Retailer spotlight: Care Plus Mobility

Commitment to a core belief

After discovering that her mother had been sold an unsuitable and overpriced mobility scooter, Stacey Showering decided to launch a retail store to better service. Now, 17 years on, the company has three branches, launched two new websites and refurbished one showroom.

As with many that enter the industry, Stacey Showering, Managing Director of Care Plus Mobility, was inspired to first launch her store after an experience with a loved one left her disappointed at the levels of service provided.

Stacey told us: "It all started when my mother became ill and decided to go ahead and buy a mobility scooter. A few weeks after using the scooter, we realised it wasn’t quite the product for her needs, even though she had told the person she wanted the scooter to be portable.

"I was shocked to find that the salesperson was with my mother for four hours, knowing that the treatment my mother was going through makes her very tired. When I did some further research, I found that she had paid way more than she should have and feel that she was pressurised into the sale.”

Dissatisfied with the experience, Stacey decided to launch Care Plus Mobility in Bath in August 2000, aiming to more accurately locate and provide products to suit individuals’ needs at affordable prices.

The business model seemed to strike a chord with customers, with the company growing over the last 17 years. Now with additional branches in Bristol and Swindon, the company provides an extensive range of products to consumers in the South West, including powered wheelchairs, scooters, riser recliner chairs, stairlifts, bath aids, ramps and more.

Operating in Bristol since the early 90s, Bristol’s Mobility Centre is the latest addition to the Care Plus Mobility store line-up, having been purchased by Care Plus Mobility in April 2016.

Stacey explained what it was that attracted her to Bristol’s Mobility Centre and helped explained the company’s longevity.

 "Putting the customer first was always the ethics of the previous owners, and that was very well suited to our own attitude,” said Stacey.

As well as sharing the philosophy of putting customers first, Bristol’s Mobility Centre also boasted an experienced sales team and engineers that are quick to respond to clients’ needs.

Now, promising a new experience for customers and aiming to bring the new store more in line with Care Plus Mobility’s branding, Bristol’s Mobility Centre’s showroom has undergone a recent refurbishment.

Talking about the refurbishment, Stacey told us: "Bristol’s Mobility Centre has done very well over the years but after the purchase of Bristol’s Mobility Centre, we decided the time was right for a new, fresh and brighter look. We have redecorated the store, changing the colour scheme to reflect the colours of Care Plus Mobility and to encompass our redesigned corporate logo.

"The store layout has now been re-arranged as well, which has given us more space in the showroom for wheelchair users and to demonstrate our wider product range. We have also created areas of the showroom to be specific for adjustable beds & for riser/recliner chairs and with the help of Quantum, have a stunning new wall display to top it off.”

With three branches under the Care Plus Mobility name, we were interested to know if South West could look forward to seeing more stores pop up in the near future.

Stacey told us: "We have no specific plans at the moment to add more branches but we would always consider carefully any opportunity that arises from another part of the country.”

Along with the refreshed retail space, Bristol’s Mobility Centre and Care Plus Mobility both just launched new websites, showcasing the companies’ ranges of products and services offered. The company does not sell directly via the internet, however.

"Although we will promote our products on the website, we do not have an online shop,” stated Stacey.

"We will still insist that proper assessments are carried out before a product is selected, either at a customer’s home or in the showroom.”

Motivated by the poor experience her mother endured, Stacey’s stance on not selling directly via the internet and insisting on assessment is certainly admirable, especially as more and more price-conscious consumers turn to the internet in search of bargains.

Rather than internet retailing, Care Plus Mobility is doubling down on the elements of the business that have served so well over the years; offering a great service to knowledgeable staff.

Stacey explained what factors she saw as being key to Care Plus Mobility’s success: "To be honest, I am really lucky to have a great team working for the company. All the staff are always willing to help their fellow colleagues in the daily running of the business and this is also key when they are dealing with customers; nothing is too much trouble.

"We feel it is important to have a close relationship with the manufacturers within the industry and all our staff have regular product training. We carry a wide range of products and it is essential the staff are fully aware of the features and specifications to help customers find the correct product for their needs.”

As well as ensuring staff are knowledgeable about the company’s broad product range, Stacey is also investing more time and effort into marketing and advertising the stores.

"As a company, our aim is to be pro-active with our advertising, especially with new product launches. It is also very important for us to go out and meet the public, which is why our recent roadshow event worked.”

The roadshow event saw the retailer visiting shopping centres across Bristol with one of its key suppliers, Quantum, engaging with the local community, raising awareness of the store and promoting Quantum’s new products.

"The Mobility Roadshow was a great success. We got the opportunity to meet a lot of new people and it has resulted in lots of enquiries. A big thank you to Quantum’s Mark Shergold for assisting us with the events of the roadshow,” said Stacey.

Whilst the company has continued to enjoy success, Stacey asserted that the issue of customers buying the wrong goods for their needs is still prevalent today, with internet retailers playing a primary role.

Stacey said: "The main challenges are from several large companies who are selling products online at very low cost. These companies are box shifting and they fail to do any personal assessment of the customer’s needs, preferring instead to send out a product that may not be suitable.

"They use the bulk buying principle to buy cheap and sell cheap, but do not have the overheads which a local dealer with a showroom and engineers have to bear.”

This common issue has led many brick and mortar retailers in the industry find it difficult to remain competitive on price and worrying about customer safety, as consumers in search of a bargain purchase devices that can end up doing more harm than good.

Stacey continued: "We often have clients come to us and ask if they can part-exchange a scooter they have just bought online as they find it is not suitable for their requirements. As recommended by our trade association, BHTA, we always insist on doing a full assessment of the client’s requirements to achieve the correct product for their needs.”

In the face of these challenges, Stacey remains optimistic for the future and plans to continue on with the same assessment, needs-based resolve that inspired her to first open the doors to Care Plus Mobility 17-years ago.

www.careplusmobility.co.uk