Improving the health, wealth, and happiness of hearcare professionals

Improving the health, wealth, and happiness of hearcare professionals

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Welcome to Audiology Business Central

There is no hiding from it, the UK Audiology market is changing fast. New technology, cost pressures on the delivery of NHS hearing services and the entrance of significant new operators - with amazing marketing skills and massive expansion plans - mean that the UK audiology sector is in a massive state of flux.

Armed with the right knowledge and advice, we can assist in ensuring you thrive in this ever-changing market, providing a range of services for all audiology professionals.

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Is your current business model strong enough to survive and thrive in the face of the disruptors?

Is your current business model strong enough to survive and thrive in the face of the disruptors?

In a fast-changing world – irrespective of whether you are positioning for an exit, or still have decades ahead of you at the helm – standing still is not an option for most practice owners.

In this, the first of a series of 3 articles, hearing business experts at Audiology Business Central look at the combination of emerging disrupters in the hearing market that look set to radically challenge:

  • How and by whom audiology is delivered across the UK’s private sector
  • The conversion rates and average spend per customer for many existing operators
  • The way new patients are acquired

 

Disruptors from other parallel vertical markets

Owners of independent optical businesses are getting better at leveraging their existing patient relationships and delivering profitable audiology.  Of particular note [in terms of market penetration], specialist high-end hearcare clinic partnerships are now thriving within the optical sector.  This means  many who would traditionally have become new patients for specialist independent audiology practices no longer need to set foot outside their optician’s.

Covid brought a significant uptick in the level of mergers and acquisitions within the optical sector, and we are starting to see opticians targeting audiology practices in the same way.  If you have not already had one, expect an approach from one of these companies seeking to explore the possibility of buying your business and assimilating it.  Some may well be genuine, others may be purely market research exercises benefitting only their own ends.

 

 

Disruptors from within the hearing market

The spate of consolidations in recent years between hearing aid manufacturers has inevitably reduced choice for independents.  It has also spawned the growth of audiology groups owned by the manufacturers – Boots, Hidden Hearing, Bloom – against whom independent practices compete on a daily basis.  And now we are starting to witness the advent of other smaller specialist players, also funded by the manufacturers, with hybrid models growing organically or by acquisition.  The space for independent practices is becoming squeezed and risks further erosion through preferential pricing and business terms from the manufacturers towards the businesses in which they have a vested interest.

 

 

Economic Disruptors 

Whilst no one can call the timing precisely, the graph above illustrates the entirely predictable pattern of boom and bust that dominates the long-term economic cycle. Few would dispute that right now many of the dials on the dashboard of the UK’s economy are flashing red – inflation is rampant and interest rates are on the rise. These can sometimes seem quite abstract, so just how do they bring disruption to your business?

 

Inflation feeds into higher operating costs.  This means that practice owners will probably have to contend with higher bills across the board, from light and heat through to rent, staff and product costs. Will they be able to pass on the rising costs to their customers and retain profit margins?

Interest rates – loans from manufacturers typically operate on extremely favourable terms, far removed from bank loans – but despite this – or even if your business is debt free – this does not necessarily make your enterprise immune from the effects of higher interest rates.

 

Disruptors from digital delivery

When was the last time you were able to see your GP in the flesh? Covid demonstrated just how quickly delivery of healthcare can change. The unthinkable happened and telemedicine is now mainstream.  For obvious reasons tele-medicine does not pose a direct threat to hearing services, but there is another disruptor lurking on the fringes.

Over-The-Counter [OTC] Hearing Aids – with the US leading the way by creating a category of hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss – will disrupt customer buying patterns which will transition to online and OTC purchasing.

Customers may choose to ‘fit’ the products themselves, controlling and adjusting the devices through improved app technologies. OTC products will inevitably find their way into the UK market, challenging pricing and disrupting the acquisition of first-time hearing aid users by the independent audiologist.

Less imminent, but certainly plausible is the possible entry into the space by one of the global tech giants – what if Apple, Google or Samsung decide to leverage their technological prowess and replace mobile handsets with in-ear “communication devices” which interface with the visible functionality of an Apple or Google watch? Technology upgrades or enhancements would be offered through highly effective online subscription-based business models, allowing upgrading and reprogramming of hearing aids on demand.

