My latest blog talks about the importance of providing exceptional service to your patients. One sure way to win the battle with third party providers and big box sellers is to focus on providing service that is out of this world. I have heard that Costco hearing aid customers are waiting as long as three months to get an appointment for service. That certainly won’t make someone happy who has a broken hearing aid and has to wait for service. Delivering exceptional service isn’t easy, but it is possible.
So you may be wondering how you are supposed to fit in hours for service when you have a full day of patients scheduled?
I know many colleagues that try to work in patients that stop in for service but that can be difficult and stressful. How do you handle a person that needs a hearing aid repaired when you are with a new patient that has waited eight years to final schedule a hearing evaluation? There is no easy answer but it does seem rude to make a new person sit in the booth and wait while the professional disappears to fix another patient’s hearing aid.
One answer may be to have specific hours that patients can walk in for service or perhaps you make the patient call and schedule an appt for service. If you don’t have time in your schedule to handle service appointments, then perhaps you could hire an assistant to handle the tasks that don’t require your education or expertise.
Then there is the question of what to charge for service.
I could suggest that the first step is to know exactly what every hour of your time is worth to the business. If you know the cost for your “chair time”, then you can simply charge your rate for the time you are with the patient. For instance, I know some colleagues that charge in 15 minute increments. So, if a patient comes in and doesn’t have an active service contract, the fee could depend on how much time it takes to complete the service. So, if it took 15 min and your chair time is $250 per hour (which is typical), then the fee would be $62.50 but if the total time spent was 30 minutes, then the charge would be $125.00.
I have had great luck in my practice with offering extended service plans.
We charge $365 per year and that includes fees for repair and hearing aid cleanings. We use the phrase “Only one dollar a day to protect your investment and 65% of our patients pay for an extended service plan each year. If you want this plan to be a revenue generator, it’s important that you do NOT buy this extended plan from the manufacturer. Carry the plan yourself and try to repair and have the parts so you can repair the majority of aids in house. Our experience has shown that most aids simply need extensive cleaning and having a microscope is very helpful for cleaning the instruments.
Delivering exceptional service is one way to impress patients and offering extended service plans can be a good way to keep patients connected to your practice forever.