Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Setting Goals and Sticking To Them!

Soon the holiday decorations will be put away and the new year will be upon us. Many of us will start diving into our resolutions with a passionate cry that this year I will stick with my goals! Wait didn’t we say that last year….and the year before that… and the year before that. You get my point. Sticking to new goals is a challenge. Here are some ways to set appropriate goals and successfully accomplish them!

Define the Goals
- Create a clear definition of what your goal is.
- Be clear on the “why” of the goal which is your motivation.
- If you have more than one goal, group them into categories
- Tackling too many goals is a recipe for failure. Stick to a few key goals.

The Road Map
- A critial step is defining the how-to with monthly, daily, weekly steps.
- Put each step on a calendar to keep it top of mind and direct a clear path.

Celebrate the Wins
- Encouragement along the way keeps you engaged to accomplish your goals.
- Changing isn’t all or nothing. Celebrate victories with small rewards.

Evaluation – Practice not Perfection
- Put check-ins on the calendar to review progress
- Reviewing will drive more meaning to the goal and redirect efforts if needed.
- Each quarter ask questions such as - is the goal still relevant, how would you grade your progress, can you do other things to improve?

Example Goals
- Business Goal:
Define - grow retail sales by 5%
Motivation - a more profitable business
Map - create monthly retail sales promotion with help of sales team
Evaluation - monthly review of sales results,what worked what didn't
Celebration - quarterly catered lunch, bonus at year end if achieve goal

- Health Goal:
Define - Reach my goal weight of 150 lbs
Motivation - a healthier me to be active and live longer
Map - sign up and calendar an exercise class and attend 3 days a week
Evaluation - monthly weigh in and review of efforts
Celebration - quarterly get new shoes, year end a full spa day

Remember that life is about the journey. You will learn, you will fall, and you will grow– with focused intention, a plan, and self awareness you can stick with those goals and make them happen!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Supply Item Evaluation - Can you save $$$?

'Tis the season for budget stretching to meet end of the year goals and planning for your next year's expenses. This is prime time to evaluate all budget items - particularly supply products that can get lost under the radar due to their smaller expense lines. These can be items such as office supplies, disposables, accreditation materials, or other packaging products. Smaller costs can add up to big savings growing your bottom line!

Tips to Evaluate Supply Items

* Audit your purchase behavior - Are you buying anything intermittently in smaller quantities?

* Bulk buys - Consider bulk buying these items for volume based discount. Keep in mind storage needs.

* Consolidate Vendors - Could one vendor supply various items? There is potential to save on total order discounts and shipping costs.

* If you don't ask, you won't get it! - Ask your suppliers for any discount offers if you increase your order. If storage is an issue ask if they could they do blanket shipments at certain time intervals. The worse that could happen is they say no, but most suppliers appreciate your business and will try to work with you to make it a win-win.

* Participate in a Buying Group or Purchasing Organization Membership - These groups negotiate supplier contracts on your behalf so that you receive the best prices. Join the game, or if you are already member, take advantage of the benefits of membership with savings.

These are some quick ideas to get you started. Once you dive in you will be amazed at the stones you might uncover to drive additional savings. Have other tips to share? Please comment below. Happy Savings!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Maximize Seasonal Retail Sales

Do you hear those sleigh bells ringing? It should be the jingle of your cash register ringing up those holiday sales. Now is the time to create your holiday plan to make the most of your seasonal sales!

Gift Cards
The #1 retail gift of the season - gift cards. They are easy to buy, easy to give, and they let the recipient pick the gift they would like. Use store signage to make customers aware of your gift cards. Create a retail display by your check out areas. Make it a no-brainer by including the gift card packaging.

Ready-To-Go Gifts

Making gift giving easy will drive more sales. Create gift sets in a variety of price points to fit any budget. You can packaging them in cello bags, vinyl bags, or even holiday shoppers tied with a bow. Use signage to call out “Holiday Gift Center” to plant the seed that you offer the perfect gift. All customers have to do is walk the gift to the front counter and pop it under the tree.

Stocking Stuffers

Good things can come in small packages. In your gift center, add smaller items such as travel size products, first aid kits, holiday designed band-aids, holiday music, or local vendors candy. Offer in a variety of price points to increase sales potential. These little items can add high margin to your business and be that perfect little gift.

