Bigger retail space, accessible location, equals more sales

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In the few months since ramping up its retail business, Valley Home Care is seeing an increase in cash sales, putting the HME firmly on track to decrease its Medicare dependence.
"We've seen an increase in our walk-in business," said Angie Fishel, director of the Winchester, Va.-based company. "We're now on a main thoroughfare and we've been hearing how easy the building is to get into."
That better location and handicapped-accessible parking make the new 4,000-square-foot location customer friendly, said Fishel.
In business since 1984, Valley's five locations all have some retail presence, but with competitive bidding looming, Fishel said, it was time to diversify its payer mix, which consists of 50% Medicare.
Fishel worked with Lisle, Ill.-based Gladson & Associates, creating a "peaceful" retail space warmed with earth tones and a mix of carpeting and wood flooring.
"It's very welcoming," she said. "We can work with the customer in a non-threatening environment."
Valley sells standard DME such as ramps, bath safety, CPAP and lifts grouped into target areas: customers can test drive a wheelchair on an indoor track or shop for ostomy supplies in a more private space set off from other items. Slat walls contain patient information.
"HMEs who get into a retail environment should accessorize everything, said Chris Godlewski, senior merchandiser at Gladson. "For instance, a walker--there's a lot of accessories for a walker that should be displayed near that walker."
New product lines encompass the wellness spectrum with aromatherapy, relaxation tapes and yoga products; body fat scales; and home safety items like carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
"We pretty much have something for everyone now," said Fishel, whose target retail customer is the baby boomer. "They're looking at ways to make their parents' lives easier, but their own, as well."
Baby boomers don't mind spending for what they need, said Godlewski.
"They are the ones who are going to spend the extra money for mom and dad and themselves," he said.