Spruce Up your Inventory with New, Hot, and Trending Products!

Posted on: January 17th, 2018 by Rob Baumhover


Refresh your Inventory

In line with our monthly blogging theme, “Refresh,” inventory updates should be a focal point in your plans. Our industry is consistently evolving, to remain relevant to competitors, HME/DME business owners must frequently evaluate their product mix. They must ask themselves questions like,

  • “What products can I bring on to enhance my current product lines?”
  • “What industry trends are happening and what products can I carry to correlate with the trends?”
  • “What products are my customers asking for?”
  • “What successful products are my competitors carrying and how can compete with them?”

Owners must remain on their toes and to begin I suggest digging into your numbers. Identify your bread-n-butter categories first. The bread-n-butter categories are the ones that are proven most popular among your customer base. By analyzing what currently works, you potentially can reach a higher return on your investment.

In that bread-n-butter category, identify single items that are performing the best. Ask yourself, “In addition to these high performing products, do I carry corresponding add-on products related to them?” If not start here, but if you do then move on to the next product groupings and continue the process.

If you are a store with lack of space and face issues of bringing on new products, identify weakest performing categories and sellers. By doing this you will find products that may be taking up sales floor space or products that have strong performance during specific quarters. Identifying this will help you merchandise and plan inventory more effectively. However, I caution you to be careful when analyzing as some products will need to be in-stock for those base products with high turnovers.

Where to find Hot Products

The best places to find what products to carry are industry conferences, trade shows and by consulting with trusted vendors and retail experts, like us at VGM Retail. Each of these means are credible partners who have done their research on what the hottest trends and best sellers are.

Nonetheless, I will let you in on a few of our secrets on what I suggest an HME/DME should be carrying. For starters, two of the hottest product categories as of late have been pain management and fitness. Based on all of our customer bases, I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The following items residing in these categories move quite nicely.

  • Topricin Sports Cream
  • Incrediwear Knee Sleeve
  • OrthoSleeve FS6 for Plantar Fasiatis
  • Contour’s Kabooti
  • Vionic’s Shoes
  • BioSkin’s Back Brace

As for the rest of our inventory secrets, I invite you to get the ball rolling by emailing us at [email protected]. On behalf of our team, I hope this blog gave you a solid starting point and inspired you to refresh your inventory now. Happy Wednesday!


Refresh the Look and Feel of Your DME

Posted on: January 10th, 2018 by Rob Baumhover


A typical New Year’s saying goes, “New Year, New You.” However, our team is going to challenge our caretailers to think, “New Year, New DME.” No, we don’t mean to start a completely new DME business venture from scratch (unless you want to…feel free to contact us). What we mean is that it is time to REFRESH your current DME location. Sometimes a refresh can seem daunting with how much work and the amount of time it takes to change the look and feel of your DME. However, we can ensure it is well worth it!


Reason 1-

With the start of a new year, your customers are looking to make health and wellness lifestyle changes. With lifestyle changes, customers will expect an updated store experience that is going to bring them the positivity they need to reach their goals. By re-energizing your showroom, you are maintaining customer interest.

Reason 2-

 By shifting around products, fixtures, and product categories, you are giving the customer a chance to see products they may have never come across before while shopping. Thus, you’d be building customer trust by giving them a chance to grab a product that is going to add more ease and freedom to their lives.

Reason 3-

With choosing to convert your showroom space, you are now giving a chance to low-performing categories to perform better. For example, if bath safety is a low-performing product category in your location and it’s currently placed in the back of the store, try placing bath safety in the front of the store. By moving the category, you may increase sales, and if you increase sales, you will now be capitalizing on your current product assortments and improving your bottom line.

Moving Forward:

Everybody knows that time is money, so how often should a business owner refresh their DME? We suggest quarterly for minor showroom changes and every six months to a year for major showroom changes.

To classify minor showroom changes, this will be based on trends, what’s hot in the industry, and the time of year. For these changes, look to move front fixtures, first impression fixtures, impulse fixtures, seasonal fixtures, add seasonal products and reorganize the cash wrap area. At a minimum, this should be done on a quarterly basis.

