“He ripped my [professional qualification] certificate in front of everybody, saying ‘This is all meaningless if you do not sell’.”
Traditionally in the hearing industry there were three participants: the manufacturer who makes hearing devices, independent clinicians who fit the devices and the clients who wear them.
In this model, the clinician develops a strong and close relationship with their clients, similar to when you see your GP over many years. This relationship is important to the client as the clinician becomes familiar with their needs; and to the clinician who depends on positive word-of-mouth from clients to survive.
In recent years, and especially here in Australia, the situation has changed: manufacturers have bought out little independent clinics, setting up franchise-style shop fronts.
In this new model, clinicians are hired directly by the manufacturer, which is often a large publicly-listed company. Clinicians are required to fit that manufacturer’s devices, but are not required to disclose this relationship to their clients. Management provides sales training and sets sales targets.
The result is a high pressure environment with monthly targets to reach, high staff turnover and poor client satisfaction.
At present more than half of all hearing clinics in Australia are owned by manufacturers or belong to a chain. Have you ever received a phone call urging you to have a free hearing test? Most likely there is a chain brand behind it.
However, this trend is starting to reverse: many clinicians are choosing to open their independent clinics again, working with less commercial pressure and more focus on their clients.
A national body, Independent Audiologists Australia, represents these clinicians who want to have their clients at the centre of their professional journey. Apex Hearing is part of this group.
The quote above is from an ABC Radio investigation which revealed the realities of working in a hearing clinic chain.