As you ponder your next medical equipment purchase, do you put as much thought into selecting the right vendor? Choosing the right medical equipment vendor can give you more than a one-time deal, but rather a lasting and beneficial relationship.
Asking questions and getting to know the vendor is the best way to determine what’s right for your small business.
You can compare and contrast multiple vendors for a piece of equipment. Learn their features and benefits, and capabilities that set a vendor apart from others in the same category.
When looking at therapy lasers, for example, you will find different models depending on patient group (human or animal), intended use (pain reduction or injury recovery) and budget (top-of-the-line or economy model).
But how can you tell if the company you select will be the right fit for your practice for medical equipment financing? Here are four traits to look for when researching on a vendor relationship:
Trait No. 1 – Expertise: Knowledge In Your Corner
The company you select should be a recognized expert in the type of medical equipment you’re looking at. They should be able to answer your questions with confidence.
To be a good fit, your vendor should be aware of trends and new technology in your industry. Confirm what you learn researching on the web, by reading online reviews and contacting references.
Mindy Lund, a vendor relations supervisor with Stearns Bank Equipment Financing Division, said it’s important to put in the time as a small business owner to see if a vendor relationship is right for you and the type of medical equipment financing you’re looking for.
“It is usually not a quick decision to purchase capital equipment, and healthcare professionals will do their research on the product and vendors,” Lund said.
Trait No. 2 – Communication: Insuring Mutual Understanding
It’s vitally important that you and your vendor are on the same page.
Communicate your needs and your vision for how the equipment will serve patients. Ask the vendor representative how he or she can help you achieve that vision.
You, as the customer, should expect timely answers to questions before and after the sale.
“Communication is key,” Lund said. “And it goes hand-in-hand with customer service.”
Trait No. 3 – Stability: Thinking Long-Term
When purchasing equipment, confirm that the vendor will be in business and available to serve your needs over the long term.
Look at companies that have a strong history, or a management team that has had sustained success in all market conditions. Take a look at financial health and security of the company. Most companies will have this type of information — possibly in a document such as an annual report — available online.
Checking with trusted colleagues is also an excellent source of information on the soundness of a vendor.
Valuable business relationships don’t happen overnight. Think of it like a cross-country road trip. It takes time to establish expectations and build the trust needed to reach the destination.
Your first point of contact may be the vendor representative. Ask the rep to visit your facility to learn more about your company — from day-to-day operations to long-term goals.
Or, you can visit the manufacturing site for hands-on learning about the medical equipment. Don’t hesitate to inquire about the company’s values as an organization to ensure they align with your business’s principles and values.
Trait No. 4 – Value: Return On Investment
Even in a price-conscious industry, there is more to value than the price of medical equipment financing.
A company that shows they care about the customer throughout the process — from selecting the correct equipment, to sharing a realistic timeline on delivery, to installation and service — can prove more valuable than a discount price.
“Ask them to explain the ROI (return on investment),” Lund said. “The representative needs to have the understanding of how the equipment is going to benefit patients and how the healthcare professional can make money by having the equipment in their practice.”
A Well-Matched Medical Equipment Vendor
You know your business best. Combine that passion for your clinic or medical office with a dealer or vendor that understands what you want for your business.
Make a list of the characteristics that are important to you and your business. Enlist the resources available to help you research, contact and select the most compatible vendor.
An “inventory” of needs and wants can help you identify the medical equipment vendor that will not only help you choose equipment today, but can also build your future business.