Major showroom changes include long-term changes that are analyzed ideally every six months or at minimum on a yearly basis. Major changes will be the moving of product categories, reorganizing your store layout, cosmetic changes (e.g., paint, signage), or other long-term aesthetic renewals.

Tips for the Showroom Refreshment Process:

Tip 1-

Pay attention to your numbers! Looking at your numbers will help you identify which categories are strong or weak performers. One rule of thumb is to evaluate your numbers ideally on a daily basis but at a minimum on a weekly basis.

As a starting point for evaluation, look at data regarding information about quantities sold per a specified period and dollars sold per a specified period in comparison to your quantity on hand.

Tip 2-

Next, pay attention to the seasons. Especially for minor showroom changes, update your store based on upcoming seasons or the time of the year. This will help you capitalize on seasonal sales, create variety in product offerings, and overall help your bottom line.

Tip 3-

Are you planning ahead? When livening up your store, plan quarterly. During the last month of every quarter, you should be planning for the next quarter. This will help you prepare for scheduling employees, ordering products, and evaluating your numbers.

Tip 4-

Lastly, have a fresh set of eyes look at the store. Pick someone who can help generate new stimulating showroom changes. Everyone can always learn from an outside source. Ask friends, family, retail experts, vendors, etc. for their opinions on your showroom space. Make your space the best it can be.

Pretty Simple, huh?

It’s now time to put our blog to the test! We hope you enjoyed reading this week’s blog. VGM Retail wishes you good luck in conquering your New Year’s resolutions and a Happy New Year. For more information on how to REFRESH your showroom, please reach out to us at [email protected].

Contributed by Rob Baumhover and Claire Young.

Patient or Customer? You decide.

Posted on: January 5th, 2018 by Maria Markusen


Patient is one of my least favorite words. I was an impatient kid. I practice, I mean really practice daily patience as an adult. Movement, agility and fast, positive outcomes are more fun. The idea of waiting for something, delaying anything and generally being quiet about it is just generally unappealing. Being a patient in a hospital or a physician’s office is even worse. You generally don’t feel your best. It’s basically waiting to hear bad news. And mostly we just wait. In fact, the origin of the word patient traces back to a Greek team meaning suffering.

And so for the past twenty years, my teams and I worked to change the word patient to resident or customer or healthcare consumer. We created the term #caretailing. And we’ve tried to create the best wellness experiences for our customer. Whether it was in an assisted living building, a hospital lobby, a DME store and now in our health and wellness stores, our goal is shopping that doesn’t equate to suffering and waiting but to health, recovery, and wellness. Our goal is an experience. A repeat customer.

One of the smartest and most elegant persons I’ve ever met is a gentleman named Gerard Van Grinsven. Mr. Van Grinsven is a Ritz Carlton executive turned hospital CEO who changed the patient experience in his hospitals while still bringing down costs. I talked with Van Grinsven several times about his strategy. His whole goal was to create a wellness experience instead of sickness experience for the “customers” in his hospital. Organic menus, a farmer’s market, therapy dogs, fitness classes and specific space design closer to a spa were all a part of the wellness strategy. One of his hospitals has a marketplace with retail and restaurants including a DME store. And he didn’t use the term patient either. He tried to change the dialogue, calling patients customers. His goal in his hospitals matched the goal in his hotels to “deliver on the unexpressed needs of the customer.” In other words to go beyond what’s asked for to what delights. Giving customers what they don’t even know they want. Surprising them.

Nowadays, we can all hit one button and order from Amazon. In the modern retail environment, space design and product mix are important. But connecting with your customers, anticipating needs, uncovering and suggesting products they didn’t know could help will surprise and delight. And the best news it doesn’t require a capital investment. Just a people investment. What’s one way your team can delight your customers today?

VGM Retail Retools the Roadshow Brick by Brick

Posted on: January 4th, 2018 by Rob Baumhover

It’s a new year, and resolutions are off and running. And in that spirit, VGM Retail has revealed upcoming updates to their popular Roadshow, a traveling educational event designed to help your retail business reach its full potential.

