Kathleen Stoop is Specsavers Audiology’s 58th partner, operating out our Spearwood and Success stores south of Perth. Kathleen’s Success business also happened to be the 100th store to open in the Specsavers Audiology network when it commenced trading in May this year. Kathleen tells us about her two decades thus far in audiology, what she’s learned as a JVP with Specsavers Audiology and how the business structure has worked for her.
1. Tell us a bit about your background.
Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to work as audiologist across a range of environments in a variety of clinical roles. As an overseas-qualified audiologist, I’ve had the opportunity to work in three countries and to experience audiology service provision across major cities, regional areas and remote locations. I have worked for independent practices, public hospitals, hearing aid manufacturers, vertically integrated clinics and as a clinical educator in university clinics. My areas of special interest include humanitarian audiology, hearing and cognition, tinnitus and auditory processing.
2. Thinking about previous roles and years in the industry as a backdrop, what prompted you to join Specsavers?
If you consider hearing loss from a public health perspective, we have a huge task ahead in terms of public education regarding the long-term consequences of untreated hearing loss, improving accessibility to hearing services and making hearing technology affordable. I think the Specsavers model ticks all three boxes. The hearing industry is ripe for disruption and I think Specsavers is well placed to adapt to a changing profession.
3. Why is a JVP with Specsavers a good model for audiology?
The standout for me as a clinician is that the JVP model allows audiologists to maintain clinical autonomy and business decision-making. I value the opportunity to provide the latest technology and hearing aid styles at affordable prices and I have a range of manufacturers to choose from. As a JVP, I am involved in every part of the audiology business, rather than being a cog in the wheel. In terms of running my business, I have the support of an experienced support team to assist with marketing, training, finance and personal and professional development. The fact that I earn a monthly salary has removed the financial stress of a new business.
4. Having joined, can you describe your thoughts about Specsavers Audiology and if it has met your expectations?
Over the past six months, I have come to understand that much of what I assumed to be true of the traditional audiology service model is incorrect. Customers have opened my eyes to the fact that most people don’t know how to access an audiologist and that attending a convenient clinic location is not as convenient as visiting a local shopping centre.
I have really enjoyed the transparency and affirming company culture. I feel part of the team in store and I thoroughly enjoy working with my optical colleagues.
As audiologists, we are quick to point out that hearing loss is not similar to vision loss, but there are more similarities and overlap between the two senses than one might expect. I love hearing customers ask each other in the waiting area, “Are you here for your ears or eyes?” or saying “I am so glad that I can get my hearing aids here too”.
5. What would you like to achieve with Specsavers Audiology?
My clinical goal with Specsavers Audiology is to reach as many people with hearing loss as possible. My professional goal is to mentor new graduates. My personal goal is to develop my business and leadership skills.
6. What would your advice be to audiology professionals considering a JVP with Specsavers?
Taking the leap to become a JVP feels scary, but the business model is smart and more importantly, it works! Making the transition from a clinical to a retail mindset is challenging and the learning curve is steep, but you don’t have to do it alone! That’s the beauty of the JVP! The past six months have been hard work, but I have grown so much as a person! I love being part of the instore team and I enjoy the fact that all the JVPs support each other and want each other to succeed. It’s fantastic to work with colleagues who are all on your side!