by Graham Miller
June 3, 2015

If you're buying a wheelchair or scooter, it's 99 percent likely that you will need a ramp or lift, whether to get into your home, to accommodate a step down into a room, or even to transition across a threshold. Many people don't know where to go for ramps or lifts, and HME/DME dealers are on the front line of solving this problem.

Gail Walker

National Ramp nationalramp.com

National Ramp's powder-coated finish provides extra durability.National Ramp's powder-coated finish provides extra durability.

HC: What trends do you see on the horizon in the lifts and ramps market this year? GW: We see the ramp market increasing every year, especially with more brand and product awareness, and especially with the aging population. HC: What challenges do you anticipate this year? GW: Since ramps are not affected by competitive bidding, we see very few challenges in the ramp marketplace. HC: What is the most important thing that HME providers can do to stay competitive in this market? GW: The most important thing HME providers can do to increase revenue and profits in this market is to spend money on advertising. You can have the best products, the best knowledge, and great people, but if buyers can't find you, they won't buy from you. Make sure your website is modern and that you are using the best optimization methods to drive traffic to your site and your social media platforms.

 

 

Dave Henderson

 

 

EZ-ACCESS ezaccess.com

The Passport vertical platform lift accommodates difficult pathways.The Passport vertical platform lift accommodates difficult pathways.

HC: What trends do you see on the horizon in the lifts and ramps market this year? DH: We're seeing more focus on the longevity of the product, as well as the versatility. Users are leaning towards semipermanent ramps, which will last decades with little maintenance but can also be taken down easily and reconfigured for a new home, or even resold. Users are also shifting to lifts that are easier to set up, take up less space and are lighter weight. HC: What challenges do you anticipate this year? DH: Easy solutions are one of the biggest needs in the HME market. Having the ability to quickly assess and provide an effective solution is important for success. HC: What is the most important thing that HME providers can do to stay competitive in this market? DH: HME providers in the lifts and ramps market need to increase Web marketing. We have provided resources through our new website to promote our dealers on the Web, but we would certainly recommend that our dealers examine their Web presence and look into search engine marketing, social media marketing, and optimizing their website for search engines. The users are out there and looking for a reputable mobility ramp dealer in their area, but without a good Web presence, they may not find you.

Fred Jensen

Prairie View Industries Inc. (PVI) pviramps.com

The Multifold ramp separates into two pieces for easy transport.The Multifold ramp separates into two pieces for easy transport.

HC: What trends do you see on the horizon in the lifts and ramps market this year? FJ: Recently, USA Today featured article on aging-in-place, saying that the vast majority of people 50 and older want to stay in their homes, and that two-thirds are living in the best homes of their lives. The article focuses on smart controls, lighting controls, cleaning robots, and, in particular, access ramping. With this continued national media coverage on the concept of aging-in-place, and the cost of custom labor rising, we feel strongly that sales growth will continue and access-focused providers will see the same. HC: What challenges do you anticipate this year? FJ: One of our biggest challenges is helping HME providers understand that ramp sales are an easy and extremely profitable source of cash sales for their businesses. HC: What is the most important thing that HME providers can do to stay competitive in this market? FJ: In this challenging market, HME providers should see the value and profitability in both selling these products and in thoroughly educating their customers. Ramp sales should be part of every ATP service tech and CSR's daily conversations with customers. All this takes is a display stand or a $100 ramp in the showroom, a $30 threshold on their trucks or a brochure.

Karen Riker

American Access aaramps.com

A hybrid aluminum and steel ramp is durable and environmentally friendly.A hybrid aluminum and steel ramp is durable and environmentally friendly.

HC: What trends do you see on the horizon in the lifts and ramps market this year? KR: As the public continues to age and manufacturers and their dealer counterparts continue to raise awareness about the accessibility solutions available that allow consumers to stay in their homes longer, we expect the coming years to be healthy for both the residential and commercial markets. The voice of the customer will be heavily considered, and will influence our product selections to drive innovation and give us opportunities to be thought leaders when it comes to the unique needs of our customers. HC: What challenges do you anticipate this year? KR: A private pay sale for ramps and lifts has been the norm in the lifts and ramps industry; however, the competitive bidding environment has generated a different kind of consumer. Because of the delays and disruption of goods and services, customers are now more likely to forego the delays and simply purchase products out of pocket. It\'92s a slow shift, but over time we have seen an increase in consumers with cash. As a result of the upswing in private pay customers, we've also seen a growth in the number of HME providers expanding product offerings to include ramps and lifts. HC: What is the most important thing that HME providers can do to stay competitive in this market? KR: HME providers that display a true sense of care and understanding for their customers are our most successful ramp dealers. Caring forges the kind of trust needed in our business to be successful because what we do is personal. While this may not be the easiest path to follow, HME providers will be able to maintain growth when the customer is handled with care.