In today’s show, Chris Cox Au.D.,and Riley Bass Au.D., sit down with Travis Unruh, an Operations Manager at Audigy University, to discuss the key performance indicators involved in operating a successful audiology practice.
Did you miss our series on Transitioning from Student to Provider? Catch up on what you missed by visiting our special series page.
Listen to the Episode Below
Read the transcript:
RILEY BASS: We are very excited to have a special guest with us today.
CHRIS COX: Very excited.
RILEY BASS: Yes, Travis, he is the operations manager for the Audigy University team. And he’s going to talk a little bit about what it takes to keep the lights on in your office.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, how do you keep the lights on?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Light switch.
CHRIS COX: Mmm, very good, Travis. Very good.
RILEY BASS: And we’re done. Thanks for tuning in, guys.
CHRIS COX: All right, well, Travis, tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got to where you are at this point and what kind of experiences you’ve had in the past.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, absolutely. So Travis Unruh. As Riley mentioned, I’m the operations manager for the Audigy University team. But prior to coming over to Audigy group, I was a store manager for Target. So I was respons–
CHRIS COX: Oh, Target, yeah.
RILEY BASS: Love Target. I probably love Target a lot more than Travis does.
TRAVIS UNRUH: You probably love Target a lot more than you love Travis, as well.
RILEY BASS: Well–
CHRIS COX: Well it’s kind Of one of those things like, once you’re the butcher and you’ve seen the cow or whatever. Isn’t that how it goes?
RILEY BASS: Then you become a vegetarian?
CHRIS COX: I don’t know. Is that the right way to say that?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Maybe.
CHRIS COX: Like you probably don’t like Target all that much now, because you’ve been the butcher, and you’ve seen the cow.
TRAVIS UNRUH: I do– I do shop there.
CHRIS COX: Do you really?
TRAVIS UNRUH: I do. You save money that way. So it’s a little bit cheaper than going to Fred Meyer’s.
CHRIS COX: Sponsored by Walmart!
TRAVIS UNRUH: I love that we’re putting in a plug for my ex. We’re talking about my ex. It’s kind of awkward. I’d rather move on.
CHRIS COX: All right, so let’s move on. But tell us a little bit about that experience at Target for you and what you learned there.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, absolutely. So as a store manager, my responsibilities spanned from managing the human resources side all the way down to the operations, bringing product into the store, stocking the shelves, making sure that we’re efficient, on top of things, that were controlling our budget by hitting our revenue goals, so that we;re profitable as a company– so really anything and everything under the sun.
So coming over to Audigy Group recognizing that I could take those skills that I learned on tracking key performance indicators, tracking revenue, tracking the things that made the business run, and help our private practice owners to integrate that into their business, so that they could be efficient and effective with the actions that they’re taking within their building, so that they’re not spending a lot of money on things that really don’t have a lot of impact.
RILEY BASS: It seems crazy to think that Target wouldn’t hit their revenue goals. I feel like I solely can support a significant amount of Target’s revenue goals.
CHRIS COX: They must have a pretty high bar set.
RILEY BASS: I reckon.
TRAVIS UNRUH: I don’t know what to say to that.
RILEY BASS: Nobody? OK, I’ll just keep talking.
TRAVIS UNRUH: I think shopaholics is our next episode.[INTERPOSING VOICES]
RILEY BASS: Obviously a lot of the practices that we work with, and audiology practices in general, aren’t quite as large as Target. But the same principles apply as far as what it takes from walking in, unlocking the door in the morning, and flipping that light switch on, and making sure that the utility bill has been paid so that the lights come on, to leaving at the end of the day and making sure that everything has been taken care of at the end of the day.
CHRIS COX: Something that I didn’t know starting to work here, and even in some of the other businesses that I’ve worked in before, I didn’t know about this thing called Operations. Like, that to me, was a game that you played when you were a little kids.[GAME BUZZING SOUND]
RILEY BASS: Man, that was a fun game. The rubber band one was my favorite.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, that one was pretty funny. The wishbone was my favorite. Anyway so operations, that was kind of a new concept for me. And like Riley just said, it’s about keeping the lights on and making sure we have enough revenue coming in. But that, I think, is what we’ve– I’ve learned is operations, kind of just in that area of business. But how would you describe the Operations.
TRAVIS UNRUH: I would really keep the explanation simple. It’s the Operations manager’s job to make sure the the business is running efficiently, whether that’s, again, tracking key performance indicators and metrics to understand where the company is successful or where there may be gaps, or making sure that they have the right people in the right place at the right time to achieve the goals of they want to achieve.
