Thursday, March 29, 2012

Seeking New Opportunities in New Markets

In order to keep pace with a rapidly changing market, DME/HME dealers and providers must always seek new opportunities. Reimbursements from Medicare or Medicaid, as well as contracts with HMOs, are all paid at a very low level. They should never be considered as a primary source of income. Keep what you have! But always look around for more profitable advantages.

In my discussions with many dealers I discovered one source you all have. It is your employees! They each have ideas, some may be off the wall and so many others have proven to be superb.

The idea to offer a “free wash and check your wheelchair” day come from a salesperson working for a dealer in upstate New York. I have written about this often and every time another dealer does it, I invariably receive a message telling me about their success.

The Americans with Disability Act is another tool to build new sales. Your outside salesmen should talk about this at every account. Call your Senator or Representative’s office in D.C, and ask the HLA (health legislative assistant) to please obtain a copy for you. Armed with that your company’s service will be truly appreciated (and earn a great big bunch of new sales).

One of the major benefits of Medtrade is the ability to walk the showroom and see how many new products and new sales ideas that will be a benefit to your bottom line. They are there waiting at the exhibition for you! I have always recommended that if at all possible to bring one or two of your salespeople. The cost of this will have a big ROI. I have been told this so many times! When your employees return home from Medtrade they are busting at the seams to bring these ideas to fruition. Let them do it!

Your task, as the both the entrepreneur and owner, is to polish and allow all the employees to be comfortable and share with you all they have learned, and when that happens, new ideas and new markets will be opened.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Family Caregiver

I have been preaching for many years the one most important contact a DME/HME dealer has is the family caregiver. Most senior citizens want to stay in their homes and maintain privacy. They do not wish to move in with their children. They also look aghast at most “senior citizen” and long or short term facilities.

So who really is the “family caregiver”?  It is a daughter or son, a grandchild, and often, a niece or a nephew. There is almost always a family member who will monitor Mom or Dad! The family caregiver will work very hard to see to it that they can find all the necessary comforts that are available. They do not want to see their parents institutionalized, nor do they wish to bring them into their own home.  They too, have a way of life and which must be protected.

As a DME/HME provider you have to recognize the role of the “family caregiver". Develop a new marketing plan, which will appeal to them. At the last Medtrade in Atlanta we spoke to several dealers about family caregivers and how to effectively work with them. Here is what I learned at the last Medtrade: prepare a list, by speaking with your customers, to determine who should be contacted on their behalf.

From this list you can then send regular, short e-mails, with ideas and thoughts about caring for the elderly. One dealer told us his company held an open house the last Saturday of the month. He invited RNs, PTs, MDs and vendor sales reps whose companies manufactured specialty comfort products to make presentations or set up exhibits. He told us the number of attendees increased each month.

The goodwill and new sales developed in this fashion meant new profits. Many of the exhibitors at Medtrade will provide you with tools to use in these programs. You will be very pleasantly surprised at the amount of material you can gather in a short time at Medtrade to make this an Open House a success.  Never forget the family caregiver.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Do you know the ABCs and ROIs of DME/HME?

ROI means Return On Investment. A good ROI is what every principal of a DME/HME company and their accountant seek.

Every service you offer requires an investment. It can be number of dollars or time spent. No matter what how you identify it, there is an investment made. Taking an advertisement, offering to do a seminar, holding an open house, speaking at schools and churches, all of these are time consuming and each has a cost. So be sure what you offer will provide you with an ROI. When done correctly these all will pay-off for you.

My main concern is how you maintain your inventory. A dealer last year at Medtrade told me about a “great deal” (his words) he obtained from one of his vendors. He purchased a six-month supply of their products for an extra discount. He thought he made a lot of dollars. I had to disagree!

More money is made by turnover; the number of times you sell an item and replace it. At a seminar I attended at a previous Medtrade this was explained as follows:

On January 1, you buy an item for $90.00 and sell it for $150.00. The gross profit in that transaction is 40%. If you sell that item and replace it only once a month, the ROI in one year of an investment of $90.00 is $720.00 profit. If you purchase a six month supply of the same item to earn an additional discount then you will run into the problem of storage, where and tear and handling. You have tied up your cash and these precious dollars are not available for anything else.

I believe the term accountant’s use is Activity Based Costing or “ABC”. It has proven to be much less expensive to pay few percent more than to fill your warehouse or storage space. Better profits always will come from “turn-over” and that reflects as a better Return On Investment (ROI).

Please discuss ROI versus turnover with your accountant because a fluid cash flow is the heart of any business. This is particularly true for DME/HME where things can change so rapidly.

To attend a seminar like the one I mentioned above, just visit and make the trip to Las Vegas April 9-12!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Planning & Implementing

Robert Burns is often quoted as saying: “the best laid plans of mice and men may often go astray.” He is correct!

Over the years many DME/HME dealers have shared with me their thoughts; what they are planning to do to build more sales and increase their profits. I have heard so many excellent ideas.

But there is a difference between planning and implementing and so I want to stir things up a bit. Implementing is to continue the planning. Take your excellent ideas and turn them into reality.

