Outsourcing service: A new trend?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

ELYRIA, Ohio - Leveraging its partnership with a repair and maintenance specialty contractor, Invacare has rolled out a new service program as an option for providers who do not want to handle that part of power mobility sales.
The Five Star Service Program--officially rolled out last month--allows mobility providers to outsource the service component to Roadrunner Mobility, a Richardson, Texas-based company that specializes in power mobility equipment repair. The idea, says Invacare Vice President of Service Chris Yessayan, came from customer requests.
"Providers have told us they can't get into power because they don't have the ability to set up the infrastructure," he said. "Between their feedback and changes in the marketplace, it seemed like the right time to put together a formalized program for providers who couldn't offer this level of service to their customers."
Under the program, the provider has an option to add Five Star Service to any power chair or scooter purchase, with prices averaging $100 to $150 per unit depending on the model. Any chair covered by the plan will be serviced by Roadrunner for the life of the product.
Program participants need not be concerned with losing business to Roadrunner, Yessayan said, because the company works as an invisible player in the process.
"All business gets referred back to the provider," Yessayan said. "And loaner chairs are provided for those that can't be repaired on site."
Could service outsourcing become a trend for mobility providers? The answer will likely depend on how integral the service component is to an organization. Providers like Texas DME near Fort Worth, Texas, consider it a hallmark of their business and wouldn't think of letting anyone else handle it.
"We are dedicated to servicing whatever we sell," said Jim Smith, purchasing and marketing manager. "We're committed to doing it ourselves. We have a professional staff that has been to technical school and are certified. We see service as a part of our professional image. Our customers depend on us."
Newburgh, N.Y.-based Consolidated Medical is similarly dedicated to in-house service, though President Doug Crana said he'd be interested in hearing more details about the program.
"I probably wouldn't jump on it immediately--we have developed a niche for service and repair," he said. "I will say, however, that if any company can make a program like this succeed, it's Invacare."