Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.

Your Biggest Health Fair Questions Answered

Here I am at a senior health fair a few years ago as my amazing coworkers talk to potential patients and perform otoscopy. See, I’m smiling—nothing to be scared of!

Health fairs are an excellent opportunity to connect with your community, educate consumers about hearing loss and hearing aids, promote your business, and drive new patients in the door.

However, understandably, many practice owners and providers find the idea of standing in a crowded room, starting conversations with strangers, and asking for their business to be intimidating – some might even say terrifying.

But, fear not—I’m here to help make your next health fair or community outreach event a little more fun and a lot more successful.

Here are answers to several of your most plaguing health fair-related questions as well as some helpful tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

Q: How do I find out about health fairs and other senior events in my area?

A: There are plenty of ways to do this, but here are three that I’ve had the most luck with:

1. Google “senior health fairs near me.” This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many events there are going on around you all the time. You may also be surprised to learn how many senior organizations there are in your area—home healthcare companies, community centers, services for the aging, etc.

2. Check your local newspaper and its website – Organizations that host seniors events know that many Baby Boomers still read the newspaper and therefore, advertise in the events section. Most newspapers also allow people to post events online for free.

3. Check your local hospitals – If they don’t have an Audiology or Speech Therapy Department, that could be your in. Hospitals have open houses and other events and if they need a hearing provider, you could make a great connection.

 

INSIDER TIP: Don’t ignore events that have passed—they can be a goldmine. If you come across an event from the previous year, reach out to the coordinators. Sometimes they already know when and where this year’s event will be held and can add you to their contact list so that you know when the event opens for vendors.
Q: Should I do video otoscopy?
A: If you can, go for it! Explain to the patient that this is the first step of the hearing exam and invite him/her to your office for the other two steps. Have a printed copy of your schedule so that you can see what dates and times you have available for appointments and book them on the spot. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with each person and you don’t want to waste it inputting his/her information. Also, you don’t want to rely on the venue’s Wi-Fi.
Q: Should I offer free hearing screenings on site?

A: Absolutely not. This is a big no-no for many reasons, starting with the fact that there usually isn’t a space that’s quiet enough to conduct hearing screenings at a health fair. More importantly, it defeats the purpose of attending these types of events which is to grow your database, establish relationships with members of your community, and attract new patients. Why give the milk away for free?


INSIDER TIP: Even if you can’t attend a health fair as a vendor, check it out anyway and bring a stack of business cards with you. Talk to the vendors that are at the event. Network. Mingle. Have fun. Find out what events they’re going to next. Perhaps one is worth keeping on your radar.
Q: What should I bring?

A: Here are five absolute essentials:

1. Information about your practice – business cards, brochures, etc. .

2. Educational materials – picture of an ear, hearing health articles, handouts they can take home, etc. Consult’s MarketSource has a large selection of collateral to choose from.

3. Directions to your office – seniors who have hearing loss usually also have poor vision. So, make sure your message is clear and the font is BIG. And don’t get them lost!

4. Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks – I can’t stress this enough. Paper is your friend.

5. Giveaways – such as pens and notepads with your logo and practice information.

Q: How do I stand out from all the other vendors?

A: This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself. And one of the best things you can do is to engage everyone who walks by your table—don’t just sit there and wait for them to stop and show interest. Make your table pop with a colorful tablecloth, preferably one with your practice name/logo on it. And lastly, a little bribery can go a long way—as in free candy, water, or snacks.


INSIDER TIP: When talking with individuals who were in the military, thank them for their service, ask when they were discharged, then respond, “I’m guessing that’s the last time you had your hearing checked.” Anyone who is discharged from the military must have a hearing test and for most, it’s the last one they’ve had.
Q: What should I say to people when they’re at my table?
A: Start by asking when they last had their hearing checked or if they have their hearing tested every year. Once you get people talking, see if they have a history of hearing loss or have ever worn hearing aids. Educate them on the importance of having an annual hearing evaluation. Deliver your “why.” Talk to them about your practice and why they should choose you over another provider. Remember: you have less than five minutes to leave a lasting impression on that person before he/she moves onto the next table.
Q: What’s the best way to handle any appointments that I book during the event?

A: Track your results. Create a spreadsheet listing all the pertinent patient information, including each person’s appointment date and time. Update the spreadsheet every morning for each patient:

  • Did the patient get tested?
  • Did the patient have a hearing loss?
  • Was amplification purchased? If so, what type of hearing aid and how much?
  • Was it a no-call, no-show? Pick up the phone and call the patient to reschedule—don’t wait for him/her to reach out.

