It’s not looking pretty out there…
- High inflation
- Rising interest rates
- Shaky economic activity
- Volatile markets
Plus, unemployment has reached a 70-year high in the US, which has typically corresponded with nearly every previous recession.
With Wells Fargo’s chief economist recently saying that a recession in 2023 “seems more likely than not” and economist experts from the Bank of America and Goldman Sachs raising their predictability significantly, there seems a sizable chance that the economy could face some difficult challenges.
As hearing care leaders, this gives us two choices:
- We can start doing the work today to protect ourselves for tomorrow.
- We can just see what happens, cross our fingers, and react (probably when it’s too late).
Given that you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’re looking to be proactive and ensure you make decisions today that you’ll thank yourself for tomorrow.
In this article, I’m going to share three things that you should be doing right now to protect yourself from the next recession and best prepare your business to ride out any storm that may be coming our way.
ACTION #1 – Increase Your Pricing (Seriously!)
This may feel like a sizable ask … especially when talking about a situation where people may be looking to spend less or tighten the purse strings.
Please allow me to explain …
Inflation recently hit a new four-decade high of 9.1%.
Everything is going up in price right now.
- Your gas is costing you more
- Your groceries are costing you more
- Your Starbucks is costing you more
- And the day-to-day costs of life are on the increase.
This also means that YOUR costs are on the increase.
- Your cost of goods from manufacturers will be increased.
- The cost to keep your lights on will be increased.
- Your rent/lease may be increased.
- The expectations of staff wages will be higher.
This leaves you as a clinic owner with one of two decisions:
- You increase your prices.
- Or you accept that your margins are going to shrink.
If you want to power through difficult economic times and ensure you protect your clinic, then your only true choice is to increase your prices.
But this shouldn’t be something you do next month or next year … this is something that you should do right now.
With everything going up in cost right now … and many people accepting that things are increasing in price – it is much easier to do this now rather than later.
If you wait, then your price increase is going to stand out much more!
I understand that this may not be comfortable, especially right now … here’s an important point that I encourage you to consider.
New patients do not know what your pricing was yesterday … they will not know your pricing has increased – it makes no difference.
The only people that may notice will be existing patients.
But here’s the thing…
If they leave their home that is more expensive to power, to sit in a car that is more expensive to power, to pay for parking at your office that is more expensive than it was … then they can hardly be shocked if your services have increased in price.
I believe that the majority of the fears live in our own heads … and hardly anybody will even notice your price increase.
ACTION #2 – Wrap Your Arms Around Your Database (Here’s How!)
During tough times, you need to lean on your database more than ever before.
- They become referral partners
- They become upgrade opportunities
- And they become friends that want to see you win.
We learned this through our Inner Circle members during COVID shut-downs, and we were insanely thankful that we had poured so much love and effort into turning a database of patients into fans/friends prior to our members’ doors being locked shut.
Many of our members even ran a unique upgrade campaign and were able to remotely fit new hearing aids based on the patient’s most recent audiogram, which resulted in them continuing to sell units while their doors were shut!
This was all due to pouring a lot of love and effort into wrapping their arms around the database with the objective of turning professional relationships into personal relationships.
I’m going to write that again.
Turn professional relationships into personal relationships.
The goal is to turn what starts as a professional relationship, where you solve a problem for a customer in exchange for money … into a personal relationship where they feel connected to you — part of something — and a deeper relationship is formed.
The best way to achieve this is through creating a highly personal email newsletter that is sent to your patients every month.
Although email newsletters are hardly revolutionary, they can be incredibly effective when done correctly.
Let me break down a high-performing email newsletter for you.
#1 – Powerful Subject Line
Nobody wants to open an email that is called August Newsletter 2022…
…but they will open a subject line that is filled with curiosity. That’s why our members’ email newsletters always have an intriguing or fun subject line.
For example …
- Who’s the culprit?
- Is this you?
- Can you help?
- I can’t believe it
These subject lines that are congruent with the core message of the newsletter ensure the number of patients that open the email newsletter is maximized (typically resulting in 40%-60% of them regularly opening the newsletters).
#2 – A Highly Personal Intro
The opening of the email newsletter is written directly from the voice of the clinic owner, and it’s filled with a lot of personality.
Whether it’s sharing what has been happening in their life, pictures of their families, or an opinion around an industry topic.
Here’s a great example:
They build a connection between the clinic and the reader!
#3 – Updates from within the Office [Feature]
You then want to showcase something that has been happening in the office, and there is some flexibility to this.
It could be celebrating a member of staff’s birthday, some pictures of some work you’ve had done in the office, or if the month has a particular theme, then it’s a wonderful place to inject some personality into this.
Here’s an example from June to feature Father’s Day:
#4 – A Spotlight on Something Important to You
Whether something interesting has happened in the world of hearing healthcare, or you have recently visited a great local restaurant – this area is ideal to shine a spotlight on it.
The important thing to understand is that your patients don’t geek out about audiology news as much as you do, and we want to ensure we feature interesting or opinion-based reviews of the news for them.
It could be an opinion around OTC, it could be some thoughts on some ear-related news, or it may be some pictures from the new local restaurant that you visited.
Here’s an example:
#4 – Featured Articles
An email newsletter is a great place to share any new articles or pieces of content that you’ve created.
Whether you’ve recorded a video or written a new article – you can include them in your newsletter to allow patients to read/share them with others.
#5 – Call to Action
Finally, you want to give patients the opportunity to respond or contact you by including your key contact information with a nice message.
There is so much more that goes into a great email newsletter, but the above framework will give you the basics to show you that a great newsletter should not be focused on sharing audiology news but on growing a relationship with patients.
It’s one of the most important things you can do that will repay you many times over!
ACTION #3 – Explore New Revenue Models (Examples)
Most clinics only have one way to generate revenue, which is selling hearing aids.
However, there are several other ways that you could have patients transact outside of directly selling units.
The benefit is that you diversify your risk and introduce some alternative ways to drive income into your clinic.
I’ll share two with you:
1. Introducing a Continued Care Plan
When a patient’s warranty comes to an end, what do you do?
Do you continue to take care of that patient for life, or do you then have them pay out of pocket for all ongoing care/services?
Another way that you could potentially generate revenue is by building a care plan that patients can either pay annually or monthly for that allows them to continue to receive your ongoing care/support.
It almost serves as their insurance policy knowing that you have their back and they can continue to benefit from your services.
Many of our members have introduced these and they work wonderfully well when a patient’s warranty is coming toward an end, as they create a moment where the patient has to decide whether to pay out of pocket, step into a continued care plan, or upgrade.
Ranging from $300 to $500 per year, this could be a tasty service plan that is rich in margin that can be sold to both patients that are approaching the end of their warranty and existing patients that are out of warranty.
One member recently launched these to their patients that were out of warranty and had 73 patients sign up (at $375 each), which dropped $27,000 into their bank account.
2. Introducing an Adoption Plan
An alternative way to generate revenue is to create an adoption plan that allows people that purchased hearing aids elsewhere to step into your service/care.
Very similar to the above, you charge an annual or monthly fee, and the patient can receive a care package in exchange.
There are several others that you can intelligently build in, but these two sit as some of the simplest ways to capture more revenue without selling units.
I encourage you to explore them.
See The Irony?
It shouldn’t take the fear of a recession to stop you from implementing the above strategies – but it’s often when we feel fear that we’re triggered into action.
Whether we fall into a recession or not – I encourage you to get your hands dirty and start building the above methods into your clinic, which, again for convenience are to:
- Increase your pricing
- Start communicating with existing patients
- And explore alternative revenue models
Over to you.