Six months after launching its new equipment arm, we speak to product specialist, Sean Taylor, from Unique Mobility, to gauge how the paediatric division has been received. The winner of the Unsung Industry Hero category in the AMP Awards reveals his role in the process so far and what the company hopes for the future.
How has the new Kidz division been received since it launched earlier this year?
Our product specialist, James Morant, has over 15 years’ experience in this field and has been incredibly busy. We have attended a few key exhibitions and the therapists seem very excited about working with Unique Kidz going forward as we are a local business covering the South West. We have expanded on what Vida/Leckey was offering into our area with powerchairs as well, so James has had to attend multiple training sessions since his introduction to the business.
What is the current market like for paediatric equipment?
The market for paediatric equipment is great. I think we were in a very fortunate position in [myself] having strong relationships with key suppliers over the last 28 years as well as James’ experiences with Quest88. Having these foundations readily available meant that we were able to create brand awareness very quickly and get the ball rolling from day one. I think it would be hard for a new starter with little knowledge in the paediatric sector to make any big waves – a lot of it comes down to building trust. Funding is always a challenge in every market, but being adaptable and always looking for new ways of funding can help us and our clients.
What are the opportunities surrounding paediatric equipment in the market?
There are lots of opportunities – as mentioned, we have implemented a few extra product lines into the business which means that we have become a ‘one-stop shop’ for paediatric equipment. A lot of mobility manufacturers and suppliers have a restricted product offering. Whereas we wanted to think outside the box a little bit and offer everything while remaining the best in our field, and maintaining our great service.
How have you worked alongside charities, case managers and manufacturers to build the new Unique Kidz brand?
We have an established relationship with charities and case managers while working with manufacturers. This has allowed us to promote our services to them pretty quickly. We find that historically, national equipment providers have been the first port of call for case managers and therapists – we are trying to break that mould by offering the benefits of having a large showroom, local engineers and staff as well as free-to-use assessment and training suites. Manufacturers see the potential with Unique Mobility and have been keen to work with us over the last few years – this has meant that we have gone from being a mobility showroom to one of the largest suppliers in the region with the largest product range.
What are the most valuable skills you have learnt during your time in the mobility industry that you have been able to apply to your new role?
[I] have a long history in the industry, starting from humble beginnings through to working at some of the largest global manufacturers, including Sunrise Medical, Invacare, Handicare and Electric Mobility. This has given myself various skill sets that can be applied to the retail business model, product knowledge and very importantly, a wide range of industry contacts. My experiences and understanding of UK and European markets has really helped and the ever-changing experiences along the way like selling to the NHS and dealer markets. I think the experiences of area sales managers in the industry are widely undervalued by customers and businesses should work more closely with their suppliers. Talking to Ian (Unique Mobility’s managing director) I could see he had a vison and insight into making customer experience and support in the South West better, as we know this area does bring challenges geographically. Unique Mobility had great potential and through working with Ian we looked at tweaking the business to work closer with key suppliers. We have a strong, diverse, experienced team from various backgrounds, such as equipment loan stores, bathroom and home adaptations and electrical engineers. We are forward-thinking and versatile. We looked at some of the most successful retailers, dealers and manufacturers and looked to incorporate some of their successes into Unique as well as keeping a few things under wraps and being a bit different.
What are Unique’s goals for its paediatric arm and is there scope for any other similar ventures?
We are always looking at new ventures, new ways of expansion and new ways to offer the very best services and innovative products to end-users, therapists and more. Vehicle adaptations are a very important and large part of our business – we may be able to expand on this in the coming months. We are looking at how businesses in other sectors market their products, using new technology and services to adapt the way we get our products into the market. This is a challenge in-house but being in such a specialist sector we do feel it would be quite hard to outsource. Unique Kidz is still very new and the main objective is to provide a great service for our users.
What are the challenges to expanding the Kidz arm in the current market?
There are always challenges in any market but Unique Kidz seems to be fairly self-sufficient. We have invested in key people to support this division and the main com. James is doing a great job promoting services and products to key contacts and Vida is offering great sales support. We can’t thank our strategic partners enough in supporting the Unique Kidz venture and the whole Unique Mobility brand. We know that it’s a partnership and not a one sided relationship and it has to work commercially for both. Importantly, it must offer the best service and support to clients and professionals across the South West.