ORLANDO, FLA. — The first step to growing one’s pedorthic retail business is educating potential customers about pedorthics, according to a speaker at the Pedorthic Footcare Association and American Podiatric Medical Association Combined Meeting, here.
Raymond J. Margiano, PhD, founder and CEO of Foot Solutions, said pedorthists need to be their own best advocates. Demand for pedorthic care exists, but people do not know that they need it.
“Most people do not even know what a pedorthist is. That is part of the reason we are in the state the industry is in today,” he said. “We have to let people know who we are and what we do. If you want your industry to grow and survive in the future, you are going to have to do more than sit in your store and wait for people to come in. As a group, we have to do a lot more to educate people on what we are about.”
Margiano said stores have been negatively impacted by the economic downturn in recent years. Online sales also have taken a toll on traditional pedorthic shoe stores. He said pedorthists need to emphasize the advantages of shopping locally — including the ability to touch and try on the product — and make sure they know the demographics that make up their local customer base.
“Own the niche in your community,” he said.
Customer niches can vary from athletes to people with medical needs to workers who spend time on their feet.
Raymond J. Margiano
At the same time, he said, pedorthists should be careful not to put all their eggs in one basket by investing in a single area and ignoring other potential customers.
“You have to diversify,” he said.
Pedorthists can diversify their offerings by paying attention to trends; Margiano predicted health and fitness shoes as the next trend.
Business owners should pay attention to key performance indicators, including the number of customers daily, weekly, monthly and annually; the percentage of new customers (Margiano aims for 40% new customers); daily sales; daily returns; gross margins; amount of average sale; inventory turnover and net profit.
Lastly, Margiano emphasized the importance of online marketing and social media presence. Pedorthists should be aware of online reviews and follow their practice’s standings on popular review sites like Google and Yelp. Social media is essential, according to Margiano.
“If you are not using it, you have to use it,” he said.
The Internet may seem to create a threat to local pedorthists, but if they use it in the right way — or pay someone else to use it for them — it can reap benefits, he said.
“Technology levels the playing field,” according to Margiano. – by Amanda Alexander
Margiano R. Pedorthic shoe retail market today and tomorrow. Presented at: Pedorthic Footcare Association and American Podiatric Medical Association Combined Meeting; July 23-25, 2015; Orlando, Fla.
Disclosure: Margiano reports no relevant financial disclosures.