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INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Wheelfreedom’s Giles Donald on a commission-free formula for retail success

Giles Donald Wheelfreedom

Wheelfreedom has been experiencing strong demand for the Efoldi range at its new Chessington showroom, where the team prides itself on knowledge, impartiality, and dependability. Founder and director, Giles Donald, discusses why the brand is a good fit with its ethos and how he sees the industry evolving in the future.

How did your partnership with Efoldi come about? 

At Wheelfreedom, we’re always on the lookout for the latest innovations in the mobility sector. The most important factor in the travel scooter and portable power chair market is weight.

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As they have the world’s lightest mobility scooters and power chair, we wanted to get the Efoldi products into our showroom so customers could get a feel for them. I happened to know one of the Efoldi team members, so we organised a product demonstration.

How has your experience of working with the brand been so far?

Really good, we have a great relationship with the Efoldi team. And, the best part about working with them is they have a real sense of pride in their product range and they are very easy to deal with. They’re always eager to resolve any issues and have a quick turnaround when it comes to supply of spare parts.

I think this reflects their specialisation, and their focus on customer service, and they come across as very passionate and motivated. Efoldi is also very much focused on supporting a smaller network of carefully-selected dealers to ensure they maintain high levels of exclusivity for their products.

How do the products differ from other types of scooters and wheelchairs?

They have a distinct look, they are exceptionally portable and they can be folded very quickly and easily – often in a very different way to most other travel mobility products. But, having the lightest products in its category is Efoldi’s real stand-out feature, and that’s what appeals most to our customers”

What type of customer is buying lightweight scooters, and why?

In terms of lifestyle profile, an Efoldi customer is typically still quite active, and often a keen traveller. And this brand is perfectly suited to those types of clients. It’s the lightest range in the world and all its scooters and power chairs can fit into a boot of a small car for day-to-day use, family days out or staycation holidays.

The plane-friendly products also enable users to travel by air and can be driven right up to the plane door. The scooter or power chair can then be folded up like a cabin-sized case and stored away in the cargo hold, until arrival at the next destination.

We’ve had customers asking if we stock the Efoldi range, which demonstrates a level of brand recognition that’s almost unheard of in the mobility sector. I feel this is, in part, due to the inspiring story of its creator, as well as Efoldi’s marketing strategy-which directly targets the customer, creating ‘pull-through’ for retailers. Many other mobility product manufacturers choose to rely solely on retail partners to market their products for them at a local or regional level. So, from our point of view, it’s great to have people coming in who are excited to try out an Efoldi product.

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How do you see the industry evolving over the coming years?

We’re starting to see much more innovation in the mobility sector. What was once a stagnant industry in terms of design, is now starting to see a definite shift in product development, with innovations that help to resolve some of the everyday problems faced by disabled people – of all ages.

And I predict that this will only increase, as we are an ageing society that is also trying to become more inclusive and accessible”.

What’s next for Wheelfreedom?

Well, as we’ve only just opened our new showroom on Barwell Business Park, raising awareness about the location is our main focus at the moment. As always, customers will remain front and centre of everything we do at Wheelfreedom.

Thankfully, with the vaccination programme starting to have a positive impact, we are starting to see people visiting us once again, seeking to enjoy the freedom that our mobility solutions can provide.

With regards to Efoldi in particular, we’re really excited by the level of unit sales so far. I’m feeling confident we’ll see even greater levels of demand, particularly as travel restrictions continue to relax. 

And just going back to Efoldi, would you recommend the brand to retailers in other locations?

Yes, I would definitely recommend Efoldi. The Efoldi range is so portable and lightweight it makes it an incredibly attractive option for our customers. But it is obviously important to know your market. Offering the right selection of products is particularly important in our sector, as we usually sell to our local demographics. Customers drive to our out-of-town showroom, for example, making them good candidates for an Efoldi.

Because of the additional level of functionality, it’s priced slightly higher than other products competing in the same market segment. But our customers are often happy to pay that little bit extra for the added value of a premium product that’s also the most lightweight model available.

Furthermore, because they are aimed at customers seeking a higher specification, the gross margins (per unit) are generally higher than other products in the lower-priced, value segments.

PROFILE: Wheelfreedom 

Wheelfreedom stocks one of the most comprehensive ranges of mobility solutions in Surrey, with products available for hire, motability lease and purchase.

The business prides itself on providing excellent levels of customer service. Its primary ethos is to take the time to find the best possible solutions for customers, and then maintain those products to the highest standards.  

As the company was born out of a challenging experience, sourcing a wheelchair, the owners know just how important it is to remain impartial during the selection process, and dependable after the sale.

As a result, none of the staff at Wheelfreedom receive commission, meaning they adopt a totally impartial approach, and they ensure that the product offering matches the exact needs of the client.

The business also has an in-house service team, trained to diagnose and rectify any technical problems, and manage any ongoing service and maintenance requirements.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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