How Midwest Mobile Imaging Turned the Impossible into a Profitable Second Year
Imagine this: a company unable to bill its clients for a year and a half that became profitable by the end of year two. We know, right?
This is the true life hurdle of a West Plains, Missouri entrepreneur. Dan Taylor, president of Midwest Mobile Imaging (MMI) couldn’t bill his clients for a year and a half because he couldn’t get his Medicare ID number.. With a tiered order system, Medicare surveys according to which tier you fall in. With Dan falling into the fourth tier, being the last one to get surveyed, and Medicare running out of budget for surveying around tier three, it looked super bleak. The agency actually told Dan it would take years before they could get out to survey him, which means he couldn’t bill his clients.
Although Dan doesn’t call himself an “entrepreneur,” he showed his true innovative spirit when he made the calls and put his boots to the ground to make sure that he didn’t have to close shop.
And how important is that for Missouri entrepreneurship…and jobs? Dan employs technicians across the region as he has spread from West Plains to Springfield. Without that drive and network of resources, where would MMI be? What resources did he use to pull it off and also become profitable in his second year?
We wanted to know the answers to this as well, so we spoke Dan ourselves.
MOSourceLink: What’s your elevator pitch for MMI?
Dan Taylor (DT): MMI is mobile medical imaging services. We use smaller versions of hospital-grade equipment that allows us to take it into physicians' offices, nursing homes and patient homes. Those patients don't have to go to an imaging center or to the hospital to get traditional X-ray, ultrasound, EKG, echocardiogram, etc. We can bring all the equipment to them.
MOSourceLink: Why Missouri for your business?
DT: My family moved here when I was 8 years old. I went to the remainder of grade school and high school here, and then I left and went back to Arizona. So it seemed like a good move.
My mother was sick at the time. And the timing was just perfect with the monetary value of my home: I was finishing the undergrad program, working for this company, kind of figuring everything out. Everything kind of clicked. I was able to be here for my mother and start this company.
My mother actually proved how much the market needed this service. There was one time her shoulder hurt. She went to the hospital, and she sat there for about six hours just for a shoulder X-ray that takes five minutes. And so, that, combined with what I was hearing from nursing home staff, and from just medical professionals around the city that we lived in...it was just time.
MOSourceLink: How did you identify the problem you’re solving?
DT: I was pre-dental in college, and I didn't do anything with that. I looked at a lot of two-year programs—nursing, respiratory, X-ray— to see if I could make a lateral move. So, I chose X-rays, because you could kind of branch out and do multiple things with it. When I was finished with X-ray school, I actually got hired by an Arizona company that does what I do.We were just busy as heck, and I thought, this is a really great opportunity. I started thinking, okay, well, the bigger cities have this. But do the smaller cities have it?
I started looking at some of the statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services and started researching the companies out here, and thought, this would be a perfect opportunity for me to get out of the big city and go to smaller towns and kind of monopolize on that, bringing another healthcare option to the area.
MOSourceLink: Did you plan on being an “entrepreneur”?
DT: I never envisioned myself owning a company. And I guess by definition I'm an “entrepreneur,” but I still don't consider myself one. I feel like I'm a guy that saw a need, started a business and hired a few employees.
MOSourceLink: What help did you have getting started?
DT: I did talk to SCORE [a business-building resource made up of industry professionals who provide mentoring and support to new business owners across several categories such as business planning] here in Springfield. They are a network of retired business-savvy people you can talk to who might have a different perspective on things or give you some different ideas on how you should run the company.
But OzSBI (Ozarks Small Business Incubator) was the first place we used, and the biggest resource. They had connections with pretty much everybody. They had meetings, classes, online tutorials. And they're really active with meeting with you monthly or quarterly to see your cash flow, and to see that you're growing, your projections for full-time and part-time employees, what do you need, microloan programs, and things of that nature. I mean, it's just a huge resource.
MOSourceLink: Back to the hurdle you were trying to clear: how did OzSBI help you get your Medicare ID number?
DT: Some things to starting a business are simple. You can apply for a business license in five minutes online. You can find an office, and you can buy your pens and pencils, and get your QuickBooks software, things like that. But for me, that was a gigantic hurdle.
OzSBI and the congressman's office were an integral part in the solution. Everybody was rallying for us and pulling for us. And I was about a month away from calling it quits.
With the help of some politicians, some letter writing, lots of phone calls, and a lot of patience, we finally got a surveyor down here to survey us and get us our Medicare number, so that we could start billing for those services.
MOSourceLink: What is next for MMI?
DT: We want to be a one-stop shop. Rather than calling a couple of different companies for everything, we can send all of our staff to a nursing facility. We can go in there, draw the blood, process it, do their X-rays and their ultrasounds. That would be a one-stop shop for all of our clients, which will be super helpful.
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