Million-dollar leap of faith pays off

'If you're not growing, you're dying,' says Monroe
Friday, June 21, 2013

PEORIA, Ill. – How do you make your customers feel like a million bucks? Invest $1 million into a space that provides a new HME experience, says provider Chris Monroe. 

Monroe, president of Peoria, Ill.-based Family Medical Equipment and Supplies, spent the past year doing just that, moving his shop to a fully renovated building that offers a brighter, more colorful atmosphere for customers. Monroe and his wife, Heather, added to the experience by opening a café in partnership with a local coffee shop and setting up their women’s health boutique, called The Plaid Daisy, in the same building.

“We wanted to give it a lifestyle-enhancing flair, to make customers feel empowered and happy,” he said. “It’s amazing, the difference we’ve seen in people’s attitudes.”

It’s a big change from Family Medical’s previous location, which it occupied since 1973, serving around 15,000 customers a year.

Augmenting traditional HME with coffee, jewelry and women’s hats and clothing, offers higher profit margins, but it’s not easy, Monroe said.

“You have to have an eye for what to bring in,” he said. “It’s very different from finding the cheapest walker.”

The additional revenue will get Monroe closer to his end goal of moving away from Medicare, a market he says is on the cusp of huge changes that may not be good for HME providers. 

“There was no alternative,” he said. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”