So it really is just about making sure that the business is running smoothly, whether that’s producing a product, or if it’s selling services, or if it’s providing a service. All of it falls into that same bucket of making sure you’re efficient and effective.
CHRIS COX: OK.
RILEY BASS: You know what that makes me thing of? Did you ever play, when you’re younger, the game SimCity–
CHRIS COX: I did.
RILEY BASS: –where you have to, like, design the city. And it has all the tracker bars to show you if there’s pollution or water supply. And you have to make sure all your little tracker bars are green? I feel like that’s what the operations manager does, is kind of looks at the practice from the top-down and sees where those sliders are, and if they need to go into the green, or if they need to go up or down.
I feel like that’s kind of what– Would you say that’s sort of what the operations team and the operations manager does? That’s your job?
TRAVIS UNRUH: I think that’s a great explanation.
RILEY BASS: So basically you play SimCity for eight hours a day.
CHRIS COX: That sounds like fun.
RILEY BASS: That’s awesome. I need that job. I’m going to be an operations manager.[LAUGHTER]
CHRIS COX: So thinking about an audiology practice, can an audiologist business owner be an operations manager?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, I absolutely think that can be, they should be, and I think they have to be if they want to be successful at the end of the day.
CHRIS COX: Well what if I’m not good at it. Can I hire somebody else to do that for me?
TRAVIS UNRUH: You certainly can hire somebody else to do for you. I would love to come and support you with your operations.
CHRIS COX: Oh, thank you, Travis.
TRAVIS UNRUH: I don’t know if that’s the answer you were looking for?
CHRIS COX: No, what–
RILEY BASS: I’m sure it’s affordable, too.
CHRIS COX: Well what I was thinking is that as an audiologist business owner, that may not be a strength of mine. So if I’m not good at operations, but somehow have been able to keep my business open for a couple years, what could I do to elevate my business to the next level being an owner?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Well a couple of things. Some skew to the very expensive side. Some are a little bit cheaper. One is you could go back and get your MBA, right? You could spend several years learning about the business, learning about how to market yourself, and everything under the sun in that way, which may seem a little bit unrealistic. At the end of the day, you’ve already been in school for eight years to become an audiologist.
And so on the other end of the spectrum is working with somebody who is an expert in that field, relying on them to provide you with the expertise and the advice to help you be successful in that role, and helping you to take a couple of hats off in your business so that you can really focus on what you do best. And so working with a practice management firm or something like that can certainly help you, as a private practice owner, achieve your goals that you want to achieve within your business.
RILEY BASS: All right, so Travis, I keep hearing you say this little phrase. And I’d like you to tell our listeners a little bit more about what you mean by key performance indicators.
TRAVIS UNRUH: KPIs, so Key Performance Indicators are exactly what it says there. They are the numbers that show you where you are achieving your goals and what you might be missing. So they’re the key performance indicators.
CHRIS COX: Why is that important to have key performance indicators? You’re talking about in your store, you had to track a lot of things. But why is that part important?
TRAVIS UNRUH: There’s a lot of things to focus on inside of a store, or in a private practice, or in any business. And so if you don’t know specifically what you need to look at in order to help your business be successful, then you can’t take the right actions to move your business forward.
And so obviously, tracking the same things in a private practice as I did at Target probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t want to sell the Red Card inside of my private practice. It’s not going to help me grow. But I certainly–
RILEY BASS: 85% off, though.
TRAVIS UNRUH: At Target, not at your private practice, so– And it’s probably not going to drive sales in your private practice.
RILEY BASS: Probably not.
CHRIS COX: True. All right, so away from the idea of business and all that, we all tend to have KPIs that we track for ourselves, some for weight loss or weight gain, or if we’re looking to do a 5K, or a marathon, or whatever it is, we have to track what we’re doing.
We have, how fast can we do the mile? How fast can we do three miles? How much water am I intaking? If you’re trying to lose weight, how many pounds are you losing a week? Is it a healthy amount or is it an unhealthy amount?
So you have these key performance indicators in our everyday life that we tend to look at, and not in the respect of KPIs, like we’re talking about now. But there are things that we measure. And we can’t tell if we have achieved or are on our way to success without measuring those things, right?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Absolutely. That’s why scales exist. That’s why, when you walk with a personal trainer, they write down the amount weight that you lifted this week. I think it’s easy to overlook the fact that we’re constantly tracking those key performance indicators that make the most in a specific activity that we’re working on.