Gifts that Keeping Giving

This season many clients have limited holiday gift budgets and are looking for value. There are many products your business may offer that can giving through out the year by providing wellness or better patient care. Add this as a section to retail center focusing with some targeted products like a 3 month supply of compression hose, walker or cane special offers, masconomy product such as buy 3 bras get one free - the possibilities are endless for these items used every day.

Share these tips with your staff and check in weekly on progress and inventory status. You don’t want to miss out on a sales opportunity by running out of gift cards or popular retail items. Don't delay, prepare for a profitable holiday season today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cause Related Marketing – Show You Care

Are your marketing efforts not driving desired results? Is your healthcare business looking to gain new patients or customers? I have the answer to liven up your business and build brand image – Cause Related Marketing!

Cause related marketing is where you tie promotion efforts to a charity or cause. Causes could range from a special charity Breast Cancer Research, Heart Health Awareness, or activities such as a fundraiser or community event. Cause-related marketing can be a powerful tool for you connect with customers and your community. Your participation will generate goodwill, improve your visibility, increase customer loyalty, enhance your brand image, provide positive media attention, and increase your business! Customers would rather do business with a company that stands for something beyond profits.

Tips for Successful Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns:

Align with your business
Choose a cause that makes sense for your business. Many in the medical industry are choosing to support breast cancer research, heart health awareness, various races for the cures to diseases, COPD, and fitness and wellness programs. Your cause should be something meaningful your business type in order to resonate with your clients and community.

Passion = Success
Pick an event, cause, or charity you are passionate about. You need to be revved up about your cause. Your energy will inspire your internal team and customers. It also enhances the credibility of your efforts because you and your efforts are coming from the heart - sincerity counts!

The How To
Create your own campaign. Offer promotional items (such as awareness bands) as a gift with purchase or present as a token of appreciate for a customer's donation to your cause. Partner with local charities or unite with various national organizations. Many groups offer free marketing materials and kits to get you started. Hold special events or education classes and give away awareness related goodie bags full of educational info and how your business is championing the cause.

Still don’t know where to begin? Let us help. Check out our wide variety of our pink ribbon (breast cancer awareness) and red dress (heart health awareness) items. Click here to see our latest products - ideal for October Breast Cancer Awareness month. Have other successful cause marketing tips? Please share below!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Grow Retail Sales

If you are home healthcare provider, you can't go a day without reading an article about adding retail to your offering. Many HMEs and DMEs are diving into retail, investing in new products, and are re-organizing their store fronts. But where the rubber meets the road is the ability of your staff to sell. Most of your employees know your services, patients, and products inside and out, but don't necessarily possess stellar retail sales skills. Here are some quick tips to enhance your staff's selling performance!

How To: Take one afternoon to meet with your team or order dinner in and hold a sales training session. This allows your staff to be away from the day-to-day issues and focus. Keep it fun and light hearted. The number one fear of staff is not being able to answer a question accurately. Have the team create a variety of possible customer scenarios and roll play the dialogue that could occur. Doing this together helps brainstorm a variety of ideas. One person can be the note taker. After you have done this exercise, have the note taker read back key topics of concern and how best to handle them.

Next Steps: Have another team member create a "Retail Sales Cheat Sheet" from the sales session notes. This will highlight the key areas of concerns and with tips on how the staff member can overcome them when speaking to the customer. Pass this out to all sales staff and keep it posted in back rooms. Another great idea is to have bi-weekly product meetings with your team. This is a venue to educate on product features, introduce new items, reinforce current promotions, update your cheat sheet, or have a quick brainstorm on how to move certain inventory.

Reinforcement: They say what gets measured gets done. Keep tabs on your retail sales by staff member. Set goals, provide encouragement and sales tools, and celebrate success - no matter how small. A cup a coffee or a lunch out for sales improvement can do wonders. Bigger incentives like a bonus or a team party for quarterly or yearly goals are also great motivators.

Retail is an excellent way to increase your profits. It can be fun and easy with a bit a focus and a positive attitude. Please share below how your business is profitably adding retail. Happy Selling!

Friday, July 29, 2011

5 Tips for Successful Promotions

Promotions are a tool to grow your business. Many of us want to do promotions, but we can get stuck in the creative stage and bogged down in the details. Here are some quick hitting tips to help your business offer successful promotions.

