It’s hard to believe how fast this year has flown by. We started off the year with a great economy and a trip to Vegas to attend a huge business development conference with Starkey Hearing Technologies and about 8,000 people seeking mind-blowing information about technology to help our patients hear better and ultimately to live better. A 12-hour-a-day conference to stimulate our mind. An experience designed to build motivation. A time to brainstorm with other business owners and professionals about the little details that make them successful. The details that keep them dialed in, that keeps them loving what they do. Conferences are always time for refreshment and attitude adjustment. Everyone needs peers to bounce ideas off of.

With the spring came the mind-blowing, spirit-punching virus ... COVID-19. Businesses closed. People became isolated. People are confused. They don’t know what to believe about the virus, the masks. So everyone, well, most, try to do something to aid in the control of the virus. Business practices abruptly changed to try and adapt to not just ‘stay alive,’ but also to keep their employees gainfully employed.

As a business owner, I can tell you that I had three objectives. Nothing like a pandemic to bring them to the forefront. Every morning we have a staff meeting to go over the day before us (and anything pertinent from the day before). We outlined our plan together:

Objective #1. Our staff of five immediately agreed the only way to take care of patients was to offer “Parking lot service” and “Delivery service.” Remote programming of their hearing instruments and even programming to the parking lot from the office kept patients hearing and connected as much as possible.

Objective #2. Keep everyone on staff, full paychecks if possible. After the first five days when our state got shut down, my employees were glad we were considered essential and that they had somewhere to go everyday. We reached out to other businesses for community help ideas. It has always been my belief that if we take exquisite care of our patients and our community then they will take care of us. Work extra hours. Come in early or work through lunch. Make the extra effort. We have to show accountability. The human spirit just works like that. So, we cleaned and spruced up the office. We updated patient records. We called and checked in with some of our patients who we knew were all by themselves. We came in a little later in the morning and left a little earlier in the evening (mix it up just to relieve everyone’s stress). We worked and took care of everyone. We had many who could not find anyone open. We, as a staff, bonded. We tried to keep our optimistic attitudes.

Objective #3. Survive and thrive. That was the attitude I got from my staff. “We won’t just survive ... we will thrive.”

We set out to achieve these three goals in the midst of a pandemic. It took great cooperation, teamwork and spirit from a hardworking staff that loves making the life of our patients more enjoyable. As a business owner, I firmly believe if you put in the extra effort 100% of the time along with your staff then you have a formula for success. My biggest motto in the office (other than ‘my name is on the door’ ... haha) is “Be a Team Player.” We have a great team. Our office is flourishing and we have lots of laughter bouncing around the rooms.

This week I was surprised, shocked and actually in total awe that I was awarded the 2020 Highlands News-Sun, Sebring Business Woman of the Year. Wow, I have definitely been thinking back about the last 40 years that I have spent helping people to hear better in this community. I think of where we learn the things we learn and how we actually put them into play. From working with my parents, observing my brother with his business negotiations, working with health care organizations, doctors, relationships with patients, and with many different diversified business groups. As we grow, we learn. I feel truly honored and feel so grateful to those who have helped to shape me and our business and blessed to have the hard working and compassionate staff that diligently work along side of me. This business woman has been a work in progress and I am thankful for those who have helped in this journey! To Hear Better Is To Live Better!

Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.