But they still ring true. And they’re just as important no matter what the activity is. So if I’m trying to lose weight and I’m not actually actively looking at the scale every week, then how do I know that I’m actually doing the right things to lose weight?
CHRIS COX: Right, you’re just hoping and praying.
RILEY BASS: Right, this all is very relatable to one of our favorite authors here at Audigy, John Maxwell, and his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.
CHRIS COX: Oh, wow, nice. Way to bring that in.
RILEY BASS: Right? I know. It’s the law of the scoreboard. If you don’t know where you stand, then you don’t know how you can make adjustments.
So imagine if you’re playing a game of basketball, or you’re watching the Trailblazers– woohoo– play basketball, and you don’t know the score of the game. You don’t know if you’re winning or losing or if you need to make adjustments, if you need to put your subs in, or what you need to do to score more points.
Or if you’re winning, maybe you can put your bench players in and let them get a little run of exercise. But knowing where you stand, you can see where you need to go next.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, that’s good. I love sports analogies. Thanks for bringing that up.
RILEY BASS: I’m sorry I didn’t have a good marching band analogy for–
TRAVIS UNRUH: I was just disappointed by your woohoo. It was really weak.
CHRIS COX: There you go.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Thank you.
RILEY BASS: Go, Portland.
CHRIS COX: OK. All right. So these KPIs, we’ve talked a little bit about what they are, what they mean, and why they’re there. How do we relate that to audiology? What are the KPIs we’re going to look at, not just in private practice necessarily, but in any interactions that we have as audiologists with our patients?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah. There’s tens, hundreds of key performance indicators that impact audiology. And we have to know which ones make the biggest difference in our business that are going to help us achieve our goals.
CHRIS COX: Well, hold on. If there’s hundreds of KPIs, are they key anymore? Or are they just performance indicators?
TRAVIS UNRUH: That’s a good question. That depends on what you’re looking at at any given time. So we have to prioritize. We have to understand specifically what we’re looking at first. And really there’s four or so that you could probably boil it down to.
CHRIS COX: OK, so we don’t have to look at 100 different measurements.
RILEY BASS: Thank goodness. That would be exhausting. You guys probably have other things to do than listen to 100 different KPIs.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Probably, yes.
RILEY BASS: But four, you can handle, right?
TRAVIS UNRUH: So you boil it down to a select few, the ones that make the biggest difference. Why those other key performance indicators are still important and they’re still key is that once we understand where the gap exists in one of those big three or four key performance indicators, we have to know specifically what is it that might be impacting that. And knowing some of the other key performance indicators, or KPIs, can help you boil it down, get a little more granular, and understand specifically what you need to do to make improvements.
CHRIS COX: OK, so we’re all waiting. We’re all waiting with our pens and pencils in our hand ready to write down these four KPIs. What are they?
TRAVIS UNRUH: All right, the suspense is over. Number one is patient flow, so patients flowing into your practice. Number two is opportunities. So that’s taking flow one step further and looking at whether or not they’re a candidate for hearing aids or not. Third one would be your conversion rate, so the number of opportunity patients that walk away having purchased a hearing aid. And then the final one would be average selling price, so the average selling price of each individual hearing aid unit that you sell.
CHRIS COX: OK.
RILEY BASS: Let’s break those down and talk a little bit more about each one. So flow, so patients coming into your practice, how does this work?
TRAVIS UNRUH: There’s a couple things you want to look at with flow. One is the number of patients that are coming in and the type of patient that you’re coming in. So that second part would be balance. You want to make sure that you aren’t too heavily weighted one way or another.
So knowing that hearing aids is really where you generate the revenue, where you make the money, and that’s going to support your ability, or support your practice, in providing those other services, you don’t want to be too heavily weighted on the other services so that you’re taking away from your ability to see this hearing aids candidates.
CHRIS COX: Things like tinnitus, or cochlear implants, or [? peds, ?] or–
RILEY BASS: –vestibular–
CHRIS COX: –vestibular stuff.
RILEY BASS: Right, and so when you talk about that flow and getting those patients in the door, if you’re having trouble with this area, go back and listen to the podcast with Nathan Miller, Marketing and Private Practice, and we talked about that and the importance of using blimps in your advertising.
CHRIS COX: Yes, blimps are very important. So with that flow, it’s really about marketing and getting people attracted into your business. And that can be anywhere from the blimps, to grassroots marketing, to the referral base that you can set up with your patients, your happy patients.
