The importance of recognition
When Living & Lifestyle Mobility won an Independent Retailer of the Year Award at the Exmouth Business Awards at the end of May, the company’s owner Sarah Ford put it down to her team’s hard work and compassion. THIIS caught up Sarah to discuss her motivations for entering, what it takes to be successful in the industry and why it is so important to stand out.
Having operated in the mobility industry for over 30 years, Exmouth-based Living & Lifestyle Mobility has learned a thing or two about servicing the local community over the decades.
Selling a wide variety of mobility aids including scooters, rise and recline chairs, wheelchairs and more, the company’s core goal of removing the stigma associated with disability and promoting empowerment throughout Exmouth has been a continuous driving force for the company.
Working towards this goal, Sarah and her team are embedded in the local community, selling equipment to local residents, renting out mobility aids to the coastal town’s many visitors and working closely with local hospitals to handle equipment prescriptions, home deliveries and demonstrations.
Speaking with Sarah, she told THIIS that the Exmouth Business Awards presented the retailer a perfect opportunity to showcase how much of an integral role the company plays in the local area.
“The awards were all about the local community which is why we felt we wanted to enter it,” she explained.
And the award goes to…
With a record number of entries, the competition was fierce as 70 local companies contended across 12 award categories for the prestigious accolades.
“We stand out because our shop looks very different to most mobility shops” Sarah Ford
For Sarah, she cites Living & Lifestyle Mobility’s diversity as being one of the key factors for the store walking away with Independent Retailer of the Year award.
“We really do work across various areas and as a business, we are diverse,” she remarked.
“We’ll be in the shop one minute and then out in the van make a delivery the next. We are always multi-tasking.”
Delighted with winning, she highlighted the value of gaining the acknowledgment from impartial judges and receiving appreciation for the company’s efforts.
“We were fortunate that we did win but I think we deserved the recognition and the award,” added Sarah.
“I think the award is a reflection of all the hard work that we’ve done and that we’re going to keep carrying on and it is great that others see and understand the effort we put in.”
Standing out from the rest
Importantly, Sarah underlined the importance of standing out in the marketplace and shaking the stigma commonly associated with mobility shops.
“We stand out because our shop looks very different to most mobility shops,” she said.
“I think the traditional look of a mobility shop is quite clinical and hardware-ish whereas ours isn’t.”
According to Sarah, the feelings were shared by the Exmouth Business Awards’ representative, who told her that it’s the nicest shop they had seen because it did not look like a traditional mobility shop.
“Most people feel when they come in that it is like coming into a normal shop rather than a shop where they think ‘oh my goodness, have I really reached that stage in my life?’” she noted.
Along with the look and feel of the store, she praised her staff’s attitudes towards customers as a key contributor to the store separating itself from competitors and winning that all-important repeat business.
“Our attitude towards people and our customers is lovely, which is essential in the industry,” explained Sarah.
“A customer comes first, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.”
Tips to success
Considering what her top tip is for success, Sarah suggested that being natural and open is vital.
“Just be natural and be real with customers,” she observed.
“In this sort of business, you meet people from all walks of life so just being yourself and working hard to look after each customer is a good start.”
The award-winning retailer also acknowledged the important role that bricks and mortar stores still have to play in the community and emphasised the importance of ensuring customers understand that.
“Online has its pitfalls in this industry and it’s getting the customers to realise that,” finished Sarah.