My column in the Hearing Journal

At 4MyHearingBiz, courtesy of CareCredit, we get questions from hearing care professionals regarding how to run a successful practice. We hear everything from “How can I compete against the ‘Big Box’ retailers like Costco?” to “How can I offer lower-priced hearing aids and still make a profit for my practice?” and more. Experts provide the answers!

ASK AN EXPERT
The goal of our “Ask an Expert” column is to get your questions answered by the people who are in the know—experienced, successful hearing practice owners, practitioners, and others who have first-hand knowledge about the business of hearing care.

TODAY’S EXPERT
Elissa Sorkowitz-Lejeune, HIS BC-HIS
Elissa Sorkowitz-Lejeune is a licensed hearing instrument specialist (HIS), and a partner in the highly successful, family-owned Royal Palm Hearing Aid Center in Florida. She has worked in the hearing care industry for more than 25 years, in all aspects of private practice, and also has hands-on experience in hearing instrument manufacturing. She has worked closely with all the major hearing instrument manufacturers and suppliers over the years, and continues to stay abreast of the latest available hearing aid technology.

TODAY’S QUESTION
As a private practice owner, how can I differentiate myself from the ‘Big Box’ retailers like Costco? Do I need to change both how my practice operates and also how I market the practice in my community?

TODAY’S ANSWER
It’s remarkable how many people go to Costco to buy hearing aids. It’s here to stay, for sure. What you need to understand is that the average user buys at Costco, or ‘Big Box’ one time. I’m not exaggerating when I say that almost on a daily basis someone comes in who has bought at a Big Box store and is ready for the next step. Obviously, hearing deficits do not go away–they continue to deteriorate and get worse. Big Box stores are what I call “a training bra.” Honestly, this is the same way I feel about PSAPs. Each of these is essentially “a training bra” for a longterm problem. Luckily, people get smart and realize they need more support, and more customization in their hearing care. Those people who buy from Costco can still become your clients.

The way to differentiate yourself from Big Box retailers like Costco is to take these people under your wing and make them understand that hearing loss is a longterm health issue that needs ongoing customized care. Explain to them the way that you work from the beginning. You are with them every step of the way in their hearing journey. That means personalization of their particular problem. You are giving them back quality of life with connectivity and personalization.

Answers to your questionsOne thing I can tell you for certain after being in the hearing industry my entire life, is that there is no particular solution that is the same for any patient. I see each of my patients at least every three months for adjustments, cleaning, and tweaking. I explain to them that 95% of the time that when their hearing aids are not working, it’s wax.

Letting your patients know that you are going to take care of their equipment perpetually is key to their success as users. Service is the key and the lifeline of your practice. Don’t let your patients go a day without hearing as much as possible–this commitment to care that is personalized to each individual is how you can win in the age of the “Big Box” retail giants.

Have a question? Please feel free to post a comment in our “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of this article. We encourage readers to pose one or more questions for one of the experts to answer in the near future.

The “Ask an Expert” column is provided to the 4MyHearingBiz community by CareCredit, The Hearing Review, and various contributors from the hearing healthcare industry.

Image credits: RKG Photography; © Roman Motizov © Ilianamihaleva | Dreamstime.com

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