Don't rush into retail

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A move into retail isn’t something to be rushed—take your time and do it right. That’s the advice that Cliff Woolard will give providers at Medtrade, where he’ll share his story about expanding his successful 32-year-old HME business into retail in 2006. 

Woolard’s session will focus on the lessons he’s learned along the way, and he gave HME News this first look. 

HME News: What was the first step you took in getting into retail?

Cliff Woolard: The biggest thing was finding the right location within our service area that would be high traffic but easy to access. We spent about a half a year finding a space. Don’t rush.

HME: How did you determine what products to carry?

Woolard: Many get into big items like scooters and lift chairs, but what sells over and over are disposables like wound care and incontinence. If you are in a town of 100,000, how many bath chairs are you really going to sell?

HME: How do you compete with big-box retail?

Woolard: We focus on personalized service. We can develop a relationship they won’t get at big-box stores, and they are willing to pay a little more for that. 

HME: What’s a roadblock you encountered?

Woolard: We chose a location next to an independent pharmacy. The day I signed the lease, the pharmacist told me he was closing his business after 30 years. Mine was the only viable business on one end of a strip mall. Now we have an anchor grocery store and 100% occupancy. I think we had a part in that revitalization.