1. Anything can be a Promotion
2. Have a Plan
3. Provide a Reason for Customers to be Interested
4. Promote your Promotion
5. Track Results

Its true - anything can be a promotion from a buy one get one free special or event celebrating national ice cream month. Work with your team to have a plan to set details. Determine your promotion or offer, set the dates of the offer, assign team members to work on the various to-dos, and talk it up in business location with signage, postcards, and email blasts. You need to give your customers a reason to be interested. Ask yourself what is the call to action - why would you response to this. Then roll out the plan.

One often forgotten detail is tracking results. How many people participated in your free ice cream cone day or how many more braces or compression hose did you sell? You need to know what works and what didn't for future promotion planning. Hold a team meeting after each promo and gather the feedback. Anyone can have a brainstorm that will drive more sales next time.

What is your more successful promotion? Share your comments below and happy promoting!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Time to Makeover your Business!

The power of the before and after pictures can be amazing. We all see the success of weight loss products and related TV shows using this approach. You can apply that same magic to your business. Many of us suffer from tunnel vision of the the next thing on our to-do list and forget that our location is making a impression on our customers every time they walk in the door. Its time for a mini-makeover that you and your staff can complete in a few days. Your customers will be amazed which creates excitement and sales!

The Makeover How To:

Step 1. Take a few pictures of your reception area, retail sections, and all around your location. Pay careful attention to the "V-Zone". This is the area where customers first enter and get an instant impression. Stand in your front door, outstretch your arms into a V shape in front of you and hence you will see the V-Zone.

Step 2: Print and post these pictures up on a bulletin board. Call a team meeting with your staff and discuss what you see. Make a list of areas for improvement.

Step 3: Next do a walk through of your location with your staff. Discuss what you see making notes of pros and cons.

Step 4: Review the collective lists of areas of improvement. Decided the most important by creating your Top 10 list. From there divvy up the tasks and go forth and attack each area.

Step 5: After all the updates are made, take new pictures. Hang these next to the previous pictures and see the before and after makeover magic!

What To Look For:

If you get stuck at what areas you should be looking to improved, here are some easy areas to zero in on.

Clutter - Is your reception area cramped or have too many messages hitting the customer? Make it clean so they can set personal items and sign credit card slips easily. Have a few up sell features such as loyalty card program or a acrylic sign with your latest promotion or event. This allows customers to focus on these items and not get distracted by too much stuff.

Decor -
Is your store screaming the 80's with old wall colors or outdated fixtures or displays? Spruce up the color to natural tones or go bold on a few feature walls. Maybe some new shelves are needed for retail product. A new floor mat or a new waiting chairs could make it look new.

Retail - Do your retail areas grab attention and say buy me? Freshening up your retail displays every 4-6 weeks makes it look new to a customer easy time they visit. Keep products organize, uses signage, and try me areas clearly indicated.

Missed Opportunities - Are you missing opportunities to promote your services or highlight whats new? Small signage in consulting rooms can discretely promote various items and provide your staff an in to mention it during customer visit. How about a small sign on your restroom counters. Keep it simple but capitalize on all of your space.

Flow - Walk the store as your customers and patients do. Is their odd traffic flow pattern that cause traffic jams or bottlenecks? Potentially relocating a retail area or your front counter could help streamline the flow around the store.

Add some quick makeover magic to your location. Take some before and after photos and share with us. It doesn't have to cost a lot to look fabulous so make your business shine today!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Won't you be my Neighbor?

These days we can become laser focus on day to day operations of our business. Taking care of staff issues, reordering the latest product that sold out, or chit-chatting with your customers. Sometimes it is good to take a step back and start planning more strategic ways to build your brand and grow your business. One option is to start looking outside your front door. Sharing public relations efforts with neighbors, participating in local events, and become more involved in your community can be a business booster. Here are some quick tips to look beyond the day to day and knock on your neighbors door!

Next Door Neighbor
Whether there is a coffee shop or travel agency that is your next door neighbor, stop in and say hi! It is a great way to partner and co-hosted event. An example is she could provide the coffee and you could product demonstrations of the latest lift or power chair. Offer some appetizers and maybe a free-trial offer of one of your popular products. Brainstorm on ways you can co-promote both businesses and bring more traffic through both your doors.

Local Cross-Promotion
Networking with similar industry businesses can also allow cross promotion opportunities. An example is independent pharmacy who is a few blocks over. You both could partner by doing an free pain-management or preventative care seminar. This can showcase both of your products. Offer a discount or a free product for all attendees at both locations. This is a great way to attract new clients who are interested in healthcare and build your business.

