In an industry where reputation is everything, one group of OTs is looking to arm mobility companies with the skills and knowledge to build trust and make more sales in the right way. OT, Adam Ferry, explains, how he thinks The OT Service can help dealers and suppliers to improve their long-term prospects.
The value occupational therapists (OTs) can add to mobility retailers and suppliers is not lost on most businesses.
Some of the market’s largest retailers and manufacturers have employed their own in-house OTs to increase the clinical expertise within their companies and instil confidence in the customer.
But until quite recently, the large expense of employing a professional OT in-house has prevented the smaller suppliers and dealerships from benefiting from their valued skills and knowledge.
Spotting a gap in the market for a consultancy that could add value to businesses without them taking on a full-time professional, The OT Service aims to help mobility dealers and suppliers access OT expertise without breaking the bank.
It is probably worth considering at this stage, what the benefits are for mobility equipment dealers and manufacturers accessing OT knowledge.
Adam Ferry is one of the expert consultants at The OT Service and recently left the NHS to work full-time in the private sector. He notes that the consultancy is well aware that the firms it works with want to make sales.
The main benefit most businesses employing The OT Service therefore, will be sales growth. One of the main areas Ferry and his colleagues focus on is providing staff with training around what language to use
The theory is that an endorsement and the skills gained from The OT Service can help a mobility business to attract new customers, improve the service it can offer customers and increase long-term sales.
The training process aims to impart knowledge on things like what kind of language to use, how to make sales more efficient and safe and how to signpost clients.
In addition to the practical advice, Ferry says that one of the greatest benefits is the simple endorsement businesses get when they work with The OT Service.
He explains: “A company that has OT endorsement looks good to the end-user and it can be advertised to end-users. The fact that there’s a healthcare professional endorsing a product or process, rightfully, builds trust.
“You can be the best sales person in the world but as soon as you say you’re a sales manager, people instantly go on the back foot. Whereas if you’re using an OT-based assessment or end-users know the process has been endorsed by an OT, then the client is much more relaxed. And they’re open to sales. What we are trying to do is help companies to make sales but make them in the right way.
“If clients feel that they know the company is going to help them with the right sale, even if that means that they’re going to pay less, the integrity that comes with that creates great long-term benefits and your reputation as a business starts to grow.”
Mobility dealers and suppliers might ask what the advantages are of hiring a consultancy over employing a full-time clinical professional. Of course, the cost of working with a consultancy is less than that of an OT’s yearly salary.
But Ferry believes there are further advantages The OT Service can offer smaller firms. He says that while recruiting an OT on a full-time basis can bring some of the same benefits to a business, they are generally unable to provide a cycle of training for staff.
Ferry says the consultancy has done a lot of work training whole sales and marketing teams, looking at language and going through mock-up product assessments.
The main cost for businesses in instances like this therefore, is that of taking people off the road. The fact training is done in groups however, makes it more cost effective, according to Ferry.
He adds: “Of course, we would love for people to take us on full-time as a consultancy but we completely understand that’s unrealistic with the smaller companies. Training works really well, the sales individuals can then say that they themselves are endorsed and it means our logo can be used.”
Aside from training, a more tangible benefit of The OT Service’s offer are things like OT-specific videos. On or before client visits, the videos allow mobility retailers to show customers what OT assessors say and suggest prior to making a purchase.
The end-user then feels they are having that crucial clinical touch and important OT contact. Certain industry firms have even been able to offer an opt-in follow-up and referral service which allows The OT Service to directly contact customers and offer its expertise.
At a time when many end-users and the relatives purchasing on their behalf are suspicious about industry retailers, clinical endorsement is a solid string to any dealer’s bow.
The vast majority of consumers will look on Google to find out the reputations of the businesses they are considering buying from.
According to Ferry, both end-users and trade customers respond better to companies that have worked with OTs. Consequently, consultants at The OT Service have worked with some of largest manufacturers and suppliers in the business.
“There are lots of companies we do work for who are trying to get the OTs to recommend their product. OTs are notoriously difficult to sell to but OTs can sell to OTs. We do as much for [trade sellers] as we do for companies selling direct.
“For example, we consult on product photoshoots to make sure everything is as it should be. If you’re doing a photoshoot for a new hoist product you wouldn’t want the carer standing in a ridiculous position because that’s going in the catalogue and will be looked at by OTs. The companies we’ve done work for absolutely love it.
“Whether that’s reviewing sales literature, website literature, writing blogs, equipment reviews or articles in their name; anything that starts to spread the word that that company is working with OTs.”
Importantly, The OT Service has to retain its credibility, and so it does not let companies use its logo unless it has been fully endorsed.
Ferry says: “The endorsement comes with other things like training, equipment reviews and so on, so when we put our name to something we’re doing it with integrity. It really is something that a mobility company can really sell because we don’t endorse lightly.”
Mobility retailers are often working on tight margins and single store outfits rarely turn over enough to be able to justify bringing a professional clinician into their fold. The training and products offered by The OT Service therefore offer an alternative.
Importantly, aside from the potential sales lift for businesses, the real value could be in the trust building and the long-term impact of that. Reputation has never been so important in the mobility sector and anything that can boost yours gives you a distinct advantage over competition.