Maximizing the Potential of the Scooter Market
With so many segments of the DME industry hit with reimbursement cuts and capped rental limitations, it's a welcome relief to hear of specific markets that are showing opportunities for growth and expansion. One of those segments is the scooter/power operated vehicle (POV) market.
The Fredonia Group, a market-research firm has forecasted mobility-device demand to rise five percent annually through 2010. The continued growth of the bariatric clients and the tip of the baby boom generation is fueling the growth of this market. So, what can providers do in order to maximize their scooter business?
Consider expanding your scooter offerings as a means to enhance your retail sales. Providers are expanding their retail business and diversifying in order to offset product categories impacted by competitive bidding.
Keep up to speed on new product introductions, particularly those tailored to meet the needs of your bariatric clients. Scooters are now sleeker and more easy to operate. Providers' inventory should include scooters with streamlined assembly/disassembly, lightweight models, and portability features. Look for scooters that offer a vast array of features at an affordable price.
One innovation to enhance portability os the take-apart designs with connector-free assemblies, making it simpler for caregivers and users to disassemble a scooter for transport without worrying about wire connections.
Educate your customers first. Provide information to your customers on the differences between power chairs and scooters/POVs.
Do a pre-evaluation with your customer. Ask your customers for information regarding their height, weight, level of ambulation and where the product is more likely to be used: indoors or outside. Be specific to find out user preferences such as which hand will be operating the drive control and the preferred rates of acceleration and deceleration.
Use testimonials from other customers regarding how their scooter usage has helped accomplish their activities of daily living and distribute or display these testimonials in your store.
Connect with scooter manufacturers who provide educational materials to referal sources through shows and on their Web sites. Manufacturers can help educate physicians by attending occupational and physical therapy shows to showcase the features and benefits of their scooters.
Ask manufacturers for a reimbursement guide.
Establish a solid referral program with area physicians and hospitals. Volunteer to do an in-service program for physicians and hospital personnel.
Display various types of scooters so customers can view the differences between scooters and try them out in your store.
Advertise on a regular basis in your community.
Hold a seminar or community event such as a "Mobility Awareness Day."
Develop literature that shows a comparison of features for the scooters you are selling such as miles per hour or the portability of each product.
Look for the October edition of Home Health Products to see new scooters that will be introduced next month at the Medtrade Show in Orlando.
This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of HME Business.