The independent hearing healthcare provider is being confronted by a variety of outside influences unlike anything they’ve ever seen.
- 3rdparty insurance companies who provide a hearing aid benefit that that you feel compelled to accept but with a reimbursement that leaves little room for profit.
- Online retailers who compete solely on the basis of price using questionable if not outright fraudulent advertising campaigns..
- An average cost per lead that has tripled in the past decade… leaving you to spend 3X more than you did 5 – 10 years ago to attract the same number of new patients.
These outside influences have created any number of problems in the hearing aid industry. The biggest impact for most practice owners is a loss of income. I might be stating the obvious, but what isn’t obvious is what to do to change the outcome. Doing the same thing you did 10, 5, or even 2 years ago is not the solution. So, what should you do?
Changing the Outcome
Step 1 – Stop panicking. It’s a complete waste of time and energy.
Step 2 – Assess the situation. What can you control and what is outside of your control? For example, should you belong to a 3rd party payor just for the sake of belonging? If the reimbursement has declined to the point where you are providing your services for next to nothing, the answer is no.
Step 3 – Understand why the outside influences are becoming more and more effective. Evaluate other industries. It’s easy to view the loss of business as being solely driven by price. However every industry has successful enterprises at a variety of price points. Why?
Compete on Value
One possible reason for their success is that they place an emphasis on value. They compete on value, not price. Competing on price alone, while it can be done is a risky proposition.
Only one company can truly have the lowest price and if all you do is tie them, customers will look for another point of differentiation. You will end up in the same place you are now but with less money in your pocket. Given the volume of purchases of the small business owner compared to large chains, online retailers, and box stores…competing on price is futile.
Start by understanding your customer.
I know that you think you understand your demographic, but do you really?
- Who will be using your product or service?
- Do your potential customers still fit the demographic model that they did 10 years ago?
- Are they older or younger, what is their income level, education level?
I would suggest creating categories of patients and market to them accordingly. A 50-year-old businessman is not necessarily going to respond to the same marketing concept as an 85-year-old retiree.
The sales cycle of your consumer.
Times have changed, the sales cycle for most products and services is no longer a nice, neat linear process. Instead, the cycle has become much more complicated. Potential customers have the ability to research a vast amount of information about a product or service (price point, reviews of the product, technical data) and compare the data across any number of providers.
- You need to be on the consumers radar much sooner in the decision making process than ever before.
- Find out what your prospect thinks about your competitors and their offerings.
- Figure out how your competition promotes, prices and sells its product or service.
- To understand how to make your practice stand out, you have to better understand your competition.
- And then advertise those differences.
Be diligent about recording information, analyzing patterns, and identifying opportunities, so you can discuss them with your customers and prospects.
Yes, this is a lot of work. But the payoff can be tremendous.
To reiterate, define the value you will be delivering.
Nordstrom’s and Whole Foods are two examples of companies that offer products sold by their competitors for significantly less. Both companies have defined the experience their customers can expect each time and they deliver on that promise. Those experiences have been deemed by the customer to be worth the higher price point.
If you fail to deliver… fix the problem, IMMEDIATELY. In the age of social media, time is of the essence. You’ve heard the adage that that 1 unhappy customer will tell the story of their experience to somewhere between 9 to 15 people. With the ability to post their unhappy experience online, you might be looking back on that 9-15 number with fondness as the number of people who view your customer’s story and share it with others enters triple digits.
Finally, Explore Untapped Markets
We all know that the number of potential hearing aid candidates far exceeds the number of patients actually wearing aids. A better understanding of who these people are might allow you to tap into what could potentially be an extremely profitable segment of our marketplace.
No one ever said running your own business would be easy. And if it has been easy those days have come to an end. The information above is just a starting point. If you’re ready to get serious about making money from your practice, give us a call. We know what to do.