Thinking of opening an opticians -what would persuade you to come to me for your eyecare?

(42 Posts)
EyeOpener Sun 10-Nov-13 21:25:33

I've got one opticians practice already, which I took over when the previous owner retired. I'm now thinking of opening a second practice in a small town 20 miles away.

The town I'm thinking of doesn't have an opticians already, the nearest competition is 5 miles away, which is an independent practice, and a specsavers. But I don't imagine many people would travel to this town as it's a bit downmarket compared to the more affluent town I'm looking at. Otherwise it's at least 15 miles to a larger town with all the usual high street names and independents.

So, whether you use an opticians at the moment or not, could I ask you to consider what would persuade you to come to my practice instead of your current optician, if you lived in this town and:

a) are the parent of a preschool or primary age child
b) are the parent of a teenager
c) wear glasses all the time
d) wear glasses some of the time
e) wear contact lenses

Although I will have some frames available with an NHS voucher, I'm not really going to try to compete on price, ( but in reality won't actually be that much more expensive than the likes of specsavers etc ) and I'll have an amazing frame selection smile

How important is distance from home, free parking, opening times, personal and individual service?

What could your current opticians do better?

Thanks! Any comments gratefully received.

custardo Sun 10-Nov-13 21:31:36

parking is a must
free coffee would be awesome

would be great if you could stretch some some kind of electroinic games thingy for tweens, teens and little uns - kids have pulling power and if yours has a game system they can mess about on whilst waiting for mum /sister/brother then yours will win imo

CMOTDibbler Sun 10-Nov-13 21:41:07

As a life long glasses wearer, and now mother of a 7 year old glasses wearer, my criteria for choosing an optician is mostly on how well they understand my odd eye issues. Secondary to this is how helpful the frame choosing advice is, and then getting glasses repaired/adjusted afterwards.

I wear glasses all the time. I like having a nearby optician who does running repairs for free (cleaning nose pads, fixing loose screws) so I can just drop in; who reminds me I need new specs; and who does a deal on a second pair because I feel like I'm treating myself and often get a pair of prescription sunglasses which I might not pay full price for. A city centre optician near me has kept my business for many years on this basis. I have no idea how they compare on price to other options.

nannynick Sun 10-Nov-13 21:58:12

Safe area for children to be in, perhaps like a plar corner.
Somewhere to sit whilst child has examination.
Range of frames including low cost.
Transparent pricing, no adding on lots of extras which are not really extras.
Whilst you may not be unable to compete with online prices can you get close?
Online booking, times to suit those who work long hours, such as open up late (say early afternoon but close in the evening at say 9pm) not everyday but say one / two days a week. That way some adults can come without children in tow.

EyeOpener Mon 11-Nov-13 21:44:38

Thanks for replying so promptly!

Custardo - I'm sure I could manage coffee. I've seen large touchscreen gamestation type things at airports, is that the sort of thing you mean rather than a wii or similar?

CMOTdibbler - have you stayed with the same optician because of your odd eyes smile or have you changed based on recommendation or advertising?

TheSurgeonsMate - we do all that you mention, but I think we need to try to get this across in our marketing

nannynick - I'm interested in your comment about extras. Do you mean being offered thinner lenses, coatings etc? Would you rather be advised that because your prescription is +5.00 / -3.00 x 80 we recommend these lenses at £xx? I was thinking of doing a late night once a week, maybe until 6 possibly 7. It's a rural town so I think 9pm might be pushing it a bit smile

One final question if I may? Would advertising / sponsored posts through Facebook be likely to draw your attention?

AhoyMcCoy Mon 11-Nov-13 21:51:41

Lifelong contact lens wearer. Will sadly be leaving my very friendly and lovely local independent opticians in favour of specsavers, as my opticians is only open 9am-5pm, so I can never get in to collect lenses. Not only are specsavers open late, but they post them to you too. Anything that makes my life easier is going to get my business.

EyeOpener Mon 11-Nov-13 22:01:21

Oh no! AhoyMcCoy have you asked them to post your lenses to you? We do it regularly for students etc who run out before they come back for the hols. And some CL manufacturers will deliver direct to you rather than the practice.

NoComet Mon 11-Nov-13 22:55:05

The killer attraction in this house is a decent selection of frames for preteens.

We ended up traipsing round the nearest large city in the rain finding anything acceptable for DD2 then 10.