The new name, “Brick by Brick: Retail Learning Workshop,” is more than just a fancy rebranding. It reflects what it means to get into retail.

“Brick by Brick emphasizes that retail really is a process,” said Rob Baumhover, director of VGM Retail and Vendor Programs, “and, there are steps you can take to help ensure your retail business has the best chance for success.”

Product + Experience + Marketing = Financial Success

The Roadshow was always designed to help navigate that process, and Brick by Brick will continue that tradition—just with a refreshed format. Along with some new content, the Roadshow content has been reorganized into three (what everyone at VGM Retail is calling “buckets”) core elements: product, experience, and marketing.

“The primary concern we hear from the business owners we work with is financial success,” Baumhover said. “Retail is built on these three fundamental components – product, experience, and marketing – that contribute to that success.”

More Interaction, Sharing of Ideas
In addition to new and reorganized material, Brick by Brick is designed to be much more interactive than its predecessor. Whereas the Roadshow presentations were more lecture-style in nature, the new format will be a true workshop, complete with small and large group discussions. These discussions give participants a chance to use the new vocabulary to talk about their own experience and prepares them to continue the discussion with staff and leadership once they get home.

The first workshop under the new format is scheduled for March 20 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with eight more to follow throughout 2018. Stay tuned for more news about the Brick by Brick: Retail Learning Workshop. And, in the meantime, visit the VGM Retail blog to start learning about the retail process and join the discussion.

Source: https://www.vgm.com/blog/vgm-retail-retools-the-roadshow-brick-by-brick 


Posted on: December 15th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover



In addressing groups of business owners and senior managers over the years, there are two simple questions I have put to them…as follows:

1: Here is a question about two people we can call Mr. A and Mr. B: If Mr. A regularly goes for a health check but Mr. B chooses not to…who will find the most health problems, Mr. A or Mr. B?

2: Next question, which of the two men will exert the most control over their health? Mr. A or Mr. B?

The obvious answer in both cases is of course Mr. A, and the point of the exercise is to then ask this question of business leaders: “How many medical and retail enterprises are A or B types, meaning how many actively seek to gain feedback from the people they serve…and how many do not?” From my experience the truth is that very, very few have created organized, consistent ways of actively learning how their work with patients or customers pays off…for both parties, starting with those being served. This awful state of affairs has not occurred because people don’t care about the market they serve; it is because they probably think they already know how people judge their service…and the results they create for people.

Imagine if managers and owners treated their revenue flow in the same way, meaning they would rely on trusting a ‘feeling’ about their results…rather than keeping accurate records. The majority of organizations that ‘appear’ to search for and use market feedback…is amazing. For example, most hotels provide guests with feedback surveys, but less than 3% of guests complete them…perhaps leading hotel managers to think that all is well.

The reason for the pathetic response is that most hotel surveys feature between 40 to 80 questions about all aspects of their service contact…like as if customers see service as being so complex. Perhaps hotels engage in such nonsense because the guests would have to stay an extra night to complete the surveys! And yet there is always a positive exception to the rule. I know of one hotel that asked guests just 2 questions…and using this simple strategy they received feedback from 80% of people and lots of helpful ideas. The questions were as follows:

  • What, if anything, did you find to be pleasing, valuable or distinctive about our service…compared to other hotels you have stayed at?
  • What, if anything, would you suggest we should consider changing about our service to improve your stay with us in future?

Adding a small reward would help, such as a Starbucks gift card…but there is an even better way to learn from the market and improve your contribution to people. It involves inviting a handful of patients/customers to attend an informal, brief meeting with you (and perhaps some staff)…so as to gain first hand feedback along the lines of the two questions just mentioned above. I have a document that explains how to run such a session, offering ideas on how to invite people and questions to use…so please email me to get a copy.

Getting feedback on revenues and other issues that matter to you means very little if you fail to gain opinions from those you serve. They can’t and won’t tell you how to run the business, but they can offer ideas on progress…for them and for you.


