Five Good Reasons to Diversify into Home Modifications -- and Why CEAC Matters

Posted on in Education/Training, Diversify

By Dorothy de Souza Guedes, VGM Education

Diversifying into home modifications is one of the recommendations in VGM’s 2016 HME Business Playbook. Why? Accessibility equipment is a projected $5 billion to $7 billion market. There’s even more money to be made through aging-in place remodeling – a $30 billion market.

Much of that potential revenue comes from the 80 percent of people 65 and older who say their current home is where they want to live for as long as possible. With the population 65 and older expected to increase up to 40 percent by 2020, there is an ever-growing number of potential home modifications customers.

1: Offer More to Existing Customers

You’re already serving customers in their homes, but you may not be serving all of their needs – known and unknown. You can build on existing relationships by having conversations about related products and services. Jerry Keiderling, president of VGM’s Accessible Home Improvement of America, or AHIA, refers to this as “careselling.”

“There’s a reason these products and services were invented: it’s to help them,” Kiederling said. “But, customers don’t know what’s available until you connect them.”

For example, if you’re adjusting a new wheelchair and you had to climb five steps to get into the customer’s home, there’s an opportunity for the installation of a ramp, Keiderling said.  Other modifications can also help the customer live independently.

2. Shift to Non-reimbursable Sales

Baby boomers are willing to pay out of pocket for the convenience provided by quality products and services that solve problems and allow them to remain independent.  

“You’re getting away from traditional reimbursement, which is always a plus in the HME industry,” Keiderling said. 

3: Suggest New Market Areas for Your Referral Sources

Of course, new products and services will draw new customers to your business, often through the referral sources with whom you already have good working relationships. When you add home modifications products and services, make sure to let those referral sources know they can count on you.

4: Stop Referring to Other Providers

Rather than refer your customers to another provider who specializes in home modifications remodeling and products, train your staff and keep those dollars in-house.

5: Train and Get Support through AHIA

As a VGM member, you’re used to our support services and educational programs. What VGM does for HME providers, AHIA does for home modifications professionals.

And, AHIA members have the added benefit of Live at Home Pro app, a sales and assessment tool that assists in completing home assessments, making recommendations and creating proposals for customers.

What’s a C.E.A.C?

AHIA administers the Certified Environmental Access Consultant (C.E.A.C.) program. The credential signifies professionalism in the industry and is recognized by payer sources, including case managers, claims adjusters, state Medicaid programs, state workers’ compensation and others, Keiderling said.

“Payers are looking for somebody trained to understand needs,” Keiderling said. “Our credential is different than other credentials in construction and remodeling. We take it to what’s right for the client.”

Anyone can buy and install a grab bar, but the bar and the installation may not fit that person’s need in their environment, Kiederling said. A C.E.A.C. is trained to assess the individual’s needs and what makes them unique, including height, weight and physical capabilities.

“You get into their life and their situation,” Keiderling said. “Science can’t provide you with the solution that experience and knowledge can.”

That attention to the individual’s need is why payer sources often rely on C.E.A.C. professionals to implement these changes. There are more than 500 C.E.A.C. providers nationwide.

C.E.A.C. Requirements

C.E.A.C. eligibility requirements include holding an active certification or license or competency identified through at least two years of work experience and passing the C.E.A.C. examination. Ten hours of continuing education is required to recertify annually to satisfy the C.E.A.C renewal requirement for professional development. Hours can be earned in a variety of ways, including attending a trade show, in-store vendor training, webinars, VGM’s annual Heartland Conference and online courses through VGMU Online Learning. C.E.A.C.s who give presentations may also qualify for CEUs.

How much time it will take you to go through courses and testing for certification and recertification will vary based on your previous education and professional experience.

“If they’ve been in the (health care) business for a while, they understand a lot of it,” Keiderling said.

What You Should Know

Learn more about AHIA membership and C.E.A.C training by visiting AHIA’s website or calling 877-404-2442.

Play a Live at Home Pro app demo here.

The VGMU bundle, approved by AHIA for C.E.A.C. recertification, includes more than 60 courses. VGMU is authorized by IACET to offer CEUs for each of the courses. From courses in the Aging Populations series to business topics such as employment law and identity theft and safety subjects such as back safety, the bundle provides education to fill many needs. Not currently a VGMU user? Contact Megan Kraft at 888-786-6628.

Already a C.E.A.C? Earn CEUs at the 15th annual Heartland Conference. Register for Heartland Conference 2016 by March 27 to receive Early Bird pricing.