The choice for girls who no longer fit children's, but don't fit adults either at our small DA/Boots was awful.

Girls this age are very fashion conscious and, personally I don't want her resorting to lenses yet.

(In fact she has tried and can't do them.)

Me. I'm easy, I just want my prescription absolutely perfect. Not that bothered about what frames look like, I've worn glasses since primary and just like them to sit in my nose and do their job.

nannynick Wed 13-Nov-13 20:04:51

>I'm interested in your comment about extras. Do you mean being offered thinner lenses, coatings etc?

Looking at the last time I ordered glasses, I went for the 2 for £79 offer at Boots. Paid £149. That's the problem. I think I see what they did, they persuaded me to get a RF (reflection free) finish added... which added £60. I wonder how that was sold... a per lens price perhaps? Plus then the consultation fee on top, though looking at the receipt looks like I had a half price voucher for that.

I like I suspect a lot of people have a budget and I have brought glasses on-line in the past, at anything from £15-£25 a pair.

So yes, it's the being offered different coatings. Are they really needed? Noticed that even Boots now include Scratch Resistant, Reflection Free and UV coatings... but I think that is only on a certain lens type (thin lens?).

I think that clear pricing helps, which I suspect you already do but others may not do in a way that is overly clear.

>Would you rather be advised that because your prescription is +5.00 / -3.00 x 80 we recommend these lenses at £xx?
Yes, if that price was the fully inclusive price, not the additional price, if you see what I mean. I feel pressured in the environment, it's not like shopping for other goods. I don't know if one lens is really any better than any other, or if a coating is needed or not. I have to trust the optician and their staff.

>Would advertising / sponsored posts through Facebook be likely to draw your attention?

No. Though I don't use Facebook that much. I follow local companies on twitter, so maybe via that perhaps - though I tend to like seeing them give advice, local info, rather than an advert.

mmspark Sat 16-Nov-13 06:54:23

For me (life long glasses/contacts wearer) and son, 10, glasses wearer it's about good personal service and quick/easy repair/replacement as we seem to burn through glasses, well my son does!

Coffee a great idea

Having a personality on social media works if you're thinking of using FB Ads. What's different about you as opposed to all the other high street opticians?

Good luck!

DontCallMeDaughter Sat 16-Nov-13 07:03:39

My independent opticians (now closed, sob) told me that most of the high street opticians source most of their frames from two large distributors which is why the frames are all so "samey" but keep the price down (no idea of that's true!?)

They used to be based in Devon and I'd travel from London when I needed new glasses because they sourced frames from little independent designers and I couldn't find one shop in London with such a large range.

I wear glasses all of the time and I have several pairs which I like to change around. I buy new frames every 6 months or so if I can find ones that I really love. But I haven't bought new one for months because the ones in VisionExpress are so BORING.

I guess they didn't survive because they were more expensive than the high street and I didn't buy enough frames, but if you stocked the designers or had the ability to get them in, I'd make an effort to come to you!!

DearDinah Sat 16-Nov-13 07:12:11

I left a well known opticians & went to an independent recently as said independent had helped me out lots with free repairs during the year (twice for broken nose pads) & they are just bloody lovely
They have time to help you choose a frame but don't pressure into the most expensive designer ones, in fact the lady helped me choose a pair of budget ones similar to a designer pair I liked due to my budget
No pressure for different lens coatings, nice chat & simple pricing
I would follow a sponsored add on Facebook if you were in my area
Also like the idea of cheap reglazing service, my last optician told me it would be cheaper to buy a new pair, it was not!!

BikeRunSki Sat 16-Nov-13 07:17:08

I changed opticians earlier this year by chance (I needed new glasses and Specsavers didn't gave any frames I liked). I have worn glasses for 30 years, all the time. I have experimented with contacts, but don't really like them. The cost of glasses and lenses has always grated and I used to use Specsavers as their pricing policy worked out pretty cost effective to me.

When I needed new frames earlier this year I got a bit obsessed with popping in to optician's to look at frames. In a town about 5 miles away I found some glasses that I really like and were very cheap. The assistant told me it was because they had their own frames commissioned as well as getting in the designer brands. She quoted lenses seperately - still cheap because they have their own labs . My lenses always used to be a special order, at extra time and cost, but these folks made them in house within a few days.

New glasses and prescription sunglasses for less than one pair from Specsavers. Magic.

