Efficiency is Key to Today's Success

With the challenging economic and industry climates, it is necessary to realign your business processes to maximize efficiencies, which in turn will maximize your competitive strengths. The proper metrics and benchmarks are essential to ensuring your business efficiency in any business climate.

When an efficient operation is maintained, you can find success and build your business even in the most challenging business environment. For this to happen, you have to not only ensure that your business is being run in the most cost-effective manner possible, you need to partner with a manufacturer who understands the important role their products and services play in helping you attain maximum efficiency.

Let's examine some key business areas with corresponding target benchmarks that will allow you to measure your current level of efficiency and work to maximize your profitability.

Complex Rehab

Efficiency in supplying complex rehab equipment directly relates to your business' ability to be competitive. You will need to examine your evaluation-to-delivery cycle and identify the areas where you can improve turnaround times. Here, the key to efficiency is to improve areas that are within your control. If you can minimize this timeframe, you will be able to capitalize on the positive reputation you will earn in rehab facilities and among rehab professionals.

As the process itself varies, and involves doctors, therapists and many other outside parties, the evaluation-to-delivery time can fluctuate greatly. One way to keep well organized is to maintain communication with all interested parties throughout the process. Your staff should have a very clear understanding of the process and of what their role is in it. This helps keep everyone up to date on any items that may be outstanding and should keep things moving smoothly.

Evaluation-to-delivery should ideally be performed in 90 days or less. Expediting this process makes it clear to clinicians and referral sources that you understand that the patient's needs come first and generates invaluable positive word of mouth.

Furthermore, partnering with a manufacturer that has the services in place to support you and the ability to turn your order around quickly is another way to improve this cycle. Many complex rehab providers shy away from offering custom rehab solutions because they feel that it is too time consuming. However, in order to provide a complete solution to a patient's needs, custom items are often necessary and should be factored into the process.

Providers should look for a complex rehab manufacturer that has a dedicated staff with the ability to provide customized solutions within a minimal time frame. This will allow you to ensure your patient's specific needs are met and demonstrates your commitment to the best patient outcome. With positive patient outcomes and your reputation for an efficient delivery process, your bottom line will grow.

Standard Power

Efficiency in the standard power segment of your business is measured a bit differently. Here, unlike the complex rehab segment, most clients are not in facilities or being directed to you by a referral source. This means you need to assess how to educate consumers and generate a consistent level of sales opportunities or referrals. You need to examine your cost per referral and cost per sale, as they are two very important measurables that can be adjusted through efficient business strategies to help maximize your revenue generation. Efficient providers have streamlined the process in order to minimize their cost per referral. This can be done in several ways:

• Work with a potential client and educate them on the process of finding the right product for their needs. Clearly explain the process to the patient, making sure they understand it and have a general idea of what steps need to be taken in order to determine if a power mobility device is right for them. A simple brochure from a manufacturer who offers support services can help in explaining the process in an efficient manner.

• Another efficient best practice is to educate the physician on coverage criteria and documentation requirements necessary for power mobility devices. By properly educating them, you can efficiently navigate the sometimes time-consuming process.

An efficient industry benchmark for this complete process is 60 days. To efficiently accomplish this, you should keep your key power chairs and accessories in stock and align a majority of your standard power business with a top-quality manufacturer. This gives you predictable lead times, single invoicing and commonality of parts for efficient inventory management. In addition, a quality manufacturer will provide you cost-effective support services.

Scooters & Lift Chairs

Efficiency benchmarks for scooters and lift chairs are different from both complex rehab and standard power because approximately 60-70 percent of these sales are retail cash transactions. In order to make sure your advertising and merchandising efforts are producing a strong return on investment, it's essential that you measure cost per lead. Advertising and marketing should account for only five to eight percent of your total cash scooter and lift chair sales revenue when operating in an efficient manner.

An excellent way to accomplish this is by stocking a generous selection of scooter and lift chair models at various price points on your showroom floor. This allows for patient choice to drive your sales to higher-priced, more profitable models and allows you to expedite delivery of the scooter or lift chair, further building your strong reputation.

Completing the Mobility Solution

Complementary product lines such as vehicle lifts and ramps and accessories not only help to round out the mobility solutions you offer to your clients, they also provide you with an additional opportunity to generate revenue and improve your profitability. This portion of your business model should reflect incremental sales as a result of a product you provided in one of the business categories previously outlined.

Generating this revenue should require very little time and expense. It should be a natural outgrowth of the previous strategies discussed. An efficient benchmark to maintain is that 30-35 percent of your existing clients should purchase an accessory or complementary product within the first year of receiving their initial mobility solution.

Setting and achieving these benchmarks will ensure that you are maximizing your company's efficiency and will sharpen your competitive edge. When your company is operating as efficiently as possible, you will have a very effective advantage in a competitive and challenging business environment, and you will ensure that your business is set up for long-term success.

This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Kirsten DeLay is the chair of Medtrade’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and the executive VP of sales management & operational planning for Pride Mobility Products Corp., Exeter, Pa. Kirsten can be reached via e-mail at kdelay@pridemobility. com or by calling (800) 800-8586.

Rolling Dynamics, Rolling Resistance &  Optimizing Wheeled Prosthetics