Friday, July 27, 2012

Odds & Ends

So many things are happening, and so quickly that I think today I will just ruminate.

There was a most interesting article in the WSJ a few days ago, about senior citizens. It appears that today Americans are living much longer. We are approaching the age of 82, not 65, as it was when the SS regs were published.

This being the case, may I suggest that every DME/HME provider try to reach to them more promptly. Belonging to clubs like Rotary or Kiwanis is very important. I visit many clubs and see that in my mid 80s I am not unique. Arrange to speak at a churchmen’s or ladies club meeting, visit the schools and other places where seniors gather.  Do not go as a salesman; go offering ideas and ways to maintain one’s life style. Today the seniors have more discretionary dollars in their pockets than previously, so cater to them!

I receive the e-mails from a large number of state DME associations, the ones they send to their members. They do a superb job of addressing all the legislation and other problems. It is so important to follow their leads and ideas. If you are not a member of your state and national associations, you should be. The information they send will help you remain solvent and continue to grow.

I see that so many state associations are holding their annual meetings in the next few months. Be sure you are there. The speakers and vendors who support them need to speak with you. So much is accomplished at these and you find true peers to work with there.

I am already making preparations to attend the Fall Medtrade Exhibition in Atlanta. This is the culmination of the efforts made on your behalf by an entire industry! No DME/HME provider should miss Medtrade this year. It is going to be the most important Medtrade ever! You will find many new ideas with which to build sales, increase profits, and to open new doors like home tele-health. I will be there, will you?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Make Your Cash Register Sing

I was chatting with a neighbor at the supermarket this morning. He pointed to the checkout stations and said, “Listen to the music”. The lines were long and the ringing up of the sales really played a beautiful melody. I recognized the tune, I am an old retailer.

One of the driving forces when I prepare these blogs is to help our readers build more cash sales. Yes, make your cash registers sing.

How? When you shop or visit any of the major marketers there are signs identifying every area. First-aid, incontinence, diabetics, wheel chairs, scooters and as many titles as products they offer. These departmentalizing signs do not have to be very large. I visited a local Walgreen Pharmacy and found every section clearly identified. You can do the same!

I was in a rather interesting location in Rochester, NY. This dealer went one step further. Every section had a sign mounted. However, he also developed two “rooms” displayed along one wall: a bathroom and a bedroom. These were brightly lit and every item on display had an attached price tag. He made the rooms look so realistic because he framed in each what appeared to be window with a view.

After preparing these displays he went a few steps further. He changed the items displayed on a rotating basis. Then, he arranged to have a sales person from one of the manufacturers whose items were featured every Saturday from 9:00 AM until noon.  Their job was to demonstrate, answer questions and provide literature. The entrepreneur was very pleased when he saw how many new sales were made.

To promote these demos, every Thursday an announcement was sent to the local radio stations and newspapers. He proudly posted this announcement in his showroom window.

You can develop similar music in your showroom by promoting these programs. At Medtrade you can discover a myriad of items suitable for this type of promotion. Become the bandleader and make music and new profits.

Monday, July 23, 2012

You can make a difference!

I saw a quote from Elbert Hubbard, an American author born in 1859. It is so appropriate today that I felt you also must see it: “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”

Interesting that in 1859 citizens faced similar difficulties to what we do today. Things happen so quickly that by the time a dealer has adjusted to one, another appears. In the past 62 years many opportunities and difficulties have risen to the surface and I have watched how dealers get things done. The entrepreneurs adjust while the others are thinking, “what should I do.”

Via these blogs I have been showing original marketing ideas that DME/HME dealers have shared with me. One of the reasons I stroll the show room floor at Medtrade is to greet and chat with attendees. What has always fascinated me is how so many have coped with change. I report these in my blogs and will continue to do so. Please feel free to e-mail ( some of your accomplishments so that other DME/HME dealers will see them. In this fashion you will make a difference.

When I speak to dealers I always ask if they belong to their state and national associations. Invariably the answer is yes, we do!” Yet it appears far too many DME/HME dealers do not. There are two national associations, AAHomecare and NAIMES, as well as the state DME associations. A dealer may think, “well it’s OK because they work for me whether I belong or not.” I have heard that comment often. It is wrong! You can make a BIG difference when you belong to your state and national associations. Your dollars will make them much more effective and maintain you in business!

