Now in its 20th year, Monarch Mobility has brought many innovative products to the mobility market place in its tenure, with its folding scooter being amongst its most successful. Now, after being forced to adapt its operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, this nationwide supplier of mobility scooters, powerchairs and adjustable beds is branching into e-commerce, as well as gearing up to launch a new range of products. We caught up with Managing Director Martin Sampson to find out about the company’s plans for the Future.
Monarch Mobility was established by David Leach 20 years ago, and he is still fully involved in the business on a daily business. Four years ago Martin Sampson joined him as Managing Director. Martin, whose background in the industry was predominantly as The Sales & Marketing Director for Niagara Healthcare-owned Adjustamatic Beds, liked how Monarch was leading the way with an innovative product offering.
One such example was when the company brought the Mobie folding scooter into the marketplace eight years ago.
As Martin explains: “Many Trade dealers and consumers laughed at us and our folding scooter concept initially; however, the folding scooter now appears everywhere. Not only was the folding scooter good for the dealers, but it also was – and still is – the answer to many consumers’ problems and provided just the answer.”
An accredited Motability dealer and manufacturer, excellent customer service is at the core of what makes Monarch stand out from its competitors, explains Martin.
“It is predominantly focused around the after-care service we provide and the way we service our clients around the UK,” he notes.
“In fact, when the country went into lock-down we were pretty much covering most companies in the UK as they were all pretty much closed down with their repairs. Customers had nowhere to go. We functioned throughout the whole pandemic and were picking up new customers from across the country.”
The Impact of COVID
As well as having a retail outlet/showroom in Halifax the firm operates a sales force which drives across the country doing demonstrations of our products.
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was a “dead stop” explains Martin. The way the UK Government helped business with initiatives such as the furlough scheme helped the company a lot, says Martin, but Monarch still had to adapt, and fast.
“Obviously there was that worry and concern out in the big wide world, and then everything suddenly stopped. We had to be reactive to our marketing in a different way.
“Not only to maintain the outgoings of the business but to obviously maintain the business itself and maintain the support to our customers. We had to make a lot of changes which we probably wouldn’t have done if there hadn’t been a pandemic.”
Throughout the pandemic, because of furlough, Monarch ran its warehouse operation from its retail outlet/showroom just so that the business could maintain productivity.
Explains Martin: “It’s a working showroom. Customers will come in on a regular basis – especially the local people. They come in with problems and faults and we’ll repair them. Or they’ll come in and view the products themselves.”
The most significant development for the firm was in transforming its website into an e-commerce website.
The website the company had devised before the pandemic was pretty basic. “Basically we had a website which just showed our products with a contact phone number and people would just ring in,” says Martin.
“We now have a brand new fully-built e-commerce website so customers can look for products, enquire about products and pay for them online.
The e-commerce model has been working so well it is set to stay for good, comments Martin. “The world is moving online,” he says. “It means that when customers go onto the internet now they can see the price, so we are now getting a more solid appointments coming through on the telephone because they know the price.”
New Mobility Range
“Pre lock-down we were just about to launch, at the Naidex event an event for Mobility users, a completely new Monarch mobility range, going from folding scooters all the way up to ‘eight-mile-per-hours’ and obviously it all stopped so we never got to launch those products,” says Martin.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though. Monarch is looking forward to launching its new product range at the BHTS (British Healthcare Trade Show) in June, he says.
“We have now a complete new ‘four-miles-per-hour’ range, which has various scooters for different customers needs. Some of them break down, some of them don’t. All of them are now on the Motability Scheme.
“We have some new powerchairs, particularly our Carbon Lite, that are becoming increasingly popular because of their weight.
“Our massive ‘eight-miles-per-hour’ range has been very successful for ourselves currently and, again, all those products are on the Motability Scheme.
As a manufacturer of products on the Motability Scheme, the firm is proud of its service offering, but it is also keen to challenge itself by pushing forward with new goals, states Martin.