The Kade Wilcox Podcast: Dr. Julie Hubik
Posted By Kade Wilcox | May 11, 2021
Dr. Julie Hubik has small business running through her veins. And not only that, she’s married to an entrepreneur herself.
But even with the odds stacked in her favor, Dr. Hubik understands what it means to adapt, overcome, get lean, and overcome some more with the best of them.
Learn more on this episode of The Kade Wilcox Podcast.
Connect with the folks behind the episode: Dr. Julie Hubik and Kade Wilcox
Kade Wilcox: Hey guys, thanks for tuning into this week's episode of The Kade Wilcox Podcast where I had Dr. Julie Hubik, who's an audiologist and the owner of Cornerstone Audiology here in Lubbock. I have recorded, now probably 60 or 70 total podcasts, and for the very first time I failed to hit “record” until about 10 minutes into the episode. But the rest of the episode, which is about 30 minutes, was so good, I really didn't want to throw it away and start over. And so for the first few minutes, Julie and I simply talked about her entrepreneurial journey where she shared about growing up with entrepreneurial grandparents and her dad was an entrepreneur and a great business person. His name is Johnny. And so she had just got done sharing about how that kind of shaped and influenced her entrepreneurial journey.
Because I'd asked her, "Is this something that you always wanted to be? An entrepreneur? You always wanted to be a business owner?" And she simply just shared that, you know, it's all she knew because she grew up in that type of family. And so it's going to be a little bit of an awkward transition, a hundred percent my fault. I really appreciate Julie being on the podcast. And I can assure you, I am going to not let this happen again. But you learn from your mistakes and you move on. So again, thanks for tuning into this week's episode. Please enjoy my time and my interview with Dr. Julie Hubik of Cornerstone Audiology. Thanks, guys.
Why Wouldn’t I Do That?
Dr. Julie Hubik: I think growing up in an entrepreneurial family, one of the things that really helps you to make that leap is that it's not scary. You know, I mean, even though there are parts of it, if you really stop and think about it, that scares you, the overall thought of it is, of course, why wouldn't I do that for several years?
Kade Wilcox: I did not grow up in an entrepreneurial home. And so it's always really interesting to me, like our mutual friend, Landon Sheets, you know, his dad was an entrepreneur all those years. And so you kind of watched it and observed it. And so I'm always fascinated when that's people's experience. You know, a lot of entrepreneurs are not married to entrepreneurs, right? It's like, there's only enough risk, you know, to go around. And that's certainly the case for me. I mean, Lacey, I think if she weren't married to me would take no risks whatsoever, which I guess is not true because she took a risk marrying me. So I guess it is inherently a risk, but Jacob, your husband, he's also a business owner and an entrepreneur and an idea guy. And so what's that been like for you guys?
Dr. Julie Hubik: You know, I think we're sort of on the spectrum of risk taking. I feel like that we sort of choose where we land based on where that partner is. Maybe Lacey would be a little further over if you weren't so risky over here. I'm pretty risky as an individual, but you put me with Jacob and I'm way back over a little less risky than he is. I mean, I wasn't, I think growing up in an entrepreneurial family, one of the things that really, you know, helps you to make that leap is that it's not scary. You know? I mean, even though there are parts of it, if you really stop and think about it, that scare you, but overall thought of it as, of course, why wouldn't I do that? Like, of course I would do that. And so I think that it kind of takes the fear out of it, but yes, Jacob is an idea guy. He's had lots of great ideas that I have implemented. And no, we have a lot of conversations about it. His favorite phrase that drives me crazy, but I also love is, "Do you just want me to listen or would you like me to solve this?"
Kade Wilcox: Hey, how many years of marriage did it take him to at least ask before he just launched into telling you what to do?
Dr. Julie Hubik: Pretty recent, if I'm honest. Maybe he can say it just a little differently.
