Medtrade Spring preview: Don't let fear get in the way

Friday, March 23, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Fear is what prevents more HME providers from offering home modification services, says Bill Stelzer. Providers are scared because they're equipment people, not contractors, he says, and contractors are afraid because they don't know HME. But that fear is keeping both from a lucrative business opportunity that's primarily cash-driven, says Stelzer, the retired general manager of Green Bay Home Medical Equipment. He now coaches providers toward the home modifications market, and he'll share some tips at Medtrade Spring. Here's a preview:

HME News: How did Green Bay Medical get into the home modification business? 

Bill Stelzer: What spurred us was that we couldn't find anyone to do it for people. If we did find a contractor, it was three or six months before they could do the job. So we hired a carpenter of our own.

HME: How did you drum up business?

Stelzer: We started the carpenter out delivering equipment. He would see things in people's homes so he could recommend modifications. Within three months, he wasn't doing deliveries, and within three years, we had four people in that area. We did home and garden shows, and joined our local homebuilders' association.

HME: What kind of benefits did you see in your business?

Stelzer: Within three years, we took it to $3 million--mostly cash or credit card. More than anything, it helped our reputation. People said, "That's the go-to place." Home modifications are things that a family will rally around and pay for.

HME: How should a relationship with a contractor be structured?

Stelzer: It can be done with a partnership or an agreement; I've seen it work that way. You have to decide how to divide the profits. When we first started talking to subcontractors, they said, "Sure, we can do it in three to four weeks." That wasn't fast enough for us. We hired our own carpenter and subbed out for electricians and plumbers. We said, "We'll raise your pay from $60 per hour to $90 per hour if you can do the job within 48 hours." They all jumped on it.

Name: Bill Stelzer

Title/company: Coach/owner, Bill Stelzer Consulting

Services provided: Home modification consulting

Session: "Home Modification and You--Home Accessibility Business Opportunities Within the HME/DME Marketplace"

Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 3:00 pm to 4:00 p.m.

Contact: 920.639.6993 /