Don’t tell anyone, but when I was a kid I used to have this recurring nightmare. I’d dream there was a monster under my bed. And I’d have to turn on my bedside light and look under the bed to make sure it wasn’t there before I could rest easy and go back to sleep.
For audiology practices, Costco and other low-cost retailers are that recurring nightmare, the monster under the bed that won’t go away.
Now, you should know that I shop at Costco (and I bet you do too). It’s a great company offering lots of products for less–even hearing aids, the one product that you wish they wouldn’t. But that doesn’t make them evil or mean the end of the world for your audiology practice either.
I’m not denying that Costco has claimed a huge percentage of hearing aid sales, but the truth is you can do something about it. There are at least two ways you can continue to grow your practice, increasing sales and profits, even if you’re across the street from Costco or some other low-cost retailer.
What Are Your Options and How Can You Compete and Win?
Hearing aid sales have changed over the past 5 years, it’s true. So which of the following 3 choices should you do if you want to keep your practice and thrive?
1. Tell everyone you know the sky is falling; I mean, tell everyone that Costco is killing your practice and it’s the end of the world.
Worry about your biggest competitors instead of focusing on what makes you and your practice, in a word, great. With the result that your practice fades to zero and you shut your doors.
Or instead of worrying about Costco, focus on your practice, and do the one thing that truly differentiates your practice. No, I’m not talking about “service”, but marketing. Big box stores, including Costco, are nothing new and if they were the real threat everyone says they are, private audiology practices would have ceased to exist years ago. Yet here you are, still in business. So it’s up to you. Do you want to…
2. Do what our members do: go head to head with the discounters on price, but differentiate your practice by providing a better patient experience.
Provide a more personalized and better testing and counseling process to have patients flocking to your door.
You see, while Costco excels at many things, building individual relationships with patients isn’t something any big box store focuses on. And it’s something you can do way better than them to attract more patients and keep them coming back.
Of course, just having a great counseling process isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans if no one knows about your practice, and everyone has heard of Costco and Sam’s Club.
Which is why one of our Practice Building members makes sure patients have heard of his practice. He runs a 4-page insert in the newspaper every month and drops 50,000 direct mail pieces, too. Sure he spends close to $30,000 in marketing each month, but the result is his phone is ringing off the hook. Typically he gets 50-70 new patient calls each month. And the resultant sales more than pay for his marketing.
3. You could ramp up your online and offline marketing to set your practice apart and focus on higher-end customers than the big box retailers of this world target.
You see, Costco does a great job of serving one niche, the people who are solely focused on price. But for many, many patients, price doesn’t rule everything. It’s quality and value they care about.
Costco sells groceries, right? But is Whole Foods worried?
I doubt it. While lots of people stock up at Costco, a subset of shoppers want the quality and atmosphere of a Whole Foods. To be honest, I shop at both depending on what I’m looking for. And both companies can thrive. Same goes for you and Costco if…
You focus on developing and implementing a patient attraction plan and use a counseling process that is patient-centric and if your follow-up process makes patients feel like you care.
Of course if you do nothing, Costco and other discount retailers will eat your lunch. The point I’m making is, there is plenty of room in the market for both the supposed “dreaded discounters,” “evil empire,” or whatever you call them and for your practice to thrive, too.
A Recipe for Success
One of our new members opened up her practice with a Costco and Sam’s Club within view. You’d think that would be a recipe for certain death. So here’s what happened.
Using our proven patient attraction system, she did over $417,000 in the first six months and is on track to do a million in sales this year. How did this happen? How was she so successful?
Did she just open her doors and patients flooded in?
Of course not.
She works hard on her marketing and spends 12% of revenue on it each and every month, which is what it takes if you want to be successful in today’s market.
So which is it?
- Have that recurring nightmare about the monster under your bed?
- Differentiate your practice from the big box discounters and win new patients?
- Have a proactive marketing strategy to win new patients and prosper?
Your Audiology Practice Has an Advantage
One time at AAA in Anaheim, Kevin was approached by the VP of a big box discounter, whose name I can’t mention here as you’ll see.
The VP was upset that we’d told the truth about their strategy and threatened Kevin with legal action because he/she doesn’t want us helping audiology and hearing aid practices succeed, even if it in no way impacts the discounters market.
What this VP failed to understand is that there is room for both big box discounters and for audiology and hearing aid practices to prosper.
The simple concept is that some people want the low-end and low-service option, and clearly big box stores and discounters that provide this are here to stay.
At the same time, there is a huge opportunity for the audiology and hearing aid practices that understand it makes no sense to compete against these guerrillas.
These discounters will never offer the personalized and high-quality service that a small clinic or practice can offer.
The secret to growing your practice is building relationships
The simple secret to keeping your practice growing is to focus on the people who hate the big discounters and the minimal service and quality they provide.
There are plenty of patients for you, if you know how to position your practice and attract them. Start by focusing your audiology marketing on the benefits of your size, your quality, your expertise… and you.
Want to know your biggest competitive advantage?
It’s the strength and number of relationships you have with patients and suppliers. Relationships – as in business, but also as in people who know you as a person.
Once you realize this simple idea, I can guarantee you’ll be more successful because big chains don’t build lasting relationships with patients like you do.
Talk to us today to schedule your complimentary consultation to find out how to focus your marketing so you can continue to attract more patients and profits.
P.S. Do nothing and it’s true: the big box discount stores will run you out of business. Or you can use a marketing plan, the secret weapon, to let patients know you exist and the value you provide and see your practice grow.