremendous buzz in our industry regarding retail sales. Everywhere you look, there are articles discussing the importance of getting into the retail business and manufacturers designing and launching new retail products on what seems like a daily basis—and new internet retail sites appearing at a brisk pace.  

Many owners, CEOs, and presidents have laid down large “bets” on the thinking, even hoping, that retail sales would be the solution to decreasing reimbursement and improved diversification. Many companies have spent an exorbitant amount of capital to create retail space, relocated to a more retail friendly location, invested in additional retail items to support this new endeavor, opened new retail stores, and then waited for the customers to walk in.  

It reminds me a little of the movie “Field of Dreams,” and the famous quote, “If you build it, they will come.” We all know that this simply is not true when discussing HME Retail Sales.

In my travels and discussions with members of The MED Group, I have encountered numerous situations where a company may have the nicest retail store in the best location in town, but business is not growing as expected.  What I have discovered is that the number one challenge and problem is not the location or product selection, it is the sales staff that has been charged with growing the business.

Very often, the staff has been “promoted” from customer service or billing because they are a “people person” and have excelled in their respective position. This is fine, and with good intention, but, if these sales people are not given the needed training, there will be an expected conclusion: sub-standard performance and diminished return on investment.  

Without providing a strong base initially, with continuous training and education, the retail sales staff will most likely perform below expectations. Hiring people with “retail” experience sometimes works, but this industry is different from any other that I know. The key is to acknowledge that all of us in this industry have an obligation to educate customers on products. Although many don’t consider us as part of the healthcare continuum, we know that we are a very important part. Retail sales are exceptionally important to this obligation.  

This obligation means that we need to make certain we inform the customer/patient/caregiver about all of the products which could potentially allow them to live safely and independently in their own home rather than be admitted into an institution. This folds into the necessity of training and educating our sales staff to make sure they are educating every single person they interact with.

This also will result in a growth of revenue for your company. At my presentation during Medtrade Spring, you will learn more about this and how you can implement a successful retail/cash sale program at your company.

Todd Blockinger will be presenting at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas on Monday, March 30, at 4:30 p.m. He will be presenting additional information and sharing how to implement a stronger performing retail sales program. Click Here for more information.

Todd Blockinger is director of Strategic Accounts for The MED Group.