Contributor Information:

John Lees is the ‘2nd gap’ manager for Vionic Group, offering free Skype sales training and coaching for Vionic retail partners. John has written 12 books on sales, leadership, and marketing, several of which are available free to Vionic retail customers. By way of background, John was the Australian & New Zealand marketing and sales director for a multi-national German company, and led those operations to market leadership and the most profitable subsidiary worldwide and was then appointed a global marketing consultant to the company. John conducts free Skype training on how to be an Advantageous server, courtesy of Vionic. Contact him today to arrange a session for your team soon: 916-577-3865 or [email protected].

To better understand how Vionic and John Lees can assist you, peruse the titles of John’s 12 books HERE or explore the free business ideas Vionic customers receive in their PS Club HERE.

Partnerships Around a Store Opening

Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by Maria Markusen


One of my first business role models was Cindy Musikantow.  Cindy was the VP of Operations for the Western half of the country for Sunrise Senior Living.  A big job.  But she was a master connector and partner builder. Despite being responsible for 100s of properties we talked to Cindy weekly and saw her quarterly.  Cindy is a former social worker, turned nursing home administrator, turned assisted living operations leader.  As a master connector, she always said, “Don’t hire employees, hire partners.”  She often talked about her dinner rule.  If two candidates are equal on the fundamentals, skills, and background then hire the one you’d like to have dinner with.  Not just the fun one. But the person who, after a long, hard day you could count on for dinner, support, solutions and a partnership.  Cindy never thanked people for hard work.  She always thanked us for “our partnership.”

I was reminded of Cindy’s partnership rules lately on a big VGM Retail project.  Last week, we opened a store in partnership with a VGM member in Kettering, Ohio outside of Dayton. The store called Get Active Health & Wellness is a 6,000 square foot store.  The store is a cash-only store with some traditional DME retail products.  In Get Active, our goal is to change the retail DME store dynamic.  Our products serve not only the sick and recovering but those focused on health and performance too.

This location is very unique. There are 54 windows in the space and the store sits on one of the busiest corners of the city.  You can’t miss it.  The retail space has sat empty for at least eight years.  Due to its long-term vacancy, we saw an added benefit of community buzz and excitement upon the store open date. Despite the vacancy and initial hype for a new store, it took a while for us to get a lease signed for the space.  From previous experience, we’ve learned that timing is crucial and there are certain times not to open a retail store; before Thanksgiving works, but after Thanksgiving doesn’t.

Once the lease was signed, we realized we had a short window to open prior to Thanksgiving.  Or we’d have to wait until spring.  So we compressed a 90+ day project into six weeks.  It’s times like these where partnership matters.  Matt Peterson and Les Donahue, the store owners are the perfect partners.  Everyone pitched in the moment we said go.  Yes, we had challenges.  Product was delayed.  The floor didn’t turn out the way we wanted.  The signage at opening was temporary.  But what really made the project work was partnerships.  Whether it was Matt and Les’ community connections, our vendor partner connections or just everyone on the team chipping in no matter the work, we made it work because of our partnerships.

While we can’t thank everyone, here are a few examples of how partnerships mattered to us in this project.  Susan Donahue the store’s marketing director constantly threw us ideas, researched local marketing opportunities and just found solutions when the original plan didn’t work.  Gerry Finazzo from Lake Court managed to get product for us at the last minute.  Scott Farquhar from the VGM team visited on the day of our store opening. Mike Thueson our VGM photographer provided more than pictures during his visit.  Finally, Matt and Les who took a great chance to open a store with our help in a really short time frame.  Thank you for your business and your partnership.

We encourage you, our readers to give our latest partnership a little love and a big welcome to the VGM Family by following their Facebook and Twitter page.    





When Hiring Staff Who Serve, Steer Clear of ‘Types’ B, C, D, E & F!

