Selling standers to schools 'a whole different animal'

Thursday, August 25, 2011

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Schools are finding that using standers in the classroom helps students participate with their peers and increases attentiveness and alertness.

That could mean an opportunity for HME providers, says Andy Hicks, East Coast Regional Sales Manager at Altimate Medical, which manufactures the EasyStand.  

Providers could possibly make two sales for each child, said Hicks, since school departments don't allow the equipment to go home with the child and Medicare/Medicaid rules don't allow it to be brought to school. 

However, providers should know that supplying equipment to school districts has its pitfalls. 

"Selling to schools is a different animal than the individual sales are," said Mark Schmitt, sales and marketing director at Altimate Medical. "It takes a little bit longer and it's a little more complicated."

That was the case for Leona McGinty, who works in customer service and business development for Melbourne, Fla.-based Browning's Pharmacy and Health Care. 

Browning's lost a bid in its local school district to a drop-ship Internet company after working with the school for months to come up with a proposal. 

Altimate subsequently refused to supply the standers because it wanted them to be provided by a company that offered set-up, training and support for the schools. 

"They went to bat with us," said McGinty. "I think it goes back to where, in rehab, people are looking to get things online, but they don't understand the product and so it's not used correctly. The whole rehab component is so critical." 

Browning's was finally able to provide the equipment at the end of the 2010-2011 school year--more than a year after the initial contact. 

McGinty recommends that providers looking to sell to schools get the school's therapist actively involved. 

It was worth it to Browning's in the end, McGinty said. 

Upon delivery, "I can't tell you how excited the people on the school board were," said McGinty. "You would have thought we were bringing them bags of gold."