As I write this, we’ve just finished our move into the new St. Cloud location. The front office, testing rooms, fitting rooms, lab, break room, and bathrooms have all been organized… and my office is chaos. As I look through the window to my partner’s office, I see that it looks the same. And though there is still work to be done, I can’t seem to get moving on it. Instead, I’m reflecting on where we started…and how in the world did we get here?
For those of you who are maybe new to Amdahl Hearing, or simply don’t know, I’ll take you back with me. Because while we as an organization grow, some things never change…
Dr. Fleck and I had the idea for an office as far back as maybe 2003. At the time we were both working for the same hearing aid manufacturer, she in Government Services and I in Education and Training. Our conversations often centered around the industry and what we thought we could do if we were to ever open a practice. We were concerned because even though the quality of the technology was getting better all the time, patient satisfaction levels were not going up, and market penetration had become stagnant. What we were seeing was the number of people who needed help exponentially…but were not getting the help they needed.
Those conversations grew more and frequent and more intense until we finally decided it was time to put up or shut up. Dr. Fleck opened the first office in St. Cloud in a small office in Roosevelt office park with only the barest of necessities, but with one goal. To provide a level of expertise and care that had not been seen in our industry. To provide satisfaction at a level that would get the attention of the masses and help us to show that there is help available to those who need it. And to show what excellent technology in the hands of expert professionals could do.
At first we had zero patients. We had zero appointments. The “office phone” was Erica’s personal cell phone. But the phone rang. And people came in. They told us of their fears and frustrations. We listened. And we did the very best we could…
We were successful to the point that Dr. Fleck could no longer answer the phone and have the time to see patients. Then we ran out of space and moved to our 2nd Street location in St. Cloud where we eased into a space that we “should never grow out of” as it was more than twice the size of our original location. And still more people came in. And we listened. And we heard their fears and frustrations. And we told them what the technology could do. And we did the very best we could.
And that office grew. Grew to the point where we needed two Audiologists. And then three Audiologists. And we needed two Front Office Staff answering the phone. And another Front Office Staff to confirm appointments. And then we also needed an Insurance Specialist. And again we found ourselves out of room in the office that “we should never grow out of.”
Which brings us back to me. Surrounded by things that need to be put away. In an office twice the size of the one “we should never grow out of.” And the only feeling I have is that of gratitude. Because we were told that “you can’t open an office from scratch in St. Cloud, MN.” And we were told by a local hearing professional that “we wouldn’t last the first year.”
We are so grateful to the people of St. Cloud. For giving us a chance. For trusting us. and for telling your friends about us. We are grateful to the local physicians for referring their patients to us. And we are grateful that the phone continues to ring, and that you continue to come in. And that you tell us about your fears and your frustrations. And you give us a chance to listen. And that you give us the chance to do the very best we can.
Kevin and Erica