A family focus to change dealers’ fortunes

David Harrison, Clare Brophy and Paul Stockdill

Boasting an impressive venue, informative presentations, mini-exhibition, dealer award ceremony and celebrity guest, Handicare aimed to wow partners at its Annual Dealer Day as it ‘tackled the elephant in the room’ and introduced dealers to its new, ‘One Family’.

One Family

During the warmest day in April in almost 70 years, dealers gathered at the prestigious Belfry Hotel and Resort in Sutton Coldfield as Handicare revealed how becoming ‘one family’ will help support its trade partners’ commercial activities.

Taking over as managing director of Handicare UK in May 2017, Clare Brophy kicked off proceedings by addressing what the company referred to as ‘the elephant in the room’ – that being the tension between Hanidcare’s dealers and its direct sales arm, Companion Stairlifts.

Founded by Clare in 2003, Companion provides straight and curved stairlifts, as well as assisted bathing solutions, throughout the UK and has steadily grown its market share over the years, competing directly with Handicare’s dealers.

“When I took over as MD in last May, bringing the company together as one family was vitally important,” explained Clare.

“When a colleague asked me if I was concerned about the dealer part of the business, I told them that it is the most exciting part for me because if we can work together, we can create something extraordinary.”

Bringing Handicare and Companion closer together, Clare says a key ambition is to help support the growth and development of dealers using the expertise and learnings developed from the activities of Companion Stairlifts.

“Our dealers and partners are hugely important to us, and we wanted this event to be a real reflection of our commitment to helping them grow their businesses.” Clare Brophy

The new collaboration will see dealers tap into Companion’s direct sales knowledge with commercial training around sales conversion, solution selling, marketing and lead generation.

One of the company’s trade partners interviewed about working closely with the new family was national mobility retailer Ableworld.

In a feature video at the event, Mike Williams, Managing Director of Ableworld, said: “Stairlifts are a real importance to us and Handicare delivers excellent training, good support and are always there when you need them.

“To be fair with Handicare, they brought us in and showed us Companion, as well as offering to train us on the phone system and the way Companion work, which is unusual but very helpful.”

The sentiments were echoed by Ideas in Action’s MD David Thomas, commenting that whilst the relationship between Companion and Handicare in previous years had been difficult for many partners, the new collaboration was working well for his company.

Keen for partners to see Handicare as more than just a manufacturer of stairlifts, Clare stressed a key focus for the company, particularly in the coming 12 months, was the support and development of the commercial side of its partners’ business.

Dealers from across the UK came to discover Handicare’s plans for the years ahead

Speaking to Clare, she told THIIS: “Our dealers and partners are hugely important to us, and we wanted this event to be a real reflection of our commitment to helping them grow their businesses.

“Collaboration has already achieved great things for Handicare and Companion and I’m confident that this ‘one family’ approach to sharing best practice will work for all of us moving forward.”

Handicare’s National Sales Manager Paul Stockdill also reinforced the shift towards commercially supporting dealers in regards to the private market, as Local Authority funding comes under increasing pressure.

“This year, we have managed to grow our trade sales by another 5 percent on the back of 8 percent growth from the year before.” Paul Stockdill

“My trips out in the field with the business development managers showed a real desire from trade partners to tap into the private market, with some dealers expressing that they were quite vulnerable with the reliance on Local Authority business and how unreliable that can be,” explained Paul.

Growth across the board

The afternoon session included a review of the year, with Paul Stockdill and David Harrison, Sales and Marketing Director at Companion, revealing impressive growth figures across a variety of areas.

“This year, we have managed to grow our trade sales by another 5 percent on the back of 8 percent growth from the year before. Our Select Partners grew by 11 percent this year following a 10 percent growth the year before,” described Paul.

The most impressive statistic, however, was the growth from the company’s elite partners, up to 35 percent following 19 percent the previous year.

Growth was not only on the cards for Handicare, with Companion also enjoying 16 percent growth in stairlifts and a 25 percent increase in its bathing activity from the previous year.

Highlighting the contribution of partners, the rising demand in bathing, the success of promotions such as its Black Friday offers and the launch of its Accredited Partner Scheme, the organisation has set itself ambitious goals for continued growth into the coming years.

The Mini-Exhibition

A new introduction to Handicare’s Dealer Day was the opportunity for other suppliers in the industry to come and exhibit their products, as well as special trade offers, to attendees following the end of the conference.

The mini-exhibition saw 15 suppliers – TGA Mobility, Freerider, Karma, Primacare, Scooterpac, Z-Tec, Fish Insurance, Ikano, Camelot, Autochair, Sitting Pretty, Future Wellness, Invacare, Pollok Lifts and BBL Batteries – each meet with existing and new dealers on the day to show a range of complementary products.

Gameshows and awards

The night was brought to a close with Handicare’s Partner Day Awards, hosted by TV Presenter Vernon Kay, who reprised his role as the presenter of Family Fortunes for a lively Handicare special episode.

A celebrity guest added to the glamour of the event

The night saw two teams face off to guess the most popular answers to topics including ‘most popular show with a judging panel’, ‘men’s names beginning with P’ and of course, ‘the most popular stairlift brand on the market’.

Just in case you were wondering, the answers were X-Factor, Paul and of course, Handicare.


Top tips from The Telephone Assassin

Continuing on with the idea of providing expert advice and sharing best practice, attendees also had the opportunity to listen to an engaging talk from Anthony Stears – aka The Telephone Assassin. Here are five useful and pragmatic tips for making the most out of sales calls and winning business from his talk:

Good manners

The expression ‘manners don’t cost a thing’ is particularly applicable when making sales calls and is the building block for developing rapport with someone.

Drop off a pizza menu

“When you make outbound phone calls… I believe your phone call should feel like you are dropping off a pizza menu,” states Anthony. Has anyone ever had a takeaway knock on their door with a takeaway menu and ask to take an order? It would come across as presumptuous and it is how people can also come across on the phone. Instead, start off the journey with the prospective customer by dropping off a menu and letting them know who you are and what you do.

Perfect your pitch with a success story

“The best way to perfect your pitch is to share a success story people can relate to,” suggested Anthony. The Telephone Assassin emphasised the importance of getting those all-important case studies and testimonials from happy clients and advised companies not to be afraid to ask for them.

Test drive

“You are 78 percent more likely to buy a car once you have driven it,” stated Anthony. Test drives help customers build trust in the product or company and can be anything from tip sheets to providing quotes or having them actually try the product or service out. Using the language ‘test drive’ is important as it signifies to people that they can ‘try before they buy.’

“You cannot make too many notes…

You can spend too long writing your notes, but you can’t make too many notes.” The more you know about the person you are talking to, the more rapport you can build. Asks questions about somebody to get them talking and remember, a little flattery can go a long way.


Awards-season

Award-winners of the night with Vernon Kay and Clare Brophy

The award-winning Handicare partners:

  • Internet Partner of the Year – Stairlift Comparison
  • Retail Partner of the Year Stairlift Sales – Essington Mobility
  • Elite Dealer of the Year – Liftec Systems
  • New Accredited Partner of the Year – The Helpful Hand
  • Select Dealer of the Year – Dolphin Midlands
  • Growth Award – Liftability
  • Partner Loyalty Award – Ideas in Action

Appreciating dealers

Paul Stockdill shared with THIIS some insight into what he believes it is dealers appreciate when working with Handicare.

“I think our partners trust us. Although we may not get it right every time, what really matters is how we put it right every time and I think that is a big thing. Having that single point of contact so they can always get hold of someone in the office and the right person to solve whatever type of query they have means a lot and it is something they really appreciate.”

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