New Zealand’s leading mobility aid and equipment provider has made significant changes to its business model in order to meet customers’ changing needs.
Mobility Centre, owned and operated by Life Unlimited Charitable Trust, has confirmed three new retail partners in the North Island and appointed Gary Darkes (pictured), a long-standing mobility scooter specialist and former Rotorua store manager Fraser Heron to cover the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions with van-based sales’ operations.
Mobility Centre selected retail partners in Rotorua, Gisborne and Coromandel because they share the same values in wanting people to live an independent life despite any mobility issues and who have a strong local community focus.
Service and development manager Todd Stephenson said the retail partners, van-based sales operations and mobile service technicians would support and complement existing retail stores in Hamilton, Tauranga, Hastings and Lower Hutt.
Our organisation’s strength for more than 40 years is in offering health and disability information, advice and equipment to enable people to live the life they choose. We need to continually review and adapt our business model to ensure we can continue to serve our clients.
Online sales through Mobility Centre’s website which was an essential service during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, have continued to flourish because people who had been fearful or uncertain about buying online, found it to be easy, convenient and safe to use.
“I think that during lockdown people turned to it and discovered that with help from our staff, they could make online purchases.
“We introduced Live Chat during Lockdown to assist customers with their purchase decisions and people really liked the fact they were talking to a real person.
“Now that Lockdown is over, we’ve continued to use Live Chat and we host up to 100 conversations a week through that platform,” said Stephenson.
The website has more than 1000 products online and access to hundreds more on request with delivery generally within a couple of days anywhere in New Zealand.
Appointing retail partners in Rotorua and Gisborne was crucial following the decision to close Mobility Centre stores in those communities. The retail partners are CCS Disability in Gisborne, QE Health and Wellness in Rotorua and Whitianga Social Services in the Coromandel.
“We did not want to abandon the people in those communities who rely on us for good options to access and get good advice on equipment and aids to support their everyday living independence,” he said.
“Fraser Heron, who is our Mobility Centre Rotorua manager until September 25, will remain with us and run a van-based retail operation for mobility scooters and other mobility items around the district.
“He will be able to take products like mobility scooters, walkers, wheelchairs and furniture such as convalescence beds and lift chairs into rest homes, retirement villages and people’s houses.”
Life Unlimited has acquired the Home, Health & Mobility business based out of Tauranga, previously owned by Gary Darkes, who now joins Mobility Centre in a van sales’ position.
“Gary has more than 20 years’ experience in the New Zealand and UK mobility scooter industries. He is well known in the mobility community through his regular visits to retirement villages and people’s homes,” said Stephenson.
“I’m really excited about joining the Mobility Centre as I can work in well with an organisation that has similar values and dedication to getting people living independently and mobile. It will also allow me to focus even more on getting out into the community and helping those that need assistance,” said Darkes.
These decisions enable the Mobility Centre to reach a wider number of people and give them more purchasing options.
“We have the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, mobile vans, retail partners, an extensive online store and the backing of Life Unlimited which ensures our business model meets the needs of our customers.”
Life Unlimited runs Ministry of Health-funded Hearing Therapy and Altogether Autism information services nationally as well as disability information and advice services in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti and Needs Assessment Service Coordination (NASC) in Gisborne and Hutt Valley.
“Our organisation’s strength for more than 40 years is in offering health and disability information, advice and equipment to enable people to live the life they choose. We need to continually review and adapt our business model to ensure we can continue to serve our clients,” said Stephenson.
“I’m confident the changes we’ve made at Mobility Centre will benefit our existing and new customers.”
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