Creating a service which offers customers professionalism and expertise while maintaining personalised care and a family feel can be a tricky business. Specsavers Ashbourne store director Andrew Wells explains how an investment in tech, training and staff has created the perfect balance.

Experienced leadership

As optometrist director, Andrew Wells BSc (Hons) MSc MCOptom brings more than 25 years’ clinical experience to Specsavers, alongside Uan and Raj Gohil, who are also both directors at the Derby Intu Centre store.

‘I have seen significant changes in optometry since I qualified,’ explained Andrew. ‘I feel passionately about passing on industry developments – both in training and in tech – to my team and also our customers. It’s crucial that we are at the top of our game so that we can provide the best possible optical care.’

For Andrew, this includes developing the next generation of optometrists, with 14 optometrists benefitting from his supervision as they complete their pre-registration year of training in store to date. It also includes career developments like completing a Master’s degree in Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences and donating his expertise as an examiner at the College of Optometrists.

‘There are a huge number of conditions that can be spotted during an eye test, as they have symptoms that manifest in their vision or eye, from diabetes to brain tumours. It’s very important to be aware of what we’re looking at as eye care specialists, to ensure we don’t miss anything.’

A qualified team

The Specsavers store in Ashbourne may be less than a year old, but the team has a wealth of experience and qualifications which have allowed them to offer customers a smooth experience in store from day one.

The team has more than 75 years of service between them, with several having worked at Specsavers for over a decade. The leadership team is supported by store manager, Tara Ward, who has 14 years of experience. With a strong focus on expertise, staff members are encouraged to undergo specialist training, including courses for conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes and dementia. This ensures that they have a thorough understanding of these diseases, as well as offering excellent customer care.

‘Ensuring our team is supported to achieve their professional goals is very important to us,’ said Andrew. ‘If the team is feeling confident and happy in the care they are giving, it is really reflected in the customer experience.

‘We have a real family feel here in store, which comes directly from the fact that the team has a huge amount of experience so are confident and friendly in their approach. Most of the staff are also Ashbourne locals, so it’s lovely for our customers to see familiar faces in store.’

State of the art technology

The investment in training is also complemented in store by an investment in the latest optical technology.

During an eye test, customers benefit from a state-of-the-art Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine, which produces a structural scan of the eye, including layers of the eye that would not normally be visible using traditional eye testing techniques.

‘This allows us to see all aspects of the eye and easily spot any anomalies,’ said Andrew. ‘It is very advanced technology and means we can build up a picture of how customers’ eyes are changing over time.’

Extended offering

The Specsavers Ashbourne store now offers eye health clinics, to help people with minor eye conditions including dry eye and red eye, as part of an extended service to customers on behalf of the NHS. Anyone experiencing discomfort in their eyes, such as pain, redness or flashes of light can now attend a Specsavers store as an alternative to going to their GP or hospital.

Andrew explains: ‘Eye tests are an important health check, so we are taking our clinical expertise a stage further and enhancing the care we offer to the local community. This comes with the added benefit of helping to reduce the pressure on our local GP surgeries and other NHS services.’

The qualified and experienced staff can test and help customers with a number of minor eye conditions, while the optometry team can also help assess cataracts and glaucoma and advise customers about future treatment. Appointments are available seven days a week, subject to availability, and can be booked by phone, in-store or online.

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