Palmetto Family Hearing Center - Consult
Evolution Hearing
August 3, 2020
Stanwood Hearing
October 7, 2020
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Palmetto Family Hearing Center:
Making patients its top priority

Like many practices across the country, Palmetto Family Hearing Center in South Carolina has evolved over the last five months, changing the way it operates to continue to provide patient care and remain profitable. Owner and Audiologist, Gary Fike, Au.D., says the business recovered quickly since the onset of the pandemic. How did they do it? By making patient care, safety, and communication a priority. More specifically, Gary implemented curbside services and virtual appointments, used no-cost and low-cost marketing strategies, and took advantage of the industry-leading business support and resources that Consult YHN provides. One of those resources includes the Consult Upgrade Program, which helped the practice capture a month’s worth of business in three days. Gary talked with us about his Consult Upgrade experience, navigating the pandemic, and his goals for 2020, moving into 2021.

“One of the biggest benefits of working with Consult is the accountability when it comes to the numbers and making sure we're following through on everything. Accountability is a good thing.”
Gary Fike, Au.D.

Q&A with Gary Fike, Au.D., Owner:

1First, tell us how COVID-19 has impacted your practice.
We were having a really good month until mid-March when everything just dropped off. By April, we were down to just a fraction of what we're used to. We put a lot of guidelines in place to make sure our patients and staff were safe. I came in at our normal office hours, but the staff worked from home. During that time, we were only seeing patients who were really having trouble and needed something done quickly. I had a couple of patients lose hearing aids that we had to replace. We weren't spending any money on marketing, but we emailed all of our patients with updates on how we were handling things and put it on our social media as well. We also sent out one of the letters on Consult’s COVID-19 Resources page and customized it for our practice.
2Did you offer curbside services and/or Telehealth appointments?
Yes, both. We did curbside appointments for several weeks just to make sure that our patients were taken care of. We’re still trying to limit the number of people that are coming in and out of our office. So, while we still offer curbside services as needed, it’s lessened quite a bit. We also did some remote care and that was pretty big. Most of our follow-up patients, we just called and said, ‘we're going to do your appointment remotely.’ There were several who we had to get set up and walk through the process. So those appointments tended to take a little longer in the beginning but, the more people got used to it, the easier it became. It really is an effective way to be able to stay in touch with patients.
3How has business been over the last few months? Are you seeing it bounce back?
As I said, we were doing really well the first half of March but dropped in April. As things in South Carolina started loosening up in late April, we went ahead and opened our doors and were busy pretty quickly. We bounced back more in May but still under our averages. And then June and July were great months for us again. I believe our community presence, word of mouth, and patient referrals played a big part in that success.
4You also did your first Consult Upgrade event in July. How did it go?
It went really well. We did a Virtual Upgrade, so we didn't have [the Digital Technology Consultant] come into our office. We saw a good number of purchases and we've had a couple of people follow-up to purchase. We sold about 18 units and earned about $52,000 in revenue. I was surprised how smoothly it went, especially with it being virtual.
5Tell us about the monthly Profit & Loss (P&L) Analysis reports from Consult and how they’ve helped you make decisions about your business.
It's nice to have the numbers so we can look at and compare month-to-month. We're trying to track numbers a little bit more than we have in the past. We've been tracking units and sales consistently for years, but we're trying to dig a little deeper into the details, including sales percentage, close percentage, and other stats. We're also trying to look at how each staff member is doing in those areas.
6The goals outlined in your 2020 Annual Strategic Action Plan included increasing your Third Party rate, implementing the Block Schedule, and calling 100 percent of your Tested Not Sold (TNS) patients within 24 hours. Why are these goals so important and where you are currently in achieving them?
I definitely see that following up with TNS patients is important. I think I've been doing much better with that initiative. I'm still not a hundred percent on the Third Party rate. That's been a challenge with everything going on. We've had a lot less people bringing in a Third Party. But I think that has more to do with our guidelines, even though we’re still encouraging them to bring a Third Party to initial visits. As far as block scheduling, we're trying to just bring in new patients or new hearing aid evaluations on those blocks rather than making it too complicated for our team. Having that availability is important because we want to bring in patients as soon as possible. The staff is looking at the schedule now and saying, ‘okay, we need to have a person in that field.’ And, if there's opening, we're moving people up who have been scheduled further out.
7What are your top priorities right now and looking ahead to 2021?
Continuing to make sure we're taking care of all the patients that come through the door—that’s number one. Also, continuing the block schedule to make sure we're getting new people on the schedule.
8How has partnering with Consult YHN helped you run your business?
One of the biggest benefits of working with Consult is the accountability when it comes to the numbers and making sure we're following through on everything, which gets tough when you're trying to take care of patients and the day-to-day. As a manager who runs a full schedule, it becomes difficult sometimes to do all that and to have those weekly meetings. Accountability is a good thing.