Posted on: November 20th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover


This article is provided by John Lees, 2nd Gap Manager for Vionic Group:

I enjoy meeting different kinds of people…even though certain ‘types’ cause me to sleep with my eyes open. It’s the same when customers meet associates in retail outlets…in that just a few prove valuable while many perform a less helpful role. There are 6 ‘types’ that consumers meet… starting with the rare kind of server they prefer to encounter…

“A type”: Advantageous. This describes someone who is seen to be very helpful and beneficial from the start to the end of their store visit. They assume control from the outset in a way that is acceptable and welcome to people, just as they would expect a doctor to behave. They use a tell & sell way of doing things, meaning that they tell consumers what they are going to do…and then explain (sell) why their proposed action will help them. The tell & sell service manner involves bringing out products not requested, but possibly needed…and includes recommending what the staff member feels would be best. And when the consumer makes a decision, they will briefly show and explain (tell & sell) items that are complementary to the purchase.

This successful ‘type’ of server is not pushy; they engage in a professional form of service performance that people find both impressive and pleasing. They don’t take up too much time when serving; they don’t appear arrogant in the least…and they don’t use industry language. This doesn’t describe a perfect team member, it refers to a ‘prefect’ type…who looks after people very well. The A type is ambitious and a product of managers who lead by example, training and incentives.

Here are the minor league ‘types’ that customers see as being the usual…the harmless, the irritating…

“B type”: Basic. This is the type they see most of; a category of people who are very nice…but who do no more than what is asked of them. This a ‘safe’ position as they create reasonable sales with few complaints.

“C type”: Coercive. This group are disrespectful of customers and use tactless ‘sales techniques’ to create higher sales…forgetting that no matter how many words they use to ‘up-sell’, the consumer can win by using just 1 word!

“D type”: Defensive.  This involves servers ‘asking permission’ to do their work, with questions like…“Would you like me to show you some other products?”, or “Is there anything else I can do for you?” No one takes offense when faced with this ‘type’…and this bad habit occurs because the person doesn’t want to be pushy or controlling. That said, this conduct doesn’t bring customers back…and it doesn’t create high sales.

“E type”: Expansive. This type likes to talk a lot, go into much detail and cover a lot of ground…without actually getting anywhere, and their sales are average.

“F Type”: Futile. No need to elaborate here, this ‘type’ can’t serve or sell…and they have a toxic effect on colleagues.


John Lees is the ‘2nd gap’ manager for Vionic Group, offering free Skype sales training and coaching for Vionic retail partners. John has written 12 books on sales, leadership, and marketing, several of which are available free to Vionic retail customers. By way of background, John was the Australian & New Zealand marketing and sales director for a multi-national German company, and led those operations to market leadership and the most profitable subsidiary worldwide and was then appointed a global marketing consultant to the company. John conducts free Skype training on how to be an Advantageous server, courtesy of Vionic. Contact him today to arrange a session for your team soon: 916-577-3865 or [email protected].

To better understand how Vionic and John Lees can assist you, peruse the titles of John’s 12 books HERE or explore the free business ideas Vionic customers receive in their PS Club HERE.


2017 Medtrade Recap

Posted on: November 13th, 2017 by Claire Young


Last month VGM Retail had an incredible time at the semi-annual Medtrade Conference. Our team understands that we say that about nearly all conferences of this type, but wholeheartedly we feel they get more innovative, informative and exciting each time.

Why do we feel this way? Well it’s simple, the attendees. Each year the questions for us get more complex, the willingness to learn gets broader and the interest for innovation deepens. One of our most loved attributes of the HME retail industry is the feeling of being kept on our toes. Our team despises complacency and when we’re among like-minded individuals that strive to avoid this issue, it fuels our fire and our passion to continue to be thought-innovators.

With that said, we would like to say,”Thank You, Medtrade 2017.” We invite you to keep challenging us and to keep asking those colorful questions. We absolutely cannot wait to see you again in the spring and at next year’s 2018 Heartland Conference.

In case you missed all the fun or want more information about the Rise of Retail in the HME industry, please click here.

Check out our booth at Medtrade (pictured above).

Product Spotlight: OrthoSleeve FS6

Posted on: October 18th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover


Hello Friends,

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is: what are some of the new and hot products out there? Due to the frequency of this question, I have decided to write a blog series to help answer it and bring some of these new and hot sellers to the forefront. The series will entail a brief introduction of each product as well as, a little personal insight on why I think each product makes for a great product to carry in your stores. I hope you enjoy!

