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. They have appointed Gary Darkes, a long-standing mobility scooter specialist and former owner of Home Health and Mobility, as well as former Rotorua store manager Fraser Heron, to cover the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions with van-based sales’ operations.
“I am really enjoying my mobility scooter. Gary gave me so much confidence with the lessons I received!!” – Sue Walter, Matamata
“I have had two scooters from Gary and I am very happy with both, also the backup service is second to none!!” – Pat Louden, Greerton
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.
Online sales through Mobility Centre’s website www.mobilitycentre.co.nz, 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 Mr 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 Mr Stephenson.
Mr Darkes, or Mr Mobility as many of his clients refer to him, said he was excited about joining Mobility Centre.
“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.
“Respect, reliability, honesty and integrity have stood me in good stead throughout my business career which is illustrated by the many happy clients I have been privileged to work with.”
These decisions enable Mobility Centre to reach a wider number of people and give them more purchasing options.
Mr Stephenson said Mobility Centre now had a business model that meets the needs of its customers.
“We have the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, mobile vans, retail partners, an extensive online store and the backing of Life Unlimited.”
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 Mr Stephenson.
“I’m confident the changes we’ve made at Mobility Centre will benefit our existing and new customers.”