2016 HME Handbook

How to Increase Your Retail Revenues Through Personal Mobility Scooters

Savvy providers can found a solid retail mobility business based on the recent explosion of scooters catering to a broad spectrum of patient needs.

Personal Mobility ScootersRetail is quickly becoming the reality for many providers of standard mobility devices, and especially for providers of personal mobility scooters — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, scooters open up a world of new revenue possibilities for any provider willing to explore and learn this important product segment.

The reason that scooters have taken off as a cash sales category is that funding options are limited. Many retail scooter customers either don’t have Medicare funding, or they are Medicare beneficiaries that won’t to settle for basic items that CMS will cover, and can afford much better options. Add to that the fact that so many Baby Boomers are entering an age where they can benefit from a scooter, and can afford to buy what they want.

The result has been an explosion of scooters that cover the spectrum of patient needs. There are scooters models that focus on durability, simplicity and affordability for the budget-conscious, and there are full-featured offerings that come with all the bells and whistles that appeal to well-heeled retail customers.

Suffice it to say that retail scooters represent a solid business opportunity for providers looking to expand their revenues. Here are some key things to keep in mind, when shaping a retail scooter business:

Marketing is essential. Many customers might not know how scooters can benefit them, or what options are available to them. It’s up to the provider to build awareness of its scooter business, and educate their marketplace on how scooters can help users enjoy their lives through increased mobility. Retail scooter providers need to employ a variety of marketing venues, including direct mail, traditional advertising, online advertising and social media, in order to spread awareness and make clients aware of existing and new offerings. Moreover, because this is a retail business, providers need to consider seasonal sales events and special pricing events, and then advertise according.

Focus on consultative sales. The key with selling scooters on a retail basis is to ask open-ended questions to better understand a client’s situation, and then to listen attentively. If providers engage patients in a more consultative fashion, they can leverage their care and product knowledge to zero in on what will be the right scooter solution for the customer. The right questions will uncover the ideal format, power, options, etc., and will result in the client getting a scooter that is perfect for them. That will in turn build the kind of trust and satisfaction that creates a customer for life.

Stock a solid selection. Given than there are all sorts of clients with all sorts mobility needs, user demand has also pushed the development of scooters of all types. Scooters have evolved to offer countless options in terms of their format (three- or four-wheeled), features, engines, suspensions, seating, control, accessories and portability. The result is a whole spectrum of products to meet customers’ conditions, needs and wants.

For instance, for users with medical diagnoses, often mid-sized scooters are used for all-around mobility, with more supportive seating, more legroom for easier transfers, and highly-adjustable controls for differing abilities. Seniors seek a retail sales model where they’re making their own decision, most often on transportable compact, easy-to-use scooters. Also, many seniors have created a market for larger luxury scooters that offer everything from independent suspension to automotivestyle lighting to cup holders.

So, the onus is on the provider to understand its local market and serve up a wide range of products to meet demand. Moreover, the provider should develop a close relationship with its vendor to ensure ready resupply of those items.

Create a showroom that sells. Merchandising is especially important — and tricky — when it comes to scooter sales. Scooters take up some space, and unless a provider has a large showroom, it is going to have to be crafty about how it displays its scooter offerings. The key is to display all the main models in a good, better, best fashion that gives the customers a good sense of the different features, different sizes and at different price points available to them so that they understand the provider has everything to meet their needs.

Moreover, the showroom needs to appeal to clients’ aspirations. The displays and signage should show how the scooters can help clients live a more independent and enjoyable lifestyle. Also, the showroom should provide educational materials that can clearly communicate the various products’ features and benefits. This is especially important because many customers might need a longer time to make a decision, and materials they take with them will keep those clients thinking about the scooter, and help do the selling for the provider.

Understand inventory turn times. While providers must stock a good selection, they must also be careful not to overextend themselves. If a provider doesn’t stock enough of the right types of scooters, it won’t be able to meet demand, but if it stocks too much, it could tip its balance sheets in the wrong direction. Because scooters represent a solid inventory investment, and because the selling/buying cycle can run longer for a scooter (since it is a more expensive item for the customer) providers must have a laser focus on their inventory turn times. If scooters sit too long, they will skew the provider’s profitability and attenuate cash flow.

Diversify your scooter business. If a customer needs a scooter, chances are that’s not the only thing the customer is going to need. For instance, scooter customers will likely value folding entry ramps, threshold ramps, and vehicle lifts so that they can take their scooters with them wherever they go. And, of course, these products are sold on a retail basis, which only increases the provider’s non-Medicare revenues. A good way to explore these diversification opportunities is to leverage the sales team. As a provider’s staff engages in a consultative sales approach, they can start to learn their scooter customers’ other mobility-related needs. If the provider follows up those qualitative research efforts with some surveys, it can start stocking a more diversified lineup with confidence.

Points to Remember:

  • Retail scooters sales represent an excellent opportunity to drive new revenues.
  • Providers need to double-down on their marketing efforts to get customers in the door, and then focus on a consultative sales approach once clients come into the showroom.
  • Providers must stock a wide selection of offerings, and create a showroom that clearly displays those options and demonstrates their value.
  • At the same time, because scooters represent a larger inventory investment, providers must keep a close eye on inventory turn times.
  • Diversification is also essential. Items such as ramps and vehicle lifts will compound providers’ revenues.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/dkopf/ and on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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