Retailer Spotlight: Style Mobility
New kids on the block
Launching a new retail shop is never an easy challenge, especially with well-established competitors just around the corner. For Style Mobility’s Directors Dominic Goldsmith and Simon West, however, it is a challenge the pair relishes. THIIS caught up with the East Coast’s latest mobility retailer to find out more about the new venture.
Britain’s East Coast is no stranger to mobility shops, so when directors Dominic and Simon West decided to launch Style Mobility in the town of Great Yarmouth, they did so with full knowledge of the competition surrounding them.
This did not deter 30-year-old Dominic however, who aims to use a range of skills he has developed working in different sectors to deliver something special to the area.
“I originally started in the hospitality industry, working as a restaurant manager, so I learned a great deal about customer service, but the hours were pretty unsociable and the pay wasn’t great,” explained Dominic.
“Instead, I tried my hand at sales in the home improvement sector. Even though I really enjoyed sales, the industry was really high pressure and quite forceful which didn’t sit well with me at all.”
It was then that he applied for a job at a local mobility shop on the East Coast and got his first taste of the industry, as well as meeting his future business partner Simon.
“The mobility sector really agreed with me,” he continued. “I went to Rehacare and saw what was happening in the industry and realised there was a lot to be excited about.”
After working for the retailer for 18 months, Dominic and Simon realised there were certain things they would do differently if they had their own shop and so decided to take the plunge and set one up, opening the doors to Style Mobility in September 2017.
“The previous company I worked for are a great company but I found them to be costly and quite unreliable at times for their customers in certain respects,” said Dominic.
“People buying these products need good customer service and they need reliability as the products play such a major role in their lives. So that’s why we went on our own. The idea that drives us is offering the right products at a fair price, combined with high-quality, hospitality-based customer service where nothing is too much trouble.”
Stocking mobility scooters, powered wheelchairs, profiling beds, rise & recline chairs and more, the new retail store features three showrooms; a main showroom at the front displaying scooters and two smaller ones. One of the showrooms is for furniture, whilst another contains something rather unique to the company; a stylish, bespoke adapted bathroom.
“We are lucky enough to have a company that fits bespoke bathrooms for us, including wet rooms, walk-in baths and more. Importantly, some adapted bathrooms with a walk-in bath or a wet room look very NHS and clinical. The idea behind our installations is that they look stylish,” Dominic told us.
“Not everyone who wants or needs these bathrooms are elderly, some are in there 40s, 50s and sometimes younger, so they want a bathroom that they can be proud to see in their home.”
As well as offering stylish bathroom installations, Style Mobility goes one step further for customers admitted to the hospital that are unable to visit the store but require an adaptation, as Dominic explained.
“A lot of the time, if someone is in hospital, they won’t be allowed to leave the hospital until the house is ready for them to go home, which includes a bathroom adaption,” he said.
“Instead, we can visit customers in the hospital and bring everything they need to make decisions on their adaption, based on the style of their home furnishings, wallpaper, floorings and more. This way, they can ensure the bathroom is exactly as they want it for when they are discharged. That is something that we don’t think anyone else does locally.”
This focus on style does not just extend to bathrooms, with the idea of looking good being integral to the company.
“Really, we wanted to reinforce the idea that disabilities do not have to define lifestyle or personal style,” emphasised Dominic.
“We take a lot of our inspiration from car showrooms. They are clean, tidy, modern and always look professional. We wanted a space that reflected a more stylish approach to the industry, especially as many of the products seem to be focusing a lot more on style as well. Many of the scooters, wheelchairs and powerchairs that are coming out now seem to be giving a lot more attention to how they look, as well as performance, with features like alloy wheels, different colourways and even three-wheeled machines with a Harley-Davidson look.
“It isn’t enough for something to be functional, people want them to look good as well. That is what inspires us,” he added.
With well-established competitors based in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding areas, the new shop is aware of the need to offer customers something different to entice customers, however, by injecting his hospitality and sales experience, Dominic believes the new store can offer something that is lacking from the competitors.
Discussing the competition, Dominic told THIIS: “There are quite a few mobility shops around but they seem to fall quite short of what they should be doing. If you walk into an Audi garage, you are treated like a really valued customer. I think that same experience should be applied when someone is buying a scooter, especially as the price of some new scooter reflects that of a small car.”
For the new kids on the block, paying attention to the details and ensuring customers leave with a smile is fundamental to their hospitality-based method of retail. Dominic describes how customers entering the store are given a cup of coffee or tea and at Christmas, all customers will be sent personalised cards thanking them for their custom.
“It’s the little thing that can make a big difference,” stressed Dominic. “What we want to do is create an environment where customers can feel they can come in and just have a chat with us, even if they are not buying. We really do not want a space that feels just completely focused on sales.”
Style Mobility is keen to change what is seen as a typical mobility retailer and the company says the local community has already really taken to the store.
Discussing why consumers are walking through the store’s shiny new doors, Dominic explained: “I think a few of our competitors have had the market to themselves for quite a long time, so complacency may have crept in. For us, everyone single customer is as important as the next, regardless if they buy a walking stick or a £5,000 scooter, they have to be looked after and that is the key to it.”
Dominic firmly believes that this approach of competitive pricing with first-rate customer service is the formula for success.
“The key for us is to stay on the ball, offer better customer service and to keep our prices lower than our competitors. As long as we are as efficient as possible with how we operate, then we don’t have to charge what our competitors charge and most importantly for us, if we say we are going to be somewhere at a certain time or we say we are going to do something, then it happens.”
With a couple months of promising trading under their belt, Style Mobility’s attention is now focused on promoting the fledgeling company and raising awareness amongst the local community, however, Dominic also shared his thoughts for the future.
“It would be nice to stock some exclusives that no one else has and I’m keen to head over to Rehacare next year to see if we can find a unique car transportable scooter that we could have exclusivity to,” said Dominic.
“Growth is important and we want to continuously improve our product offer, prices and service for customers, but we always have to remember why we started the business. When some companies become too big, they become sloppy and whilst some talk a good talk and promise the world, they fail to deliver.”
Dominic added: “We aren’t planning on taking over the world, we just want to make sure that we are doing a good job that people leave the store smiling.”