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August 20 2015
Promoting a passion for eye care and the products in a practice was a popular theme at the Sight Care annual business conference for independents. OT’s Robina Moss reports
Chairman of Sight Care and an independent practice owner, Gavin Rebello (pictured), fittingly got the group’s annual conference (March 2, Hilton Birmingham Metropole) off to an uplifting start as Sight Care celebrated its 25th anniversary year, with his presentation on the event’s overarching theme, People, purpose, passion.
Mr Rebello, who is also a business coach, began his energetic presentation by reflecting that in the economic downturn in 2008 the ‘white van man’ disappeared, or was driving slowly around not rushing as he only had one job to do that day. However, Mr Rebello told the 400 delegates at the event that the previous Friday he was nearly crashed into by a ‘white van man’ on two separate occasions, as it was “busy out there.”
Pointing out that every business has “boom times and doom times,” he emphasised that it was important for practice owners to plan for the future to encourage lapsed clients to visit their practice and to attract new ones by offering a good service.
Turning to passion and positivity, the optometrist told delegates that in addition to his practice in Essex, he also has teaches yoga in Mumbai and when talking about marketing had been amazed at the enthusiasm of his students there. He explained that they were investing in themselves, had shut the door on their career, their children had grown up, or they had split from their partner, but they were passionate about starting a new venture.
Mr Rebello then asked delegates: “Can we be passionate day in, day out?” Explaining that he believed it was difficult in a multiple practice but that practitioners could be passionate in the independent sector.
“Passion is really important,” he told them. “You need to be filled with joy, to ooze positivity because that attracts people.” He explained that bored, negative or complaining staff could repel clients.
“People buy you,” he told practice owners, encouraging them to “connect with positiveness.”
He said that for business prosperity, practitioners had to have authenticity – in what they do (purpose), in how they do it (passion) and in who they do it with (people).
The “passport to prosperity,” that is, money, Mr Rebello explained, could come from differentiation, while fulfillment could come from the head to the heart.
He highlighted causes of stress, such as doing something you hate, working in “a team of conflict,” or simply not feeling valued, or supported.
“As you get busier, you need to stay connected with your team,” he warned practice owners. “Business is about people, people, people,” he emphasised.
Turning to the theme of purpose, Mr Rebello said that customers ask what’s in it for me? Giving the example of someone buying an Audi TT because of the car’s curves, he explained that people buy because of emotion, not because of logic.
“If you do something, you need to do it with joy,” he said, encouraging a change in mindset. He explained that ‘passion,’ could, for example, be a practice offering stylish spectacles frames for children.
The purpose could be to help prevent children from potentially being bullied because of “horrible glasses” which would be the motivation for a change in the practice mindset, he explained. He added that the practice could then use the words “stylish glasses for kids” on its website to help marketing.
Offering another practice example, Mr Rebello said that another ‘passion’ could be the early detection of glaucoma. A purpose being “to prevent my patient from losing their driving licence through glaucoma,” while the ‘motivation’ could be “eye care is more than a sight test.”
“When you work from your heart, you have to be true to yourself,” warned Mr Rebello. However, he concluded: “If you are doing something you love, it’s not work.”
In a later track session, passion was also the theme with dispensing optician and Devon practice owner, James Taylor-Short, beginning his presentation, The power to influence by stating that he was passionate about spectacles.
Mr Taylor-Short then asked the smaller groups of delegates to consider: “What is passion?” He added that the definition was “a strong, barely controllable emotion.”
To illustrate the power of having passion, the energetic Mr Taylor-Short told delegates he was going to take them on a “Jackanory journey.” He explained that previously he had signed up to do a London 10k race but had done no training for it and had even been drinking the night before the race at a staff party.
By the time he got to St Paul’s Cathedral, he was really struggling to keep going but there was a replica Spitfire aircraft at the bottom of the steps for a commemorative event and the famous Dam Busters March came out over speakers, which gave him a new lease of life and inspired him to keep going.
“If it had been the theme from Steptoe and Son, there would not have been the same effect,” he explained, with a laugh.
Returning to his passion for spectacles, he urged practitioners to consider: “What do glasses mean to patients? People really believe that what’s on their nose is spectacular.”
“They are at the core of what we do and our passion has to rub off on patients,” he added. Turning to the business benefits, he advised owners to have their best salesperson at the front of the practice.
Mr Taylor-Short then surprised delegates by taking a telephone call in the middle of his presentation. Illustrating his point to good effect, he then asked attendees how that had made them feel, with the common consensus of irritated, unimportant, disrespected and annoyed.
“Focus 100% on the customer in front of you at all times,” he urged. “Turn your phone off and do not check your emails when talking to them.”
Using some extreme examples of different practices which he had filmed, Mr Taylor-Short showed one practice with a cluttered reception desk, which even had patient details left out which anyone could read.
In the film the dispensing optician asked the patient how much they wanted to spend, adding the cringeworthy question: “What’s your dollar?” However, in the second film the dispensing optician showed the patient much more individual attention, even exclaiming: “You look hot in glasses.”
Showing that patient a selection of frames, when they picked up an unflattering spectacles frame, the dispensing optician diplomatically told them: “I have definitely seen you in better.”
Mr Taylor-Short then asked practice owners: “Who would you rather have working for you?” He went on to recommend having a dispensing optician who is also engaged with how a spectacles frame was made.
Mr Taylor-Short recommended showing clients five frames, demonstrating to them the value of a “beautifully handmade frame.” He explained: “What we give of ourselves to the patient is how they see themselves when they leave the practice.”
“We all have the power to influence our patients,” he added, linking back to Mr Rebello’s earlier comment that a stylish pair of spectacles could even help prevent a child from being bullied at school.
“People have a passion, they just don’t know it,” he said, adding that a bold pair of spectacles for a headteacher could help them show that they “mean business.”
“There is a knock on effect of how you talk to the patient,” he said, urging practice owners to boost their business by asking themselves: “Can I be more passionate about our products?”
Mr Taylor-Short concluded: “Sometimes we can take something perfect and make it better. There is always room for improvement.”