In today’s product blog, I’m going to introduce to you the FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve from OrthoSleeve. It’s an advanced medical device for Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, heel pain, and swelling. Easy-on fit for continuous support, day or night, with soft, moisture-wicking fabric. Wear comfortably under socks for extra support, and during walking or exercising for extra protection. It gently lifts and stretches the Plantar Fascia.

I think this is a great product for all providers to carry as the majority already carry compression stockings, and the FS6 compression foot sleeve fits perfectly into the mix. It is packaged in a colorful retail friendly box that’s informative and easy for the consumer to understand. The FS6 compression foot sleeve comes in 5 different colors and 6 different sizes ranging from XS to XXL. It can be easily merchandised either by peg hook, shelf, or POP displayer at the front counter. Check it out for yourself at www.orthosleeve.com or call Sabina from Orthoseleeve at 877-647-0386.

Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for my next product blog.

-Rob Baumhover


Posted on: September 8th, 2017 by Staci Langel


Your AdWords campaigns are running, some people are seeing and clicking, you’re spending money, customers are finding and buying the products they want and need (Caretailing gone virtual!), all seems great. But how does it all work? How does Google decide whether your ad gets shown first, second, third or not at all?

The algorithms and formulas Google uses are very complex, and I couldn’t even begin to explain (or even understand) all the parts to it. But with a little practice and math, the basic parts of it are easy to understand and can give you a good idea of how it works.

So pull out your calculator, open up your AdWords account and let’s get started.

It All Starts with a Search

When someone does a Google search, Google looks at the words and phrases searched, then looks at the words and phrases advertisers have bid on to see if there are connections. If there is more than one advertiser bidding on relevant keywords, Google opens what they call an auction on those keywords.

Google then takes the most relevant keywords the advertiser selected and how much they want to bid – which is set by the advertiser when creating the ads – and the auction begins.

Determining Rank

Once you’re entered into the auction, Google looks at two factors to determine your ad rank: your maximum bid and your quality score.

MAXIMUM BID is the max cost per click the advertiser specifies for the keywords.

QUALITY SCORE is a relevance score Google gives. It takes into account your ad, your landing page and several other factors.  AdWords scores how relevant the landing page is to the ad, meaning the keywords in the content and meta need to somewhat match the ad.  The landing page also should be of good quality and focused on a specific product or category of products with clear calls to action such as phone number and/or form clearly displayed.

AD RANK = MAX BID x QUALITY SCORE – the highest ad rank gets the best position on the results page.

The auction looks something like this:

Max Bid X Quality Score = Ad Rank Position
Advertiser 1 $2 10 20 1
Advertiser 2 $3 5 15 2
Advertiser 3 $4 2 8 3
Advertiser 4 $7 1 7

As you can see, even though Advertiser 1 bid the lowest, they still got the first position because their quality score is so high. Had Advertiser 4 bid over $20, they would’ve gotten the first spot. This shows that good quality and relevance will allow you to have more effective campaigns and spend less to reach more people.

Show Me the Money

Now just because Advertiser 1’s max bid is $2, doesn’t meant that’s what he pays.  You pay the minimum amount you can pay for the position you win if your ad is clicked on.


Pull out your calculators again, and let’s use the same example.

Max Bid X Quality Score = Ad Rank Position Actual Cost per Click
Advertiser 1 $2 10 20 1 15/10+.01=   $1.51
Advertiser 2 $3 5 15 2 8/5+.01=    $1.61
Advertiser 3 $4 2 8 3 7/2+.01=    $3.51
Advertiser 4 $7 1 7

Again, Advertiser 1 made out the best because of their high-quality score and ended up paying less than what they actually bid.

So there you have it, the quick and dirty on how Google AdWords works and how your ads get ranked. The lesson of the day is relevance pays!

This process can be confusing and difficult to manage for anyone that’s already juggling a lot of responsibilities. If you don’t have a dedicated marketing professional checking and managing your AdWords daily, your results could take a hit. Luckily the experts at VGM Forbin have programs and tools to do exactly that – make your online presence work for you! Contact the VGM Forbin Online Marketing Team to learn more about how they can amp up your web presence.