Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Sell.
Erica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started Harmony 9 years ago with a booth at the Del Mar Fair. I grew up working in my mother’s DME store (Durable Medical Equipment), and I saw the need for a more customer-centric model, rather than insurance-based. At that time Medicare was still paying decently, and nobody really thought of catering to anything but the guidelines and whims of the third-party payors. So on a box truck of equipment and a loan from my mom, I opened Harmony in a tiny office space on Convoy St. It was a struggle and while I did bill insurance, my revenue always had a larger percentage of private pay customers than the average DME. That is how I survived all the Medicare and PPO cuts of the last 5 years, while 40% of my industry went out of business. Now Harmony is 100% private pay and we focus exclusively on what people want, not what insurance says they need. We look for the best products while offering the best service and expertise. We constantly search for innovation. It was through that desire to stay on top of the latest products and trends that we got into home access and construction. Staying at home is what people want, so we grew a complete home access division that can install lifts, grab bars, even whole showers in your home so you can remain independent and living at home for as long as possible.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No definitely not smooth. In the first 3 years Medi-Cal went to managed care and in order to keep that portion of the business (30% at the time) we had to scramble to contract with new HMO’s. Then 2 years after that Medicare blew up due to something called Competitive Bid, and cut rates 42% and eliminated 90% of vendors, that was again 30% of revenue.
So twice I have had to lay off half of my staff, regroup, strategize and try something new. I feel like I’ve started a business 3 times because of those two massive shifts. Ever since I eliminated Medicare and all insurances it has been challenging but rewarding because we gradually grow and now no one can take away what we built over night. I have had thefts and massive failures of marketing campaigns as well. But we made it through and learned from those experiences. Now our name, brand, and offerings just keep improving and the community will decide how well we do, not the government. I like that. I like getting to know people’s stories and thinking of ways to make their lives better, but growing a business is never easy.
Please tell us about Harmony Home Medical.
Harmony Home Medical is a full service medical equipment and home accessibility store. We offer all durable medical goods such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, commodes and more. We also offer home evaluations where we can assist with stairlifts or bathroom remodels to make your home safe and functional as you age. Our showroom, which we moved into 2 years ago, is first of its kind in how it actually displays working stairlifts, roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, as well as the full retail supply of medical equipment and accessories.
We are known for our one-stop-shop approach to mobility aides, as well as our service. We offer free home evaluations and custom wheelchair measuring. Go further than any other supplier in ensuring the client gets the right product and the right fit. We are a “show and tell” style store because that is the best way to demonstrate the features and benefits of the many different medical equipment options, especially wheelchairs. I am most proud of the showroom and the staff. It was a vision I had for a long time, but could not financially pull-off, and it takes great staff to keep it going.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have spent less on random marketing companies and done more of my own research on SEO. I would have hired new staff sooner, and been a little less trusting right off the bat. However, I would have been more trusting to delegate things to those who have proven themselves. I would have done more coaching right from the beginning as well.
- Free Home Evaluations
- $70 per grab bar for installation when you get one, $65 when you get more than one, plus the price of the bar.
- Address: 7640 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
- Website: www.harmonyhomemedical.com
- Phone: 858-560-8177
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harmonyhomeSD/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/harmony-home-medical-san-diego