Kade Wilcox: That is awesome. That's great. No, that's good. I imagine there's some really exciting conversations. And then there are moments where it's like, okay, I don't want to know what you think, I just wanted to — this is funny. It actually just happened last week. I was traveling. And when I travel, I mean my dream-o meter, cause I don't, I'm just traveling, right? I'm not doing anything. So I'm like, I'm just starting things and doing new things in my head. And I called Lacey and I just rattled off for like 20 minutes, like, “Oh, we'll be 45 when the kids are out of the home and we can do this and we can do that. And we can, you know…” - I just had all these ideas and I mean, she usually is pretty good about listening, but this time she just dismantled me and she's like, “We're not doing any of that. Every time you travel, it's something new.” And I'm like, ”Oh, I just, I just wanted to share my ideas.” And so anyway, it creates plenty of friction in our marriage.
Dr. Julie Hubik: That's funny. It is interesting — Jacob and I've kind of learned that we have to have our own stuff to do, and we appreciate each other's feedback. But for me, I've got to have my own lane to be able to use my gifts and my brain in a way that, you know, it's healthy. It works the best when we can contribute to each other's stuff, but we can also have our separate jobs.
Kade Wilcox: That's good. I like that now. Thanks for sharing about that. Yeah. I think it is unique. I don't know a lot of people that have two entrepreneurs and you, you each fill that role. What's the biggest challenge that you faced, kind of, running your own business? Like, we will get to the good parts here in a moment, but like for you, what have been some of the biggest challenges?
Sometimes You Have to Get Lean
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah. I mean the most recent challenge is COVID, which has been all business owners' challenge. And so I think that the hardest part for that is that, you know, hearing can be sort of an elective procedure in which during COVID people are kind of putting things on the back burner that maybe aren't essential. And so moving forward with new hearing aids or things like that, but we still had to be able to be accessible to people who needed help with their existing hearing aids. So we had to really, you know, do — strategically, scale back expenses and be smart with that, but also to be available for the people who needed our help. But what's been really cool about the other side of that, that we're hopefully kind of crossing into, is just that communication is so important, you know? And when you isolate people for months and months at a time, they start to realize how that is essential, you know? Connecting, you really see the other aspects of their health and their wellness, mental wellness, decline when they're not engaging with others.
And if you can't hear well, you can't engage. And so just being on the other side of that has really been rewarding, but just like anything, you know, it's been fun to, as a business geek, that I love to watch other businesses thrive. It's been fun to watch other people pivot and figure out, you know, things to do. We were doing curbside fittings and, you know, taking hearing aids out and programming them in the parking lot. We even programmed testing people's hearing in our vestibule where we could see them through the door running, you know, a karaoke machine to talk back and forth. Just some real like hustle, ghetto moves. We stole things from other people, like ideas. Ooh, that's a good idea I'm taking that, you know? But, so, those were challenging times and you just have to be prepared as a business owner that you're going to have times like that, whether it's the nation or not, or the world that's involved, you know? You're going to have to, you'll have to go lean occasionally and just be ready to do it.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. That's really good. What elements of the business are you like less intrigued by? So for me, I'm not overly interested, probably because I'm not very good at managing, you know, I'm not a good manager. I'm not. I don't like details. So like I'm not really good at, you know, nuanced financials. Like, I just, I was just wanting someone else to kind of deal with that stuff, you know? So like, what are some of those things for you, being a business owner, being an entrepreneur, what are some of those things that you have to really make yourself focus on? Because it's not really your strength zone or maybe you're good at it, but you're not as interested in it.
You Don’t Have to Love It All
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah. I mean, I think I'm similar in the details. I used to think that I was very detail-oriented, but I'm not any more. I don't know if I ever really was, but I'm definitely not now. I really like the big picture. I like implementing ideas that help patients succeed and also grow the bottom line, you know just profitability. I love revenue ideas. I don't love management, but I love my team and I'm really not at a place right now where I can delegate that. And so I'm trying to do a good job at that, but it isn't as easy for me as I'm not a great teacher either. Just follow me around and see what I do, but I have a hard time. Even this is not real easy for me, putting it into words or how I do it. I'm great at writing it out, but I'm not so good at communicating it verbally. So those things. And the patient cares? I love my patients, but I really like being on the business side of it now. So I haven't been seeing patients in a while, and although I miss parts of that, I really enjoy the big picture parts.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. Thanks for being honest about that. I feel like a lot of business owners feel like they have to be good at everything. And what's really crazy about my own experience, there is the moment I started being really honest about the things I either A) wasn't good at, or B) I just didn't enjoy it. We actually got to be a much better company because we started hiring people who were really good at that and really ran strong in certain lanes.