Community Events
From charity walks, book drives, and block parties there is always an event cooking that you can offer help for easy PR. If there is a awareness walk, have your staff form a team. Talk it up in your business with pictures and a box for donations. Be sure to take some pictures and submit press releases to your local media outlets. Aligning your business to community events will create goodwill and get your name out there.

Movers & Shakers
Did you know that 80% of new movers shay they are willing to try new merchants? A great tactic is to welcome new residents with a special offer. Your business could do a postcard or letter saying "Moving can be a Pain! Take a load off with our new lift chairs...". Introducing your business with a friendly welcome will grow your business and build your brand. There are many companies that offer access to new resident info include age demographics and will even help you mail. (Try www.movingtargets.com)

Thinking and acting locally can help your business grow. Take up the challenge and go say "Hello" to your neighbors today!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Media Savvy Biz Tips!

Marketing is a way to increase awareness about your brand and grow your business. Business owners know the services and products inside and out but often could use a little help increasing their media savvy skills. Here are some easy ways to super charge your marketing efforts!

The Pitch
Defining what your business is all about is crucial for customers and your community to understand your brand. Your pitch can be a media kit, business fact sheet, or portfolio. These included info such as the business history, staff bios, company mission, and product/service menus. Think of this as your business's resume. The goal is to pitch what makes your business unique and sells the reader on why you.

Public Relations Contacts
This is an ongoing database of public relation contacts in your industry and area. Examples include local newspaper editors, reporters, TV and radio producers, or industry publication editors. You can meet and greet local PR reps at chamber of commerce or other events. Also look at the sources websites for emails and mailing address. You want these people to love you and your services to help promote your business.

Press Releases
Now that you have your PR list you need to send them newsworthy information. Press releases are generally a one-page document that highlights special events, new employees, or cutting edge services. Need help on writing the perfect press release - click here for my previous blog on "Press Release - How To Guide". The key here is to send meaningful press releases that are worthy of publishing. Avoid PR overkill that can land you on the black list. Be sure to find the happy medium between sending frequently but timely, relevant messages.

Your Guest List
Sometimes we forget to tell our current customers all the great happenings your business is involved in. Keep in mind your patients when creating your press releases. Maintain and continually update email, mailing addresses, and phone numbers of all clients. Tie in some of your press release efforts into your monthly newsletters. Sharing good news drives further customer loyalty and may entice them to take advantage of your new offering or join you at your next charity event.

Marketing is an ongoing quest. Marketing isn't something you set and forget. You want your business to create buzz and be out in your community. With a bit of effort and some tenacity you can be your own Marketing Maven!

Have some marketing tips to share with our readers? Post them below!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Increase retail sales with Suggestive Selling!

For the DME and HME providers, adding or boosting your retail sales is one way to combat the competitive billing situation swirling around us. Suggestive selling is a technique used to sell retail products in a non-pressuring way. Sometimes the hard sell approach can have your customers running the other way. Utilizing a softer approach to win over your customers and increase your sales!

Here's how to incorporate suggestive selling techniques:

Script - Create short scripts to help start the product discussion with the customer. Probing questions such as are they having any mobility or pain issues? If they are currently using other equipment, what do you like about those items or are they having any problems? This lets the staff member know areas which are appropriate to recommend or problem solve. Providing your staff with key attributes can provide competitive advantages to educate and promote the product. Facts such as... "93% of users said this product relieved pain instantly... or 98% of users increase their activity levels" provide benefits and data. Ask your vendor for these tips or pluck them off their provided sell sheets. If possible, offer clients a try before your buy promotion. Be sure to note what samples you provide on the client's record and follow up via phone call or email to see how it is working.

Star Power - Celebrity endorsed brand can be a selling magnet. Whether we love or hate the certain celebrity brands they definitely can move retail items. Be sure you prop these products with photos of the celebrity. You can also take this to a more hometown level by working with a local community celebrity such as an elected official or community director. Host an event to tie into their cause and be sure to take some PR photos!

Cross Merchandising - Propping correlating products together offers the opportunity to introduced clients to products they might not have tried. Maybe you have a best selling cane line prop it next to your new insole products. Create catchy signage such as "Use together to walk better -and pain free!".

