Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Job Descriptions Matter

As the proprietor of a DME/HME company are you really aware of what each employee should be doing? Cogitate on this for a few moments.

Over the years I have been invited by many DME/HME dealers to be their consultant. They wanted to know “how efficiently they are running their companies?” They needed to determine that they are arriving at “the best net profits each fiscal year?” They asked me to see if every employee is “contributing a fair share to their success?”

Although there is a great deal of similarity between companies, all are somewhat different and each is unique. The first thing that I do is to interview each employee privately. I found it amazing that so few staff really knew what is expected from them. Each always turned out to be both dedicated and hard working.

After I walked though the warehouse, studied the financial papers and did what all good consultants do, I asked the principal to describe what they expected from each employee. What was their job description? The difference between what the employee did and what the principal wanted was vast.

In order to increase sales and improve profits all employees must have a job description. It is never too late to prepare these. What I have always recommended is do the following:

Sit down, one-on-one, with each employee. Discuss their primary sphere of responsibility. The fact that they have to be a “jack-of-all-trades” as well, especially when the day gets busy. Now you can prepare a job description, which will enable that employee to use his strengths and fulfill your needs.

When employees are fully cognizant of their job description and do a superb job, this must be acknowledged. When they do more than their job descriptions, pitch in with all tasks, this must be complimented. When they work for you as if they were your partners, that must be rewarded.

There are many nice things you can do. Tickets to a show, dinner for two at an excellent restaurant or a parking space with their name, these are always well received. One DME/HME dealer told me his wife prepares a special dinner for the winner and their spouse every quarter. The competition for this is fierce.

Tell me about some of the ideas that you have used so it can be shared with all our readers ( or 1-877-553-5127.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making a Plan for a New Start

Although the basic industry remains the same, due to the many changes HME providers must contend with, now is the time to prepare a new start. I have touched on this topic in the past. It is not really difficult! A new start means getting all the facts you have and re-evaluating each.

The computer programs you have are able to show you which segments of your business produce the largest volume and most profits. Often, a provider is so involved doing paper work that finding time to do other things seems to melt away.

Some areas of interest are: aids to daily living, first aid, bath safety, wheelchairs, scooters, ambulatory devices, diabetic supplies, furnishings, oxygen, orthopedics, sports medicine and ostomy supplies. Be sure you include all minor segments. Providers have reported to me that they were really not aware of how many services their company provides.

Prepare a list of employees, how long they have been with you, annual salary and what you think is their job description (I will touch on this in a later blog). The purpose of this is not to eliminate anyone, but to know what each does and how you can increase their productivity to the company.

Prepare a listing of all annual expenses. A careful study of these may uncover expenses which may no longer be necessary. I recall one provider realizing that bringing in donuts twice a week turned out to be outrageous when nearly half of them went out with the garbage. No one complained when that ceased and he saves about $400 a year.

Another provider found his maintenance costs for the vehicles seemed to be rather high. He made a deal with his service center to have his vehicles inspected on a regular schedule and his maintenance costs plummeted by about 50%.

A review of this information will enable you to write a new business plan and to make a new start. This is the key. Find the time to do it. If I can be of any help, please contact me at (877) 553-5127 or

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reducing Fraud, Creating Opportunities

Despite the fact that HME providers seem to feel that they are under attack by the government, it isn’t so. What I have recognized is that our industry has a situation that is unique. By and far providers are all honest, hard working citizens. They provide a great deal of service to their clientele pro bono. But criminals have taken a big bite of out of the system and this is what has to be stopped!

The legislators are seeking to reduce the dollars spent to help pay the national debt and they fail to recognize what is really the problem. How many dollars are being siphoned off by the dishonest element? How many thieves have found it is less dangerous to steal from the government rather than sell narcotics and drugs? When caught, they may be fined or their businesses closed but they are not incarcerated. They reopen the next day with a different name. By developing a competitive bid in a valiant effort to reduce costs, nothing has changed and nothing was accomplished! But if they can stop and reduce the number of dollars being stolen, then Medicare will be able to accomplish what Congress passed.

One of my goals via this blog is to see what we, as an industry, working with the national and state associations can accomplish. This will be addressed with new ideas and with other programs as they develop.

Another goal I have for the coming year is to share the information I gather for increasing sales and profits with HME providers. I spent much time on the exhibition floor at Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas last week and spoke with providers from all over the country. What made me feel good is they did not hesitate to tell me about the success they had. I will try to report as much of this as possible. What is interesting is every idea was really not a new one, but how things were being done, which is valuable.

