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.
- By David Kopf
- Jun 01, 2016
Retail 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
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
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
- 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.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.