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Hearing HealthCare News

Dennis Hampton, Ph.D, CCC-A,


Keith E. Hampton,

Subscriber Services

280 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 204

White Plains, NY 10605

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Making a Battery Club Work
Dennis Hampton, Ph.D.

Battery sales can be a useful patient service and an important source of office revenue. Unfortunately, most practices don't have a well-designed program to maximize battery sales and maintain the regular patient contact that battery sales can provide.
For example, in 1995 Hearing Review conducted a telephone survey that asked dispensers what percentage of their patients purchased batteries from them. The typical dispenser estimated that 50% of their patients bought batteries from their office. Yet when we asked new subscribers actually to count how many patients purchased batteries through their office, the actual percentage was only 30%!
In other words, the typical audiology practice does not sell batteries to as many of its patients as the practitioner thinks. That may sound like bad news, but it also means that battery sales also represent a great opportunity:

We have been able to double the battery sales of many of our subscribers and that increase in battery sales is enough to pay the cost of a subscription to Hearing HealthCare News.

We've been able to double battery sales by working with our subscribers to create carefully designed battery sales programs. Some of our subscribers report selling batteries to more than 70% of their patients. Done properly, a Battery Club is less work than regular battery sales, provides greater convenience to your patients and allows you to sell batteries without competing primarily on price. The three factors that are crucial for maximizing battery sales are convenience, savings and communication.

Convenience. People will pay for convenience and all things being somewhat equal, most of your patients prefer to purchase batteries from you (someone they know) rather than from a large chain store or mail order house. But you've got to make it easy for them.

Convenience means that battery are mailed on request (with no charge for postage!) and that you know what size batteries your patient uses and how many packages he or she has in their account. All your patient should have to do is pick up the phone they could even leave a message on your phone machine and their batteries will arrive in the mail.

Coupons and battery punch cards act as barriers because people don't like to keep track of them. The use of coupons or punch cards will lower participation in a Battery Club. Instead, simply use their patient account preferably on a computer file to keep track of the number of packages you owe them.

Convenience also means a one-time payment (in advance) rather than paying each time your patient needs batteries. This makes battery purchasing easier for you and for your patient. This one-time payment (in advance) is great for your cash flow, of course; it also means that your patients must get their batteries from you (after all, they've already paid for them).

Savings. Because your patients are paying for their batteries 3, 6 and even 9 months in advance, they're entitled to a discount. That discount is also a great incentive to join your Battery Club. Most offices provide a 10% or 20% discount (we suggest 20%). For example, you could offer ten packages for the price of eight.

The net result: the selling price of your batteries is reduced somewhat, but this is more than compensated by significantly increased sales and income that your receive for batteries long before you have to order and pay for them.

Communication. Convenience and savings are crucial to the success of a Battery Club, but that success won't happen if information about the Battery Club is not provided to your patients on a regular basis. Here are some ways to provide that information:

Describe the Battery Club in your patient newsletter once or twice a year. In that way, all your patients know about this service.
Have a printed card available that describes the specific details of your Battery Club. Some battery manufacturers will provide these cards custom-printed for your own practice at no charge.
Put the Battery Club card in the kit you provide with every hearing aid fitting.
When someone purchases batteries "retail" (i.e., not through the Battery Club), be sure to provide the Battery Club card along with their batteries.
Most importantly: train and encourage your front office people to invite patients to join the Battery Club whenever they ask about batteries. Remember, you are providing them a service. They will probably want to take advantage of buying batteries from you, but they must be reminded and encouraged!

The typical Battery Club description might look like this:

Batteries may be purchased in our office, by mail or by telephone (555-1234). Batteries are $5.50 per package (4 batteries in a package).

We also have a Battery Club that you join by depositing $45 in your account. You receive two packages of batteries free. Eight additional packages are mailed to you whenever you call us (no charge for postage). You receive 10 packages for the price of 8. There's no need to write a check every time you need batteries and you'll save travel time too!

Summary: You can dramatically increase battery sales if you provide a win-win battery sales program--one that is good for you, good for your patient and easy for your office staff. The program provides increased office revenues, requires less paperwork of your office staff, is a useful service to your patient--and you don't have to compete with discount or wholesaler prices (a definite "no-win" situation).

How Can Battery Sales Pay For The Entire Cost Of My Patient Newsletter ?

We have worked with many of our subscribers to increase their battery sales so that increased battery sales more than pay for the cost of their subscription including postage!

Increased battery sales are probably the least of the benefits of a patient newsletter, but they are the easiest to measure. The more significant benefits of a patient newsletter are improved patient satisfaction, increased patient loyalty and increased revenues from hearing aid sales, monitoring evaluations and patient referrals.

To see how battery sales can pay for your patient newsletter, we need to look at typical battery sales, average net income from battery sales and the effect of increasing those sales.

We estimate that the average hearing aid user buys 12 packages of batteries a year (taking into account monaural/binaural use and a range of battery size, battery life and hearing aid use).

Batteries range in retail price, from about $3 to $6 per pack of four batteries. The national average is about $5 per pack when sold individually and about $4.50 per pack through a battery club.

The wholesale cost of a four-pack of batteries is between $2.25 and $2.50. If the average hearing aid user purchases 12 packages a year, at an average "retail" price of $4.50 per package, this results in an average net income ("profit") of $2 per package, or $24 per year per patient (12 x $2). That is, for every hearing aid user who purchases batteries from your office, there is a net income of $24 each year.

How many patients actually purchase batteries from your office? Although most audiologists estimate that 50% of their patients buy batteries from them (Hearing Review, 1995), when audiologists are asked to actually count battery purchasers, the actual percentage is closer to 35%.

That means there is a tremendous opportunity to increase battery sales in the typical audiology office. We have been able to increase battery sales to 70% of patients and more. (For a discussion of how to increase battery sales, ask for our article Making A Battery Club Work.)

The numbers look like this:

1. The typical practice sells batteries to 35 out of 100 patients for an annual net income of     $864

(35 patients x $24 net income)

2. An office selling batteries to 70 out of 100 patients generates an annual net income of     $1,680

3. The typical office thus increases its battery sales annual net income by     $864 per 100 patients.

4. For 700 hearing aid users, the increased annual battery sales nets (7 x $864) $6,048

5. The annual cost of 700 copies (including first class postage for 4 issues) is $1,921

In this example of a practice with 700 hearing aid users, the $6,048 increase in battery sales is more than THREE times the cost of providing the patient newsletter. Our typical subscriber is able to recover the entire cost of their patient newsletter simply by working with us to sell batteries to an additional 12% of their patients!

We Can Help You Set-up Your Own Battery Club