Colin Dorricott from Silverberg Opticians based on Whitechapel, Liverpool City Centre gives an insight into a typical working day, factors considered when buying at 100% Optical, current challenges facing Independent practices and his tips on how to overcome them.
1. What is the name of your practice and where is it based?
Silverberg Opticians based on Whitechapel in Liverpool City Centre.
2. How would you best describe your practice ethos?
High quality service and interesting eye wear for all.
From beautiful brands like Cartier and Lindberg or something a little different like Face a Face we love the top end of eye wear; however we also offer full examinations and services for NHS patients and everyone in between.
We offer a full range of services from top to bottom, whoever you are.
3. What is your own background?
I come from a marketing and background. I used to work in events and music running festivals. I came to Silverberg 7 years ago, after a brief spell at another independent opticians, initially to run the marketing and online sales however I have progressed to Manager and now Director.
4. What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?
I have always had a passion for the highest standards in whatever I have done, originally from running events for thousands of people to now only excepting the highest level of customer service form my team and dispensing the finest eyewear we can.
I believe you need a passion like this to be successful in the high end and luxury market that we aim for. You need to be well organised and determined to succeed.
5. Describe a typical working day in your life
I start most days speaking to the business owner Ian Silverberg and the rest of the team to see what we have on for the day and where we are up to for the week and beyond. Most mornings involve some meetings; with suppliers for buying, local publications or bloggers for advertising and publicity or local businesses to expand or corporate brand. The afternoons can be spent between looking after our contact lens business or being on the shop floor assisting customers and dispensing spec’s. As with all of us this is broken up with exciting paper work and administration as and when it needs doing.
6. What challenges do you see facing the optical industry in the coming years?
As an independent we often feel the pressure of multiple sector. It seems year on year their advertising budget goes up and their starting prices go down. We choose to combat this by offering something different. Brands they won’t stock and services they won’t offer.
In a similar way as more that people shop online we have to show the importance of people actually coming in to an opticians; the service, the fitting and the optical accuracy. We cannot always compete on price so we have to show how much better value for money we are.
In the wider field; we now have to compete with people lifestyles. We can see from some of the big losses in retail on the high street that people are spending their money on different things now. Socialising, eating out and holidaying more often all take money from the pot that could have been spent on eyewear, on top of the price of living going up. We have to fight our corner and show why people should prioritise us over other things when spending their hard earnt money.
7. Why do you choose 100% Optical to buy your frames and equipment for your practice?
The UK has needed a decent optical show for a while now. We have been attending 100% Optical since it began. We liked it at the start and even more so now it has grown. 100% attract some great brands, not just ones that we stock already but some really interesting and smaller brands that may not have representation in the UK normally. When you want to stand out as a business, you have to have something that other do not.
8. You participated in the 100% Optical VIP buyers programme. What was your overall experience of this?
We found this a really good experience. We go to this show to buy, so to have somebody to assist us and set up some appointments made things really easy. On the day we went to see a few people, placed some orders, used the VIP area to have a bit of down time to discuss what we had seen and how else to use our time at the show. Well worth doing.
9. What factors do you consider when buying frames and equipment?
Quality, value for money and where else it is stocked. We love having something different in store, but it’s got to be worth it.