RILEY BASS: So you’ve got these patients coming in the door. And the next one is opportunities. So what is an opportunity?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, so an opportunity is a patient who has an aidable hearing loss. So you’ve done the HAE, or Hearing Aid Evaluation. You determined that they will see a benefit from purchasing hearing aids. And that would be the determining factor as to whether or not their an opportunity or not.
RILEY BASS: Right, so if a patient comes in, and they have normal hearing, they’re not considered to be an opportunity.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yep, correct.
RILEY BASS: So conversion rate.
TRAVIS UNRUH: So conversion rate is measuring whether or not that opportunity– so we’ve determined that they do have an aidable hearing loss. Did they or did they not purchase a hearing aid? And I like to see that one step further and not just look at whether or not they purchased a hearing aid or not, and look at how many hearing aids did they purchase? And so as audiologists–
RILEY BASS: Seven.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Probably shouldn’t purchase seven. Or you can purchase seven, Riley.
RILEY BASS: One for each day of the week.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah and your seven ears, which you should probably get checked out.
CHRIS COX: I thought we had determined that there’s two earlier.
RILEY BASS: Oh yeah. You can’t keep making stuff up, Travis. You’re supposed to be helping not making things worse.
TRAVIS UNRUH: You started by saying there were seven. You’re the doctor, and I’m following your lead.
RILEY BASS: I just said I was going to buy seven hearing aids. I didn’t say I had seven ears.
TRAVIS UNRUH: But yeah, so rather than just looking at whether or not they purchased a hearing aid, looking at whether or not they purchased two hearing aids if they have to aidable ears. And, as you guys know, that’s really measuring your effectiveness as a provider. Are you truly helping your patient hear the best that they can hear by providing them the accurate level of technology.
CHRIS COX: If they’re binaural hearing, and making sure that if there’s two aidable ears, why are they leaving with just one? Did they convince you that they only need one? Or were you able to show them the value of having hearing with both ears?
RILEY BASS: Right and that last podcast, we talked about providing that remarkable patient experience every time and really establishing that trust. And that’s really going to help you in that conversion rate area. Because the more patients trust you and they know that you are looking out for their best interest, and you’re not just in it for a sale and just to get the money, that you’re in it to help them and to really improve their quality of life, they are going to be more likely to move forward with technology if they have that trusted relationship with you that we talked about.
CHRIS COX: Sure.
RILEY BASS: Last, but not least, average selling price.
TRAVIS UNRUH: So average selling price, ASP, one, it’s your financial engine, right? That’s the actual money coming into your business. But it also really helps you measure the level of technology that you’re fitting your patients with. Are you fitting them all with the bottom of the line, level one technology? Or are they walking out with the top of the line technology, truly impacting their lives in a better way?
RILEY BASS: Obviously not everybody’s going to fall into each category. But I think really taking the time to figure out the needs of your patient, and their lifestyle, and what’s going to be the most appropriate for their hearing loss is what’s really important. And sometimes we get that scared feeling where we’re afraid to ask for that investment from our patients. And we automatically just lower our expectations and lower our level of technology that we’re recommending, because we’re scared they’re going to say no to something higher.
But you never know what a patient– what means they have. You never know what they think. You never know what’s important to them. So being really confident in your recommendation and knowing that you are going to provide the best level of care and technology for them is what is really important in this case.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, they really want to know that you’re there to take care of them and help them. So looking at these four KPIs and knowing that there are others out there, how do we know if we’re doing OK or not with these? Like what are some ways we can tell if we have good conversion rate or a good amount of opportunities coming in?
TRAVIS UNRUH: There’s a few things you can look at. The first, thought, is really understanding what you need to achieve in your business. So if you know that you need to generate $500,000 in order to keep the lights on, to pay your staff, to pay utilities, and everything else that is involved in running a business, and you’ve been tracking your key performance indicators, you can then look back and say, hey, I’ve seen plenty of patients. I can’t actually feasibly see another patient in the month, because I’m so built out. Most of them are walking away having purchased two hearing aids. But then I see that my average selling price isn’t where I need it to be. It’s very low. Then that’s what I need to focus on to continue to improve it.
So really the targets there depend on your individual business goals. But having a good strong balance within each of those key performance indicators is what’s going to help you set up your business apart from the competition and help you to achieve success and meet your goals.
CHRIS COX: I’ve heard some of these KPIs being called levers. Like looking at the different KPIs even beyond these four, there are different levers that you can adjust according to whatever your goals are. And maybe a little adjustment over here and a little adjustment over here can be a huge boost to reaching those goals in the practice.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean a big one, one that I constantly talk about as being levers are opportunities and conversion or flow are conversion. If you are packed in your schedule with patients, but you’re not turning those into hearing aid sales, and your concern is increasing revenue, you still have to pay the bills.
