A key component in successful retail sales is understanding which products make sense for which patients. This puts HME providers in a very advantageous position. Because providers are familiar with the clinical care needs of various patient types, they understand what those patients are going through; what they’re having trouble with; and where they could really use some help in carrying out their daily living.
For instance, a person using a therapeutic mattress needs more than just his or her group 2 support surface and a bed. He or she could easily need help eating, or bathing safely, for example. A mobility patient could need help reaching items or getting dressed in the morning. A CPAP patient could need a better mattress overlay or pillow to catch some Zs.
So providers need to take their wide range of knowledge and apply it to their retail sales efforts. What they will end up with is a set of “retail pairings” of items that naturally go together. This let’s HME provider staff approach, say, the aforementioned funded mobility patient, and suggest that while the patient is being outfitted for a power mobility device, that he or she might be interested in a reaching tool, or a perhaps some dressing aids.
Note, there are some providers that still misconstrue sales with taking advantage of patients. That’s not true at all. HME patients are just like anyone else, they are looking for products and solutions that can help them enjoy a better quality of life. Some products are necessities and some are luxuries, but they are all items that a provider can stock and sell.
Furthermore, they are items that a provider should offer, because ethical providers should be prioritizing their patients’ life enjoyment and satisfaction. That means sharing their knowledge of the products that can benefit their patients. Additional retail sales that result from this process are the reward for working hard to inform and help clients.
So what are some examples of medical and non-medical products that can be sold for retail, and that pair well with funded medical equipment categories? Let’s take a look:
Oxygen products that are funded could go well with pulse oximeters, tubing, filters, air purifiers, hospital beds, bed wedges and mattresses. All these items could address needs typical to oxygen patients.
Support surfaces could be accompanied by mattress overlays, floor mats, wedge guards, safety siderails, pillows, positioning devices, socks, reachers and grabbers, trapeze, sheets and gowns, bed trays and tables, and specialty utensils. Also applicable would be aids to daily living and bath safety items, such as shower chairs, transfer benches, raised toilet seats, grab bars and bath mats.
Mobility products could pair well with anti-tippers, cushions and backs, wheelchair positioning belts, baskets, trays, backpacks and accessories such as coffee cup holders. Also consider pairing them with items related to support surfaces, ADLs and bath safety items. If the patient uses a walker or cane, then additional cash products could be cane tips, walker baskets, walker coasters, walker balls or skids and perhaps rollators.
Sleep products could match up with headgear, masks, nasal pillows, humidifiers, saline, CPAP pillows, contoured pillows, specialty pillows, sheets, mattress pads, mattress encasements, pillowcases, beds, mattresses, headboards, footboards and bed trays and tables.
Don’t just categorize your offerings in terms of products, either. In addition to categories of products, there are other ways to determine good scenarios for cash item pairings. One of the best ways to approach these needs is by patients.
For instance, funded mobility patients could possibly need items such as lumbar cushions, crescent pillows, grab bars or rings, reachers, button and zipper aid, dressing aids, extended shoe horns, magnifiers, pill holders, and eating accessories. This could also hold true for funded patients that have flexibility issues or range of motion limitations.
Also, funded patients that might have balance or strength issues, as well as mobility patients, could greatly benefit from retail bath safety items, such as shower chairs, tub chairs, grab bars, commodes, raised toilet seat, bath seats, transfer benches, toilet seat risers, showerheads, bath mats, bath pillows, bath sponges, shower rods, ceiling track lifts.
Remember, at the end of the day, you are trying to be a solutions provider. There doesn’t have to be anything heavy-handed in your approach. You are simply trying to provide a service that, more often than not, the patient will value considerably.
Points to take away:
- Retail sales has become a key business consideration for providers looking to protect the bottom line in the face of funding cuts.
- A good way to approach retail sales is to consider how a provider can pair up cash sales items with funded products.
- There are a wide variety of retail items that can serve funded oxygen, mobility, bariatric, sleep, senior and other patient groups.
- Try categorizing cash items by patient, as well as product.
- Approaching retail sales in this fashion is not taking advantage; it is providing a service that patients will value.
- HME Business recently conducted a late-May webinar on retail sales hosted by Ty Bello, RCC, president and founder of HME sales consulting firm Team@Work LLC. Called “Fast-tracking Retail,” the webinar outlined how providers can develop a solid internal and external retail sales plan, as well as the insights needed to create and sustain a long-term marketing plan to reach cash sales consumers. The webinar is available for a limited time as an archive at hme-business.com.