ATG Rehab's Name Is Now All-Inclusive

As of Oct. 1, the rehab companies formerly known as Rehab Specialists, AAA Medical, Connecticut Rehab and Designing Mobility will share one name: ATG Rehab.

Along with the one unifying name comes a new slogan - Life. In Motion. - and a single logo, of a manual chair user speedily propelling forward.

And the companies will share one Web site: www.atgrehab.com.

It's a change, says ATG Rehab Northwest Region President Jerry Knight, meant to simplify communications for clients, referral sources, payors and other stakeholders, while strengthening the company's position in the rehab industry.

"The genesis of it, topic-wise," Knight says, "was at some point, we need to leverage the brand across a much bigger footprint than the regional companies that made up ATG, all of which have unbelievably good reputations in the marketplace. So, AAA in Denver and Rehab Specialists in the Bay Area and Designing Mobility in L.A. (etc.), all (have) long-term, leadership positions in complex rehab in those markets. So you have that positive in one hand - a legacy, a name, a trusted brand."

But sometimes, ATG Rehab would acquire a company, Knight says, that did not smoothly fit into that branding strategy. He points out a recent case in which the acquired company was "nameless." He notes, "It had no legacy name that came over with it. We had to name it something, and we didn't have another location in the Southeast to associate (with the acquired company). As we began to weigh all the different pluses and minuses of keeping the regional names and building upon them, or building a national brand, I think (what) really tipped us in favor of the national brand was the payor contracting opportunities ... and Internet and Web strategies that have yet to unfold."

Those national-brand benefits, Knight says, "trumped all of the other pluses from the regionalization strategies that we had."

So about five months ago, ATG Rehab began working on shifting to a single, unified brand for all of its locations.

While most people within the rehab industry readily knew that offices such as Wheelchair Center, Design-Able and Wheelchair Works were part of the ATG Rehab family, Knight says that wasn't the case for other stakeholders, such as consumers.

"I would say most were not aware," he says, despite the fact that the different offices all used a tagline that read, "An ATG Rehab Company."

While the decision to migrate to a single national brand may have been a relatively straightforward one, the actual execution was complex. Knight says a task force was formed, but that the project had "tentacles that went all over the place, from internal communications like e-mail that also present themselves externally to letterhead to business cards to our tagline and how we answer the phone. It touched so many corners that the entire management team was ultimately involved in executing the plan."

ATG Rehab hired eMedia Group, Inc., an Atlanta-based marketing firm, to develop the plan itself. Part of the initial planning required deciding if the company would unite under a completely new name or if it would use the ATG Rehab name. Deciding that the ATG Rehab name "had some brand equity," Knight says, "We've hung our hat on the ATG Rehab hook, and that's what we're running with. We're running with it on a lot of different topics in a lot of different directions."

ATG Rehab then started alerting clients, referral sources and other stakeholders. "To anyone that we had easy access to, we began introducing this idea formally in the middle of September," Knight says. Currently, all of ATG is involved in getting the word out, from the RTS working with an end-user or clinician to the regional billing center sending out notices.

"Any chance we have, we're talking about it," Knight says, who adds that new signage for the offices and vehicle makeovers are in the works.

As the change progresses, Knight says he hopes to make an impact on funding sources. "In the payor community, particularly as you get to regional, national relationships, the size of the footprint is a big deal," he says. "Through our contracting arm, our relationship with National Seating & Mobility called Capstone (Mobility Group), the ATG brand and its affiliates, along with the NSM brand and its affiliates, make for a bigger footprint and looks more cohesive."

Knight also says, "We clearly were expending dollars on these multiple brands on literally everything, from forms to the collateral and marketing materials and signage. Everything we did had to be done times as many companies as we had. And we are growing."

The unified Web site is currently under construction, with a rollout scheduled for the fourth quarter. "It will allow us to use some of the tools that are available in and around the Internet today to further tell our story and to communicate with current and future clients and family members and loved ones in a way like never before," Knight says.

The current, challenging times for rehab definitely contributed to the decision to use a national name, Knight adds.

"Quite honestly, at one point in time, the strategy was to sit back in the catbird seat and provide very, very back-office support services - legal, purchasing power, finance, banking, things like that - but allow these independents that were acquired by the Assistive Technology Group to function independently in their markets and just carry on the great work that they did to get them where they were," he explains.

"Over time, as the payors continued to ratchet down on reimbursement and costs went up, we got squeezed in the middle, and we had to find more ways to gain efficiency through consolidation, which we've been all about for the last two or three years. All we've done now is taken what we operationalized and communicated to the community. It's something we've been doing behind closed doors anyway; all this really does is proudly displays what we've accomplished."

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