Individuals evaluating home stair lift options for themselves or a loved one can be at a disadvantage. Often, the purchase of a stair lift is something completely new to them and they do not know whom to call or whom to trust. Some may be lucky and know a neighbor or a friend with a stair lift who can provide advice. Buying a residential stair lift is similar to buying a car — you should seek a trustworthy manufacturer and brand, and more importantly, buy from a company that can provide excellent service to keep your stair lift running smoothly and safely.
Like many senior-oriented products, the stair lift market is growing and offers profitable opportunities for businesses. And like any industry, there are companies that are profit-motivated and those with more altruistic intentions. As the consumer, it is to your advantage to evaluate the candidates.
For the sake of full transparency, let us tell you about ourselves. Power Stair Lifts is a locally-owned company serving the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities. Our top priority is to resolve our clients’ home mobility needs, provide excellent customer service, and do so at a fair price. We believe this to be the best approach to running a customer-oriented business that is both rewarding and financially stable. It is from this perspective that this article is written. We want consumers to be educated and discerning because we have competitors that are well-run and caring, but there are others that are not so ethical.
Below are 15 questions and insights to keep in mind when interviewing stairlift companies:
How long have they been in business?
This indicates the service’s stability, competence, and experience.
Who is the owner of the company?
This will reveal if the company is locally-owned by someone who is part of your community or just an absentee owner with no connection to the community.
Why did they get into the business?
This question is very telling because it reveals the motivation and the “why” of a company and its owner.
How are the technicians trained?
Obviously, everyone wants a well-trained and experienced technician. Some manufacturers provide more resources than others to empower their installers and service technicians.
What stair lift manufacturers do they represent?
Product-rating agencies cite the highest quality stairlift manufacturers to be from Europe and North America, with the lesser-quality manufacturers sourcing from China. It is important to note that while a company is based in the United States, its product manufacturing may be done abroad and imported for distribution. Each manufacturer has various levels of product quality as well as warranties for product performance. Each company also provides differing standards of customer service, resources, and support for their local dealers, which ultimately affects the end user — you!
Where are their offices located?
Proximity of service providers is essential with stair lifts because no one wants to get stuck with a broken stair lift when living with mobility challenges. This will also reveal who is part of your community and who is not.
What are the office hours?
Office hours and customer service responsiveness can be indicative of the overall customer experience. Companies that are customer-oriented tend to have longer office hours and employ real people to answer your phone call.
How quickly do service technicians respond to service calls?
Most companies are not able to guarantee an exact response time because of the fluctuation of scheduled installations and annual maintenance appointments. However, they should be able to provide a trustworthy appointment estimate based on service call history and their level of staffing. Understanding that no one wants to be without the use of a lift for an extended period of time, service-oriented companies will re-prioritize their schedule for customers in emergency situations.
What is the cost of annual maintenance and service?
Most of the major stair lift manufacturers require an annual maintenance call to maintain the product’s warranty. Market studies have found that the lower cost (and lower quality) stair lift companies entice customers with an economical initial purchase price, knowing that the product will need service, repair, and other maintenance, at which time they can overcharge and recoup their profits. If a consumer anticipates needing a lift only for a short while, i.e., six months or less, then product performance may not be a major concern. In these scenarios, clients should consider renting a lift or purchasing a used lift to save some money. Read more about evaluating the cost of stair lift ownership here.
Will the stair lift company buy back the stair lift?
This simple question will reveal both the product quality and the company’s commitment to service. If the company does not believe in the product’s quality and lacks a local presence to repurchase, remove, and re-certify a used lift for future use, then consumers should inquire as to why. Power Stair Lifts installs high-quality lifts and performs excellent annual service on customers’ lifts, and is therefore happy to repurchase our customer’s stair lifts.
What is the guarantee or warranty for the lift?
The major stair lift manufacturers provide product warranties between one and three years on average.
How much are parts marked up?
Reputable companies place a fair markup on parts costs to cover their overhead. Again, many of the less-expensive stairlifts that tend to break down more often have to make up their profits with repeated maintenance and repairs.
Is the company part of a franchise?
The average franchisee in America pays a 7% royalty on gross revenues to the franchisor in addition to other franchise-imposed fees. This means that, theoretically, independent companies have less overhead and should be less expensive. Independent companies, especially those who have been around for over 10 years and have a well-developed client base, are able to access the same volume discounts that franchisors negotiate for their franchisees. In fact, stair lift manufacturers depend on the vast network of independent stair lift companies across the nation to continue selling, installing, and servicing their stairlifts.
How much are replacement batteries?
Similar to the cost of repair and replacement parts, batteries should be fairly priced to cover the cost of the part and overhead to maintain a fiscally-responsible business. Beware of companies that charge inflated prices and have customers on the hook with little choice but to pay an outrageous price for new batteries.
How much experience does the tech that will do my installation have?
Experience is always key! Organizations with strong cultures tend to retain long-term employees who are competent and experienced. Poor product installation can even void warranties, leaving the customer dependent on a company where customer commitment is compromised.
Please be sure to visit these other helpful resources:
Lifestyles over 50 — Expert senior content, resources, and care
Power Stair Lifts is a member of Lehigh Valley Aging in Place, a resource helping families help seniors since 2005.
Grab Bar Pros — Safety solutions for bathrooms, entrances, and stairs
Power Stair Lifts believes in selling quality products and offering excellent customer service at fair prices. If this philosophy aligns with your needs, then give us a call at 484-895-1188.