Dr. Julie HubiK: Yea, I can screw up the payroll in about five minutes. If I get my hand in things like payroll, or putting, you know, data into QuickBooks, it's like, it's going to be a hot mess.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, if our team depended on me to make payroll, we would go a long time without any of us getting paid. What's your favorite part about owning your own business?
Dr. Julie Hubik: I think favorite parts are, you know, just what I talked about earlier. It's the combination of the things that I love that I have. Yea, I think I would enjoy owning any business because I like business in general and revenue and things like that. But just getting to be with the demographic that I love, and audiology that I'm super passionate about, and the business part of it is, it's just, it's a real blessing. I love it.
Kade Wilcox: That's really cool. Yeah, I like that. So I think every business — I think there are business frameworks out there, and I'm sure you can get really complex, but what we've learned over the years is there's kind of really five main things. And I'm a real simpleton, but there's really five main things that we've tried to focus on in terms of I just call it a business framework: vision, operations, finances, sales and marketing, people.
And so I'd love just to dig into a little bit of these areas with you and just like, hear about what your journey has been like and how you've built these things out. So let's start with vision and goal setting. Do you focus on this annually? Do you find yourself just doing it organically when you can kind of fit it in? Do you have a process to vision and business goals? Like what does that look like throughout the years of you owning a business and being a business owner?
You Can Change Your Mind, But Do You See The Next Level?
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah, we've just gone really simple with our vision and our mission and making sure that our team and everyone is aware of what we're trying to do. And then those other things sort of just fit under underneath that. And when you're trying to make decisions on, you know, how that, whether you're going to do something, does it fit into what we're trying to do? And does it kind of take us to the next level? But yeah, I do, we do, as a team, we sit down annually and look at the vision and the goals. We look at the past year, we look to see what we've done, and we look to see where we want to be. And then we try to kind of break that down into smaller pieces to make it more manageable and to give each person tangible things that they can do to contribute to that goal. So we do that annually. We also meet every week. We have a team huddle every Monday morning and we just go over the basics of where we are for the month and where we are for the week. Just kind of a quick touch base. So we do it. But I think about it all the time.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. So that, that's really good. How do you stay on track? Like, I struggle not changing the vision all the time because I, we don't, we've not historically been great at having a real process or a methodology of saying, "Okay, here's our vision. Here's how we're going to monitor it. Here's how we're going to check in on it. Here's how we're going to tweak it and move it forward." It's actually something we're working on right now, but how do you stay the course? How do you establish the vision and goals to stay on course, but then consistently analyze it so you're always optimizing and moving forward? What's that look like for you?
Dr. Julie Hubik: I think the vision doesn't change, you know, for me. If you know what you want to do and you want to do it well, I mean, for us, it's really simple. We just, we want to be the best and most trusted place to get hearing care in West Texas. We want when people think, “I have a hearing loss,” you need to call Cornerstone. Like how do we get the word out and how do we serve enough people and get them to refer their friends and do all of those trickle-out things to where we can hit our financial goals, but not compromise on our competencies and our care for our people and our patients? So, you know, I think as long as your vision is the same, man, I mean, you and I are kind of cut from the same cloth and that our brain is always turning and we're going to something that we think is a brilliant idea today, in three days from now, we're like, that's the dumbest thing I ever thought of. Scratch that, we're doing something different, you know? And my team knows that about me. They know that, you know, just because Julie set it on Monday, doesn't mean by Friday it didn't change. So I think they're just really flexible and adaptable people and they know that we're just trying to get to a certain place, the most efficient way possible. And we might try one road and it might be a bit rocky, so we might pivot and they just have to be kind of flexible with that.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good. Thanks for sharing that. I think that something else about having a clear vision is it kind of buys you grace in those moments. Like, I change my mind a lot, too, or there's something new or whatever. And I find that having an established vision that everyone's rallying around actually buys me a little grace because they know it. I'm not trying to create chaos or I'm not trying to be difficult. It's that I'm simply just trying to be better. We're just simply trying to create avenues to accomplish those goals and objectives. And so having an established vision that everyone understands, at least as a level set on, okay, this is what we're trying to do. Even though sometimes getting there, it can kind of take some left and right turns, you know, surprises.
