Creating a BuZZ about your business

Remember the movie Field of Dreams? The resounding theme was “If you build it, they will come.”  Many of us embrace the same philosophy when it comes to marketing our businesses. I have news, “Don’t believe this stuff. It’s Not True.” If you built a brand new, fabulous Best Ever office and don’t tell someone about it, the business is likely to fail! If you advertise like crazy, maybe a few people will come and then it’s not a one time shot. You have to advertise over and over again.

In the world of marketing clutter that is our world today, consumers are bombarded 24/7 by literally thousands of messages from a multitude of channels and mediums every minute. No one has endless funds to spread their marketing message, so how do you make your message stand out? Breaking through the clutter doesn’t have to require a huge budget. Spreading the word about what makes your business unique can have a dramatic impact and go a long way towards creating a BuZZ that people will listen to.

I recall a visit to New York City several years ago when my friends and I rode 82 blocks on the subway at 11 o’clock at night in search of a confection that would satisfy our sweet cravings. When we arrived at the infamous Magnolia Bakery, it was obvious by the throngs of people lined up around the building that this must be a very special place. There was even a bouncer to control the crowd! As I perused the lively group I had to wonder, how can I create this kind of excitement about my business? 

The first step to creating BuZZ about your business is to generate unique content that will grab some attention.

What does that mean in hearing healthcare? How about finding some unusual messages about the awesomeness of better hearing rather than promoting the same old ads about price and cosmetics.  Record a satisfied patient sharing a glowing testimonial on the positive changes in their life because of better hearing. 


I once boxed up wind-up crab toys and sent them to my tested and not treated patients with a note that said, “Is your hearing loss making you crabby? Call PHS for an appointment.”  Very unsuccessful campaign as we didn’t schedule any new appointments, but I’m sure it got some people’s attention.       


Get Excited About Better Hearing

Regardless of what you do to create buzz about your business, DO SOMETHING!

The orthopedic surgeon I see in Florida offers a Wine, Knees, Hips and Cheese Happy Hour in his office every week.  The event features a short talk on hip replacements during a Happy Hour held at his office once a month.  Sure sounds more appealing than a Wellness Seminar held at a library (no offense to my staff).

What’s a unique way you could promote your practice?

Get a little crazy! Take a chance and see if it works. Make sure to track the return on your investment for every marketing effort and get rid of efforts that aren’t producing new patients. Don’t stay with old ideas that don’t work. Get a bit outrageous and try something NEW!   Never stop trying to create a campaign that will get a BuZZ going about your business.

I have some unique ideas and I feel some craziness coming on! Don’t miss it! Follow me on Facebook @drgyl

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Who is your most valuable partner?

Suppliers are essential to almost every business. Without manufacturers to provide the products we dispense, we would have a difficult time helping patients to hear better. Suppliers often turn into partners by helping cut costs, performing research to improve outcomes and even funding new marketing efforts. Our manufacturing partners also serve as important resources for training and information. 

Those of us that have been in this business for any length of time have witnessed a significant reduction in the number of hearing aid manufacturers. While they all have subsidiaries and retail networks, there are basically only five large manufacturers controlling the market today. Each of the Big Five invests a tremendous amount of money in research and development and they all have a wide range of products.  

So how do we decide which one or ones to work with?

Price certainly is important when choosing suppliers, but there’s more to the relationship than an invoice and more to the cost of doing business than the amount on the statement at the end of the month.  It’s important to evaluate what is included in the price, i.e. the cost of additional parts, shipping, repairs and the type and length of the warranty. It has been my experience that the price and what is included in the price is determined by the ability to negotiate, but certainly the relationship of price and quantity is always at the heart any negotiation.  Typically, the more you buy, the less the price. However, beware of asking for too much during the negotiation. You can’t expect a manufacturer to give you a low price and money for marketing, equipment, and other assorted perks. I have always taken the approach that I can save for my own retirement and pay for my own equipment and budget for my own marketing. I just want the lowest price possible with no frills attached. 

Another consideration when choosing suppliers is to evaluate what types of products your competition is offering.

While price is not always the final determiner to patients, you don’t want your competition selling exactly what you do for a lot less. For instance, I went to CostCo a few years ago and discovered that they were offering the same manufacturer that I was using and charging less than I was paying for the same aids! It didn’t make sense to continue to recommend that brand when patients could make a direct price comparison in a competition that I knew I would lose. 

Service after the sale is also extremely important.

Patients depend on their hearing aids to maintain a good quality of life so we need to have the parts to fix them in our offices or loaners available so patients are able to hear when aids are being repaired and we need quick turnaround when the aids have to be sent in for repair. 

Technology today is sophisticated and it takes continual training to stay current with the complex software.

I contend that working with fewer manufacturers is usually better than working with many. Reducing the number you work with will save time and money not to mention that it will be easier to know every detail of the software. 

I want to clarify that while I consider manufacturers to be vital and valuable partners in hearing healthcare, we can never expect nor allow them get too involved in our businesses. However, when structured properly, a relationship with a supplier can be a valuable asset to a business. 

