Know your Options, VGM says

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WATERLOO, Iowa - The VGM Group's CFO Mike Mallaro came up with one of the company's "most innovative and ambitious projects to date" (to steal a line from a press release) last year while shopping at Home Depot.
Here's the story in Mallaro's own words:
"The way it came about was my wife wanted to remodel the kitchen and we were at Home Depot, and I noticed this catalogue on renovating your kitchen. It was a 32- or 36-page glossy magazine. It went from countertop to flooring to cabinetry to appliances and listed your options. What is the difference between quartz and stone and granite? There were a lot of great pictures and suggestions. I saw that and said, 'Why isn't there anything like this for home medical equipment?'"
There is now: VGM's "Know Your Options: A Guide to Home Care Products and Home Accessibility." The guide has two main uses for an industry evolving toward more cash sales.
First, it serves as a retail support piece for customers, covering all the major categories of home medical equipment and suggesting a variety of cash accessories. Secondly, it functions as a marketing tool and providers have already begun taking boxes of Option catalogues and giving them to referral sources who send them a lot of business.
"It is a subtle sales piece, but it is educational and explains everything," Mallaro said. "I could see nurses and discharge planners going: 'I don't want to sit with grandma and explain all the differences and all the different kinds of lifts that are available at home. I'd rather hand them an item that already has all this stuff and that has the name of the HME provider so when they go home and read it and have some questions, that is who they are going to call.'"
VGM debuted Options earlier this year and members snapped up the first 20,000. Of the 30,000 printed for the second run, 10,000 have been sold ($650 per 500). Additionally, providers have bought 15,000 customized versions that include their company's name, address and logo on front and back cover.
"This makes our job a whole lot easier because we've been pulling together brochures and handouts and information to provide to people," said Debbie Davis, director of Health Essentials in Joplin, Mo. "This Options magazine is the thing we need to show our customers what some of the possibilities are." HME