When I discuss this with accountants or attorneys, they all agree that membership is a normal cost in operating a business. They indicate very specifically without the support and work these associations do on your behalf, you might find yourself forced to close. Make a difference¡ If you are not currently a member, please become one and then solicit the other providers and dealers you know to get on board. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Doing What Comes Naturally

I have had the pleasure of meeting so many DME/HME providers in my 60 odd year career.  When we speak, I usually ask about the way they approach the market in their hometown. The answers I receive are all basically they same.  They are doing what comes naturally.

There are no secrets to becoming a good marketer! Although you may not think that you are a good marketer, the truth is that you really are good.

All markets must be approached as if they are unique. In a small town or village, the competition usually is not a major department store or supermarket. There, you are an integral part of the community. You belong to the local business club, church and went to the local school. You are doing what comes naturally, speaking, promoting and participating. All of this reflects as your business grows.

As the size of a market expands, the competition becomes more apparent, then one has to approach things differently. Everything you do is to keep you company name recognized. A DME/HME dealer in Maryland sponsored a baseball team and that was good enough to be invited to participate in a major Little League competition upstate N.Y. One entrepreneur belongs to a Rotary Club and his location became the source of tickets to their various fund-raising activities. Another organized a bowling tournament which has been active for almost 20 years.

A dealer in southern Illinois hires a big horse-drawn wagon to carry neighbors “apple knocking” every fall. These trips have sent loads of people picking apples and he said the cost is minimal for his company.  In California, way up in the mountains, that local DME/HME provider gives a “good health” chat on a local radio station and it has been expanded to local TV. 

By doing these things, they each have developed a large following and a nice ROI. All of the efforts I mentioned are providers “doing what comes naturally.” You, too, can do it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Customer Service

This morning I received a call from an old friend, a DME provider in Vermont. One of his customers rented a hospital bed for their mother. He reviewed all the instructions with her, but he got the impression that she was not at ease. 

The next afternoon he picked up the phone just to see if every thing was satisfactory. They were on the phone for more than twenty minutes!

In the morning her husband stopped by the showroom to express his appreciation for that phone call. He said his wife was concerned she would not be capable of giving her mother the attention and care she needed. However, after that conversation with the owner, his wife relaxed and lost the trepidation she had. His “thank you” was worth a million dollars. This is customer service.

So what is customer service? It is something that you and all your employees have to comprehend. It is a smile, a cheerful hello and listening. Always allow your customer to take the lead when they come to shop. They will tell you what they came for so you can satisfy their need. The customer must ask and you must listen. In a previous blog I wrote about an aggressive salesperson and how a sale was lost. A soft approach is always effective.

I know several DME proprietors who ask at  their staff meetings ask one of their sales people to speak about an experience with a customer. His team learns from one another and his business continues to grow. Word of mouth from satisfied customers is the best advertising you can earn! This is what happens when your company staff understands customer service.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Congratulations Mal!

A. Malachi Mixon III, known to all of us as MAL has once again been recognized for all the excellent work he has done on behalf of healthcare and the industry.

The Ohio Hospital Association presented Mal with their Health Care Leadership Award.  On behalf of all the DME/HME providers, I want to say “thank you” to the Ohio Hospital Association.  

It is a privilege to add my comments to acknowledge how much he is recognized and appreciated by all. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Mal and a few associates purchased a small wheelchair division from a Cleveland based company in late 1978.  What he has accomplished now is the dream of every entrepreneur. He was able to build a small company and grow it close to an annual $2 billion company.   

But, that is just a bit of what Mal Mixon has accomplished. Without Mal leading the industry battle vs. negative legislation, supporting the state associations, working closely with all the dealers, teaching them how to sell merchandize, DME would be nothing like it is today. So Mal, my congratulations!

I know you have retired, but I look forward to seeing you at many more Medtrade Exhibitions in Atlanta and Las Vegas. An entire industry joins with me is saying “thank you”. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cash Sales Promotion and Focus!

Medtrade October 15-18

The market is dramatically changing; DME/HME providers and dealers are seeking OTC cash sale opportunities. They can no longer depend on CMS, Medicare or Medicaid. So, the folks at Medtrade are guiding the exhibitors to make cash sale programs an important part of their displays.