So have you found your team to - have they been with you a long time?
Dr. Julie Hubik: They have.
Kade Wilcox: Okay, so they've kind of learned your personality, learned the ebbs and flows, and kind of figured out how to work in that context?
Dr. Julie Hubik: They are, "Is this still what we're doing?" "Yes, it is. It is."
Givers vs Takers
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, that's great. What about culture? I mean, we just talked a little bit, you know, you sound like you've had the same team for a while. What have you learned about hiring and building a team culture? You've been at this a while, what are some of the things that really stand out to you related to culture and building a team?
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah. You know, I thought a lot about this question because I'm probably the most — the thing that I'm most proud of is probably my team. They are top notch and I wouldn't survive a day without them. They're the best from support staff to audiologists. And there's only nine of us right now; we're kind of trimmed down. We just have the Lubbock location and a location in Snyder. But it's the same team that's managing both of those. But I thought about it and, you know, Johnny Williams, the school of hard knocks of my father, one of his quotes that he says all the time is that there are givers and takers in the world. And it's so true. But you can look around to your friends and you know which ones are givers and which ones are not.
And so it's really important, I think, to hire givers because that not only trickles out to the people or the customers or patients that you're serving. They know that you're a giver. You're in tune to what they need. You're going to make sacrifices to help them. But it also creates just a great environment to work in. We spend so much time with the people in our offices, you know? And it sucks to work with a taker, you know? No one wants to do that. And so, you know, we try to do things outside of the office. We celebrate each other's birthdays. We have team this and team that. If one of us has that sick parent or a sick child, we want to be able to cover for each other. And so that you don't have, you know, when you're running kind of a tight ship where you don't have extra employees laying around, which at the moment I don't, you have to be givers and willing to pitch in.
So that's one qualification. Another would be, it's really simple, is that they're fun. You know, we want to have a good time and we want to joke. A lot of funny stuff happens with the demographic that we're serving. You can imagine we have some funny stories around here. So just to have the ability to get a laugh and joke with each other and our patients really enjoy that. They can tell that we're having fun. And I think that goes a long way for that vision that we're trying to accomplish. And then, let's see, what is my third - oh, that you can't be, as my mother would say, too big for your britches. You can't be above anything. You know, if the toilet overflows, I expect you to grab the plunger. I don't care how many letters are after your name. You know, how many degrees you have, you're going to have to be able to do everything. And that's just the small town, you know, that's the Nazareth way. You can't — you gotta do — willing to do anything and everything.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good. And it's true. I mean, it's really humbling, too. I think it keeps you grounded even when you have to pick up the plunger, you know? So that's really good. When you think of operations, like when you think of ensuring that Cornerstone has really good operations, good systems, processes, a good delivery model for your services to your patients, how do you evaluate the health of your operations? Like, how do you focus on making sure that your company is running efficiently and effectively and that customers and patients are having a great experience?
“I Need to Be Able to Hear What’s Going On”
Dr. Julie Hubik: I mean, I think that that part comes from being in the business, that you really have to be there. You have to be listening. You have to — I need to sit in the waiting room. I need to be able to hear what's going on. And really those things kind of come up when you do something poorly. Unfortunately, when there's a problem, and a problem happens, if you are really diligent about getting to the root of it, and actually solving it going forward for other patients, and you can give a great, you know, a gift card and a nice apology to the poor soul that it happened to, it's striving for improvement going forward. You know, we get it wrong sometimes, but I think over the years, you just start to uncover a lot of those things that cause problems. And if you could actually solve the issue itself and not put a bandaid on it, then just over time, you're left with a manual full of great protocols.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good. I, man, that's really challenging, you know, really being in it. You know, we have just under 50 employees now and even a couple of years ago, I might only be one level removed from the client work. And so, you know, you kind of got that exposure real quick, both in the good and the bad. And that's something that's less easy now, but really, really good insight. And I mean, you're right. Unless you're in the mud, you know, unless you're in the engine, how do you know how it's working?
