Extra revenue stream is a joy

Self-taught repairman launches joystick service
Friday, August 23, 2013

GREENSBORO, N.C. – A power wheelchair might have a brand new battery, perfect seating and positioning system, and rugged tires, but without a functioning joystick, it isn’t going anywhere.

That’s why provider Brian Keith is reaching out to wheelchair users and to other HME providers to offer joystick repair services—and the idea is starting to take off. 

“It’s gaining momentum,” said Keith, owner of Greensboro, N.C.-based Mobility-Repair-Rental and a self-taught joystick repairman. “This is one of the most important parts of the wheelchair.”

For $49, Keith will diagnose the joystick’s issues and provide a repair cost estimate. If he gets a green light, he does the repair and warrantees his work for 90 days. He advertises the service on his website, mobility-repair-rental.com, and through word of mouth.

Most joysticks break by accident, Keith says. 

“They might put something on it that’s too heavy,” he said. “And, as it ages, the boot tends to wear thin and get holes that liquid might get in, like a spilled soda.”

While a new joystick might cost upward of $700, repairs tend to cost less than half that, Keith says, with many costing less than $200.

So far, most business has come from other HME providers on behalf of their customers. It’s a good deal for the patient and the provider, Keith says.

“This way, they don’t have to have a repair person in-house,” he said. 

Keith expects to see more requests for such repairs in the coming months from customers of The Scooter Store and others who’ve lost providers to competitive bidding.

“They’ve got to reach out to somebody,” he said.