How to Become an HME Champion, Part Two: Get Coached Like an Olympian

Posted on in Growth Strategies

Note: This is the second of a four-part series of articles that offer VGM members insights on why training together, finding great coaches, fueling up and staying determined can help them succeed and finish on top of the HME podium.

By Mike McGill, VGM Marketing

 “Who exactly seeks out a coach? Winners.” – Chicago Tribune

From badminton to boxing, one thing that the 11,000-plus Olympic athletes have in common is a coach who is dedicated to helping them succeed.

Michael Phelps didn’t win 23 gold medals by himself. His coach for over two decades, Bob Bowman, was by his side and instrumental in providing Phelps with the tools to go from good to best of all time. Bowman said recently in an article published in the Wall Street Journal, “All best swimmers in history, there was a very close partnership with a coach.”

In the business arena, particularly in the home medical equipment industry, now more than ever it’s important for providers to form relationships with industry experts (coaches) and peers for advice and sharing of ideas for growth.    

Get Coached like an Olympian

Coaches have many qualities, and the following three may be of the most value when taking your business from good to standing on top of the HME podium:


There’s a good reason coaches are called on to train and educate us in a particular field: they’re knowledgeable in a variety of areas. From their academic endeavors to teaching methods and interpersonal communication skills, coaches use experiential knowledge to help draw connections and share their perspective to assist in the training process.

“If you’re a resource for others, it’s imperative that you have the experience and knowledge to give sound advice,” said VGM Retail’s Jim Greatorex. “Effective coaches are able to confidently help others succeed through lessons we’ve already learned.”  

Excellent listeners

Listening. It sounds simple enough. Truly successful coaches are able to not only observe the setting or environment but also listen to what is actually taking place. Others are more receptive to advice when they know the coach has developed a reputation for being a good listener, can objectively analyze a scenario and provide the solution.

“I always learn from members as they give me the real-world situations that you can’t get from a medical policy or manual,” stated Ronda Buhrmester, VGM’s reimbursement expert. “My job is to listen thoroughly so I can understand their situation and get the correct answer and resource to reference.”


One of the true qualities of a great coach is the ability to be sympathetic. In an industry laden with regulatory changes, it’s extremely important to align yourself with a coach who is not only experienced and is an attentive listener, but is also sympathetic to the challenges AND opportunities you’re facing.

“As a respiratory therapist and former manager of a hospital-based DME, I always put myself in their position and think about how I would handle it,” stated Buhrmester. “I lived in their world, so I get the importance of being able to reach out to someone for advice or with issues on an audit, especially someone that understands the ever-changing environment in this industry.”

Don’t forget about your teammates

Coaches provide a lot of knowledge and can put themselves in your position, but many times the only people who know first-hand what you’re going through are those on the same court. Your peers are confronting the same challenges, so use every opportunity you can to interact and network with them. Attend state association meetings and educational conferences like Heartland and the upcoming Medtrade event in Atlanta. These events not only provide the continuing education you need but are also a great source for networking and sharing challenges and victories.

Overseeing day-to-day business operations is tough enough and requires an immense amount of dedication and hard work. It’s up to you to find the right coaches to help you obtain that HME gold medal. 

Like this article? Stay tuned for Step #3 in next week’s CONNECT blog.