Rice Home Medical takes a chance

Monday, June 30, 2008

ALEXANDRIA, Minn.--Rice Home Medical opened its fifth location this spring, a “pilot program” emphasizing high-end retail.

“We’re taking a chance,” said Executive Director Carol Laumer. “There’s growth in the area, and the per capita income appears to be better.”

The 8,000-square-foot location is split between a warehouse, a retail showroom and patient education and fitting rooms. Rice offers a full line of DME, and thanks to its new location, an expanded complex rehab division.

Laumer said the area is home to a growing population of baby boomers with higher-than-average incomes.

Already, she has had customers offer to “pay whatever it costs” for more stylish products.

“We still have to have cost effective, quality bent metal, but we also want stuff that’s not so hospital-like,” Laumer said.

Medicare currently comprises about 47% of Rice’s business, while cash sales are about 10%, a number Laumer would like to see grow to 25%.

To help drive sales, the company recently hosted an industry consultant to talk about sales techniques.

Soon after, it launched an initiative called “Did you know?” whereby staffers use the phrase in conversations with customers to draw attention to monthly specials.

“It makes it a little easier for (staffers) to sell, no matter where they are in the organization,” Laumer said.