For retail success, put your best face forward

Monday, November 21, 2011

ATLANTA - When it comes to retail success, providers need to sell themselves as much as they sell their products, said panelists at a Medtrade session, "HME Retail Panel: Branding, Creativity and Service Work! Don't Miss Out on Cash and Retail Opportunities."

"Become a marketing company that just happens to sell HME," said panelist Jim Greatorex, president of Portland, Maine-based Black Bear Medical.

The most obvious way to market yourself: advertising. Track how those ad dollars are working. Use coupons in print advertising not only to bring customers into the store, but also to track how many people saw your ad. Another way to track results: unique phone numbers for each advertising medium (print, TV, radio) that tell you which ads are generating calls.

It doesn't hurt to consider your referral sources either, says panelist Tom Mullaney, president of Cincinnati, Ohio-based Mullaney Medical. One of his biggest: chain pharmacies. Mullaney had little tear-off pads printed up with his contact information and store locations that he distributed to the chains.

"They love it," he said. "They don't have to try and give directions."

Don't forget your most valuable asset: your employees. Let their personalities shine through. Make sure they can talk to customers and assess their needs. It's also important to give salespeople a reason to sell, says panelist Cindy Ciardo, CEO of Knueppel HealthCare Services.

"We pay 10% on every upgrade," she said. "To move our old inventory, we pay bonuses."