But you can’t see more patients without cutting down on that patient interaction, on truly helping them hear better and not just having them come in, sit down for 20 minutes, and shoot them right back out the door. It’s not going to be in your benefit to pull on the flow lever. It doesn’t make sense to continue to add patients to increase your revenue when those patients aren’t turning into patients that are then helped.
So we need to pull on the right lever, which is conversion. And so we can be very intentional with what we’re doing as opposed to spending more money on marketing, on bringing more patients into the door, and just having more patients who are disappointed, and walking away without getting the help that they truly need.
CHRIS COX: Yeah, that’s huge. And that can really help with your understanding of how the business is working and how it can be improved.
RILEY BASS: We talk about all these KPIs, and this is great information. But how do you actually keep track of these things?
TRAVIS UNRUH: That’s a great question, I think the easiest way to do this as you are starting out is in Excel.
CHRIS COX: Mmm, Excel.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, Excel, very simple. You can add your own equations. You can add and remove key performance indicators as you see fit and as you need to. And it’s relatively inexpensive. You don’t have to pay for a super expensive platform that’s going to help you keep track of these things. It may require a little bit more of your time and effort up front. But you can certainly track each and every one of these key performance indicators inside of Excel and truly understand where gaps may exist and where you’re really excelling.
CHRIS COX: So if you’re looking to track these things, would you recommend doing it by day, by week, by month?
TRAVIS UNRUH: So I would recommend that you’re tracking on a daily basis. But as you’re looking at the data, you should be looking at a larger chunk of time. So rather than just looking at your results for yesterday, you’re going to want to look at how you did last month, or last quarter, even last year, so you can really see a trend as opposed to just seeing the peaks and valleys that are going to exist on a daily basis.
But that’s not to say that you don’t look at it on a daily basis. Because you want to know, again going back to that law of the scoreboard, exactly where you are on a regular basis in order to make the right tweaks and pull on the right levers to continue to elevate your business.
RILEY BASS: So if you get halfway through the month and you’re saying, I’m really low. What can I do? I don’t have enough opportunities on the rest of my calendar. Maybe calling some of those patients in your database, those four, four plus users that are ready for an upgrade, or maybe do some kind of little marketing campaign to drive some business in.
So you can look at each different aspect of it and see where you need to make some changes and tweaks and really hit your goals every month.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, absolutely.
CHRIS COX: So for our externs out there, should they be tracking their KPIs as well?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Absolutely, whether that’s for the business’ impact or for their own personal impact and understanding what their gaps are as they’re working to continue to improve as professionals out in the field of audiology, knowing where you stand is incredibly important.
And if you know where you are within each of these KPIs, you can continue to improve on the areas that you need to improve on as opposed to spending your time and energy on something that may not have the most personal impact for you as you’re working to grow.[THEME MUSIC]
CHRIS COX: Well in summary, we learned a little bit about what operations are and the importance of tracking. We learned about KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, and then which ones specifically we can focus on as audiologists in a business. I’d like to thank our guest, Travis Unruh, for coming and hanging out with us today. We’re excited that you were able to have some time to talk with our audience.
RILEY BASS: Can people, or student listeners contact you with questions?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, please do.
RILEY BASS: What’s the best way to get a hold of you?
TRAVIS UNRUH: Email is probably the quickest and easiest way to get in contact with me. My email address is T-U-N-R-U-H at AudigyGroup.com.
RILEY BASS: Thank you for spelling that out for us. You can find his contact information. We will make sure that we get it on the descriptor for this podcast. And we’ll probably put a picture on the Instagram and Twitter on the day that this podcast releases so that you can see it.
CHRIS COX: Just don’t ask him about his ex anymore.
TRAVIS UNRUH: Yeah, it’s awkward.
RILEY BASS: It’s a bullseye right to the heart.
TRAVIS UNRUH: That’s the best joke you’ve ever pulled.
CHRIS COX: Bullseye, get it?
RILEY BASS: As always, thank you guys for listening. You can always find us on Twitter @rileyb659–
CHRIS COX: –and @coxchriscox, and @the_pAuDcast. Make sure to follow us, subscribe on iTunes, like us, tell your friends, leave us feedback. And if you have any questions, concerns, you want to know more about the books we talk about or the topics, please contact us, because we like talking to you guys. Thanks, guys.
CHRIS COX: Thanks again. Bye-bye.