Case Study: Beds

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine - The margins on specialty mattresses and adjustable beds are attractive for cash-strapped HME providers, but Jim Greatorex says, for him, they haven't been "huge movers" yet.

"They hold promise," said Greatorex, president of Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine, which does a brisk retail business. "But it isn't easy to get consumers to look in an HME store for mattresses and beds."

For just over a year, Greatorex has had in his showroom a line of specialty mattresses with adjustable bases made by Sleep & Wellness Centers. Sometimes, he also has adjustable beds by Flex-A-Bed.

Greatorex has found that, when customers do look in his store for mattresses and beds, he has as good a chance as Mattress Giant to make a sale.

"Even though we're competing directly with furniture stores, we have competitive advantages, like better prices," he said.

To increase the visibility of his mattresses and beds, Greatorex has tried to make it a point to let his referral sources know that he carries them.

"The people who need these beds are the ones who complain to their doctor or their chiropractor about their beds," he said.

Greatorex is also working on his sales team (they're not always comfortable promoting and cross-selling mattresses and beds) and his layout (he's always kept the mattresses and beds in the back of his showroom, so customers can try them out in privacy, but he realizes that makes them harder to find).

"It has a decent mark-up, and it's a retail transaction, so we want to stick with it," he said.