Wake up and smell the coffee
At this time of year it is normal to look both behind us and plan for what is ahead. You can’t plan for 2014 without being completely aware of what happened in 2013. Analyse your data from last year closely, it will give you both the answers you need and inspiration for this year. Phonak have recently published a study on what successful Practices do in the states, the things that make them successful.
There is no real surprises in the survey, these are common sense things that you should all be doing. What did surprise me was the amount of turnover as a percentage spent on advertising. At 3% or $15,000 it seemed exceptionally low, the rule of thumb I use is 10 to 12%. Although perhaps I include much more as marketing than the survey does. For instance I include any cost of loyalty schemes as marketing and nearly all Patient communications. Don’t know, probably won’t find out, no point getting the knickers in a knot!
They did give recommendations in relation to what these successful Practices were doing, they lined up as follows
Develop a formal, detailed marketing activities calendar;
Develop a marketing budget each year;
Develop patient and networking referral programs;
Use more patient testimonials, lead capture system, Web site analytics and search optimization tools to improve marketing functionality of their Web sites;
Compensate with salary plus commission on hearing instrument sales, and provide licensed hearing professionals with health benefits;
Conduct patient satisfaction surveys and shared results with their staff, and
Recall for hearing instrument cleanings semi-annually.
Apart from the salary and commission thing it surprised me that more Practices weren’t doing this, why not? If you aren’t doing this why in god’s name are you not? We have discussed in detail the recommendations here and more on this blog, other blogs and in some of the forums on LinkedIn over the last few years. However still many Practice owners are not using them to manage their Practice. It’s your funeral, this business is evolving at a frightening rate. For many decades the business has been protected because the price of entry was high. With the changes in technology and the constant pressure from industry disruptors that is changing.
These disruptors are serious and hungry for a slice of a multi billion pound market. A market they think they can turn to volume by lowering prices, a market that they think they can grow. They aren’t just interested in the people that purchase hearing aids, they covet the rest, the people with loss that don’t. So believe me, this business is only going to get tougher, we are going to be living in interesting times. So get off your ass, stop whining, get off it and start managing your Practice, because if you don’t your ass is grass.