Dr. Julie Hubik: When you get larger like that you just have to have other people in the mud that are looking out for those things.
Kade Wilcox: Right. Yeah, absolutely. How do you evaluate customer experience? I mean, like you're in something that is directly dealing with a patient. So like for you, even if it's really practical, how are you monitoring the experience that your patients are having to ensure that it's helping you accomplish the vision you spoke about a moment ago?
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah. I mean, we request reviews. We send out surveys. We do things like that. You know, having employees that are aware of the customer experience at all times, we check in with them. Is everything okay today? You know, how is your experience? And you'll, we'll have some unhappy people. I try to call every one of those that we get a complaint, that call and complain. I usually call them myself and talk to them and, you know, see if it's one of those processes that need to be fixed, or sometimes people just have other things going on in their lives and you kind of have the brunt of their unhappiness, but it wasn't really anything that the team necessarily did that they could change. It was just kind of offering some empathy and trying to understand where people are.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah, that's really good. So finances is the fourth thing that we try to really focus on in terms of the framework that we use to judge our own health and where we're going. And we never — we didn't take finances serious enough, soon enough. Like, we were really good at bringing money in and we were really good at sending it out. And so we realized a couple of years ago that we just weren't taking it serious enough and hired a CFO. So like, what's your experience been like with finances? How do you manage your finances? What are some things you've learned over the years that you've built the business? Like what's kind of your approach to finances?
Watching Your Buckets
Dr. Julie Hubik: My approach is just to, you know, to watch. You've got your big picture stuff and you know exactly what kind of revenue you need to be bringing in. And then you can watch your expenses, you know, try not to overdo it in certain things, or look at areas where you can trim those back. Just the basics there. But then just kind of having some metrics to line up with and looking at those quarterly to see if you know different percentages of revenue. So CFO, I wish I had a CFO. I've gotten to work with a few recently on some other projects and that I think, "Man, that would be awesome." I can geek out on a spreadsheet and tell you projections. And that's not my jam. But I do know enough to know I have some different expenses in buckets and I know how mu... what percentage of my overall revenue I shouldn't exceed in those buckets. And even I should spend, you know, like you're talking about marketing. I need to spend a certain amount, you know, and it needs to be strategic, but I mean, I know what those margins are and what the metrics are for those different buckets. And so I can just kind of keep things in line if I want to get here, then I know that these are my percentages of revenue that I need to kind of stay on track with.
Kade Wilcox: That's really good. That's really helpful. You mentioned sales and marketing. What, over the years, what have you experimented with? What have you found to work for your company? What's your approach been to sales and marketing and yeah, just evolving with the changing times, I mean, even for your demographic?
Effective marketing is hard, but fruitful
Dr. Julie Hubik: Right. You know, back when I first started, you would, you would do newspaper and direct mail and television, and those things are really expensive. And even at the beginning, when I first opened, I was really cautious about the marketing dollars that I spent in those buckets, just because they were so expensive. But you know, what's nice about being in business for as long as we have, that now we have such a healthy patient demographic that we're able to trim back a lot of those expensive things that don't necessarily work that well, but you feel like you can't afford not to do them and really focus on our patients and community involvement and patient referrals and things like that. And so we brought a lot of that back in-house now that we have a larger patient base to be able to do that. So really the most effective marketing is, you know, doing a great job and have your patients tell their friends. That's the hardest thing to do, but that's fruitful.
Kade Wilcox: Does that work well with your demographic? I mean, is that, it seems like that would be a really solid strategy once you kind of reached that critical mass you're talking about.
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah, it does. I mean, they talk, they have a little more time on their hands that they're not in the rat race, like we are, on a daily basis. So they do have communities of friends that they get together with regularly. And that's a common topic of conversation is your hearing aids.
Kade Wilcox: I tell you, I have some friends in their forties that can't hear and every time I'm around them, I bring it up. I'm like, “I know a really good audiologist and I'm sure she would be happy to help you.” What are some tools you couldn't live without? Like, it sounds like you're running a really lean — you only got nine folks. You're managing the finances. You're managing all the business side of things. What are some of the tools that you just couldn't live without?
