Getting its mojo back

Monarch Mobility image
Monarch was picking up Motability repairs throughout the pandemic.
Martin Sampson, Managing Director of Monarch Mobility

Now in its 20th year, Monarch Mobility has brought many innovative products to the mobility marketplace in its tenure, with its folding scooter being amongst its most successful. Now, after being forced to adapt its operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, this nationwide supplier of mobility scooters, powerchairs and adjustable beds is branching into ecommerce, as well as gearing up to launch a new range of products. THIIS caught up with Managing Director Martin Sampson to find out about the company’s exciting plans for 2021.

Monarch Mobility was established by David Leach 20 years ago, and he is still fully involved in the business on a daily business. Four years ago Martin Sampson joined him as Managing Director. Martin, whose background in the industry was predominantly as the Sales and Marketing Director a national sales manager for Niagara Healthcare-owned Adjustamatic Beds, liked how Monarch was leading the way with an innovative product offering.

One such example was when the company brought the Mobie folding scooter into the marketplace eight years ago.
As Martin explains: “Many manufacturers and dealers laughed at us and our folding scooter concept initially; however, the folding scooter now appears everywhere. Not only was the folding scooter good for the dealers, but it also was – and still is – the answer to many consumers’ problems and provided just the answer.”

An accredited Motability dealer and manufacturer, excellent customer service is at the core of what makes Monarch stand out from its competitors, explains Martin.

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“It is predominantly focused around the aftercare service we provide and the way we service our clients around the UK,” he notes. “In fact, when the country went into lockdown we were pretty much covering most companies in the UK as they were all pretty much closed down with their repairs. Customers had nowhere to go. We functioned throughout the whole pandemic and were picking up Motability repairs from all sorts of dealers.”

The impact of COVID

Monarch has a B2B market where it supplies its products to approximately 175 trade dealers around the UK. As well as having a retail outlet/showroom in Halifax the firm operates a sales force which drives across the country doing demonstrations of our products.

The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was a “dead stop” explains Martin. The way the UK Government helped business with initiatives such as the furlough scheme helped the company a lot, says Martin, but Monarch still had to adapt, and fast.

“Obviously there was that worry and concern out in the big wide world, and then everything suddenly stopped. We had to be reactive to our marketing in a different way.

Monarch Mobility
More solid appointments are coming through on the telephone thanks to business moving into ecommerce.

“Not only to maintain the outgoings of the business but to obviously maintain the business itself. We had to make a lot of changes which we probably wouldn’t have done if there hadn’t been a pandemic.”

Throughout the pandemic, because of furlough, Monarch ran its warehouse operation from its retail outlet/showroom just so that the business could maintain productivity.

Explains Martin: “It’s a working showroom. Customers will come in on a regular basis – especially the local people. They come in with problems and faults and we’ll repair them. Or they’ll come in and view the products themselves.”

The most significant development for the firm was in transforming its website into an ecommerce website. The website the company had devised before the pandemic was pretty basic. “Basically we had a website which just showed our products with a contact phone number and people would just ring in,” says Martin.

“We now have a brand new fully-built ecommerce website so customers can look for products, enquire about products and pay for them online. Importantly, we can now go to sleep at night knowing we are making money during the night.”

“Customers had nowhere to go but we functioned throughout the whole pandemic”Quote: “The world is moving online… Forget the overheads and costs involved with opening new stores!”Quote: “We are continuously looking at innovative and unique new products”

The ecommerce model has been working so well it is set to stay for good, comments Martin.  “The world is moving online,” he says. “Forget the overheads and costs involved with opening new stores!

“It means that when customers go onto the internet now they can see the price, so we are now getting a more solid appointments coming through on the telephone because they know the price.”

By presenting all the information that the customer needs online, the “timewasters” that used to call in pre-pandemic are no longer there. This means that as well as using television advertising and Facebook to increase its visibility to customers, the firm has been focusing its energies on processes such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) to help meet its online goals.

New mobility range

“Pre-lockdown we were just about to launch, at the Naidex event, a completely new Monarch mobility range, going from folding scooters all the way up to ‘eight-mile-per-hours’ and obviously it all stopped so we never got to launch those products,” says Martin.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Monarch is looking forward to launching its new product range at the BHTS in June, he says.

Monarch Mobility showroom image
Customers can visit the working showroom in Halifax to view products.

“We have now a complete new ‘four-miles-per-hour’ range, which has various scooters for different customers needs. Some of them break down, some of them don’t. All of them are now on the Motability Scheme.

“We have some new powerchairs, particularly our Carbon Lite, which featured in THIIS Magazine, that are becoming increasingly popular because of their weight. Our massive ‘eight-miles-per-hour’ range has been very successful for ourselves currently and, again, all those products are on the Motability Scheme.

As a manufacturer of products on the Motability Scheme, the firm is proud of its service offering, but it is also keen to challenge itself by pushing forward with new goals, states Martin.

“With our new product range, out of the 11 qualifying manufacturers in the UK we were 10th or 11th, but already we are up to seventh or eighth and our goal is to be in the top three,” he comments.

Gearing up for 2021

“We are continuously looking at innovative and unique new products,” explains Martin, who shares that the firm is currently talking to its partners in China today about launching a new product.

The details about the new offering are ‘top secret’, although he hints that “lightness” will be key.  “We are always looking for something which is different that somebody hasn’t thought of before. Hence one of the biggest things in the industry is the lightness of scooters and lightness of powerchairs.”

The firm has adapted to this trend already, he says, with its Carbon Lite powerchair and the featherlight Mojo folding scooter, which Monarch launched last year.

A younger market is also in the firm’s sights, explains Martin, and he sees that as key to expanding the firm’s customer base.

Monarch Mobility ecommerce image
The ecommerce model has been working so well it is set to stay.

“Our customer base is generally in the 55-85 years age range, so that means there are 35 years we are missing in the lower range, so we are now looking at products and model which will capture the 18-50s.”

The company had started to make steps towards achieving this goal with the creation of a new website, www.urbaneriders.co.uk, which was created with exactly this demographic in mind, explains Martin, and enabling Monarch to cater for a full age range throughout the UK.

“It’s fresh; it’s new; and it’s different,” he says. “Once we have got a full handle onto that marketplace we will then look at becoming a trade dealer for other traders.”

Both David and Martin would like to take this opportunity to thank all of their loyal and supportive staff over the years.

www.monarchmobility.com

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