Tom Contento believes one of the reasons patients come back to Contentment Hearing Care is because they know he tells it like it is.
“I’m a firm believer that ‘when you want to help someone, you tell them the truth’,” he said, quoting economist Thomas Sowell. “’When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.’“
Contento began selling hearing aids 26 years ago after answering an ad in the newspaper. “It was a very challenging career, but it became my life’s work. It got into my blood.”
He and his wife, Shelly, opened the hearing center in their home town of Titusville seven years ago to give residents a home-town business which looks after their needs.
“We try to run this business more out of care for each individual than for the almighty dollar,” he explained. “I’m more interested in what’s best for the individual sitting in front of me rather than whether they’re buying something or not.”
One of the challenges the Contentos face is “trying to make people understand buying hearing aids isn’t like buying a toaster oven at WalMart. Cheaper isn’t always better,” he said. “The average person thinks you can let your hearing go for 30 years, then spend $100 and be back to how you could hear when you were 20.”
Contento said he enjoys the feeling he receives after one of his clients tells him how incredible it is to hear the world again. “It makes you feel good that you’ve positively affected someone’s life.”
One of his favorite success stories involves a frail, older lady in her mid-80s who uses a walker and couldn’t hear with the old hearing aids she was using. ”She’s been coming to see me for a year or two and always complains she doesn’t have any money,” he explained. “She finally came into a little bit of money and decided to do something for herself. Two weeks ago, I delivered her a new pair of Oticon Nera hearing aids. Today she is a completely different person -- smiling, laughing, happy as can be. She said ‘Now I know what it’s like to be able to hear. I’ve never been happier. I wish I had done this much earlier.’”
The Oticon Nera is a mid-level hearing solution with integrated directional microphones and whistling and feedback prevention functions. The new platform is more affordable for budget-conscious patients.
Contento said digital sound processors are the most significant change in hearing technology he’s seen since he joined the field. “Before 2001, all our hearing aids were analogs,” he said, “and you wondered how you were going to be able to sleep at night selling them. Oticon has developed the notion that people with hearing loss is not all the same. That has been a marvelous leap in helping people get a more custom fit.”