Scooter Questions You Can't Ignore

Consumers are sold on the benefits of a scooter, thanks in part to television commercials or word of mouth from friends, when they arrive at your showroom.

The problem, manufacturers say, is that they don't know jack about the product itself.

For instance, a recent AARP study revealed that only 4.6 percent of current scooter users ride them only indoors. Another 37 percent ride them strictly outdoors, while 58 percent choose both venues. AARP also asked about hours: 14.8 percent use their scooters more than eight hours a day, 12.9 percent between four and eight hours, and 26.6 percent fall into the one to four hours a day category. The largest chunk of the audience - 37 percent - don't even fire up their scooter every day.

On the dark side, 32 percent of scooter owners have tipped over with it: 57 percent of those folks tipped once, 25 percent tipped twice, 11 percent tipped three times and 5.6 percent tipped greater than four times. Most found themselves on the ground thanks to surface unevenness (aka, flipped when they hit an incline), followed by turning at too fast a speed.

"So the most important question a buyer could ask is 'What is the stability factor of the vehicle?'" says DuWayne Kramer Jr., president of Burke, Inc. "Instead, they want to know if you have the red one in stock." Sure, you could start spewing numbers about stability factors, and bury the customer with information on whether a scooter has the power to climb a hill from a stop or a running start. But it's far more effective sales technique to show the customer why he cares.

Thus, if you want to avoid putting the wrong customer on the wrong type of vehicle, scooter sales are a process of continual Q&A:

1. What is the individual's height and weight? Know your models' capacity and their performance rates at the heavier ends.

2. What activities do customers like to do on a daily basis? "Playing with my grandkids" isn't enough detail, points out Cy Corgan, national sales director for retail mobility at Pride Mobility Products Corp. You want to know if they like to teach family barbecue secrets on the backyard grill or whomp the youngsters at Scrabble at the kitchen table. Likewise, "hanging out at the casinos on the Boardwalk" would require more battery power.

3. How much time will you be on the vehicle?

  • a. More weekends or weekdays?

4. Will they transport the scooter on a regular basis?

  • a. Will they use it in a place of employment?
  • b. Will they vacation with it?
  • c. How will they transport it?
  • d. Do they have a lift or ramp for their van? (Pssst, this answer may lead to additional product sales.)

5. Do they need an oxygen holder?

6. What are the counter heights in their house? At the restaurants where they frequent? The grocery store shelves? (These folks may be candidates for power-elevating seat add-ons.)

7. What is the square footage in their bathrooms and kitchens? If it's too tight, this person might need a power chair more than a scooter.

Surely, you have everything you need now? "Keep probing," says Corgan. "This isn't a short conversation. You need to formulate in your mind which products to recommend, and the more they talk, the more it gets them off price as their consideration in buying a scooter."

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Julie Sturgeon of CEOEditor, Inc., is an online contributing writer for Mobility Management.

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