2017 HearBuy Conference: A preview

Buying group

Rope fight
© DragonImages - iStock

The 2017 HearBuy conference will take place at the Forest of Arden hotel near Birmingham on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September. This will be the first congress without Ian Goodfellow, co-founder of HearBuy, who sadly passed away in January this year. Audio Infos spoke to HearBuy owner, Ian Arnold, to see how things are going without his best friend and business partner and what conference delegates can expect at the annual event.

Audio Infos: The 2017 HearBuy conference is fast approaching. How is the planning progressing?

Ian Arnold: I guess we are 90% there on delivering our most fun and entertaining conference ever, we just have to finish the copy for the conference programs and I have just one space for a speaker, but we have a spoilt for choice short list to consult. [The final speaker has since been confirmed as Kevin Byrne -picture below- founder of Checkatrade.com]

Kevin Byrne, Checkatrade.com
© K.B.

AI: Is there a theme for this year’s conference?

IA : Our theme consistently revolves around anything and everything that can possibly help our members grow their businesses profitability along with their personal brand identity in a confusing market place where hearing aid brands have become more important than the Independent Hearing Professional (IHP) providing the clinical services and aftercare. The central theme as always is business development.

AI: Who have you booked as keynote speakers?

IA: This year will be our best and most entertaining ever, I am already worried how our 2018 conference will surpass this year’s event! Our headline keynote speaker is international celebrity Ben Cohen MBE. Ben is an England Rugby World Cup champion, and second in all-time try scoring for his country. In May 2011, he retired at the top of his game to found the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. Most people do not know that Ben is deaf and his poor hearing was often taken for arrogance, on and off the pitch.

We will also be learning how to be brilliant with Andy Cope (picture below) and Andy Whittaker who deliver thought provoking and fun presentations about the art of being brilliant and positive. There will be no ‘moodhoovers’ at HearBuy!

Andy Cope
© Karina Lyburn

AI: What can delegates expect across the two days?

IA: Each year is a challenge to keep delivering entertaining and fun programs. We like to mix presentations that are fun with those can really fuel an independent’s will to keep things fresh. At each conference, we like to provide many take-home messages and learnings that can be quickly used to benefit profitability and growth and provide more happy outcomes for our patients. This year will be inspirational whilst being a damn good laugh.

AI: What do you hope to achieve at conference?

IA: Provide more learning and the most fun an independent audiologist can have with their clothes on! Seriously, we all work hard and I think our guests, members and friends deserve a good time when they take valuable time out of their practices and spend time away from their families to attend events. We would also like our delegates to make new friends and network in a relaxed and comfortable environment amongst solely independent hearing professionals; people just like them. People facing the same challenges of being outstanding clinicians but also having to be dynamic business people.

AI: HearBuy is renowned for its conference dinner entertainment, what and who do you have lined up this year?

IA: Ben Cohen again and ‘Just Ben’ (www.justben.co.uk) a local musician and performer that Jamie Bryan our marketing manager discovered and realised he would be perfect for our event. We also have a charity auction and two roulette tables and a black jack table with prizes to be won for the best performing gambler. We will be raising money for two charities, The Ben Cohen stand Up Foundation and Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

AI: Is the golf day still on the day before conference and how can people join in?

IA: Yes, the golf day is teeing off as usual on Thursday 28th of September. My colleague Alan Clark will be helping out during the day as sadly Ian Goodfellow will not be on hand to keep an eye on the bar tab during the day. Alan, I am sure, will step up to the task. We will have a special competition and trophy as a tribute to late Mr G. Please contact: elaine@hearbuy.co.uk or phone (+44) 0115 9651821 to book a place.

AI: This will be your first HearBuy conference without your co-founder and good friend, Ian Goodfellow, how has that affected the planning and the event itself?

IA: It’s been a tough one. With Ian’s illness progressively worsening he contributed less and less over the recent years. He always found the energy to organise and shepherd the golf teams. Last year was really difficult and being on his feet for long periods finished him off for a good week after the event. We normally have a list of prospective delegates that we all divide up and phone to round up the last-minute bookings. I will do Ian’s list this year, so be warned.

AI: It has been six months since Ian passed away; how are you and the HearBuy team coping without him?

IA: That’s another tough one Vic. He was a lifelong friend of mine from the age of 14, big brother who always got me into trouble in many foreign climes in the best taste… hmmm. He was always on hand to bounce things off and give his honest, straightforward opinion. We all miss him but life must go on, we must keep our chins up. We are looking for ways of remembering Ian G with the golf awards and a couple of other ideas that may be ready for the conference. He will not be forgotten. We are coping because you just have to, we are a strong management team and luckily we still keep inventing new ways of supporting our members’ businesses in the face of untold competition and retail price pressures.

AI: What can we expect after conference for HearBuy and its members?

IA: We are launching some innovative ideas to support our members in 2018, they will have a hand in helping shape the future of the independent sector. We have listened all year to members comments about the strengths and weaknesses and challenges that an IHP faces daily and we have solutions to the most commonly reported frustrations. The solutions are guaranteed to increase profits, increase visibility and safeguard an IHP’s business and their personal brand - sounds impossible but we have some great solutions. We will reveal some of our solutions on Friday and more on the Saturday morning. The Saturday morning will be fun with a late start, ideal for those of us in need of our beauty sleep. We face a daily challenge of keeping their personal brand foremost in today’s national hearing aid brand led advertising campaigns, we have solutions that will keep their name and brand on top.

AI: How can people book to attend conference?

IA: The easiest way is by booking on line at: www.hearbuynet.co.uk/booking2017/, if you need help and are scratching your head contact: elaine@hearbuy.co.uk or phone (+44) 0115 9651821. Anyone attending will be involved in a survey that will help shape their future?

Venue for the 2017 HearBuy Conference
HearBuy: Business Development for the Independent Hearing Professional. The event of the group is going to take place at the Forest of Arden hotel near Birmingham © HearBuy

HearBuy – together in independence

HearBuy was launched in 2002 to help support independent audiologists compete against high street chains. The organisation changed how manufacturers offered discounts to independents, allowing them to purchase discounted hearing aids from any of the major manufacturers. This allows HearBuy members the flexibility to deal with all brands, without limiting themselves by committing to one particular manufacturers products. Discounts alone will not help a business grow and this is why HearBuy offers its members many other beneficial services such as marketing and IT support.

More information here.

Victoria Adshead, editor in chief of Audio Infos United Kingdom