Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Lederman.
Hi Angela, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have been an audiologist for 27 years. In 2018, I opened my own office. I did this because so many places in the area were not providing Best Practices ( a set of Gold standards in audiology/hearing care that basically means using every tool I have available to ensure that hearing aids are fit properly). I rented a room from a local ENT, knowing it was a stepping stone. I outgrew his office much quicker than expected and found my own space in late 2019.
My husband Charlie quit his job and came onboard to be my front desk/office support person, Jan 6, 2021. For 3 months we boomed, then had to close for COVID. It was terrifying not having any finances during this time but we stepped up. When we closed in March, we had 23 sets of hearing aids waiting to be delivered. Charlie mapped it out and in 3 days, we drove over 200 miles, delivering hearing aids to doorsteps (in masks and rubber gloves). People wanted and needed to hear. When we opened back up, we wanted a safe and comfortable place for our patients. Charlie added plexiglass barriers to our offices, installed an automatic door (to limit touch), and devised a very thorough cleaning and sanitation process. We found out right away that masks were detrimental to OUR people, so we started wearing clear communication masks. (see photo) Our patients appreciated this and I even managed to get on Fox 2 Detroit (on their Good News Only segment), sharing how difficult communication was for people with hearing loss. 2020 proved to be a record year for us, and in 2021, our business is growing faster than we could have ever imagined! So much so, that we brought my daughter on fulltime now and am in the process of hiring another support staff member. We thought Charlie would be at the front desk, but with me getting so busy, we quickly got him trained as an audiology assistant and also a hearing aid trainee. Under my supervision, he is seeing patients regularly.
This helps when I am booked out so that if someone has a simple repair or programming need, they do not have to wait 3 weeks to see me. Our patients appreciate the quick service and all are so pleased to see us thriving. They love the idea of it turning into a family business. Our patient referrals are through the roof. As I mentioned at the beginning, most places just ‘sell you a hearing aid’. So if anyone has worn a hearing aid, they are NOT used to the level of care that they receive in our professional state-of-the-art facility. We hear this every single day. We definitely add personal touches to our practice. Every patient gets a handwritten birthday card signed by the whole office. I cannot tell you how many people call to tell us thank you! It’s just another way we value our patients as people. That personal touch is sometimes lost in today’s world. Charlie and I have a huge vegetable garden and bring our goodies in all summer and fall. Some patients will go as far as to call and say they need service, are there any tomatoes in the front lobby? I began my audiology career doing my internship at the Ann Arbor VA and I took care of an elderly vet for quite some time, so my focus/giving back has always been to our veterans.
When I opened the office, one of my secret dreams had been to decorate my office for Veterans. I don’t have that, but we have our Veterans Wall (of which I have enclosed a photo). I work with Macomb County Veterans Assoc and do testing and Nexus letters for the vets to help get benefits and other things they may be entitled to. I ask in return for a photo to add to our wall. This is my wall of pride. My sense of accomplishment and pride grows as that wall grows. Most vets will find a photo of themselves but some don’t. In that case, we bought all the flags and can take a current photo. We currently have 2 Purple Heart recipients on the wall!! SO many people who come in ask what the wall is/significance. Our latest trend is ear cleaning. We use a piece of equipment called the Earigator to flush out ears. A few (younger) colleagues of mine have videos on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, etc. and they have gone viral, one video getting 10million views in 3 days! So this is the ‘procedure du jour’ right now. People see the videos, google ‘ear cleaning near me’ and there they are! We are reaching a whole new demographic that has never happened! Our average patient is in their 60s, but we are now routinely seeing people in their 20s & 30s for ear cleaning. This allows me to get in front of them at an early age and talk about ear health, noise protection, get a baseline hearing test, etc.
We are not just here to sell a hearing aid but to educate the public. My final piece to the puzzle is tinnitus. I have always worked with people who have tinnitus but never doing much more than fitting with hearing aids. This is because tinnitus takes a lot of time, mostly counseling and education. Because there is not much reimbursement to be made in talking, most audiologists do not want to work with people who have tinnitus. I am the opposite. I put tinnitus in the name of my company for a reason: so people would google it and find it. And they do!!! During the pandemic, tinnitus was off the charts (one of the biggest triggers is stress). We have created a very specific tinnitus treatment protocol that no one else is doing. I have 7 different audiologists in the area (friends and colleagues) who will send their challenging cases to me! I also have people traveling from Flint, Frankenmuth and even Toledo to see me for help because they cannot find someone in their area to help them. My 2020 numbers showed a 70% ‘help rate’. My professional goal is to have that number get even better. So I just signed up for an 18 month intensive Tinnitus Certification program to continue to learn and be even better.
Winning the Detroit Free Press Best of the Best is one of my happiest moments. Our office was chosen Best Hearing Aid Center and I won Best Audiologist. The announcement came on the 3rd year anniversary of the creation of my company, April 18, 2018 and 2021.
It’s a whole other story, but NEVER in a million years did I want to be my own boss. I told anyone who would listen NEVER EVER. Through a set of very difficult circumstances, I was put in a position where I basically had no choice. To look back 3.5 years ago and see where I am now, is a source of pride and accomplishment that I cannot even describe. Charlie and I do not consider what we do as WORK or a JOB. It is a PASSION that we look forward to every single day!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was scary to leave a guaranteed paycheck and hope I would be successful. The COVID obstacles, which was our biggest challenge. Other than that, the only problem I have is a good one. We are SO busy, that there are not enough hours in the days to see all the patients I wish I could. We are booked close to 3 weeks out, which is hard for people to wait. My next challenge will be another hire!!
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