SAPPHIRE SOCIETY MEMBERS:

Join the Sapphire Society to get more! For a limited time, members are saving $200 off the registration price of my Hands-on Workshop. Join today!

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Is having an assistant realistic, or just wishful thinking?

If you could be granted just one wish what would it be? My one wish would definitely be for more hours in every day.  Regardless of how early I rise, or how late I stay up, there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish what I want to accomplish.  I just can’t seem to have enough time to see patients, work on the business aspects of my practice, research and implement the new ideas that I envision and I even have many employees to assist me! There is always more to do.

I recall a time about five years after I started my practice when my patient base really started to grow and I simply didn’t have enough time to take care of patients and to handle the financial aspects of the practice, marketing, calling on referral sources, managing employees,  and sending reports just to name a few of my many obligations. I was overwhelmed and realized I couldn’t continue at my current pace or I would get burnt out very quickly. So, I took some time to assess the time I was spending on tasks that I didn’t feel required my education and expertise.

I conducted a month long time study in an attempt to determine which tasks I could delegate to an assistant without compromising the quality of patient care.  The results of that investigation were shocking!

I concluded that I was spending more than 50% of my time completing minor, time consuming tasks that did not require my level of education or expertise.     That’s when I hired my first assistant and I identified then and continue to believe that incorporating audiology assistants has been and continues to be instrumental to the growth and success of my practice. 

Most other medical and allied health professions have well developed positions for assistants. Just imagine how many additional patient appointments you could complete if you didn’t have to clean hearing aids, complete order and repair forms, set up testing procedures, troubleshoot equipment, conduct hearing aid orientations, stock supplies, not to mention other time consuming tasks such as demonstrating the use of  Bluetooth accessories, t-coils, remote controls, loop systems and other assistive devices. With the support of an assistant, it’s possible to spend more time diagnosing problems, discussing possible solutions, outlining realistic expectations and providing patients with vitally needed services such as family counseling, communication techniques and coping strategies. 

For the past 30 plus years, I have employed at least one, and currently employ three assistants in my practice. The use of assistants is still considered by some to be controversial despite the fact that the concept has been endorsed by every professional organization for more than 40 years. I have found the use of assistants to be invaluable to patient satisfaction, productivity and profitability of the practice.  

With the burgeoning need for hearing healthcare services, the best way to increase productivity and profitability of a business is incorporate more assistants into every type of clinical practice setting. Of course, the legality of using an assistant is determined by state licensure laws. A state by state list of licensure requirements for audiology assistants can be found at https://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/.

In case you are wondering how you could possibly incorporate an assistant into your work setting, consider delegating the following: record-keeping; assisting in clinical research; clerical duties such as completing paperwork; assisting with pediatric and difficult to test patients;  hearing aid orientations; hearing aid repairs; and other various administrative support functions. 

There is no doubt in my mind that it is time to embrace the concept of using assistants in any and all clinical practice settings. It’s doesn’t have to be wishful thinking. It can be a reality that is long overdue. 

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Your Life Could Get Easier

Last week’s blog talked about the many benefits of using assistants in a practice.  I know some of you think that using an assistant probably isn’t realistic for you. Let me try to convince you otherwise. Some of you may think it’s illegal in your state if you are an audiologist.  More than half of all states allow for the use of an audiology assistant.

Go to https://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/ and check out the specifics of your state licensure law. If you are an audiologist and your state won’t allow the use of an assistant, consider partnering with a hearing instrument specialist (HIS). HIS and audiologists work side by side in 25% of hearing healthcare practices today. 

Think of the things you do each day that don’t require your education and expertise. 

A patient walks in while you are testing a new patient and is having difficulty pairing their phone to their aids.  What do you do? Stop and help? I hope not since the scheduled new patient won’t be too happy about waiting. Or, a long time patient stops in because their hearing aid isn’t working. You evaluate the aid and find out it’s just a blocked wax guard. Do YOU really need to handle wax guards or can you train someone with lesser expertise to handle such a simple task?  Consider the many tasks involved in fitting a patient who is getting hearing aids for the first time. Think of the time involved for orientation, performing outcome measures, pairing to a smart phone and perhaps teaching the patient how to use their new accessories. Unfortunately, many people skip the outcome measures which can be a critical error in the patient gaining the greatest benefit from their technology.

Wouldn’t it be nice to short that time for the fitting in half and let an assistant do the orientation, pairing and explaining the accessory? Think how much more productive you could be if you didn’t have to do Everything.

The concept of using assistants has been endorsed by every professional organization for the past forty years. I have used assistants in my practice for over thirty years and they have been instrumental in my success and are a big part of patient satisfaction.  

Sometimes, change is necessary.

I hear colleagues complaining about how overwhelmed they are seeing patients and trying to run the business. One actually shared that she didn’t have time to pay her bills.  Yikes!! Don’t fight it! Embrace the concept of using an assistant to complete the tasks that don’t require your time and spend your time generating revenue and solving the big problems. 


SAPPHIRE SOCIETY MEMBERS: I have served on several task forces and have great resources on this topic in the Sapphire area. If you need job descriptions, training guides, salary specifications, KPIS, let me know.


If you are not a member of this exclusive society, please join today.  Only $99 a year!

