It’s a challenging time.
Coronavirus is sweeping through the world and showing little signs of improvement. Governments are taking mass precautions to prevent the spread and an inevitable impact on society.
It’s something that hardly any of us have lived through before and it’s causing so many unknowns within EVERY industry.
We’ve spoken to many clients that are worried, scared they’ll have to shut, and unsure of what to do.
So, in this article, we want to discuss how Coronavirus could impact the hearing care industry, the precautions that you should be taking today, and how this global pandemic demonstrates the opportunity for good businesses to become great businesses.
What is The Current Situation?
Because as it stands, day-on-day, developments are getting more severe.
In less than 24 hours yesterday:
#1 – Mike Pence announced that both the UK and Ireland were to join 19 other counties in being banned from traveling to the US.
#2 – NYC, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas started to shut down public places (including gyms, restaurants, bars, and casinos).
#3 – The government banned groups of 50 or more people from getting together.
#4 – Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said he would like to see a 14-day national shutdown imposed to prevent the virus’s spread.
#5 – Stores like Nike and Under Armor are closing all stores across North America, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
This was within a 24-hour window, following 3,100 people being positively tested.
Yet a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that worst case scenario, COVID-19 could reach between 160 million and 214 million Americans.
So, How Could Coronavirus Impact the Hearing Care Industry?
#1 – We study the data in this industry.
We see how Google searches change, we see how people interact with your website online, and we can see the latest hearing care related searches. We also have direct conversations with many business leaders across the US and have their insights on what is happening in their worlds.
#2 – We work closely with other industries.
Between Oli and me, we work in many different markets between most Western countries that will be individually affected by COVID-19 in different ways. This gives us a strong context of what we can expect within this industry by learning from what we see happening elsewhere.
#3 – Our career has mostly been in industries that are being disrupted.
From real estate to retail – travel to technology, our experience has been in industries that are going through mass-disruption. Things are changing quickly and there are many unknowns. I have seen and experienced similar to what we’re likely to face now.
With that said, there are two possible things that may happen in the coming days – and your actions through these days will heavily impact your long-term success.
If the US coronavirus cases continue to increase at a somewhat similar rate to that they have been, then there will likely reach a point where Trump announces a shutdown similar to Italy.
This will mean that all offices and public places will close and for 30-60 days until the virus is under control, resulting in patients and staff being on “lockdown.”
Everything will stay open, as travel will be restricted, social distancing will be the norm, and well communicated, high levels of sanitization will become critical.
Many of the older generations will be encouraged to self-isolate and patients will be less open to travelling for appointments (unless an emergency).
Regardless of which of the above situations happen, it’s going to put you in a position where your daily routines are impacted and the demand for new hearing care patients could dramatically reduce – potentially to zero.
It will give you free time, it will reduce your temporary numbers, and it will damage your cashflow.
Although this is becoming increasingly negative, here’s the most important part.
“If you look back at history, any time that a business has faced a difficult challenge, whether economical, political, or market changes … the deciding factor of the future success of that specific business has been the decisions that the business owner has made.”
The truth is, many businesses in many industries may not survive the next 120 days, including many hearing care clinics.
You may see the above as a positive because it will remove competition and allow you to increase your marketshare, or you may see it as a negative…
Your natural inbuilt entrepreneurial competitiveness will determine what you believe.
But we want you to know that we have your back in the unpredictable upcoming markets and we will help you to ensure you come out of the other side as a much stronger business.
We have never been here for you more.
What Should You Be Doing
That reward could be an improved reputation, stronger brand positioning, increased market share, increased customer loyalty, and increased long-term revenues.
If you imagine that some of your local competitors will not make it through the storm, and you’ll likely be able to acquire those patients and be providing them the support they need.
At the very least, there will be a lot of hearing aid wearers left looking for a new provider and you are already set up as the “most trusted” local provider to grow your marketshare.
The opportunity is there for you, and there is work that you should be doing during this upcoming quiet stage to improve your business and ensure you are in a better place when COVID-19 is under control.
Here are seven things that you should be doing to take advantage of this opportunity and come out at the other end stronger.
#1 -Further Develop Your Patient Relationships
There is a big opportunity to win your patients’ trust for life. During these coronavirus concerns, your patients will be very worried and may be told to self-isolate.
