In the latest article about the people who make Ocura, we spoke to Jennie McFarlane, Regional Sales Manager for the south of England and Wales.
Jennie joined Ocura in April 2016 and has worked in the hospital furniture industry for many years prior.
You’ve worked in the hospital furniture business for a few years now. How has it evolved from when you started?
Over the last few years I have noticed an upturn in infection control and manual handling aspects of furniture being at the forefront of the buying decision as well as there being a growth in the need for furniture with higher weight capacities.
Interestingly too charitable funding has exploded over the last 10 years. Whilst in the past it would be they would fund what could be viewed as luxuries, now they are co-funding and buying vital equipment that some trusts can’t extend to any more.
On top of this, the design aspect particularly of new build units and hospitals plays a big role in selecting aesthetically pleasing furniture. Not just in terms of the look of the product but the colour scheme that it can fit into.
You’ve touched upon hospital design. How much does this and the interior environment impact on the furniture selection process?
It depends somewhat on whether the service is NHS or private. Private healthcare tends to have a strong brand with colours and finishes carefully chosen to reinforce this. NHS environments are embracing interiors more and will often work to a theme or colour ways – the flexibility of our finishes is an advantage.
Invariably however, cost does influence design and décor.
Every sales person has their own unique style. How do you work with customers to find the piece of furniture that is the perfect match for them?
I look at the brief, I analyse what it is being used for and by whom – whether the patients will predominantly be elderly, pregnant mothers, children etc. and look at the frequency of use and a variety of other factors. Once a review has been carried out I can then drill down into recommending which of Ocura’s products fits customer criteria. When discussing with the customer it’s great to back up my recommendations with images, particularly whilst looking at colour schemes.
What are the main driving factors behind someone choosing Ocura over another company?
We find that repeat business is a big one. Having a tried and tested product already in place is a great relationship builder for a customer.
In terms of forging new relationships, meeting with those who will be using the furniture in conjunction with procurement is key. Getting into hospitals when others perhaps are not.
We are very good with meeting the customers timelines – for example if I sell items of furniture from our 5 day range, I have every confidence that it will be with my customer is 5 working days.
It must be a long day being on the road at times, how rewarding is it when an order is placed and you see the products in use at a hospital?
Very rewarding. We like to visit our customers once products are in place. We tend to drop off some chocolates for the ward, however I’m considering switching this to a healthier option!
What are your hopes for the hospital furniture market in the next 5 years?
I do hope to see an increase in spending into hospitals allowing them to buy on quality and not price. I’ve seen all too often products needing to be replaced too soon due to the quality not being up to scratch, it ultimately costs more in the long run!
The continued evolution of hospital furniture. I’ve seen big improvements over the years and hope this continues.
Forgetting about work for a minute (!) when you get home and at weekends, how do you like to unwind?
A total chill! Being out in the middle of stunning countryside with the dog – no phone, no people, no car.