How to Guarantee 2016 Is a Fabulous Year for Business
Opinion Editorial by Gyl Kasewurm, AuD
Is 2016 starting out as a good year for business? If you are a business owner, it’s your job to assess the strengths, uncover the weaknesses and to take steps to intentionally make 2016 a great year for business. The first and most important step is to TRACK the results. Tracking costs, sources of revenue, Help Rates, and Marketing ROIs are critical for success. After 30 years as a business owner, I have some thoughts on how to make 2016 a Fabulous Year for business.
Focus on Internal Marketing
Patients are living longer and since sensory hearing loss almost never goes away, we will have more opportunities to resell to our own patients. Therefore, it’s extremely important to stay in touch with them. I recently read that 50 percent of hearing health-care providers don’t provide any scheduled follow up with their patients after they are fit with hearing aids. Sure you are probably thinking that patients will call if they have a problem but that’s simply not good enough. The best source of future business is keeping your own patients happy.
HIA conducted a focus group of patients several years ago and participants indicated that they preferred regularly scheduled visits because they wanted to take good care of their investment in better hearing. Think about it—your dentist suggests cleanings every six months and your physician probably recommends annual physicals. My optometrist insists on a visit at least once a year for me to be able to order my disposable contacts. Why should hearing health care be any different than these other professions?
I would suggest regular appointments every six months to clean ears and hearing aids and in states that allow the use of audiology assistants, these routine visits can be completed by support personnel. Plan to touch base with your patients an average of four times a year. This can be achieved by scheduling bi annual cleaning appointments and a two other touch points such as newsletters or announcements of special events. My practice also has great success with marketing quarterly upgrade events to our patients. If we aren’t telling patients about new technology, who is? Everyone else in the industry from the Internet to Costco and probably every other provider in town.
Make the Experience One to Remember
Competition in this industry is increasing every day and patients can literally purchase hearing aids anywhere and everywhere. Therefore, it’s important to keep our patients happy and one way to do that is to provide an exceptional experience whenever they visit our offices. A focus on the patient experience is a hallmark of life in my practice. Our patients can treat themselves to a cup of coffee from the gourmet coffee bar, enjoy a warm cookie fresh out of the oven, relax on the sofa in front of the fire, or take advantage of the virtual theatre to see how hearing aids are made and to experience the benefits of compatibility and other wireless devices. The intention has been to create a comfortable and inviting place for people to simply hang out - whether they have an appointment or not.
Of course, outstanding customer service is part of the experience. One of the hallmarks that have contributed to the success of my practice is the walk in service hours that we offer. Patients can walk in without an appointment during established hours to have their hearing aids cleaned or repaired. This process has proven to be invaluable since patients seem to be “busier than ever” and those that depend on their hearing aids need to have them repaired in a timely manner and if not, loaner aids are provided. We have also created a new concept of “remote adjusting” of amplification when patients can call in during a designated hour to have their aids adjusted over the phone and don’t have to come into the office.
It doesn’t take much to turn an average practice into a fabulous one. Take some steps to make 2016 a great one for your business.
Gyl Kasewurm, AuD, is one of the Academy’s associate editors for www.audiology.org and Audiology Today magazine. She is also the practice owner of Professional Hearing Services, Ltd., in St. Joseph, MI.