Tell us a bit about yourself
I qualified as an optometrist in 1982, and worked in the Bournemouth area before opening Specsavers in Eastbourne in 1989 and Specsavers in Seaford in 2005. I have been the ophthalmic director of both stores ever since, so 28 years in Eastbourne and 12 years in Seaford.
Do you wear glasses yourself?
I currently wear varifocal glasses all the time, and therefore I like a light frame with an anti-glare coating as I spend a lot of time on the computer.
If you could have anyone, living or dead, come into your store for an eye test, who would it be and why?
I think it would have to be Eric Morecambe. I always remember he once had a celebrity on the show with very strong glasses. He took them off their face and put them on himself and said: 'You must have good eyesight to see through these glasses?'
How did you come to run a Specsavers store?
In 1989, Specsavers was in its infancy and was not the household name it is today, but after doing some research I decided that rather than working for someone else, I wanted to be a Specsavers partner.
Specsavers Seaford has now been open for over 12 years, and has become a very popular store since our refit and expansion to three consulting rooms. The store stocks all the current Specsavers frames, just the same as a large store, but its location means easier accessibility without the parking restrictions of a store in a large town. Many customers also prefer the ambience of a smaller store.
What does your job involve?
My job involves sight testing, supervising graduate optometrists, a considerable amount of administration, training, NHS responsibilities, planning, recruitment, marketing and various decision-making duties.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Even though I have been performing eye examinations for 35 years, I still passionately love the job. It can be very rewarding when a patient wants to be seen by me year after year because they have confidence in my abilities.
Discovering various sight-threatening conditions and referring appropriately is rewarding, especially when the patient is very appreciative. Since offering the Minor Eye Conditions (MECS) service, we are seeing more patients with various forms of eye pathology that require referral to the hospital eye service.
What is the biggest challenge?
I always try my best to give everyone a thorough accurate sight test whilst explaining to them about their eyes in a way that anyone can understand.
In the last few years, the challenge in retail is that people don’t like to be kept waiting too long and want us to consistently exceed their expectations. Whilst we try our best to keep everyone happy 100% of the time, the nature of our business means this can be challenging because some patients with more complex prescriptions or with a condition that requires more investigation can take a bit more time.
Another challenge we have in practice is the growing percentage of customers who book appointments and fail to attend. If you cannot make it for any reason, we would appreciate it if you could give us a call - so we can give your appointment to somebody else.