Hearing Instrument Price List, Publish And Be Damned?

Could You, Should You, Would You?

Your instrument pricing, should you make it easy to access?

Hearing_Aid_Price_List_Ireland

I have come across several different views on this question over the years. Historically I was taught that I should never really discuss pricing with prospects unless I was in consultation with them. Over time the thoughts on this changed and we discussed general figures over the phone but qualified our statements with the information that definitive pricing would depend on consultation.

But our prospective Patients have changed, they are better informed, they or their loved ones have usually done some research. That research is usually undertaken into their problem and the solutions available. They may even have researched types of instruments available and some of the manufacturers of those instruments. They are also keenly aware of pricing, particularly in our market here.

So is it time for us to change our ideas about our price lists? There are a few businesses publishing their price list online on their website. But it is only a few, why? Is it a throwback to the old “Don’t discuss the price!” or is it for commercial reasons? I understand that some people consider their instrument pricing to be sensitive commercial information. But is it? If your competitor really wants to know your pricing they can find out. We know that in the UK and Ireland Specsavers publish their price list, which is quite cheap. But it has not stopped Patients going to Independent businesses and buying more expensive and better more modern technology.

So it is obvious that the purchase of hearing instruments is not all about the price. Otherwise the cheapest offering would always win. Admittedly, new users are price sensitive, but experienced users are far less price centred, they are definitely more service centred. So what are the pros and cons

Pros:

  • Search Engine Optimisation advantages
  • Perceived as open and honest by your prospects
  • Patients expectations moderated
  • Extends the opportunity to a Practice to explain product placement and pricing

Cons:

  • Competitors view your prices
  • Open to price comparison

Sorry cons are short, because I can’t really think of any outside the two I have offered. The pros of the approach have real value to you as a Practice. First the SEO advantages will drive you up the search rankings, always a wonderful thing. Second you increase the perception of openness and honesty in prospects. Just those two points have to be winners for any business. Whilst the cons also need to be carefully thought about, the first one is really a non entity. As I have said, if a competitor wants to know your pricing they will find out. Admittedly you publishing it makes it easier, but if a competitor is worried about what you are doing they are not helping their business.

The price comparison point is valid, again I think it is more valid for new users than existing users. But if you have pitched your site correctly even new users will get a sense that service is the key and that price is not all. What do you think, will you publish and be damned?

Regards

Geoff

About Geoffrey Cooling

my name is Geoffrey Cooling and I am the author here at Just Audiology Stuff. I have been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession for several years now. I initially worked as a Hearing Healthcare Professional for a large national retailer in Ireland. After several years in Practice I was approached to work for a manufacturer, where I was employed for five years. I am now the Co Founder of a business called Audiology Engine. We design websites, undertake content marketing and generally look after everything digital for audiological practices. I am also a contributor to many hearing profession periodicals and websites. I have written two commercially available books, The Little Book of Hearing Aids which is written for hearing aid consumers and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World which is written for Audiology Practice Owners. They are both available in Paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. I also write for consumers on the website Hearing Aid Know, which is a website with the mission of demystifying hearing aids, their types and their technology. I have a great interest in commercial strategy as it applies to Healthcare in general and specifically to Hearing Healthcare. I also have a great interest in the psychology of sales and human interaction. I have been involved with social media for some time, both personally and professionally. I find the engagement and discourse on some social media channels fascinating. I instituted social media strategy for the company I worked for as an experiment. That experiment soon spread throughout the company and I am proud to say that the company is probably one of the most active in the industry. I would like to point out that all views, opinions and thoughts here are mine own. Unless of course they have been planted by the pod people, you just can’t take your eyes off the pod people. Those views do not necessarily reflect upon any views or opinions held by my employer, if I ever get another one. I think that our industry is in the middle of a time of huge change, I think that the change will be forced by both internal and external pressure. I think that private Independent Healthcare Practices will have to be smart and lithe of feet in order to meet these changes. I hope that some of my blatherings are of benefit to those Practices, Independent Hearing Healthcare Practices need to survive. I believe that if that occurs it will be of real benefit to Patients. I hope that I, and my writings will play a small part in their continued success.

4 Comments

  1. As usual, all your points are valid. Here’s a few additional takes.

    Take #1
    We’re currently considering the prospects of unbundling, partly due to an insurance company forcing us down the path. Because of this, we’ll be in a position where we’ll be required to disclose the wholesale price to the patient. How about THAT for full disclosure? As a result of this, many of the audiologists in our region has resigned as providers for this particular insurance company because they feel uncomfortable telling the patient what the invoice cost is when compared to the retail. From my perspective, why should they be afraid to disclose this information? Are they ashamed of the mark-up? Do they not feel they can justify it? If this is the case, they have more deep-seated problems than dealing with this insurance company. For me, I take pride in the work I do, and would have no problem doing this. The insurance, company at this point has been slow in changing over their system, so we’ll have to wait and see.

    Take #2 in the next comment.

  2. Take #2

    I was previously a regional trainer / representative for a hearing aid manufacturer. Once business I encountered in my travels had an owner who said that under no circumstances was I to disclose any wholesale pricing information to his employees (with the exception of his office manager). His reason was because he had dispensers who thought they could make more money on their own once they saw what the invoice was as compared to the retail, and therefore went off on their own and became a competitor.

    I, of course, honored his request, but in my own mind I thought, just as you had said about consumers finding out what our retail price was for comparison purposes, an employee can find out the wholesale price if they work hard enough at it (and so can consumers!).

    With my own staff, I’d rather have them know the wholesale versus the retail. With each new employee I go over in detail my system for retail pricing and justify it by explaining our costs of operation. They have to feel comfortable asking for the consumer to pay the price (with which us ranges from $1,600 to as much as $7,200 a pair), and can do this easier when they fully understand our cost of operation.

    Likewise, they see how hard I have to work, and I believe learn from this they’d rather be an employee than an owner. Don’t get me wrong; some people call me a workaholic, but I don’t consider it work when I love what I do. If anything, I put in the extra hours because I enjoy it (yeah, I’m sick like that).

    • Thanks for the comments, I think that un-bundling is becoming a hot topic in the industry. Don’t forget though that it is standard to make 30 to 40 % on a product. You need to factor that in if you are unbundling. I think that there are a lot of arguments from Audis that their services are the thing, but they don’t unbundle to drive that point home?

  3. I would like to point out in the strongest terms that this is a personal blog. My blog posts have no connection with the company I work for, nor do they reflect their opinions. This is a personal blog that displays my personal opinions on subjects that I feel are of interest.

Let me know what you think