Reaching the Next Generation

Randy Schoenborn owns and operates more than 50 NewSound Hearing Aid Centers in Texas, having grown the business from three locations in 2002. Formerly, Schoenborn spent 19 years with Starkey Hearing Technologies in a variety of roles including hearing aid technician, sales representative, regional manager, national sales managers and facilities general manager. He has also served on the Board of the Texas Hearing Aid Association and Hearing Health International Institute and is a current Starkey Hearing Foundation board member.

“The next generation of patients doesn’t want hearing aids,” Randy Schoenborn, owner of NewSound Hearing Aid Centers said. “They want better hearing."

But more often than not, better hearing is a direct result of hearing aids, no matter how much we may not want to wear them. Once hearing loss begins, there is no turning back the clock. Hearing loss is irreversible, but hearing aids allow users to get back much of the hearing they lost and have an easier time listening, socializing and communicating. And thanks to today’s technology, hearing aids can be completely invisible, controlled through smartphones and Apple Watch™, and even provide entertainment value by directly streaming videos, calls, music and other media.  

The next generation Schoenborn refers to those born between 1946 and 1964, otherwise known as the baby boomers. As of 2015, these baby boomers fall between 51- and 69-years-old. And according to Sergei, Kochkin, Ph.D., “The average age of first-time hearing aid wearers is close to 70 years of age, despite the fact that the majority (65 percent) of people with hearing loss are below the age of 65; and nearly half of all people with hearing loss are below the age of 55.” 

Schoenborn reached out to baby boomers on the street and spoke to random pedestrians in their 50s about what they would do if they needed hearing aids.  

  • “I don’t know?"
  • “Maybe Google?"
  • “The doctor, I guess?"

What Schoenborn found was that there is not a lot of education regarding where and how to actually get better hearing. For a generation that is technologically advanced, not likely to retire by 65 and enters a situation only after doing thorough research, it is important to be open and clear about how better hearing is truly achieved. Google gives everyone the opportunity to become an amateur on any topic they desire, so unlike the generation before, baby boomers will come equipped with questions and know almost as much about the types, brands, features and technology as anyone in an audiology office. 

Better hearing can come in two forms when hearing aids are involved: hearing aids as a commodity and hearing aids that come with a service package. Schoenborn uses the “apples and oranges” metaphor. 

“When patients know the difference, they will opt for the wonderful world of oranges every time,” he said. “Selling oranges demands we provide high-touch services such as experiential diagnostics, ongoing patient education, dynamic demonstrations, custom-fit solutions and more.” “Oranges,” Schoenborn said, “should give the patient his or her very own web page where they can do aural rehabilitation exercises and easily schedule follow-up visits, routine wax removal, annual hearing retests, speech in noise testing, live speech mapping and in-person visits and verification several times a year.”  

People don’t realize the amount of maintenance and care hearing aids require, he said, so providing them with a package deal that gives them better hearing and services ongoing versus just a better hearing product will provide the best value possible. “If the patient bought apples [only the hearing aid], they must now be told they bought no service, and there will now be a fee for each office visit,” Schoenborn said. No one wants to buy a product and then pay extra fees every time something breaks, doesn’t work or needs to be updated. Buying a hearing aid is similar to buying a car. You wouldn’t buy a new car without a warranty or service package, because then you’re not getting the best deal. 

Better hearing means getting a package service that includes the care offered by a hearing professional. The upcoming generations want more, and as baby boomers are now entering the age range where hearing loss becomes a primary issue, it’s important that they know where and how to get better hearing. 

Where to get better hearing? Click here to find out. (Links to find a hearing professional)

What gives you better hearing? Click here to learn more. (Links to hearing aids)

What does better hearing give you? Click here for an example.  (Links to a story about someone with hearing aids)

No one wants hearing aids, but if they give you better hearing and no one can see them, well why not?

By Starkey Hearing