The key to your success is in your hands, but I feel your pain
Being back in the retail end of the business is a mixed bag of emotions for me. I get the opportunity to try out all of the things I have talked about for some years. However, it has brought more than a few memories back and made a few things clear to me quickly. I ran quite a successful business for several years, a different industry but my own business. I remember the stress of it clearly, I had not forgotten it, just pushed it to the back of my mind.
It has been brought to the fore in recent times in my new position. I don’t own the company, but I feel personally responsible for it and the welfare of the owner and staff. So for all intensive purposes, it may as well be my own business. That pressing concept has lead to very clear thinking, particularly when we had a relatively slow week.
The slow week was a designed phenomenon, the first two months of this year have gone exceptionally well and the company needed some quiet time to regroup. But as we went through the week I got a little panicky, the old god what if we don’t get a sale next week set in. Then I thought lord, what if I had a slow week that I hadn’t designed happened. I would be crawling the walls, panic would be really setting in.
I can understand how you as an independent business owner feel. Here is the rub though, I know that I have the continous answer to my business levels in my hands. I don’t mean my marketing activities, they are designed as cream. My bread and butter is in the careful tending of my existing customers. Call backs, follow ups, yearly clean and checks are the planned business providers I have.
Most months I can give relatively accurate guesses on revenue based on the appointments I am generating. You can too, the key to your success is in your hands. It is the customers you have, take care of them, make sure they are happy, go that extra mile. Not least of all because that is the right thing to do.
But also because they will deliver to you riches, a constant flow of riches. Through their recommendations, through their return business. So when you are looking at a bleak week, I would ask you why, why aren’t you busy building your brand and engaging your Patients. Engage your Patients, touch them on an emotional level, connect with them, take care of them. Because if you are doing this, the only quiet weeks will be designed weeks.
The timeliness of your post is amazing. We actually just lost a major referral source, and so we’re seeing an “unplanned” slowness. And yet I had a plan for just such an event.
We don’t believe in telemarketing, specifically cold-calling. We do, however, believe in what I call “warm-calling”–contacting existing patients to check on their status, offer service, and hope for a possible sale.
This loss of a referral source could have a long-term effect on our business, so if our professional staff isn’t scheduled, I have them warm-call their previous patients. The call list is developed from patients who for whatever reason haven’t had their hearing aids serviced (“clean and checked”) for at least 12 months. We track their service on our database so it’s easy for me to pull up an appropriate list.
When one of our providers calls, they remind the patient that for optimal hearing aid performance, they should have their hearing aids professionally cleaned and checked at least once per year. If the patient hasn’t had a hearing evaluation in the last three years, it’s also suggested that they return for a hearing screening to update the settings on their hearing aids. About half of the patients actually have hearing aids over five years old, and one in three of these is usually ready to consider replacing them.
Some may consider this a bit intrusive, but I consider it follow-up care. It also works to make sure our schedules are full, and many patients appreciate the contact. I feel this is consistent with your message, Geoffrey, of living up to our obligation to our previous patients and recognizing them as our greatest resource.
Couldn’t agree with you more. We sell them aids and services. Follow up calls to ensure we deliver that service is not intrusive. It is a happy fact that people who are looked after tend to buy again.
Something I noted in your post. “Cleaned at lest once a year”. Salesman avoid aftercare as in there simple mind A service is a loss in sales margin. I see all my patients every 4 months. Believe me award winning aftercare keeps the referrals coming.
We recommended a MINIMUM of once per year. With our free battery program, we give the patients 18 cells per aid at a time. When they run low, they are supposed to come in to pick up more batteries AND get their hearing aids cleaned and checked at the same time–our way of “tricking” them to come in for the service that they deserve.
The quantity of batteries I find correlates well with the maintenance demands. As an example, A CIC with a size 10 battery needs more maintenance than a BTE with a size 13. A patient who uses their hearing aids 8 hours a day will need less maintenance than one who uses them 16 hours a day.
But patients can come in as often as they want; we have two full-time repair technicians who handle most of this work, and they see 40 -60 people per DAY.
“Salesman avoid aftercare as in their simple mind a service is a loss in sales margin.” I agree with you, if what you mean is that they are short-sighted. I prefer to consider this level of service to be an investment in the relationship, and with the payoff being a customer who wouldn’t choose to go anywhere else.