As I have mentioned in previous posts, it’s not prudent to make hasty decisions abt business without having the numbers or research to back them up. With this in mind, I decided to hold several focus groups with my patients to get their opinions on various pricing strategies. Now let me say that some of the results of this investigation are biased because many of our patients have been patients for an extended period of time and are used to a bundling model of pricing.
Our patients in the focus group overwhelmingly voiced a preference for the bundled model when various models were presented. They are used to being able to walk in at all hours of the day and having their problems resolved within a short period of time and they are willing to pay for that level of service. The group also indicated that they don’t mind the bundled model because they feel like they get their money’s worth in exceptional, personalized service. These patients are willing to pay for what they believe to be “The Best” in hearing healthcare. They realize, however, that the bundled pricing model reflects more than just the price of hearing aids and also includes a service package.
When the focus groups were asked about the unbundled model, they expressed that while they would always welcome a lower price, they that didn’t mind the bundled model and preferred not to be “nickeled and dimed” every time they walked into the office.
We routinely send surveys to our tested not sold patients – TNS people who have been evaluated and diagnosed with a hearing loss and chose not to pursue amplification. Price is the number one reason these folks give for not pursuing amplification. When pressed for further explanations, our TNS patients shared that hearing aids just cost too much. However, when asked to explain what they thought was a reasonable price, they were unable to express a cost that they thought was reasonable.
The majority of our new business comes from our patients referring others so these individuals are familiar with our prices before they ever walk in the door. I don’t do price advertising so we are not trying to attract price shoppers. Another reason why this perspective is biased.
I thought these focus groups would yield more specific results, but in fact, all I discovered is that “price is what you pay and value is what you get”. We have to do more to add value to every encounter with patients AND we have to educate patients as to what is or is not included in the pricing strategy. I also became more convinced than ever that you have to cater to your base. You can’t be everything to everyone. Our patients are used to outrageous service and are willing to pay for it. As long as the business is going well and the numbers of TNS patients doesn’t increase significantly, I am not going to change my pricing strategy. However, when numbers decline then I will have to reevaluate the situation. I can’t afford to change my business based upon the opinions of others.
It’s a time of change in this industry and we have to adapt or die but I don’t know and can’t say how YOU should change your business. There is no one right answer. You need to evaluate your business and ask your patients what they want and what they are willing to pay for. Cater and listen to your loyal patients and use that as a barometer for change.