Providers ready to bargain

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In recent years, Medtrade attendees have forgone buying in favor of the show’s educational offerings. This year not so much, according to the September HME NewsPoll.

Topping the to-do list for attendees this year: checking out new products, say 40% of the 235 poll respondents.

“We’re going back to the basics of exploring new products, gaining product knowledge and getting back to selling new items and products, like we used to do years ago,” wrote one provider. “We will attend no seminars or lectures.”

Indeed, after several years of cramming for national competitive bidding, accreditation and a host of other changes, providers this year say it’s time to get back to the business of running their businesses.

“We are looking for new retail items that can be introduced into our market area,” wrote one poll respondent. “And we want better pricing on old items to keep our costs down. These two areas are what are going to be important if one is going to survive the next couple of years.”

Other providers also mentioned retail, which offers a chance to build cash business outside of the Medicare arena.

“We are thinking of opening a retail store, so we will be focusing on that,” wrote Danette Frauenholtz, a provider from Iowa City, Iowa, who planned to check out a mix of exhibits and seminars.

Still, 25% of respondents say they are interested in attending seminars. Thirty-five percent plan to network at the show.

“I want to see what other retail companies are doing,” wrote Jeff Mahood, operations manager for Girard, Ohio-based Boardman Medical Supply. “I will continue to look for new products. I want to improve on our costs of current product lines, even if it means we go to a different supplier.”

Several big name vendors have dropped out of the show in recent years. That’s a concern for some providers.

“Medtrade is a prime opportunity for us to network with our vendors,” said Kerry Renaud, president and COO of Scootaround.

For vendors who do exhibit at the show, the attitude of provider Ken Kerns should be music to their ears.

“We plan to walk every aisle and stop at every booth,” said the buyer for Cleveland, Ohio-based Amerimark Direct.