Sound Advice Hearing Solutions | Hearing Center Interview
Audrey Hawley was so interested by a new hearing device she was hired to market, she went home and told her husband all about it. Before long, the husband and wife team moved their family from Connecticut to Florida and changed career paths from marketing to hearing healthcare.
“It’s one of those moments when you come to a path and you can take the fork – or not,” she said. “All the signs were pointing for us to do this.”
Hawley (H.A.S, BC-HIS) and her husband, Don (H.A.S., MS-Eng, BC-HIS), received certifications and became state licensed together, then purchased an existing practice. Megan Webb, H.A.S., joined the Sound Advice Solutions team in 2008. “We definitely went all in,” Hawley said with a laugh.
As a former marketing professional, Hawley knows the importance of providing a great customer experience.
“We learned early on that coming into a hearing center is not something people are excited about,” she said. “There’s a lot of anxiety and reservation. We try to take that away and give people a stellar experience in every way imaginable. We refer to ourselves as the Nordstrom’s of hearing care.”
That experience includes a spa-like atmosphere with large, aromatic sound suites that can accommodate the entire family. Patients can demo hearing devices and a company Foundation helps fund hearing devices for people who can’t afford them. Sound Advice Hearing Solutions celebrates its 40 year anniversary in the St. Petersburg community this year; the Largo office is three years old.
Hawley, who has been in hearing healthcare for 9 years now, said her favorite part of the profession is the ability to change people’s lives. “Seeing a first time user leave the office with a different demeanor after the struggles they’ve gone through and the years they’ve put off getting help is the best,” she said. “They’re smiling and laughing, their shoulder’s are back – that’s the part that’s the best.”
Recently, Hawley found her “new favorite customer." “He’s 100 years old,” she said, “and lives in a retirement community. He wasn’t participating in the men’s coffee social that meets in the lobby every morning because he couldn’t follow the conversation with the hearing aids he was wearing. He was thrilled when I fit him with new hearing aids. He wanted to participate, he just needed some new hearing aids with better technology.”
Hawley said one of the most challenging aspects of her profession is the number of people who put off seeking treatment for hearing loss. “People flat out wait too long,” she said. “The brain has trouble acclimating the longer they wait.”
Sound Advice Hearing Solutions hopes to change that behavior in St. Petersburg with community outreach. Sound Advice Hearing is the official hearing care providers for the Florida Orchestra members, providing hearing protection for its members and distributes “goodie bags” filled with hearing healthcare information to senior citizens at their concerts several times a year.
“Hearing healthcare awareness comes from us sponsoring their concerts,” she said. “We want the community to know that we are fitting the orchestra members with hearing protection because they are at such high risk from the decibels they are exposed to. Hopefully, they educate themselves a little bit form the literature we supply and come to see us if they feel they have the need.”