 

INSIDER TIP: Since you’ve already established a relationship with these patients, call to confirm their appointments the day before to ensure they feel comfortable and know where your office is located. Additionally, confirm they are bringing a Third Party to the appointment. If a patient’s appointment is four or more days out, send him/her a reminder postcard with a handwritten note: “Nice to meet you at the health fair – see you Tuesday!”

Hopefully, I answered all your questions. If you have any others, don’t hesitate to ask your Account Manager or shoot me an email: JGesuale@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

2018 Year in Review

It’s that time again to reflect on the past year, and we probably aren’t alone in saying that 2018 was a whirlwind. We enjoyed a busy, but productive and exciting year.

Take a look at what we were up to and what’s on the horizon for 2019.

6 Steps for Hosting a Successful Lunch & Learn

Getting out into the community is one of the best ways to connect with the public, deliver your “why,” and remind people how important hearing is to their quality life. It can be intimidating though—leaving your office, patients, and staff behind to go out into the community and solicit new patients. But I can tell you from experience, once you complete your first community event and you sell your first set of hearing aids from it, you’ll be eager for the next one.

Now, I’m sure you have lots of questions. I led numerous events as the marketing director of a private practice and I, too, had similar questions. How do you plan an entire event that people will actually want to attend? How do you convey your message when people walk up to your table and all they really want is the free candy or to win the raffle prize? How do you build trust with new patients?

So, let’s break down the process and make it easier for you to launch your first event. A Lunch & Learn, also known as a Lunch & Listen, is exactly what it sounds like: you advertise and invite potential patients to join you for an hour or so, impart your wisdom, provide lunch, and voilà!

OK, maybe it’s not that simple, but here are six key steps to planning and running a successful Lunch & Learn:

Step 1: Determine the when and where.

Choose a date approximately six weeks out—you’ll need all that time to prepare. Find a place that’s quiet or has a private space, like a restaurant or a clubhouse. Fun tip: most of the time, a “senior” lunch menu is less expensive, but some practices like to go all out and will book a local steakhouse. You should do what makes the most sense for your vision and budget. 

Step 2: Create your guest list.

Anywhere between 10-20 is the ideal number of guests. Pulling patients from your existing database that are out of warranty or tested devices and never purchased is the best place to start. Second, target new patients through direct mail, print ads or digital marketing. Talk to a Consult YHN Account Manager for more details. And, be sure to include your website and your social media profiles on your invitation.

Step 3: Identify your goal and craft your message.

You want to keep your message short and to the point. If you’re able to confidently talk to an audience with only a list of bullet points, go for it. It’s more natural and creates a better overall experience for the audience. If not, use a PowerPoint presentation to help frame your message and guide your recital. Create your own or ask your Account Manager to send you one of Consult YHN’s sample PPT presentations. Either way, you should consider supporting your message with media or pictures, like showing a video that showcases people getting fitted for hearing aids and their reflections on how life is better with these devices.

Remember: you want to tell a story. Illustrate how hearing aids improve a person’s quality of life. It’s much more compelling than just listing off a bunch of facts and statistics.

Step 4: Invite your guests.

Once your mailer or invitation goes out, work with Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to personally invite guests. YPCC’s highly-trained patient communication representatives will call your database and encourage them to attend: “We sent you a personal invitation for an informative Lunch & Learn event we’re hosting, and we’d love to add your name to the guest list before it fills up … you’re free on Thursday at noon to join us, right?” A personal call goes a long way and can build up your RSVP list.

Step 5: Gather your supplies.

There are a few key things you want to make sure you have for the event:

  • Practice giveaways are always a hit, plus you want your name and number on everything you hand out so that it goes home with your guests.
  • Hearing health articles for attendees to read while they wait for the seminar to begin and to take home. Consult’s MarketSource has several informative handouts about the correlation between hearing loss and other diseases such as dementia/Alzheimer’s, a topic that many seniors don’t know much about. These should also have your practice’s information on them.
  • Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with guests and you don’t want to waste it inputting their information into your laptop. Manually schedule appointments and enter patients’ information into your practice management software once you are back in the office.
  • A sign-in sheet. If someone RSVP’d but did not attend, call them the next day and invite them in for a personal hearing consultation—they are still a potential patient.
  • A survey so you can track your results and make sure that what you’re doing is effective.
  • A screen and projector if you are going to use a PowerPoint presentation or show a video and your venue doesn’t have one.

Step 6: Track your appointments.

The tracking work for any community outreach event is as critical as the content in your presentation. Running a report from your system is great and will tell you total number of hearing aids sold, revenue, etc. But consider the patients who booked an appointment and canceled? Or a no-call, no-show appointment? These appointments can make or break an event. Create a spreadsheet with the below information and review it every day, making notes on the following items:

  • When is his/her appointment scheduled?
  • What happened during the appointment? Hearing aid sale? For how much?
  • Did they miss the appointment and a call needs to be made to get them back on the schedule?