Visual Merchandising - Create an inviting and attention catching retail area. Your business needs to look the part. Copy those retail powerhouses - department stores. Make retail displays that speak to the season, your latest product promotion or upcoming event. Tie in retail paper shopping bags, tissue paper, and promotional packaging of items in group sets. You can also create magic tables (just like those department stores). Take a circle table, drape it with a white cloth, and create a featured display. Ideal for a try me area where customers can play with the products or to feature your monthly promotion such as new brace or pain relief cream.

There you have it. See that wasn't so bad! Selling retail products can be fun, adds value for your client's experience - and increases your bottom line. Try some of these tips today and share your ideas below. Happy Selling!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grow your business with Referrals!

One of the best ways you can grow your business is with a recommendation from a customer you have already served. Many of us shy away from obtaining referrals. We believe it will be an uncomfortable interaction and could lead to rejection. Here are a couple of easy – and fun – ways to create a referral program without having to truly ask for a referral!

Transaction Based
Completion of a service is the perfect time to reach out for a referral. One option is to educate your patient that you have a new referral savings program. Staff member says, “If you loved the service you received today, we would love to share the news with your friends and family! As a thank you for your referral you will save 20% of your next visit and so will your friend”. Hand them a referral postcard card. They can simply fill it out and drop off in at our location or mail it back. There is no pressure on your staff or your customer. You collect the referrals and contact them with their special offer. Another option is send postcard mailing directly to your client list with this same offer. Basing your referral request on a transaction by providing a percentage off or a free product with service will drive new customers and gives your loyal clients a bonus for helping you grow.

Host a Referral Sweepstakes contest in your business. You can tie it into any promotion. From Oct 1st to Dec 20th hold a referral sweepstakes giving away a free vacation to a sunny locale or a weekend at the spa. Have signage through out your business showcasing the contest. Each referral a customer passes your way allows them another entry in the contest. Follow up with the referral name right away. They should receive a gift or discount for trying your services. Then draw the winner at the end of Dec. Feature the winner in your business newsletter and promote them at your location.

Health Fair Participation
Being involved in your local community can help build your brand and create awareness of your business. Many places host local health fairs that help promote all kinds of health related items from increasing fitness, healthier foods, to various local doctors. Sign up and host a booth at one of these fairs. Give out information packets and offer a discount for new customers. These events create buzz and refer new business your way.

These are a few ideas to get you started. Modify these ideas and make them your own. Please share your own referral program idea or comments below. Create excitement and watch your business grow!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Add Value and Increase Sales!

In these economic times, customers are looking for more for less. Many have cut back on many items, even quite possibly their healthcare. By adding extra value with your products and services you can grow your revenue and give your patients more bang for their buck. Here are some easy ways you can add value to increase your sales.

Free Trial and Super Size
Never under estimate the word free. Clients love free samples or at home free trials! Offer samples of your latest pain relief cream. It will encourage more retail sales and they just might love that sample they tried. If you are carry a new line of lift chairs or braces, allow customers to try it at home for free for 30 days. Once the can't live without it, you ring up the sale. Another idea is to group products together to increase the perceived value of getting more for less. Examples could be a new wheelchair comes with a free wheelchair tote bag, a comfort pillow, and maintenance plan.

Your retail areas should be easy to navigate with organized shelves, signage directing clients to their areas of interest. Take a tip from department stores and add a magic table. These are draped round tables that highlight a product or promotion. Allow customers to experience your products before the buy. Customers will be more inclined to purchase if they know what they are getting.

Tie your services and products to a charity or other socially responsible effort. Align with a cause that reflects your business and customers, such as breast cancer awareness, going green, sleep apnea, or lung cancer. Choose to donate a portion of service and product sales. Customers will feel better purchasing more if they are helping others. Your business benefits by increasing sales, creating goodwill, and increase PR opportunities.

Details Matter
Don’t forget the devil is in the details. Make sure your location is clean, warm, and inviting. Call customers by name and pay attention to their individual needs. Not all customers are alike and the cookie cutter approach to customer service does not work. Be sure to listen to the patients' needs and tailor your response to best serve them. Do weekly follow up calls for any in-service home appointments or deliveries. Not only does this provide customer feedback, but it builds a stronger relationship.

Adding more value in your offering will make customers feel their business is appreciated and builds loyalty. Share your tips below on how you have added valued to your offering and increased your sales. Small steps can have a big impact!