Is your practice full of stumps?

I wrote this blog a few months ago, but it is even more important today. Who knows how long businesses will be shut down during this pandemic? It’s critical to investigate any and all expenses and to eliminate any unnecessary spending. Take this down time to really dig in and find any Stumps that may be showing in your business.

When you own and work in a business, you have many hats and it’s easy to get overwhelmed between seeing patients, managing employees, creating marketing plans, nurturing referral sources, monitoring profit and loss and the list goes on and on and on … however, these details are critical and ignoring them can derail the business.

I had a tough year in business in 2008 and I know that 2020 won’t be any different. I recall a consultant telling me “High water hides the stumps. When business is good, it’s easy to let costs get out of control and when profitability declines, the stumps start to show”. I knew exactly what he meant. 2020 is a time to get rid of some stumps and during this slow down is a great time to dig into your numbers and investigate where those stumps are.

These challenges necessitate the need to pay attention to every detail in the business.

You may have already laid off employees or that may need to happen in the future. Or, if you keep employees on staff, you will need to examine every duty each one is responsible for and change responsibilities. Employees can still add to a business whether your doors are open or closed. This is a great time to update your database or to investigate a new one. Reach out and touch the patients that haven’t been in the office in six months or more and call patients that don’t have access to your social media so they know what you are doing in your practice during this time.

  • Are you charging for everything you should be charging for? Some people are having luck with online stores during this time of social distancing.
  • Are your cost of goods in line with the cost of doing business?
  • How’s the ROI on your marketing plan? Take the time to check every recent marketing activity to see which ones actually paid off. It’s still critical to continue to market during this time. Social media may be the most cost effective way to get your message out.
  • Costs for telephone and internet services can vary greatly by provider. No cost is too low to investigate and negotiation is always an option.
  • Check to see how much you are spending on little-used yellow page ads and get rid of those expenses.
  • Do you use a credit card to pay expenses? Look for one that offers 0% interest for a given period of time or investigate one that gives cash back.
  • Investigate shipping charges, as many suppliers fail to notify businesses of small increases and those small increases can dramatically affect profitability.

Use this slow down to make your business better. It’s critical to focus on the cost of running your business and get rid of those stumps that you uncover. Don’t give up. Better times are ahead!

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What’s the point?

The first month of 2020 is already over and it was a great one in my practice. Business was fabulous, patient satisfaction was high and we exceeded our goals. But what does that really mean? In the youth of my business, an increase in revenue meant being able to pay off some debt or the ability to purchase new equipment or even being able to plan a vacation or to buy a new pair of shoes. And now, many years later, a goal that is met or exceeded has become just a number and sometimes, I wonder, “What’s the point?” I can eat and afford to keep the doors open and employ a large staff even if we don’t hit those goals, at least for a while anyway. So why should I spend the time watching the numbers so closely? What do they really mean to the business and to Me? I guess the answer to that question all depends on my Why. Have you spent any time lately thinking about why you do what you do? Do you look forward to going to work or do you dread Mondays?

I attended the Starkey Expo in January and it was an amazing meeting. Of course, Las Vegas is always fun but this experience was different. I listened to the inspirational speakers and their stories and one thing became very clear to me– Success isn’t about Chasing the Numbers, it’s about Living your Passion.

The outstanding speakers inspired me and I came back with a renewed sense of purpose for what I do and I began some soul searching for my Why. Being the competitive person I am, working has always been about achieving and accomplishing. Of course, I care about helping people hear better and doing the best job possible but what is my real passion? I have always believed that anything is possible and that people can live their dreams but sometimes I am so busy Chasing the Numbers that I forget my Why.

After some time for reflection and some internal exploration, I better understand my Why. Better hearing is essential to communication and as I get older and my time on this earth gets shorter, I understand that every conversation matters. My husband has a moderate hearing loss and every time he asks “What?” and I respond, “Oh, never mind” it puts a little space between us. Of course, he wears the best hearing aids available but we all know that hearing aids are just one part of the solution. He still has to listen twice as hard as anyone else and pay very close attention to be able to understand. When the noise in a restaurant causes him to be left out of a conversation and I see that blank look in his face, I long for even better technology and want to make certain his fitting is providing the best hearing possible.

Through this recent soul searching I have discovered that my Why is that I always want to provide the very best care I can to help patients hear as well as they can to live the best life they can. That passion is my Why.

So, what is your Why?


What do you mean you don’t want hearing aids?!

How to Overcome the Objection of Price

I had a patient recently that came in for their initial evaluation and they were already complaining about the cost of hearing aids before I even tested their hearing. I dreaded having to explain the hearing loss because I already knew the outcome. It’s never easy to tell a patient that they have lost a valuable function that they will never regain naturally, but it’s even harder when you think you know their response to your recommendation to pursue amplification is going to be a big “No”!

Most patients don’t jump up and down and say, “That’s awesome news” or “Oh boy, I can’t wait to spend thousands of dollars for the help you suggest that I need.” Unfortunately, it’s a fact that many of the patients we see won’t actually want the help we recommend. Hearing aids aren’t something people usually want but since 90+% of patients with hearing loss have sensory loss, the only way to actually Help them is to convince them to get hearing aids.

Unfortunately, the most common response from patients that can benefit from hearing aids is that the solution costs too much money.  The fact is that the average “Help Rate” of a hearing

healthcare professional is less than 50%.  If someone takes the step to make an appointment to confirm what they already feel is a problem, wouldn’t you think they wouldn’t be surprised when they learn they have a hearing loss?  I myself don’t make an appointment with a health professional unless I feel there is a problem and I know I need help.

