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.
Eastbourne store, after its humble beginnings in 1989, has now grown into a large optical superstore with nine sight-testing rooms and two hearing consulting rooms. Seaford store has now been open for over 12 years, and has become a very popular store since our refit and expansion to three consulting rooms.
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.
In the last few years, the increasing challenge in retail has been that people don’t like to be kept waiting too long and want us to consistently exceed their expectations – which we endeavour to do. 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.
What is the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge recently was moving the Eastbourne store to its new location in Terminus Road. It has certainly given me a few more grey hairs in the last 12 months. I am really pleased with the new store though, both in terms of the location and the layout. We had to do a lot of work when we were designing the layout so that operationally we could make the most of the increased square footage.
Important decisions had to be made, such as having a high quality lift which was necessary to take less mobile customers to our spacious clinical area upstairs. Also, we decided to invest heavily in the latest sight-testing technology, with which customers have been very impressed. So the extra grey hairs have definitely been worth it.
Another challenge we have in practice is the growing percentage of customers who book appointments and fail to attend. So if you cannot make it, just let us know so we can book someone else in.