Previously in this seven-part series, I have explained the different types of medical alert equipment and their particular characteristics. I have also given examples of different ways to approach the medical alert business, whether as an independent medical alert dealer or as an additional revenue stream to your existing business. As in any business, certain criteria must be analyzed and considered before introducing a new product or service. You can review previous articles in this series here.
It is important to understand who will be using this product. A senior living alone who wants to remain in their home rather than go into a controlled environment such as an assisted living facility or a nursing home will be your primary customer. This scenario is known as aging-in-place. There are many services available to seniors aging-in-place to assist them in areas that become difficult for them to maintain, such as household chores, preparing meals, shopping, administering medications, exercise programs and physical therapy and delivery of specialized medical services such as oxygen.
A medical alert system gives seniors a way to call for help or assistance when they need it by simply pressing the button on the pendant they are wearing. Typically, after all the services mentioned above are delivered, the senior is left alone. No hospital, rehabilitation center or nursing home would allow a patient to be alone without an emergency button that is monitored by the front desk. With that in mind, no senior should be home alone without a medical alert system. Once you have supplied your customers with hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, transfer devices, oxygen and home care service, a medical alert system should be an automatic add-on. Therefore, a medical alert system is another service that should be offered by an HME provider or caregiver service to give their customers around-the-clock protection. A successful HME provider or caregiver service already knows when the demographics of their area qualify to add a medical alert service for their customers, so that makes for an easy decision.
As in any marketplace, a company will not survive if there are not opportunities for growth and projections of increased profitability as the company grows. The health care industry seems to have a built-in factor for growth as the baby boomers are now in the forecast. Baby boomers are reaching 65 years of age at a rate of 10,000 per day and will do so until 2030, which will place these seniors in your marketplace beyond 2050. This is an incredible number of potential customers entering the marketplace every day. You must remain competitive to ensure that you are able to acquire your share of this growing market and therefore grow your business. By offering a complete blend of products and services to address your marketplace, potential customers do not have to shop numerous companies (your competition) to satisfy their needs. Offering a medical alert system will give you one more product and service to help gain and retain the highest volume of new customers.
When considering adding any new product or service, it is important that this product or service blend into your present offerings without needing to market to a new audience. A customer of an HME store or home caregiver service is also a potential medical alert customer. Once your company has fulfilled a customer's basic equipment needs, they then have to purchase a medical alert system. It's better to offer the medical alert system and realize an additional profit. Think of the medical alert customers who will also be drawn to your company for other services you offer. Promote your business as a one-stop shop; this can be a lateral marketing strategy that greatly helps growth.
Monetary investment is an important factor in adding a product to your company's offerings. In my experience, one of the most costly areas of introducing a product is finding and understanding the marketplace for the product. Then comes advertising your brand to that marketplace. Your sales team must learn the product and the customers in order to make the investment profitable. As an HME provider or caregiver service, you are past the expensive brand marketing stage. As your brand is already recognized in your market, all you have to do is add a medical alert system to your present offerings and change your advertising to reflect the addition. Your staff is already in place and can be easily trained on how to promote a PERS or medical alert system. The only financial investment is the product, which can be purchased at the rate of sale, so you do not need to keep minimum orders of stock. Just be sure to keep one in stock for demos.
Medical alert programs can be profitable in two different ways. One is an over-the-counter product that can be sold to a customer for a profit, much like other HME products. Another way is to lease a medical alert system to a customer for a monthly fee. A call center monitors this type of medical alert system 24/7, and the fee to the customer is recurring income for you. The type of medical alert system you choose to carry depends on your business model. Selling a medical alert system over-the-counter will give you profit immediately, whereas leasing medical alert systems will normally reap a higher profit spread over a period of time. Also, a leased medical alert system can be leased out more than once, extending the profits on that particular system. This should be considered as you research the medical alert business, and it's important to choose the type of system that best fits your business model. I went into more detail in my July 2015 article, "Financial Opportunities in the Medical Alert Marketplace." Please refer to that article (homecaremag.com/home-monitoring-2015), or contact my office to further discuss these different programs.
I always say, "Marketing out, phone call in." That sounds easy, but is hard to do. If you are already in the senior marketplace, then your marketing is out. You have an existing customer base you can market to directly every time you introduce a new product or service. Medical alert systems fall into the same marketing avenues that you are presently using as an HME provider or caregiver service. The bullet point that you can add to your advertising is, "We offer 24 hour monitoring to our clients." That is a very strong marketing statement that also puts you a step above your competition.
With your staff in place, there is very little you have to do to add another product to your offerings. Your staff will need to be educated on the medical alert system, but that is easy to accomplish. We work very closely with our medical alert dealers to be sure their staff has the knowledge necessary when talking with their customers. Once your staff is ready, it's just a matter of introducing the medical alert system and adding it to your sales reports.
I think you can see the benefits of adding a medical alert system to your offerings and offering your customers one more product to help them age-in-place, giving them the benefit of getting help when they need it and at the same time adding another profit center to your business. If you have questions about medical alert systems, or if I can be of help introducing medical alert systems into your business model, please do not hesitate to contact me. My information is listed below.
In next month's issue of HomeCare, I will be answering questions from readers who have sent them in during the last few months. It's not too late if you have one. Please email your questions directly to editor Stephanie Gibson Lepore at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words "Home Monitoring Series' in the subject line.
Read all articles in this series at here.