So if industry numbers hold true and less than 50% of patients that visit a hearing healthcare professional are convinced to get the Help they need, then perhaps we need to work harder at overcoming the objections and improving our ability to convince a patient that better hearing is worth the investment. It’s not the price they have to pay but it’s the value they will derive from the benefits of being able to understand their loved ones and every day conversations.

It shouldn’t be a surprise when someone says, “Hearing aids are too expensive.” The real question is does the patient not have the money, not want to spend the money or are they not convinced that the aids are worth the money.  The more questions we ask, the better the chance of getting to the core of the objection.  Most of all, we can’t be intimidated or surprised by the objection. We need to be prepared to respond in a way that convinces the patient to take action to get the Help they need. Developing better ways to respond will take time and practice. It can be beneficial to record what you actually say to a patient and then review it to see how you can present information in a way that is more convincing. It’s also important not to run and hide at a patient’s first “No”.

The satisfaction of giving more patients a better quality of life should be reason enough to improve the way we share the information and make our recommendations.  Beginning today, track your Help Rate and then set a goal to improve it. Stay tuned to for more on this important topic and if you would  like to have access to many resources for building your practice including scripts for objections like “Hearing aids are too expensive” then join my DrGyl Sapphire Society for only $99 a year!


Who wants an Upgrade?

It consistently amazes me that patients will come in for regular appointments and assure me that they are happy and have no interest in new technology and then they will surprise me by returning for a “special event” a month or two later and then despite what they told me two months earlier, they decide to purchase new hearing aids.  What happens in that short period of time to change their minds?  Perhaps it’s the “One Day Only” event or being enticed by the lure of “Special Pricing” that is available during the event or possibly it’s the allure of feeling special because not everyone is invited.  Whatever the reason, I have found that patients are always looking for ways to hear better and if I’m not sharing the benefits of new technology every one of my competitors is.

I have had great success inviting patients to Upgrade Events which we hold quarterly. Invitations to these events are sent in the way of a letter and we send these to patients that have hearing aids three to five years old and we also send to patients who were tested within the past six months and chose not to purchase aids. Great care is taken to ensure the letter arrives on a Monday ten days before the event. Surprisingly enough, patients with aids three to four years old are the most likely to respond to the letter. Our Upgrade Events have consistently shown that patients want to hear better and will replace their current technology if the benefits are significant enough to improve the quality of their lives.

Communication is key to make this type of program a success. We have never found that it has been necessary to become a loud pushy salesperson to convince patients to upgrade.  Our protocol includes asking questions to get patients talking about their lifestyles, their desire to hear better and their expectations for possible improvement.  Then armed with this information we relate the potential benefits in such a way to address all of the patients concerns.  Our first step is to demonstrate the new technology and then to simulate environments that the patient encounters daily. It’s not enough to simply tell a patient how good the new and improved hearing aids are.  Patients need to listen for themselves while they are in the office. You may want to include some of the more advanced features like compatibility with Apple products but I have found that the simpler the demonstration, the better and if you focus on too many advanced features, patients may become overwhelmed and want to go home and “think about it”.  While we don’t want to be pushy, the fact is that most patients that delay the decision won’t purchase after they think about it. It’s best to try to give patients an incentive to do something while they are in the office.  Patients that want to upgrade pay for the aids up front before leaving the office and we explain that while every sale comes with return privileges, this is not just a trial of new technology.  It’s a step towards a better level of hearing that we will both work together to achieve.

We have discovered that patients appreciate our Upgrade Events and appreciate that we keep them informed of the latest technology. These events are also great for business.

Members of the DrGyl Sapphire Society have access to Our Upgrade Letters.  Why don’t you join and you can have access to all these resources for only $99 a year!  Join DrGyl Sapphire Society


Effective Pricing – A Conundrum

I would venture to guess that every practice owner struggles with developing an effective pricing strategy. After reviewing the stats for my business for Quarter 1 in 2019, I noted that our ASP was down $200 a unit which caused a HUGE reduction in profit in a business of my size.

I watch my numbers carefully so what could have caused the change? Some colleagues make the mistake of setting prices based on what the competition is charging. It’s easy to get intimidated by price ads run by

competitors and then to react with your own price reductions. Patients certainly are concerned about the cost of hearing aids but cheaper prices have never translated into more sales. Many of you may have heard me talk about Predictably Irrational Pricing, a strategy that is based on Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational.

When you have two options, people are forced to make a decision between the two. They can choose the option for less money, or the other option for more money. It’s a tough decision. Consumers want better products, but don’t want to spend more money. So what do the majority of people do? They generally spend less money.

Predictably Irrational Pricing involves adding a third option that is priced close to the more expensive option, suggesting that the more expensive option is actually better. It’s kind of like a middle option, but it’s so skewed that it makes it seem ridiculous not to choose for the higher-priced option.

According to Ariely, this predicable effect is a result of “cognitive biases.” A cognitive bias is the tendency of the human mind to make inaccurate judgments, or believe distortions or other fallacies. Cognitive biases have their impacts in every arena of life, but they do so without most people being aware of them. Patient’s reactions to pricing of hearing aids is one such issue.

In the case of the Q1 ASP in my practice, the uncertainty caused by the addition of so many TPAs in my community caused me to change my pricing structure.  The success of Predictably Irrational Pricing is based upon only having THREE levels of pricing – no More and No Less. I added two more pricing levels which caused more patients to choose cheaper options.  Not good for business and not good for patients!

So what’s the moral of this story? One small change can mean A LOT to your bottom line and you have to keep an eye on your numbers. When you see a change in your ASP, act Fast and determine what made the change and then Fix It!

Want to know more about specifics of a Pricing Strategy that Works? Join DrGyl’s Sapphire Society. For only $99 a Year, you will receive monthly resources to grow your practice. Where else can you get business consulting services for only $99 a year?

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