Bella targets affluent areas

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

KENOSHA, Wis. - Bella Home Medical expanded to three locations in January. And despite national competitive bidding and a "turbulent" economy, it has no plans to stop there, say owners John Vuckovich and Larry Balkin.
Vuckovich and Balkin believe they can continue to succeed by relying on cash sales for at least 50% of their business and expanding into more affluent areas, where residents have disposable incomes.
Bella, a full-line provider of home medical equipment, acquired A+ Medical in Grayslake, Ill., in December and opened a location in Highland Park, Ill., in January. While Kenosha and Grayslake are blue-collar communities, Highland Park is more affluent.
"It's fine and good to go out and get referral sources, but it's nice to have customers who can come in with a checkbook and say, 'I need this lift chair for my father, and I need it today, please,'" said Vuckovich, executive vice president.
Bella makes cash sales more attractive for all customers, regardless of their wallets, by offering rentals and financing.
At their locations, Vuckovich and Balkin have tried to stay away from the "traditional, institutional feel" displayed by many stores that sell home medical equipment. Their locations feature hardwood floors and large-screen TVs that play equipment tutorials.
"They're nicely done, and they're stocked with premium products," said Balkin, president.
Additionally, Bella has a Bella Mobility Mobile, a van used to demonstrate different types of vehicle lifts.
Bella, which shares a name with one of Balkin's Great Danes, recently hired a public relations firm to promote the provider's motto, "Your Best Friend in Health Care," and help drive traffic to its locations.
"We're experiencing everything that I'm sure everyone else is experiencing-the affects of competitive bidding, a turbulent economy and a bad winter," Balkin said. "But we're trying real hard." HME