The Scooter Store: Coming to a town near you

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas - The Scooter Store's image as just a big call center in New Braunfels, Texas, is no longer accurate, company officials say.

The provider announced last week that it plans to expand the number of storefronts it has from eight to 59 nationwide.

"A lot of it has to do with buyer types," said Mike Pfister, The Scooter Store's executive vice president of government relations and external affairs. "There are buyers that respond to direct mail and TV ads, and there are buyers that like to walk in and kick the tires or meet with a consultant who can talk them through things face to face. We're just trying to cover our bases."

The existing storefronts, mostly in the South, have been in place for several years, allowing The Scooter Store to experiment with what products they should have and how their employees should interact with customers.

The Scooter Store came up with a storefront that displays a variety of products--not just mobility products--and gives its 800 professionals in local markets, including 100 assistive technology practitioners (ATPs) and 175 healthcare relations consultants, a "rallying place" to meet with potential customers, Pfister said.

"Anyone can call to make an appointment to talk to someone," he said.

The driver behind The Scooter Store's latest move: diversification. In addition to different buyers, the emphasis is on different products (insulating itself somewhat from Medicare cuts to particular category) and different payers (meaning cash).

"Seniors are beginning to spend more and more of their discretionary money on health care, and we need to have retail locations that lead that," Pfister said. "That's the direction it has to go in. Medicare will not continue to pay for all of the same products at all of the same ratios forever."

The majority of the storefronts will be carved out of The Scooter Store's more than 50 distribution centers and "dressed up," Pfister said.

"You'd have to go back years, but The Scooter Store was called The Scooter Store because that's what it started out as," he said.