Home accessibility pro tips: Bulk up on certifications, training

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa – Specialization is key to success in home accessibility, with more and larger companies getting into and consolidating the market, says Rick Lair.

Lair, president and managing partner of the Arlington, Texas-based Challenge Specialties, says “cookie cutter” products will become dominated by these larger companies, which include Amazon and Home Depot, so smaller independent companies must find niche products and services to provide, and ramp up their training.

“I became an ADA inspector in Texas,” said Lair, who holds five industry certifications, during a recent Heartland at Home webinar. “One of my thoughts is, either you’re going forward or you’re going backward. You can’t stay in one place. Even though you’re doing all of your business, you need to look forward or else everyone will be ahead of you.”

Among Lair’s certifications: certified environmental access consultant (CEAC) and certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS).

Here are more keys to success from Lair:

In addition to industry certifications, providers should seek out training from manufacturers, he says. “Go to different companies—anyone you’re doing business with—and ask them (for training),” he said. “COVID-19 has thrown a big wrench in that, but a lot of them are offering webinars where you can go anytime and get trained.”

Speaking of the pandemic, overall, it will help not hurt the market, he says. “More and more elderly people are getting pulled from assisted living and aged environments, and they’re trying to go to homes,” he said. “When they bring them home, they have special needs. You need to know how to assess (their situations) and you need to know what products are out there.”

Because of the pandemic, providers should be looking to incorporate virtual or mobile showrooms to their business plans. “You need a way to show them what’s in (your showroom),” he said. “You have to look at, how am I going to talk to people who aren’t going to come in and see me?”

While specialization is key, providers should be specialists in a number of products, he says. “If you’re only depending on construction, you’re dead in the water,” he said. “There are slow times and fast times. You need multiple streams of income. When one is not going well, you have the other.”