Tracking can seem tedious, but if you make it apart of your daily routine, it will become second nature and once you see the benefits of tracking your results, you’ll appreciate the effort.

So, there you have it, folks!

Becoming a staple in your community and sharing your knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life can be rewarding if you dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s beforehand.

And if you still have any questions about planning a Lunch & Learn or other community event, you can always reach out to your Consult YHN Account Manager for guidance.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

Tips for Filling Your Schedule with More New Patients

One of the most common questions I hear from practice owners is a crucial one:

“What can I do to bring new patients in the door?”

This fundamental question can be the difference between a practice that is thriving with year-over-year growth or one that is simply staying afloat. In the worst of cases, left unsolved, this question can lead to declines in revenue.

With an ever-changing landscape and a widening shift to managed care, practices want to know now more than ever how to specifically get more private pay patients in the door.

Here are the keys to success that I have utilized to help the practices that I work closely with:

1. One of the very first steps in this process is the need to determine the patient types that exist in your practice (i.e. Private Pay, Managed Care, Medicaid, and Workman’s Compensation). You will need to do a thorough analysis of your specific patient mix by tracking sales in your practice management system while simultaneously completing this same level of analysis in your financial management system. This will provide you with a detailed breakdown of your actual sales numbers and you can determine what your specific patient mix has been.

2. Once you have a good handle on how many patients you fit by type, you will need to determine your monthly revenue goal, current device sales by patient type, and current revenue by patient type. These numbers can help you build a forecast for non-private pay vs. private pay revenue based on historical trends. This will allow you to subtract out your non-private pay revenue from your monthly revenue goal in order to determine how many private pay patients you need to fit each month.

An example might help to solidify this concept: After completing the above review, you determine that your monthly revenue goal is $50,000 a month, your average sales price per private pay device is $2,000, and you normally fit 10 managed care patients per month with a fitting fee of $600 per patient. Your non-private pay revenue per month would be $6,000 in revenue from non-private pay patients that you can assume would come in regardless of other efforts to attract more patients. If we subtract this number from your overall revenue goal, you will see that you would need to bring in $44,000 in private pay revenue to hit your goal for the month. Now, if you divide this number by your average sales price per private pay device, you can see that you need to fit 22 private pay devices per month to hit your revenue goal.

3. Now that you know this answer, you will want to determine how many private pay appointments need to be on your schedule to achieve the 22 device sales for the month. This calculation is based on your specific practice’s numbers as each practice has different conversion, return, and cancellation rates. Consult YHN’s Plug & Play Calculator will do the math for you!

4. Once you know the magic number, you should block that many appointments on your schedule and focus on filling them. Now, this is where the answer to the main question lies: How do you fill your schedule? There are many different techniques that practices use, and no single strategy works best since every practice is different.

Some of the most common and beneficial ways to acquire new private pay patients are in the form of marketing. Direct mail, newspaper, and digital advertising are still the leading forms of traditional marketing that lead to patient acquisition. Other ways of attracting new patients are through physician outreach, community outreach, implementing a hearing wellness protocol, and most importantly, mining your own database for patients who may have older technology or originally tested but did not purchase a device. This is great for generating new leads without having to spend money on marketing as you already have the patient’s information and a relationship with them.

5. Once you have your plan in place, you’ll want to look at your schedule on a daily basis and aggressively attempt to fill any openings. One tactic that I normally advise a practice to employ is to meet with your team to customize and prioritize a plan that directs focus on calling individuals to keep your schedule filled. Contacting patients that are scheduled out in the future and bringing those appointments forward will help fill your current schedule vacancies and provide time for your team to contact other patients that may have previously canceled an appointment or been tested but not treated.

Your team can conduct an audit of the current schedule by looking at any non-revenue generating appointments, such as repairs and clean and checks, that are scheduled in the next week to check the age of their hearing devices and last hearing test date to see if they are due for an updated test or technology demonstration.

6. Last, but certainly not least, your team should be properly trained to handle customer calls. Being able to handle an incoming call, qualify these calls to schedule the correct appointment type, and calling current patients plays a vital role. If you and your team stay focused on filling your schedule with the correct amount of appointments needed to meet your revenue goal, I can assure you, growth will follow.

This is just a snippet of what you and your staff can do. If you want to implement these methods throughout your practice, our team is available to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Contact your AM or call us at 800-984-3272 if you do not have a Consult YHN representative.

About the Author

Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.