Why It Pays To Have Good Contacts At The Running Shoe Store

Jenny L Sanders DPM

When it comes to feet, podiatrists know more than anyone, but it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of all the new running shoe styles that are out there.

Many of us prescribe orthotics and those orthotics generally are designed to fit into an athletic shoe. For that reason, I think it’s important that podiatrists establish a relationship with a local running shoe store where they can send their patients to be fit properly.

I have three running shoe stores that I regularly refer patients to and I am on a first name basis with the managers at each of these stores. Not only do my patients get preferential treatment when I send them to these approved stores but the managers educate my staff and I about the latest and greatest advances in running shoe technology. I also get some pretty great referrals.

If you are not doing this, you are missing out on a great opportunity.


It is important to have a good connection with comfort shoe stores and running stores in your area. Just about every day, I give out a referral to a supporting DPM. I even sometimes call their office staff while I have a client in the store to make an appointment for them so I know that they will go.

My name is Josh McLaughlin, and I have been C.Ped for 5 years now and I manage 2 Foot Solutions stores. We have a great relationship with about 25 DPMS in our area. I speak very highly about podiatry to our clients. My goal is to become a DPM someday when I can afford the schooling. My 8 years with comfort footwear has inspired me to become a podiatrist.

Anyways, my point is that we already see a ton of your patients everyday. When I have a patient of one of our friendly doctors in my store, and they want to complain about their doctor or experience, I always encourage them to go back and see their doctor them or do my best to help "defend" the doctor. We support our doctors because, quite honestly, most support us and our stores.

If at all possible, go and visit some of those comfort shoe stores and try to get to know the staff and their managers. Our associates speak very highly of certain doctors just for the mere fact that they have met them and can put a face to their name.

If you are able to, invite the store managers to your office to have them show you new shoes and the updates with the shoes that are already out there. I do "lunch and learns" with our supporting docs whenever I get the chance to and I always leave with a handful of their business cards to keep in our stores.

I just want to ask everyone not to bad mouth stores out there that are trying to fit comfort shoes and supports just because we are not DPMs. There are a couple of pods in our area who told me that they saw us as a "competitor." I have great respect for the profession of podiatry and I can assure you that we do not "compete" with pods. As long as you have a good relationship with those stores and don't put them down, they will refer to your offices.

Someday I will be a podiatrist and use the existing comfort shoe stores basically as partners. EVERYONE WINS!

Josh McLaughlin, C.Ped
Phoenix, AZ

Mr. McLaughlin,

Although I somewhat agree with your stance, I've been burned too many times by retail stores. I use to send patients with specific needs to stores to get sized and fitted for shoes and have college kids who work in these stores openly disagree with my diagnosis and steer my patients to more expensive alternatives just to prove their sales skills to their managers.

We are about making sure our patients get the proper shoe gear for their medical needs, which is why my partner and I no longer refer these things out and dispense to our patients in our own office. Once burned, twice shy.

I do have an excellent rapport with the local running shoe store, who have never steered my patients wrong. They get daily referrals to their store and they are kind enough to give my patients discounts.

I am sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience with some stores. Honestly, I know that stuff can happen in some stores. We run into the same problem with some other regular retail stores. They say that our product is "crap" and tell them that they need to try their product.

It is stores like the one you mentioned that gives real comfort footwear stores a bad name and it hurts us at times too. I have tried to meet with some pods and haven't even been given a chance because they were "burned" by someone's staff who contradicted them and gave their patient poor advice.

I am very sorry that there are stores out there who do this. I just hope that it doesn't put a sour taste in your mouth about ALL footwear stores. There are stores out there whose staff are very highly trained. The key is to find such a store and establish a relationship with them.

At our store, we work very hard to make the right recommendations for our clients and take care of them. I have told all the docs in our area that if they EVER have a problem with what we have done for their patient to PLEASE CALL US and we would be more than happy to "take it back" or fix it however we need to. Don't be afraid to speak up and let them know if you have a problem.

I would get a hold of the manager/owner of that particular store and let them know about those college kids. I'm sure that the owner would like to address it and should be more than happy to develop and maintain a highly professional relationship.

By the way, there are quite a few types of sandals and casual shoes out there that have good pedorthic features and will accommodate an orthotic when the footbed is removed. We dispense quite a few of those so our pods' patients are not limited to only wearing their orthotics in their running shoes.

Josh McLaughlin, C.Ped
Phoenix, Arizona

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