Innovation in Offering the Ordinary

We often discuss the importance in the alignment of the brand, culture, and strategy of an organization. I have also talked about the power of innovation, as I did in the video Don’t Just Ask…Innovate. A few years back I witnessed a perfect example of both in Mobul, the home mobility store.

innovation mobul

Mobul is a DME provider. For those of you not in the healthcare industry or not familiar with the acronym, DME stands for durable medical equipment. Basically any piece of equipment used in the home to aid in a better quality of living would qualify as a DME. Common examples include wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches — none of which would be thought of as innovative today.

I had the pleasure of serving a client in Texas a few years ago that was a DME provider. While we certainly concentrated on culture and marketing strategy, there wasn’t much we could do with the store itself. The staff was already friendly and professional but, while we were able to take that experience from good to great, the first impression when a customer walked through the door was still one that I would term as “hospital plain”.

Let’s face it, for those that are unfortunate to have a need for DME, heading to a business that specializes in this area isn’t a highly anticipated event. It’s a trip that is pretty far from a kid skipping into a candy store. So regardless of how friendly, accommodating, and empathetic the staff can be, it’s still akin to a “hosptalesque” experience.

But then there’s Mobul! Their innovation is in the how they display DME. Instead of feeling like your walking into an urgent care center, as it reads on their website you are greeted with a “great smell” of “freshly baked cookies and just-brewed coffee”. More important, the store is not only large but also wisely laid out. The floor is setup in sections that mirror common rooms in the house such as the living room, bedroom, and kitchen. This allows people to in essence “test drive” the equipment in a similar environment to their homes, as well as get a better sense of how it will look, i.e. a bathroom support bar affixed to a shower-like tile wall is a better visual than simply looking at it hanging on a hook in hard plastic.

innovation office

The beauty of Mobul is also in the alignment of the brand, culture, and strategy — possibly achieved instinctively if not consciously:

  • The brand of providing DME in a better way or, as CEO and founder Wayne Slavitt would say, the Nordstrom of home mobility stores.
  • The culture of delivering an experience that makes a DME customer comfortable in shopping for something he or she would rather not need to buy.
  • The strategy of making the vision of finding a better way of providing DME a reality.

The innovation came from anticipating and uncovering a need. To my knowledge, no one asked for a better floor plan in shopping for DME. They saw the opportunity and ran with it. Sometimes innovation just simply comes from offering the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

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