A Few Gadgets That Do The Trick
Dr. Julie Hubik: You know, the tools that — I have a great office management system that we are really maximizing the benefits of that right now, but it is very audiology specific. You know, it's not something that other people would probably benefit from. We use Google a lot. We chat; our team chats and stays in touch with what's going on with each other, with when there's tons of patients here and we're trying to move quickly. "Your next one is here." Or, "You know, Mr. So-And-So's unhappy, I'm moving him to B." You know, things like that. That's really helpful. I'm not as geeky as you are, Kade, and I'm kind of out of the loop. I'm a little old school, so I don't have all those gadgets that you probably could talk a whole hour about.
Kade Wilcox: Actually, it's quite the opposite. I'm not geeky, which is why I like asking the question. I have friends who have tried every single productivity app, every single to-do list app. And I'm like, man, if I can get my iPhone to turn on, you know, I'll be lucky, right? And so I always am really intrigued by what tools and apps people are using. So I'm actually not that geeky. I'm a real simpleton.
Dr. Julie Hubik: Okay. Well, one of the ones I'm sure you know about is Loom that we've been using a lot lately; just screen-sharing and voiceover. So we can, if we find something cool in our new office management system that we want to share with each other, we can do a quick Loom video or that.
Kade Wilcox: That's cool. Yeah. I use a tool called Drift. That's something very similar and I love it. It gives you analytics. So when some — I'll shoot a video when I'm sending out a proposal or something, and I can see if they watched it, how long they watched it, how many times they watched it. So there are some really cool video tools out there. Do you use that for your patients, as well? Like for instructional videos or troubleshooting videos or is that not quite a good fit?
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah. I mean, we do send out links to videos, but it's usually just like a YouTube link or we might just take a quick one with our phone and send it out to them if they're having trouble changing a filter on a hearing aid or something like that. So we have utilized, not necessarily Loom, but other things like that.
Kade Wilcox: That's cool. All right. My last question is usually my favorite one, too. What advice would you give someone, if someone's listening to this and they're thinking about starting a business or even someone who owns a business and they're just so kind of stuck in the business. Everything you've learned, everything that you've experienced, you know, what advice comes to mind when you think of this?
Stop “Stepping Over Dollars Looking for Dimes”
Dr. Julie Hubik: You know, you kind of stole my thunder earlier, when you said to delegate the things that you don't love or the things that you're not good at. But that is really true, you know? With you — there is some element in a small business — you still have to do things you're not necessarily great at, but you should get some support from someone, even if it's not a full-time person, that will end up costing yourself more than you'll save by not doing it. That's the constant thing, you know? When you don't want to be so cheap that you're stepping over dollars looking for dimes. So especially, too, if it's going to be a liability or you're going to get yourself in trouble, you should definitely pay the fee for whatever that thing is. It will be well worth it. So that would probably be my number one.
Kade Wilcox: That's cool. Yeah. No, it's really good. And it's hard when you're really ambitious because you, it's not a bad ego, but you haven't inflated...I, I'm not trying to put this on you. I sometimes have an inflated sense of, I can do that because you know you want to get something done and you're ambitious. So sometimes you can really overstep your bounds.
Dr. Julie Hubik: And you end up wasting a lot of your own time, too, in that if you could bottle up how much time you're spending doing something that you're not very gifted at, it's going to take you more energy. It's going to cost you more when you could be using your talents, doing what you do best, and probably generating more revenue that way too.
Kade Wilcox: Yeah. And sometimes it requires some painful lessons to get there.
Well, I'm really proud of you. Running and owning a business is really hard work. But I particularly admire, you know, moms who own businesses and are highly successful because if it's anything like my household, I know you're carrying just as much responsibility and weight at home as you are in your business. And I just, like, I really admire it because I could never do it. Like if I didn't have my wife, there's no way I could do all this stuff. And you're doing double time and I always really admire it. So I'm just really proud of you.
Dr. Julie Hubik: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Kade Wilcox: Thanks for joining the podcast. It's good to catch up with you.
Dr. Julie Hubik: Yeah, you too. Thanks, Kade. Have a good day.
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