As a 44-year-old father of four, family is obviously a very important part of my life as well as my business. I have run a successful optician’s business in Enfield Town for over 10 years, and although I started with zero, I now have a £1 million turnover.

I believe my character has played a large part in the success of my business – I am curious, I love hospitality, I care a lot about people, and I love to innovate and create – and I bring all of these elements into running my business.

My top five tips for building a successful optician’s are:

  1. Always have the current trends in frames in stock
  2. Truly believe in great leadership – whether it’s there or not
  3. Prioritise marketing – keep current clients and get new ones
  4. Become a good networker
  5. Understand the difference between customer service and customer experience – service you do to someone, experience you do together

High street opticians are facing great challenges today. People are no longer staying loyal to their opticians. With a mobile phone in their hand they can quickly check prices and allow those to influence their choices. The landscape has changed a lot in the last 10 years and part of that has to do with smart phones and people having constant access to the internet.

Mobile phones also provide customers and patients with the opportunity to write reviews either on social media or in web directories. These reviews are almost as powerful as word of mouth; however, a bad review, whether warranted or not, can seriously affect turnover.

Millennials think and shop differently to any other previous generation; for example, they won’t walk into any shop that has carpet, because it symbolises old-fashioned ways to them. They think differently, they shop differently, and they are often difficult to manage because of their sense of entitlement and a completely different mind-set.

If opticians don’t understand the Millennials, their business will be gone from the high street very quickly and they won’t exist in 10 years’ time. For Millennials the industry must be cool, fast moving, and innovative and with the age of the iPad everything must focus on internet buying. Understanding the digital landscape is so important too. Terms such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay per Click) play a key role in today’s marketing.

Opticians need to know more about marketing. They need to take courses so that they have some marketing knowledge before putting their marketing needs into the hands of someone who claims to be an expert. They need to know enough themselves, to be able to tell if that person really is an expert, because if they’re not, a lot can go wrong.

100% Optical has brought new life into the world of opticians, but it should be a platform that is ongoing throughout the year, perhaps through their website, and not just an annual event. This could be something that holds the industry together by keeping everyone up-to-date with fashion, technology and education. Sharing non-conflicting content on the 100% Facebook page is a great way to keep up-to-date.

By keeping up-to-date, providing a good customer experience and by using social media as a marketing tool, the independent optician can hold his or her ground alongside the big optician chains and bring innovation to the industry.