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2 Day Hands-on Workshop

I’ve shared my Keys to Success in my blogs but I also like the opportunity to show firsthand how to take a practice from Fine to Fabulous and that’s how I came up with the idea to offer Dr Gyl’s Weekend to Learn More About Business and Yourself. This is no ordinary seminar.  I keep the groups small and intimate so participants can share secrets of their success and also learn from each other.  After the seminars, I continue to mentor attendees to help them take their practices to a million dollar level. These seminars are held near my practice in St. Joseph, Michigan ONLY twice a year.  The next seminar will be Oct 17&18 2019.  

https://youtu.be/znoXpVmtTiw

The top ten reasons you should attend one of Dr Gyl’s Meetings:

10. Network with other awesome colleagues. 

I am looking for the Best of the Best for this seminar

9.  Discover strengths you never knew you had and how to maximize them. 

We all have Fabulous within us but sometimes have difficulty finding it.

8. Learn how to implement KPIs to grow your business.

Business just doesn’t happen. You have to make it happen.  

7. See first hand a multi million dollar practice in action. 

The Seminar will be in St Joseph, Michigan. You will have the opportunity to see DrGyl’s practice and to chat with her staff. 

6. Learn how to increase productivity.

As I have said many times, it doesn’t take much to take a business from Fine to Fabulous. You will take home specific ways to increase productivity.

5. Set your marketing course for 2019. 

Take home a marketing calendar for the remainder of 2019 that you can implement on Monday morning. 

4. Experience firsthand how the patient experience can be your benchmark for success.

PHS is known for its unique patient experience and now you can be a part of that environment. 

3. Learn how to convince more patients to say “Yes” to amplification. 

The Number One thing that can grow a business is getting more patients to accept amplification.

2. Walk away with tools you can put into practice on Monday morning.

Tools that will help you increase revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2019 (if you put the tools into action)

1.Have lots of fun!

Food & drinks are included. It will be an experience you will never forget.

$995 per person. Bring your spouse for an extra $300.
——
$795 SAPPHIRE MEMBERS enjoy a $200 discount for a limited time. Register today! (Log in for Promo Code

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Women in Audiology – It’s time to step up!

Audiology is a female driven profession with approximately 85% of professionals being women.  So why is it that women, with the same educational credentials, are still paid significantly less than men? According to a survey published by ASHA in June of 2019, female audiologists make as much as 30% less than their male counterparts .

I have difficulty understanding this disparity. Shouldn’t pay be driven by the educational and experience of the professional? I’ve heard the argument that the pay difference is because some women choose to work part time because they have children.  Should that really matter? Part time employees usually are less costly to a business than full time employees because they aren’t eligible for the same benefits as full time employees. 

Or, it may be because women are less inclined to speak up about what they feel they are worth.

It’s been my experience that women tend to under estimate their abilities or more likely, that women are just not comfortable negotiating. Any employee is less likely to get a pay increase if they just sit by and wait for it to happen. If you want to be compensated for the value you bring to a business or organization, keep track of the unique skills you bring to the position and the revenue that those skills produce. Once you have calculated the value of those services to the business, then present your numbers and don’t hesitate to negotiate what you feel you are worth.  

The second problem I see is that women undermine their abilities.

When was the last time someone complimented you on a job well done and you answered, “It didn’t really take me that long”? It’s OK to say “Thanks!” and then take some time to revel in the compliment. I recently congratulated a colleague on what I felt was her incredible success and she revealed her feelings of inadequacy by assuring me that her business was not nearly as successful as many of her colleagues.  It’s easy to surrender to feelings of self-doubt but there is nothing wrong with delighting in much deserved recognition. If we don’t celebrate our successes, who will? 

It’s been my experience that being a bold, assertive, successful woman is not always easy. Success and likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. You have got to be willing to speak out and to stand up for what you know you deserve. Being “nice” doesn’t always produce the results we want or deserve. 

Sheryl Sandberg made a statement in her book Lean In that really impressed me– “You will never get the corner office if you aren’t sitting at the table.” A mental picture of Board Meetings driven by men sitting around a table and an executive assistant sitting at the back of the room taking notes comes to mind. Everyone knows who was really doing most of the work at those meetings. Yes, women in this world have come a long way but still less than 7% of Fortune 500 companies are headed by women. 

The time has come, in fact, the time is long overdue for Women in Audiology to take our place at the table and to fight for the same pay and leadership positions of our male colleagues. Fight your Fears and learn how to negotiate!

I’m  hosting the “2-Day Hands-On Workshop & More!” in St. Joseph, Michigan on Oct 17 and 18 with some female dynamos – Dr AU Bankaitis, Dr D’Anne Rudden, Julie Duensing (my COO) and myself and we will hold a Think Tank on “How to Negotiate!” Sign up NOW to be a part of this exciting event.


$995 per person. Bring your spouse for an extra $300.
——
$795 SAPPHIRE MEMBERS enjoy a $200 discount for a limited time. Register today! (Log in for Promo Code

Purchase Tickets

SAPPHIRE MEMBERS: Sign-up by the end of day on July 31 and SAVE!

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