It's 'tempting' to buy on price alone but...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EXETER, Pa. - Pride Mobility has pulled a page out of the automotive industry's playbook, implementing a strategy that improves product design and reduces the need for repairs after the sale.
"These aren't new principles," said Walt Clark, vice president of design quality and advance technology. "Honda and Toyota taught us 20 years ago that you have to design it up front and then you don't have problems downstream. If you do that, everything comes out of the box perfect; it looks great and it makes the customers happy from day one and for the life the of the product."
The mobility manufacturer has always emphasized design quality but now "we are doing it on steroids," said Clark of the initiative that's been in the works for about two years.
"We are focused on designing products that rival the quality standards set by the automotive industry where (manufacturers) have a goal of reducing quality occurrences to one in a million vs. the one in hundreds in our industry," said Scott Meuser, chairman and CEO of Pride Mobility Products.
A service call to repair a product under warrantee can cost a provider $150 to $250, said Ted Raquet, vice president of domestic sales.
Add a couple of those onto the price of a low-cost import and pretty soon it's no longer the low-cost product, say executives at Pride, Invacare and other manufacturers who don't want to compete on cost alone.
"A higher priced product that provides a better patient outcome and, at the same time, delivers a total lower cost is sure a heck of a lot better proposition than a lower cost product that requires multiple visits for repair," said Lou Slangen, senior vice president of worldwide market development at Invacare,
While some providers obviously buy on price alone, many consider quality a key factor, according to a February HME NewsPoll.
"While it is tempting to buy just off price alone, the old adage that you get what you pay for is alive and well in the HME industry," said Cliff Woolard, president of Home Med-Equip in Concord, Calif.