Think of the things that you can do to personally support your patients.
- Could you call your patients to ensure everything is okay?
- Could you update your signage to reassure patients of your hygiene standards?
- Could you use remote programmingto help your patients?
- Could you send them a pack of batteries if needed?
- Could we increase email communicationsto share local news and give them a sense of belonging?
These small touches will ensure that the patients love you for life, and the patients’ families love you for life.
Considering that the large majority of this industry may go into personal self-isolation, think about themselves, and “turn off” from work … if you can be the providers that care during a crisis, then you’ll be the talk of the town.
#2 – The Perfect Time to Create Mass Content
I hope that from our trainings and our guides that you understand the importance of content marketing in this fast-changing marketplace.
If you have cancellations, free time, or the US goes into self-isolation, then this gives you the perfect time to create your own content.
This is work that you can be doing that will give you the platform and local expertise to dominate for many years.
We’ve recently written a detailed “How To” guide which details how you can create powerful content to position yourselves as the local experts.
#3 – Review Your Model
Many of us do things because it’s the way that it has always been done or it’s the way that we’ve been taught.
The hearing care industry is guilty of this.
With things like pricing, marketing, and our business model typically being the way it is because we’ve been told to do it like that.
A valuable exercise that you should work on during your free time should be to review your business model.
Is the way you do things really what people local to you want/need?
With remote-programming and the technology changing so much over recent years, should you still be caring for patients the way that you currently do?
With practically every other significant purchase being on a monthly payment? Should you offer a monthly payment plan (which is self-financed without a finance company or leasing?)
These are the questions that you should be asking yourself.
#4 – Invest into Your Team
How many opportunities are you missing out on because your PCCs or providers are NOT handling objections correctly or not taking advantage of sales opportunities?
This quieter time may be the ideal time to train your team and ensure that every future opportunity is better handled and is more likely to convert into a sale.
A great resource to use to do this is this “Scripts” guide that we created to help you handle all the most common objections.
Role play phone calls, discuss some of the different challenges they face, and help them to schedule more opportunities for you.
This is an investment into your people that will make them much more valuable to you, give them more job satisfaction, and result in your patients getting what they truly want more often.
#5 – Free Hearing Care Hotline Locally
If the worst-case scenario happens and the country goes into self-isolation, then there will be thousands of hearing aid wearers in your local community that will continue to need help.
The challenge is, when they call their local provider, they’ll likely have no answer and no support.
This is because many business owners in this space will prioritize themselves, use the free time like a mini-vacation, and follow their friends/family who have jobs and just take some time off.
Your opportunity is to win significant marketshare by being the hotline for any hearing aid/hearing care challenges that your community is having.
From taking out Google ads on competitor names, to running Facebook campaigns simply offering a free helpline to anybody having challenges with their hearing aids.
Of course, you won’t be able to help everybody – especially complex challenges, but being seen as the caring local experts through this crisis will win you more trust than any marketing campaign that you could run.
We can set all of this up for you.
#6 – Set Up Remote Support
Would you be able to continue supporting your patients if you and your team need to self-isolate?
Take the effort to consider how you can provide distant support to your patient base without being in the clinic.
Having your staff work from home may be the only option you have for a period of time – it’s best to be prepared for it now.
What equipment would somebody need? What software would need downloading? Could you route your phone number to a cell phone?
These are precautions that I would encourage you to prepare for.
#7 – Take Advantage of Remote Assist
The latest technology gives you a significant advantage that you’ve never had previously, the ability to remotely help and support your patients.
Could now be the time to deploy a competitively priced upgrade campaign to existing patients to allow them to step into new technology with a completely remote service offering?
There has never been a better time to introduce a remote assist offering to remove the expense of serving patients within your office.
We’re Here for You
We have our personal COVID-19 plan in place.
- The majority of our team are remote and have been encouraged to work from home, ensuring that our whole team will never get struck down with illness.
- We have worked in markets that have faced similar challenges and helped them come out in a much stronger position.
- Our smart thinking will ensure that you can come out of this blip much stronger and ready to dominate locally.
Although the next several weeks may be challenging, may be painful, and may result in some cash flow headaches, we are here to help you communicate your value, put people first, and ensure that your business survives to keep delivering the promises you have made to so many people.
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Oli, Phil, and the Orange & Gray team