The Helpful Hand image

A commitment to try before you buy

The Helpful Hand imageWith bricks and mortar retailers continuing to face the pressures of intensifying price competition online, many dealers exploring new ways to maximise the effectiveness of one of the key differentiators to their internet-only rivals, their showrooms. Flying the flag for product assessments and championing the idea of ‘try before you buy’, Mason Grey, Owner of The Helpful hand in Cheshire, has taken the decision to install a fully-functioning homelift in the company’s showroom.

Established in 1963 as one of the first mobility shops in the UK, the Cheshire-based retailer was originally set up by owner John Paddock who started adapting vehicles for injured servicemen after the Second World War.

As the business developed, John branched out and incorporated other mobility aids, offering sales, servicing and maintenance of equipment to customers including the NHS in Cheshire’s affluent Golden Triangle and beyond.

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At the end of 2017, Mason, along with his wife Hazel and son Jamie, took over the established mobility business, bringing a wealth of knowledge, impressive retail track record and, importantly, experience of product specification for homes with them.

Seeing the company as good fit his skills and offering the family team the opportunity they were looking for, Mason has used his experience to expand the company’s product offering, particularly in the home adaptation market.

“I had been working in the home interiors sector, so I was familiar with the whole process of specifying products to suit needs and preferences,” explained Mason.

“The business was well-established with a loyal customer base and since taking over, we’ve managed to build on this and are excited to be developing the offer to include more equipment and home adaptations, such as homelifts, accessible bathing and stairlifts.”

The recipe for happy customers

A firm believer in customer choice, Mason underlined that thorough assessments, quality products from reputable manufacturers and giving people the opportunity to try before they buy are the vital ingredients needed to ensure customer satisfaction.

“Our approach is, wherever possible, to let our customers see and try products, either in-store or at their home, so they can make the right choice according to what’s best for them.” Mason Grey

“It’s so important for customers to be able to try out mobility equipment for comfort and suitability,” he stressed.

“It’s like buying a pair of shoes. Even a walking stick can be tailored to the individual, with a wide range of handles available to suit differing needs.”

A determination to display

The Helpful Hand imageUnlike shoes or a walking stick however, showcasing larger and more permanent home adaptations in a retail setting can be somewhat trickier, particularly when it comes to through-floor-lifts.

Not one to be discouraged and determined to ensure customers visiting The Helpful Hand’s showroom would have the chance to try home adaptations before they buy, Mason decided to install a fully-functioning Companion homelift model to his shop floor display.

The new lift, one of Companion’s larger homelift models capable of transporting a powerchair, joins an accessible bath and shower from Companion’s bathing range, alongside Handicare’s 1000 straight stairlift, in the showroom for customers to try out.

“Helping our customers try different options to solve their individual challenges is our goal. It’s what we enjoy, and working with established companies like Companion who offer tailored solutions means we can extend the range of products on offer with confidence,” explained Mason.

“Our approach is, wherever possible, to let our customers see and try products, either in-store or at their home, so they can make the right choice according to what’s best for them.

“Providing in-store demo models can be a difficult decision when space is limited but we firmly believe that our stairlift, accessible bathing and homelift displays have an important part to play in the customer journey.”

With a diverse range of customers, including many in their 90s still visiting the shop to learn more about the latest mobility aids, the retailer says customer feedback to the demo homelift suggests many are unaware that homelifts are increasingly becoming an affordable alternative to a stairlift for private homes.

“We have learned that no matter what the age of our customers, they want to be active and ‘not dependent’,” says Mason.

“We can show them what’s available and by working with established and reputable companies who offer tailored solutions rather than off-the-shelf products we can usually find something to suit their needs.”

Choosing partners wisely

The Helpful Hand imagePraising the retailers’ commitment despite space being a finite commodity in retailers’ showrooms, David Harrison, Direct Sales & Marketing Director of Companion, commented: “For a retail partner to dedicate so much of their selling space to our ranges is a powerful endorsement and show of confidence in our brand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what the customer feedback to the new in-store homelift is over the coming months.”

A Companion Accredited Partner since 2017, The Helpful hand was recognised by the company last year when it was bestowed the Best New Accredited Partner Award in 2018.

The Cheshire retailer is now the first Companion partner to have in-store demo models for all three of its home adaptation ranges – stairlifts, accessible bathing and now a homelift.

Discussing the decision to partner with Companion, Mason said: “Companion’s Accredited Partner scheme helps us hugely as it allows us to offer our customers products from a reputable supplier while allowing us to earn a fair commission for our referral.

“With long-standing relations with many of our customers, some of them since they were children, we know that we’re passing strong leads and we have a good conversion rate.”

Now boasting just under 500 mobility retailers in its Accredited Partner network, Companion’s David said: “Partners can expect to earn on average around £600 for a stairlift sale, £800 for an accessible bathroom sale, and £1000 for a homelift.

“But there’s also a lot of support in terms of marketing resources available to our partners. We can give them as much or as little help as they feel they need.”

With Companion having received Feefo’s Gold Trusted Service Award for two years running, as well as an “Excellent” rating on Trustpilot, Mason says one of the key considerations for picking the company to partner with was having confidence its referred customers would receive customer service reflective of The Helpful Hand.

“We also trust the Companion team to handle the transaction exactly as we’d like, from enquiry to installation and aftercare. That’s very important to us,” he said.

“We’ve had absolutely no negative feedback from customers, and in fact, when they visit us in store, they often remark on how respectfully they or their relatives have been treated.”

Retailers interested to find out more about Companion’s Accredited Partner scheme or homelift range can contact Companion’s Accredited Partner support team on 0800 620 0826.

www.thehelpfulhand.co.uk / www.companionhomelifts.co.uk

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