Speaking of batteries, they seem to be a huge part of the hearing care provider’s day, albeit not generally a huge part of revenue. A study published by a hearing aid manufacturer in 2009 reported that when looking at total practice revenue, batteries constituted 7% on average. While I can’t quantify, I feel like we spend more than 7% of our time dealing with batteries. It is quite common for hearing care providers to buy them, stock them, sell them, mail them, give them away, educate about how to insert and remove them, discuss about how to store them, collect them for correct disposal and talk about them …..a lot.
A Big Deal
Fortunately, we don’t run into issues like Dr. Roeser referred to in a previous post very often. Nor do we see what the hearing aid user books make sure to warn about…..ingesting, pets, children etc. Whew…….those are truly big deals.
But, since batteries are such a big deal to our patients that means that they are a big deal to us. In a previous MarkeTrak study, 83% of consumers reported that they wanted batteries to last longer and 46% said they wanted them to be easier to change. If you think about it, where else in life is an individual required to activate, deactivate and change a battery as often as necessary with a hearing aid? Not remote controls or flashlights…and, oh my gosh, when a car battery goes dead, it’s usually a surprise, it’s an immediate hassle and it’s a big deal…..perhaps there are workplace instances but I can’t think of a single thing in one’s personal life that requires so much attention to batteries. Batteries are kind of an ordeal.
A Good Deal
Batteries are widely available for purchase. They are hanging on end caps of local pharmacies, grocery stores, big box retailers, electronics shops as well as a gazillion places online. These retailers often have better pricing than the local hearing care provider due to the fact that they can purchase in larger quantities. Many users end up purchasing from these stores in an effort to save money. Who can blame them? The battery package easily tells them that they have the correct size due to the industry standard colors and the “best used by” date is often years in the future.
A Confusing Deal
I think all of us in practice have stories of perfectly sophisticated users coming in with a “dead” hearing aid, only to have it actually be a “dead” battery. They have recently purchased a new pack, inserted it correctly and the hearing aid goes belly up within hours. They dial out another battery, peel off the sticker, place it in the hearing aid and……..hearing aid once again, dead as a door nail. “It must be this expensive, complex and sophisticated ear level computer that I’ve purchased”, thinks the user. Many do not think to put the battery in the cross hairs of blame……..they are so common and we just expect them to work. This hearing aid user comes into our office and we all know to check the battery……sure enough, our suspicions are confirmed……the battery meter needle doesn’t move :).
While we are not in the “business” of selling batteries, personal experience tells me hearing care practices are consistently a superior location to purchase batteries for something as important as a hearing aid. We buy in small amounts, rotating stock frequently and rarely have any quality control issues. Yep, we have to charge more but I’d venture to say that spending $3.00 on a pack of batteries that provides 8 hours of better hearing is NOT as a good a deal as spending $6.00 and enjoying a week or more of improved hearing. Not to mention the peace of mind that the user will have knowing that their batteries are fresh and their hearing aids will perform as expected. As with many things in life, the best price is not always the best deal. Big deal, ordeal, best deal….