Each quarter Essilor looks at the performance of all our customers and celebrates their achievements through our Customer of the Quarter initiative. This is a great way for the wider Essilor team to meet our customers face to face. It reinforces our company's mission to be the best business partner to our customers and brings value to the work everyone does.
During their day at Essilor we caught up with them to have a chat about their practice and what it means to be the Customer of the Quarter.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your practice?
James : Neel and myself have been running Templeman opticians for 15 years. We met during our pre-registration training and when the practice was being sold by my family we decided to buy it together.
Neel: We are based in Brentwood in Essex which is 1 mile from the M25 and on the high street at the quieter end.
James: Since running the business it has been a steep learning curve. Over the 15 years we have made some mistakes. We like to play to our strengths with the 80:20 rule : Neel runs the clinical side of the business, I look after the dispensing and we have someone to look after the books.
Neel: As the optometrist I focus on the testing and building the patient's trust with the clinical recommendation and I don’t talk prices. James runs the commercial environment and we like to keep the separation of the commercial and clinical. I always recommend they have a 20 min chat after an eye test with James even if it is to give their glasses a once over.
James: We keep it ethical with no over selling. In the 20 minutes we let them know what the latest products are, like Road Pilot. Our patients love hearing about something new and having a better product than the last visit. There are strengths in having new products and suppliers who are innovating : we have found Eyezen has captured a market for us - patients who are between a single vision and a varifocal lens.
What do you think sets your practice apart from the other opticians in Brentwood?
Neel: To build the practice we offer a personal service to our customers, where they see us directly. Our patients know us by our first names and if we are away, they will come back when we are in. We listen to them to help fix the problems they are having and offer a recommendation based on all the information provided.
James: When patients come back in they want to know about the new products we offer. We find they are interested in the technology because we are enthusiastic about the products we offer. Also when we are making our recommendations, we chat to them at their level and understanding.
Neel: We have been collecting reviews from as many customers as we can and are proud with the feedback we get from our customers.
James: To compete against the larger chains we offer an Eye Care plan which is a programme our customers can join. Within the scheme they get a number of benefits, from eye tests through to emergency care support and discounts off products. When it comes to our Contact lens patients the scheme offers them great value for money as it cover the regular checks they need.
How have you found the journey of becoming an Essilor Bespoke practice?
James: We have just started with Bespoke in the last 3 months. It is going very well. The Visioffice has been a big hit. We have a small practice but when a patient is being measured on the Visioffice it creates interest from patients who are waiting for an eye test. We offer all our patients the best solution for their needs.
What is your biggest challenge as an Independent Practice?
James: The biggest challenge is marketing. As we are down the quieter end of the high street we still get new customers saying “we didn’t know you were here”. Our location has been established for 15 years, and we find the number one way people find the practice is through word of mouth. The challenge is getting them through the door, once we have a new patient we know exactly what to do.
Neel: We appreciate that marketing has very much moved towards social media but we aren’t as knowledgeable as we would like to be in this area. Currently we have Facebook which needs continuity of posting and we really want to start an Instagram page.
James: With social media it’s not worth just putting money behind it, you either need to do it or not. Our social profiles need to have a steady stream of consistent messages with repetition. We would benefit from more marketing tools to help with this area of the business, but ultimately we would want someone to do it for us.
How does it feel to be the Customer of the Quarter?
James: We first thought we were only going to get a nice dinner and then we found out we had 2 presentations and ... In all seriousness it is nice to see that the work we are doing is not only recognised by our customers but also by the people we do business with as well.
Neel: We have a spot ready to display the plaque in the practice.
James: Coming in today has put names to faces and strengthened our relationships. There is a camaraderie with everyone as much as we’re all here to earn a living it keeps it all familiar which is nice.
This concludes our chat with James and Neel. We loved sitting down with them in the day and hearing about their practice. They have set up a successful practice with a lot of innovations like the Eye Care programme. There are areas in which they need help to build continuous growth and we believe we’ve been able to help here with our personalised marketing support.
To keep being the best business partner for our customers we will be sharing more Customer of the Quarter stories throughout the year. We learnt a lot in this interview with Neel and James and hope you have too.