With 20 years in the DME rental business I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the country's best DME providers. From Fall River, MA to Ontario, CA I have met some of the most dedicated professionals in the country. The common theme across these wildly successful organizations is a partnership mindset. Each company carefully crafted a corporate culture of dedication and compassion for their employees. We’ve made it a mission to emulate this paradigm within our own organization. Our model has three pillars. First, we look at ourselves as an extension of our customer’s brands. Second, we always carry a win/win mentality. Finally, we enter every client partnership with the expectation of a long-term relationship.
Our first pillar, the extension of brands, is a core part of our mindset. We understand that every interaction we have with a patient is a direct reflection of the hospice/SNF providing care. If we perform well it reflects the professional care that our clients provide to their patients. We thrive on the compliments of case managers, nurses, and facility staff. Adversely, when the DME provider has a poor interaction with the patient and/or the patient’s family, the client hospice/SNF receives the complaint, and it’s usually directed at the agency and not the DME provider. Your vendors should work hard to make sure that your agency/facility receives rave reviews. Unfortunately, anyone who has been in this industry long has heard the horror stories of vendors that ignored the needs of a patient, dropped off equipment without so much as an explanation of how it works, or worst of all had a hostile attitude. If your DME partner doesn’t reflect your brand it may be time to have a frank conversation or maybe shop for a new partner.
No relationship survives long unless both parties brings a win/win mentality. This one is critical on both sides of the equation. As a vendor, we are often expected to go the extra mile, and we should. However, as a customer, the same expectation is not always reciprocated. We are blessed with outstanding partners that work with us for the best solution to a problem. Over the years though we’ve worked with some very demanding clients that weren’t interested in an amicable solution. It makes problem solving more difficult when any obstacles are met with “do it or we will switch providers.” A reed can only bend so far before it breaks. At ProCare we strive to exceed customer expectation. As a client, it’s important that you reciprocate. That type of collaboration means that your patients and their families get the best possible outcomes. Our philosophy is simple, focus on what we can do for our customers, and find solutions for the occasional requests that fall outside of our ability. Sometimes this means asking a competitor for help. That’s OK if the patient/client is taken care of.
I absolutely understand the pain associated with change. It’s the single largest obstacle I encounter when trying to close a new account. The exchange goes something like this:
Me: “Tell me about your current vendor.”
Prospect: “They aren’t able to get the equipment we need on time, they don’t answer their phone, their drivers are rude, the invoices are hard to read or incorrect… We would really like to find another vendor.”
Me: “Great, how would you like to start the conversion process?”
In the end, all their existing pain points don’t equal to the pain associated with switching vendors. I can’t blame them. Changing vendors is a daunting task. That’s why we always expect a long-term relationship. That means it’s on us to earn our clients’ business each day. This final pillar may seem like a redundancy, but it’s important that we treat this concept as a standalone. This concept keeps us from getting stagnant and taking our accounts for granted. We currently serve accounts that have been with us for over 19 years! In the ever-changing high demand field of healthcare, I think that’s a notable achievement.
A partnership mindset is critical to collaboration and patient care. It is important to remember that this is a reciprocal component. For your agency/facility to provide optimal patient care you must have a mutual partnership mindset with your vendors. Look for vendor partners that share your organization’s core values. Talk with your vendor partners and establish appropriate expectations. Do your vendors act like an extension of your brand? Do they look for opportunities to help you win, and are you willing to do the same for them? Is it obvious that your vendors want a long-term relationship? If not, it may be time to sit down with them. When you and your vendors are in line, your patients win.