Consultant's corner: Get creative, but within your comfort zone

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stop thinking “patient” and start thinking “customer,” says Susean Nichols, president of Millennium Management Services. That’s the fundamental change in mindset that Nichols encouraged in her Medtrade Spring session, fueled by some creative thinking about the products and services you offer. Here’s a recap.

HME News: What’s an example of that creative thinking you’re talking about? 

Susean Nichols: For example, I live in California. You can find at the grocery store little “earthquake preparedness” kits for $10 a piece. It’s a little snack, a drink, other things. Let’s take something like that. Could you provide one little niche and package it in a creative way? 

HME: How would that translate to HME?

Nichols: Think about some of the products you’re currently providing or supplements to your services. For example, diabetic shoes are also used for people who are on their feet a lot. We don’t think people would pay the price for that kind of footwear, so we overlook it as a market. If I’m the person who makes their life easier, they will return to me. 

HME: What response do you get from providers about this topic? 

Nichols: I’ve heard, “Oh, that’s not going to work for me.” Others say, “I’ve never stopped to think about it that way.” There are some people who won’t even look at providing extra supplies for CPAP customers, even though these are items that can solidify compliance. 

HME: What kind of marketing do you recommend to drum up cash sales? 

Nichols: It’s about being involved in your community, like a church or business group, or offering classes. Some providers do advertising in publications, on TV or radio, or make a contribution to their community newspaper or newsletter. Pick up a local newspaper to see what will work in your area.

HME: What message did you leave with attendees? 

Nichols: To broaden their thinking about their business model. But I don’t want to see a company go into something they’re not comfortable with. If they get too far outside of their comfort zone, it’s not going to work.