 

Microsuction / Wax removal trends

The influx of new wax customers to independent audiology businesses has had a significant positive impact on income generation. With potentially attractive returns, supported by low barriers to entry (short training periods and low cost of equipment), numerous new entrants have been enticed to set up unregulated ‘boutique’ microsuction stores in direct competition to independent audiologists.

On the plus side, if considering opening another branch, earwax removal can hugely improve cash flow and allow you to break even far sooner than core testing and dispensing services.  But more competition may reduce volume and put pressure on margins.

 

Profit Disrupters

Even if your business model is largely unaffected by all these and other disruptors, your tax bill is likely to be going up.

From March 31, 2023 the current corporation tax rate of 19% will increase to 25% for profits over £50,000.

 

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom if your business is resilient and you have a strategic plan to face these inevitable challenges head on.

In the next article, Audiology Business Central will look at your options to differentiate yourself from the herd and carve out a unique offering that flies in the face of, or even harnesses, the threat of these disrupters.

Audiology Businesses For Sale: Latest Listings

Audiology Businesses For Sale: Latest Listings

Here are some of the audiology practices we currently have listed for sale.

Click here to see our full portfolio of audiology businesses for sale

 

Home Counties: Asking price  – £450,000

A profitable family-run independent hearing practice, well managed by its owners and boasting great potential to grow its revenue through the input of a new owner.

Northern Ireland: Asking price  – £140,000

This is a superb opportunity to purchase a well-established, independent audiology practice dedicated to serving the local community.

Northwest of England: Asking price – OIEO £750,000

A profitable audiology practice with an extensive reach into the local community, including links into ENT in a number of private hospitals.

South Coast: Asking price – OIEO £450,000

This family-run audiology practice has been the primary provider of hearing aids and wax removal services to this affluent south-coast town for over 3 decades.

South Coast: Asking price offers over £280,000

A profitable family-run independent hearing practice, well managed by its owners and boasting great potential to grow its revenue through the input of a new owner.

 

Please note that confidentiality is of paramount importance to these two practice owners and all parties expressing interest will be subject to an in-depth vetting process for means and suitability before any information will be disclosed.

 

To find out more about this acquisition opportunity, please contact the practice sales team on +44 (0)161 929 8389.

Can’t find an audiology business for sale that meets your requirements?  In order to maintain confidentiality we do not always publicly list all of the audiology practices we have available. Please get in touch to find out more.

Need help to raise finance for your planned audiology practice? please contact a member of our team to find out how we can assist.

 

Click here to see our full portfolio of audiology businesses for sale

Recently Sold – Audiology Business in South England

Recently Sold – Audiology Business in South England

Recently Sold

South England – Turnover > £750k

 

Audiology Business Central was delighted to have supported the owners of this well-established practice in planning and then realising their exit strategy in advance of retirement. The practice went under offer within a couple of months, achieving the full asking price plus which really benefitted the vendors.  The eventual purchaser was well-known to Audiology Business Central and was considered an excellent ‘fit’ for the current owners. By creating a competitive but confidential selling environment, ABC was able to achieve the right price without having to publicly marketing this opportunity. The vendor was adamant about maintaining confidentiality throughout the process and we were able to accommodate the request.

The 5 Megatrends set to shape the future of the independent audiology sector and how to harness them in your practice

The 5 Megatrends set to shape the future of the independent audiology sector and how to harness them in your practice

What are Megatrends and what is their relevance to YOUR practice?

Megatrends are forces that are reshaping the audiology business landscape and the future prospects of independent practice owners in significant ways. The implications of these forces are broad and varied. They present both amazing opportunities that need to be proactively seized with both hands – and extremely dangerous risks and short-term temptations that need to be actively rationalised and mitigated.

It is important to highlight the fact that the UK independent audiology sector is not a single market.  It is a “market of markets”, a sector with substantial regional variations and huge variance in operating models.  Some of the 5 megatrends will be more significant to certain types of practice than others.  At least 1 or 2 of the 5 will be relevant to every practice.

Ultimately, knowledge is power, and this blog is written to help you understand and anticipate these 5 key industry trends – allowing you – where appropriate – to adapt your thinking, planning and business strategy.

Are you listening? Then we’ll begin. 

 

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