Appoint the members of your staff who are responsible to explain the program you planned. Be sure to give a copy of the plan to each of them. Then appoint specific functions to every employee and have them coalesce. In that way they will meld into a team. Monitor and work closely with your employees.

If any of your preferred vendors products are featured, do not hesitate to ask them for support. You will be surprised with what they can do to enhance your program, which will help implement it.

Planning is only the first step. Implementing is the next step to harvest the crop. It requires a great team effort to reach your goal. Every member of your staff from the voice on the telephone to the drivers of the delivery vehicles has to contribute to your “plan.”

Alexander Dumas said “Nothing succeeds like success” and I want to add that happens only when you implement your plans!

Feel free to call me on my WAT – 1-877-553-5127 or send me an e-mail. I will be delighted to help you with any thoughts you may have. If you are attending Medtrade Spring, please stop me and let us speak.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are you really listening?

Sometimes we are so busy we often forget to listen. When I recently visited a DME/HME dealer, I was watching their salesperson showing a senior citizen and her husband how to correctly use the new wheel chair ordered by her physician.

He did an excellent job demonstrating all the features of the chair, but … and here is the problem he missed. He didn’t listen to the question that concerned the husband. He was asked about how HE, an 80+ old senior, would fold the chair?

The young man lifted the seat and the chair closed into itself. What he should have done is allow the customer do it by himself. Although somewhat frail he was capable. Other questions were asked, how to travel carrying her pocketbook, how to use the chair when shopping, and how to put it in the trunk of their vehicle.

Think about what your customer wants. When they come to you to make a purchase they are looking for explanations and demonstrations. They seek a comfort level. When they leave and have made the purchase, they are now ready to maximize the benefits. However, when they are not fully satisfied they usually will say “thank you” but they want to speak to their children. You may have lost that sale!

All I can say is please listen very carefully to what your customer asks and pay attention to their comments. Be very sure you address and answer any questions and resolve any doubts they may have.

At Medtrade in Las Vegas, try to arrange with your vendors to have sales training sessions for your staff. These invariably are “win-win”.

Visit for more information on the upcoming conference this April 2012!

Monday, March 12, 2012

How are you using E-mail Marketing?

E-mail, is it a blessing or not? Can a DME/HME dealer use e-mail effectively? This past weekend this topic was a discussion I had with a few cronies (peers). It appears that most senior citizens enjoy reading their e-mails and at the same time abhor the great number they receive.

This morning when I opened my computer I found 87 new messages. I deleted all but a dozen, which I read carefully. There was much important information that arrived.

Dave Parks sends his HomeCare Newsletter, which is filled with current events. Important? Yes!

Then I opened the hmeNewswire, which Liz Beaulieu edits, and this is another good source of news.

Since we are about a month away from Medtrade Spring, it is also important to study Medtrade Monday as we all prepare for tomorrow. All that is what a DME/HME provider normally does.

How do your senior citizens look at their e-mails? With enthusiasm! They, too, wipe out the obvious commercials in which they have no interest. However, this still leaves a good number for them to review. I was with three other gentlemen my age and two of them both told me the same thing. They look forward to the weekly newsletter their pharmacy sends. There was always a good health idea and occasionally a sale on an ADL item.

I have spoken with a number of dealers at the Medtrade meetings. They do the same and tell me sending a Weekly Newsletter, via email, does two things for them. It maintains the loyalty of the customer and increases sales when they offer a single item at a special price.

All of the necessary material to successfully send an e-mail weekly newsletter is in your computer. If you have the address of the family caregiver, please include them. The answer to my opening comment is that e-mail can be a valuable tool for a DME/HME provider.

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to market to your customers using e-mail, check out Constant Contact at

Monday, March 5, 2012

Take Action!

The best way to describe action is behavior with energy and resolution. It means getting off your chair and doing something.

In the past few weeks DME/HME providers have been asked to make phone calls, send letters and roll up their sleeves to fight some of the onerous legislation being introduced. You are also being asked to support specific politicians and legislations. Are you doing what has been asked of you?

I have on many occasions, when speaking with providers, tried to determine the response they received from the elected officials they contacted. When I receive a message from the state and national associations, I pick up the phone and make calls, write memos or send e-mails. I am sure that the great number of members of state associations, AAHomecare, NAIMES, VGM, MED Group and similar organizations do the same. They ask you to do something!

BUT……. When I hear from dealers who do not belong to these organizations they answer me with a ‘WHY’? If they don’t belong, they say they have no obligation. This shocks me, because they are “free-loaders” and beneficiaries of another person’s dollars.

Can you imagine how much more effective these associations would be if almost 100% of the dealers and providers paid dues, worked with their associations and joined in the battle? They need your energy and resolution! They need your financial support. They will keep you in business; they will help you fight the changes that can be destructive.

There is no one else who can do this other than you. NO ONE ELSE!

Stand Up for Homecare Medtrade Spring 2011

If you’re going to Medtrade Spring, be sure to join AA Homecare at the annual Stand Up for Homecare Reception.

If you aren't going to Vegas for the show, be sure to check out AA Homecare's Action center to find out how you can help on a local and national level! TAKE ACTION