“Twenty dollars income with nineteen dollars expense equals happiness; nineteen dollars income with twenty dollars expense equals misery.” This is a paraphrase of a quote from the Charles Dickens novel, David Copperfield. It is really that simple.
The marketing and financial aspects of managing a successful balance clinic can be broken down into two general areas: 1. getting people in the door, and 2. getting paid for the work you do.
A third area, expense, is the last variable that will determine profitability. I have had many people call me over the years for advice in setting up a balance clinic, and many seem to get stuck on the same subject, equipment expense. In reality, the cost of equipment is not a major expense when compared to other ongoing expenses such as staff salaries, rent, taxes and so on. Keep in mind that all those other expenses do not result in a hard asset. Once the money is spent, it is gone. A well researched, maintained and utilized piece of equipment will more than pay for itself. At worst, the equipment can be sold and some of the investment recouped. That can not be said for those other expenses.
Marketing is a bit of a sore spot for many Audiologists. Because hearing aid dispensing is such a large part of a general Audiology practice, it is impossible to avoid the retail aspect of this business. We do not advertise our balance clinic to the public. In fact, we do not accept patients for balance and dizziness complaints unless they are directly referred by another physician. It is not unusual to find a patient that has dizziness as a result of a medical problem or from a medication. It is imperative that the patient have access to a primary care physician, because our recommendation may be to “Go back to your doctor and discuss our findings.”
Our approach to marketing has been through physician education. The “Dizziness and Balance Disorders” booklet available through Micromedical Technologies was designed to educate the local primary care doctors in our region. I also do continuing education programs for the local hospitals whenever invited. Word of mouth is very important. Everyone knows someone that is dizzy. We have many patients that ask their Primary Care Physician to refer them to us because a friend or family member had a positive experience.
There are plenty of books on marketing, but I think if you can follow these three simple rules, you will succeed:
1. Be competent
2. Treat people respectfully and with compassion
3. Get results