Luke Kowalski is Specsavers Audiology’s newest joint venture partner, operating out of our Toronto, Morisset and Glendale stores in New South Wales. A hearing aid wearer himself, we spoke to Luke about his experiences on the other side of the clinician’s table, why he was inspired to become an audiologist and what he hopes to achieve with Specsavers Audiology.
1. Why is a JVP with Specsavers a good model for audiology?
A JVP with Specsavers is a good model for audiology because you can act as an independent audiologist but have the backing and support of a large company.
Also, you can be part of a change – you can offer hearing aids that people have been buying for years at less than half the price. That, to me, is awesome.
2. Tell us a bit about your background.
Prior to joining Specsavers I built my career at one of the larger national providers and most recently, I was employed as a cluster manager there. My role was to manage about a dozen stores throughout New South Wales around the Newcastle / Hunter region.
In 2014 I received the Outstanding Practitioner Award and in the same year my clinic team won the highest recognition for excellence in store performance from the group.
3. Thinking about previous roles and years in the industry as a backdrop, what prompted you to join Specsavers?
Essentially, I wasn’t comfortable with the way the industry was going. I felt there was a greater focus on dollars than on clients.
When speaking to Specsavers, I found they were focused on giving audiology back to the customer. Every conversation I had reiterated a focus on customer service.
I’d always wanted to start my own business since finishing uni but with young children I’ve never had the opportunity. The Specsavers model allows me to open my own business and be supported in the back-end so I can continue spending time with my family.
Plus – the way I see it – in five to 10 years, Specsavers will be a major player in our industry. I’ve joined now because I don’t want to miss the revolution, I want to be a part of it. I’m excited!
4. Having joined, can you describe your thoughts about Specsavers Audiology and the role the group will play in the industry?
As a hearing aid wearer myself I’ve always been around audiology. Growing up, I never felt like my needs were fully addressed when I visited the audiologist.
I didn’t like wearing hearing aids and not wearing them limited my ability to do anything that involved communication. This eventually lead to me dropping out of high school. In my late teens I started to use my hearing aids and I had a lot of concerns around the quality of the products and the service of the audiologists. I would see different people every time, I felt like my legitimate concerns were dismissed or addressed too quickly and people didn’t seem to care.
I was frustrated and decided if anything was to change I needed to change it myself.
I completed the rest of my high school studies, got into university and studied speech and hearing study and then my masters of audiology.
For me, Specsavers will play an important role in the industry once people start to understand they can get hearing aids at much cheaper prices. Eventually, others will have to follow suit if they want to compete.
I see Specsavers as leading the big changes in the industry over the next few years.
5. What is Specsavers Audiology’s approach to professionalism and clinical practice?
From what I’ve seen so far, the whole focus is on customers, with profit and making money a by-product of that focus.
In terms of clinical independence, Specsavers Audiology has a refreshing approach to not setting product-related KPIs. The structure of the business seems to be much more customer-focused which is really positive. It just feels like a positive environment and the support team are great. Everyone wants what’s best for you.
6. What would you say to audiology professionals considering a JVP with Specsavers?
I’d tell them to go ahead and do it. It’s an awesome opportunity, you get to take control of your career and hopefully you can influence the industry for the good.