Four Ways HME Providers Can Overcome Retail Goliaths


ryanhowecynthiacountsIf you are an HME/DME provider, competing with retail giants can be discouraging. If you try to compete on price, you’ll probably be disappointed; but you do have advantages!

Enlist the following four opportunities to gain and retain customers.

1. You are a ONE-STOP SHOP

When foot traffic brings customers in your door, your convenience will keep them there. They can come to you for guidance about:

  • a product,
  • whether a slightly different product would work better for them,
  • seeing and feeling more options,
  • using a product,
  • comparing products, or
  • servicing a product.

Contrast that with the inconvenience of a big box store! At best there will be one commode, one rollator or one wheelchair. In that setting, a customer is fortunate if they can take the product out of the box and look at it, let alone ask questions before they choose from the slim selection.

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When customers visit you, they get a customized experience, not the feeling of being just one of the insignificant masses.

2. Customers are visiting YOU for a reason

7921RA_11-2_BA customer may have been prescribed a durable medical device by a doctor; a product may have been recommended for them by a healthcare professional. They may visit a retail giant looking for a good deal, but if they’re visiting you, they’re looking for a good product and solution — don’t pass up the opportunity to cross sell them complementary products. Otherwise, your customer will go down the street and buy a shower head or grab bar from the big box store.

You have a captive audience, so take advantage of this. If they come in to look at a walker, you may be able to offer them a bag or basket to carry their groceries, walker glides to help them better navigate their carpet, or mobility lights to make their evening walks more enjoyable. You may also be able to offer them a more customized, appropriate product than a generic big-box walker: a tall walker, a bariatric walker, or even a walker in their favorite color.

Offer your customers a walker in their favorite color from Graham-Field's ColorSelect series.

Offer your customers a walker in their favorite color from Graham-Field’s ColorSelect series.

3. You are the HME EXPERT

customerserviceNo retail giant is equipped to offer your level of service. As an HME dealer, you know much more about medical devices than anybody else — after all, it’s your specialty. Customers will return to you! They trust your medical and product knowledge, you’ll be able to recommend more appropriate products, accessories, and replacement parts. You will be able to build rapport, educate customers, and forge a relationship. No impersonal retail giant can offer your level of service.

If you doubt this, call one of the big box stores or that online megazon, and ask their customer service representative to explain the difference between a coude catheter or a hydrophilic, or a why someone with paralysis would need a wheelchair to be custom-fitted specifically for their needs.  They won’t be able to, but your team can.

4. Don’t compete — DEFEAT!

Don’t carry the same brands or items as the big box stores, because then you are competing only on price. Carry different products than they carry; offer a better experience than they offer.


Always utilize your advantage — the customer’s choice! 

Offer choices and know the features of the product you’re offering so you can explain to them why that rollator with a smaller seat and lower weight capacity costs less.

Set up your store’s merchandise to show it off – group products, bundle products, sell complementary products, up sell, cross sell. A big box store experience cannot compare with the level of service you can offer!

Contact us for more ideas and advice.


Cynthia Counts is Vice President of Product Management & Homecare SBU, and Ryan Howe is a Product Manager at Graham-Field.

About GF Health Products, Inc.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit or call 770-368-4700.