I would like to hear from you, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail at or call me at (877) 553-5127. I will answer or call you back ASAP. I need your input to share with your peers. This year Medtrade Spring was bigger and better. Thank you for participating.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Medtrade Spring - A Phenomenal Experience

Exhilarating! Educational! Breathless! Yes, indeed, a new level of success was achieved in Las Vegas this year. Medtrade Spring was bigger, better and more amenable than ever before. A positive result was that knowledge, information, new ideas and opportunities were all readily available. You had to be there to share in this largesse. The providers who crowded the showroom floor all came away with great big smiles. They received what they came for.

The lectures and seminars held provided many answers and instructions. The speakers addressed almost every question that a HME provider could ask. These classes were all well attended and every one I spoke with said the seminars alone were worth the trip to Las Vegas.

But then, after they entered the Expo - WOW! That is where they found many more answers. New items, new ways to operate their companies, new products to feature and new ideas for OTC cash sales. The exhibitors were all seeking ways to expand their ability to grow sales and profits. They realized that the attendees sought the same. Symbiosis! Mutual advantages and benefits were found and met. It is something special to see what can happen when a provider and a manufacturer team up.

In this space, I will make every effort to show all you new and creative ways to build sales. If you have questions, I will help you find answers.

Please call me at (877) 553-5127 or email me at and I will promptly respond. Between what I have learned in my 84 years and 60-plus years in this industry and the many experts associated with Medtrade, you will get answers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Packing My Bags

One of the more enjoyable and exciting tasks for me is my preparation for a trip. It becomes even more exciting when it is to attend a Medtrade show. I look forward to seeing many friends, visiting vendors, attending seminars, hearing the keynote speaker and participating with the AAH Stand Up for Homecare reception.

I can look back to more than 30 years of Medtrade exhibitions. Every year I find that it becomes more and more important – it’s a meeting every HME provider should attend. This year, it is critical, because unless we all work together to change some of the legislation that is drowning us, there will be some dire consequences.

However, I know that our industry will overcome these difficulties. I know that you, working with your state and national associations, will put your shoulders to their efforts to protect our industry and your company.

When you walk the showroom floor and see me, please say hello. Each year, I see old friends and I make new friends. As I pack my bags for the trip, the thought of a pleasant few days at Medtrade brings a big smile to my face. Will I see you in Las Vegas? I hope so!

(It’s not too late to register! Go to for more information.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who's Your Competition?

Do you know who your competitor is? Is it another HME provider? Or, is it something else?

Yes, today’s competition can be recognized as not only oppressive legislation, but also include the super stores. Everyone who is seeking where or how they can reduce their healthcare expenses or siphon off your sales is your competitor.

No, not other HME providers! They are your partners and allies because they, too, recognize and fear the same competition and realize positive results can only be accomplished by working together.

The big marketers, Wal-Mart, Target and grocery chains are all offering over the counter (OTC) and aids to daily living (ADL) products. Items are prominently displayed and price marked with huge signs (low prices, but not all products are the same). This is part of their programs to indicate everything they sell is discounted. This is aggressive marketing and a careful look at their price tags will show you this is really not true, but I must say for them it has proven effective.

What can you do to compete? By working together with your state and national associations! From them you can obtain the tools that you will need to fight back. Even more important is together one voice will be speaking on behalf of all HME providers including their employees, customers and family caregivers. The voice is powerful and will be heard.

Go one step further! At Medtrade Spring, make arrangements with your reps to speak with their company principals on the showroom floor. The vendors want to maintain your business. They will give you much support to help keep and build additional sales. The vendors face the same difficulties your company does. It is to their advantage to provide you with as much assistance as possible.

Look for new tools at Medtrade. Spring. Look for other marketing and promotional programs. Your competition with the big guys starts here at Medtrade Spring. Remember David beat Goliath!

New Opportunities

In all the years that I have been attending the Medtrade events, I have always seen them as the major source of opportunity. I received a phone call this morning from a provider who told me he couldn’t find the time to come to Las Vegas this year. I asked him: “Can you afford to miss new opportunities?”

Charles Buxton* really provided the answer: “You will “never” find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”

With our industry facing attacks from every direction – national, state and private sector – every HME provider must make the time to fight back. They have to ally with all their friends and supporters. They have to speak with all their peers. They have to attend seminars and they must speak with many vendors. All of this is available at Medtrade Spring.

Time must be found to identify those opportunities which will enhance your company and bring in more dollars and customers today. Opportunity leads to success! As Alexandre Dumas has said: “Nothing succeeds like success.” There is no tomorrow for you if you sit back and miss this golden opportunity; Medtrade Spring.

*Charles Buxton (18 November 1823 – 10 August 1871) was an English brewer, philanthropist, writer and a Member of Parliament.