Are clients leaving your office with hearing aids, but without hearing aid batteries? Or are you ignoring the marketing of your hearing aid batteries or giving batteries away? If so, increased sales revenues are walking out the door with each customer.
Promoting and marketing hearing aid batteries makes sense, both from a business and service perspective. Hearing instrument users need batteries, and where better to purchase those batteries than from the person they know and trust with their hearing health? When patients and customers can purchase their hearing aid batteries directly from a professionals office, it becomes a value-added service by saving them the time and trouble of a trip to a retail operation to purchase batteries. Additionally, hearing aid battery sales are an obvious source of additional revenue for your business.
This article looks at opportunities for increasing hearing aid battery sales, as well as the potential profits from ignoring this important profit center.
The Facts On Professional Battery Sales
Although MarkeTrak1 statistics indicate that hearing care professionals dispense virtually all (93%) of the hearing instruments on the market, they dispense only 49% of the hearing aid batteries. The additional sales are being lost to retail outlets.
In fact, trends show consumers are increasingly turning to retail outlets for their hearing aid battery purchases. Though the battery market is growing at a rate of 2-4% per year, sales in the professional market are flat or slightly down. That means lost sales and lost revenues for most hearing care businesses.
Is a Lack of Battery Sales Draining Power from Your Revenues?
This table illustrates the potential lost profit from hearing aid battery sales based on both current and previous hearing aid customers.
*Based on A.C. Nielsen Panel Data and Rayovac estimates
Average retail dollar figure based on $1.25/battery. An average dispensing office/practice dispenses 250 hearing instruments per year, and that office could see battery revenues of over $40,000.
Bucking the Trend
Why give retail outlets the hearing aid battery sales that could be yours? Counteracting this trend requires only a slight change in mindset.
First and foremost, remember that the hearing care professional is in an excellent position to recommend batteries and essentially has a captive audience. While it is important to inform clients of all their options, make sure that they have every opportunity to purchase both hearing aids and hearing aid batteries from you. Second, partner with a battery manufacturer who can help you implement a complete program for increasing battery sales. And, third, provide incentives and value to customers who purchase batteries from you.
Consider the following marketing initiatives to help build your hearing aid battery business:
Customized Battery Cards: Imprint or label battery cards with your name and contact information, so when its time to refill the batteries, your business name is front and center. This is an effective way to keep your services in front of your patients and customersboth for purchasing batteries and when repurchasing hearing instruments.
Multi-Packs: Offer batteries in larger pack sizes. This results in a number of benefits for the consumer and dispensing office. Larger pack sizes provide the best price per batterya good selling point and loyalty builder for customers. They also provide greater convenience; customers are less likely to run out of batteries, and therefore wont need to search for refills at a retail outlet.
Battery Clubs: Battery Clubs build customer loyalty, answer the convenience appeal of retail stores, and satisfy customers. Satisfied customers, in turn, generate new customer referrals and come back to you for other services such as cleaning, adjustments, and new hearing aids. Battery Club elements can be as few or many as you care to implement. Some suggestions:
- Battery Club Booklet: Print your name on the cover of the booklet and pre-address mail-in postcards to you. Select a number of coupons that you want included in your personalized battery club booklet.
- Frequent Purchaser Punch Card: Build repeat business with a Frequent Purchaser Club. On your personalized club card, decide how many purchased cards qualify your customers for a free dial card.
- Frequent Purchaser Club Coupons: For customers who receive their batteries by mail, simply include a Frequent Purchaser Coupon along with the batteries. When your customer saves the prerequisite number of coupons specified, the coupons can be redeemed for a free dial card of batteries.
Battery Clubs are a proven business-builder, providing a means for constantly keeping in contact with your best clients. In our experience, hearing care offices/practices that use battery clubs sell 20% more batteries than those without battery clubs. Unfortunately, only 62% of all dispensing businesses (about 57% of hearing instrument specialists and 69% of dispensing audiologists) use battery clubs as a part of their overall marketing strategy.2 There is strong evidence that the 40% of dispensing professionals who do not use battery clubs are missing out on extra profits (see sidebar) and even future hearing instrument sales.
Consumer Materials: Some battery manufacturers and distributors offer additional consumer support materials, including:
- Battery ID cards for writing messages or future office appointments.
- Customized labels and mailing envelopes.
- Information booklets that offer informative and/or educational material.
- Direct mail options for keeping touch with patients and customers by acknowledging birthdays, offering Seasons Greetings during the holidays and providing information during Better Hearing Month.
- Office signage such as posters, calendars and other signage for your office.
Take full advantage of these materials and think of them as an extension of your overall marketing program. Request and use merchandisers that are compact enough to fit on a counter-top or shelf and that fit a variety of spaces and packages. These merchandisers should be visually appealing with interesting graphics and, ideally, contain pockets for holding literature.
Advertising Support: National advertising support can also be an important component in your overall battery program. Determine if your manufacturer helps build brand awareness and loyalty among your patients and customers through national advertising and/or cooperative advertising programs.
Online Ordering: Increasingly, online ordering is becoming a useful option for re-ordering batteries. Some dispensing professionals may find it particularly useful to have a battery partner that offers on-line ordering for ease and convenience in supplying hearing aid battery needs.
So, youve sold your patient a hearing aid that will improve their quality of life. Why stop there? Offer all of your patients and customers the convenience and benefits of one-stop shopping and increase your profits at the same time. Harness the power of hearing aid battery sales and build a better business.
Julie Strasser is brand manager and Tom Begley is director of sales for the North American hearing aid division of Rayovac Corp., Madison, Wis.
Correspondence can be addressed to HR or Julie Strasser, Rayovac Corp, 601 Rayovac Drive, Madison, WI 53711-2497; email: [email protected].
1. Kochkin S: MarkeTrak VI. The VA and direct mail sales spark growth in hearing aid market. Hearing Review. 2001;8(12):16-24, 63-65.
2. Strom KE. The HR 2000 dispenser survey. Hearing Review. 2001;8(6):20-42.