Four Lessons HME Providers Can Learn from Build-A-Bear Workshops

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 by Rob Baumhover


HME Retailers,

Last week at VGM’s annual Heartland Conference, we had the opportunity to meet many new friends and catch up with providers we’ve known for quite some time. For those of you who were able to attend Heartland, thank you for traveling to Waterloo, sharing your week with us and attending our educational series. We appreciate all those who took the time to visit with our expanded team at the VGM Retail booth, and we look forward to working with many of you over the years to come.

This year, VGM Retail’s Heartland focus was on incremental retail sales. Our industry is constantly bombarded with information about our retail opportunity. “Cash is king.” “It’s the direction of our business.” “Capture your piece of the billion dollar pie.” “Diversify!” However, the details of beginning or expanding into retail can seem overwhelming while also managing the day to day operations of our core business – but it can be done!

Here are our top four incremental sales lessons that HME providers can learn from Build-A-Bear Workshops to get started or expand your retail operations.

Lesson One: The magic of Build-a-Bear isn’t actually about the bear.

The real magic for the customer comes from all of the customized accessories and clothes for you to choose for your bear to make it your own creation. The magic is about the hands on service you receive, helping you pick out the perfect items you need to make your own special bear.

Lesson Two: In many ways, HME retailers are like the Build-a-Bear Workshop.

Our goal is to make sure every customer receives the service they need to go home with the best suited, customized equipment to insure recovery or comfort. For us, adding or enhancing the retail experience is about ‘building a better bear’ for our customers.

Lesson Three: It’s simple – Do the math!

Incremental sales uses the same concept as Build-a-Bear by supplying your customers with products to customize their experience, not just items that are reimbursed. Imagine a patient with mobility needs. They visit your store in search of a wheelchair, a reimbursable item. Incremental sales involves offering cash items that will improve the customers use of their wheelchair such as gloves, trays, cushions, and so on. Reimbursable wheelchair + cushion + tray = Additional incremental retail revenue!

Lesson Four: Start small.

Incremental retail sales is taking the first step toward making cash sales or improving existing sales by examining your current business, paying attention to the science of retail and managing your business against an ongoing analysis. It’s about:

• Small space changes – Place like-items together to improve the customer experience and encourage add-on sales.

• Targeted product assortment enhancements – adding to the products and categories that already sell well in your store.

• Focused sales strategies done at a pace that fits your financial and time goals


For more information about incremental sales and how simple product mix changes can mean additional revenue for your HME business, contact VGM Retail today at 855.285.3300 or [email protected]