This need for cash sales is so important that Medtrade is setting aside 4,500 square feet of the exhibition floor as a HOME & RETAIL DESIGN CENTER. Do you realize how big this space is? You can definitely expect to see many new ideas and products!  You can also read more here: Click Here

You must keep all your Medicare and Medicaid customers. Experience has taught us they all have family caregivers who are looking for comfort items to allow them to maintain their own domicile. We are very aware that most Medicare clients have disposable dollars in their pockets and are looking for the same products. I know this is true because at more than 85 years old, I attend many meetings and speak to all my cronies. Finding comfort items is always a topic.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a dealer in Ohio. I was told his company sponsored a discussion on “Caring for the Elderly, Mom and Pop.”  He invited two local physicians to speak. They each delivered a brief message. The rest of the allotted time was spent answering questions from the audience. I was told that the response to this was fantastic. He felt that scheduling it from 9:00 AM until noon was sufficient.  He plans to do it again. He also invited many of his vendors to set up small displays with samples and hand-outs. Did this pay off? Yes!

Let this be your guide to many new sales and additional profits. At Medtrade you can arrange with the manufacturers for their aid in doing a promotion along these lines. Plan to visit the Home and Retail Design center and be sure that many of your staff as possible will view the same. 

I recommend that you make the investment necessary to bring staff members to Medtrade. Experience has shown us that there is a very large ROI (return on investment) when you bring them with you. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Attention, HME/DME Providers

This year the Medtrade Exhibition will be more important than ever. Our industry is under a great deal of pressure. Yet despite this, a great many providers and dealers are doing very well. That is because they work in tandem with their vendors to develop new cash sales. There is nothing more satisfactory than ringing up a sale in your cash register, just a normal business transaction.

In yesterday’s blog I asked the vendors, manufacturers and exhibitors to spend more time at Medtrade offering OTC cash sales for the attendees. I recommended they bring new products and work together with you to build sales. You have to be there not to miss these golden opportunities.

It is a two way street! Providers and dealers each face the same problems and when working hand-in-hand, the results are fantastic!

To get the most from Medtrade, bring your key personnel. I spoke to a friend in Missouri who told me last year he brought two employees with him. When they returned each started several new programs they saw at the show. He said they were successful and so was he! This year he will attend with three sales people.

Split up your team up at Medtrade. Attend as many seminars as possible. Have all share with the rest of the team what they learned. Seek new products and ask for help with marketing. Arrange with the vendors to do a “dog & pony” show with your company. Ask them to make joint calls with your salespeople.

I am very fortunate that many of our readers feel free to contact me (WAT # 877-553-5127 and e-mail < I will always respond!

As I said to the vendors yesterday; “when this happens everyone wins, you do, the manufacturer does and so do your customers.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Attention DME Manufacturers

Attention DME Manufacturers

The interest level for OTC sales is growing daily. New items to show dealers and how to better market existing items by matching what they display more effectively to their clientele is key. You have to lead the way. This blog is being directed to the manufacturers and exhibitors who will be displaying at Medtrade in Atlanta this fall. 

My e-mail and phone calls have been filled with requests to know:
“How many new products are currently available?” 
“Which exhibitors are bringing excellent OTC items?” “Will we find many new opportunities this year at Medtrade?”
“Which vendors will show me how to develop new sales?”

These are the questions that I am constantly hearing today and the volume keeps growing. This is a direct challenge to you, the manufacturer and the exhibitor. When answered, it will open many new doors of opportunity for both your company and the dealer! I have attended every Medtrade since its inception and never have seen this much searching for help and seeking new items to market. This is why the Medtrade Exhibition this year is more important than ever. The attendees are reaching out to you.

The providers and dealers realize they can no longer depend on CMS or Medicare. They want to develop more cash sales! You have the products, so come prepared to attract many new customers. This year the DHME attendees will be in Atlanta trying to identify the many new items which will be introduced.

As a manufacturer, showing your wares at Medtrade, this becomes a golden opportunity. I urge you all to take advantage of it. Every DME/HME provider wants the ability to tap more deeply into OTC cash sales. They all feel they are really more effective than the giant stores. They know their clientele, the patients and the family caregivers and are best positioned to move products.

This Medtrade, bring with you aggressive programs for building sales. Offer the opportunity to have your reps make joint calls with their staff.  Hold “dog and pony” demonstrations for all the providers' employees to introduce and expand your line of products. When this happens, everyone wins! You win, the dealer wins and so does their customers