Eastpoint Sat 16-Nov-13 07:21:59

We have a lovely local optician (2 adults co-own) we use. They have a good choice of frames but most importantly they are very friendly & helpful. They treat their staff well and always have a 'can do' attitude. I get texts when my glasses or lenses arrive. I have been using them since 1991, they are a couple of years older than me & we have grown older together. I initially went there as a friend told me the person who did the eye checks was really good looking (I was young). I wouldn't worry about having electronic entertainment for customers' children, in most places with them they are broken or old fashioned and just clutter. If you have accurate appointment times you won't have people sitting around much, I think coffee is unnecessary too - messy & risk of spillage. If you feel you really need to offer drinks why not just offer little bottles of mineral water?

Agree with Custardo on the coffee grin

I am visually impaired and have special reading glasses with 15x loop. It's a nightmare to get a new pair, also the frames are ugly and break constantly.

Is your location within walking distance of a bus stop so people who can't drive can acess it easily?

saadia Sat 16-Nov-13 07:42:57

One thing I have found with many opticians is the lack of clear pricing on frame displays and also on lenses available. I have very week eyes and need the thinnest lenses possible. Before deciding on frames I would really like to know the total cost before I select my frame.

Bakingtins Sat 16-Nov-13 07:48:50

DH and I both use a local independent. We both wear contacts and have spare glasses. We can walk to the shop but there is good parking nearby. The main thing that keeps us there is excellent service, we always see the same chap who either keeps very detailed records or has an elephantine memory, not just for details about our eyes but also what our kids are up to, what job we do etc. We are on a monthly 'loyalty scheme' that pays for our lenses, 6 monthly contact lens check and annual full eye test. The optician has kids of his own and is v nice to mine if I've had to take them. There is a kids table with a few books and a bead maze ( which for some reason is endlessly fascinating) and I think providing a few things for little ones is a good idea. I'm never kept waiting long enough to drink a coffee, they seem to book the appointments long enough apart that they keep to time pretty well.
I used to go to Specsavers, it always felt impersonal.

longestday Sat 16-Nov-13 07:55:37

I would sell my soul for a decent preteen range. Our local ones have either kids characters and tiny frames for little ones or designer ones for teens.

The teens range are always too big and do not fit her face.
She is too old for the little character ones.

I would travel to a decent one.
Our local one is amazing for adults, takes time, not a conveyor belt like some of the other local ones specsavers .

I want a thorough none rushed eye test and a decent pre teen range.

Fairyloo Sat 16-Nov-13 08:03:06

Asda offer two pairs for one px for kids. So that always entices me.

My 6yr old prefers the independent one as he gets a hot chocolate!

But I would prefer the extra frame

Dolallytats Sat 16-Nov-13 08:19:13

As a lifelong daily glasses wearer, I'm pretty easy to please. I just want someone who tests my eyes properly (I once had someone test my eyes after he walked into a wall then spent the entire appointment saying 'oh dear'. I got worried, asked what was wrong and he said 'nothing, there's no change'!!)

I also want a decent range of glasses that don't cost the earth. Also an on the spot repair service for loose/missing screws, tightening arms etc would be great.

My son wears glasses all the time, although he is seen in a clinic rather that opticians. Just a child-friendly optician will do-not a grumpy person who doesn't like children!!

MarianForrester Sat 16-Nov-13 08:23:27

Dh and I both wear glasses and I have contact lenses too. Dd has glasses and "difficult" eyes!

We go to a local independent optician. We went first because it's so much easier than travelling half an hour to the nearest bigger town and getting parked, especially with young ds in tow.

We stayed because of the quality of the optician, really. They spotted a potential problem with dd, made a referral to NHS consultant, and gave good advice on the very poor service we received there. They then helped with a private referral we had sought and provided help and information. Thankfully, all was well, but all this has given me great confidence in them. Especially as their prescription has now been endorsed by every eye specialist in the blooming countrygrin

They also have great choice of frames and advice for all of us, and time and patience to help, even if it's to buy cheaper frames. There is also a discount if you get more than one thing from them, and they offered to put prescription lenses in my non-prescription designer sunglasses to save me money.

They are not the cheapest, but not expensive either. And as others have said the prices are clear and they will quote and let you go away and think! Easier to do if in the same town. Free repairs and so on too.

I've also been conned in past by those "deals" in the chain opticians, and inundated with junk mail since, and wouldn't go back.

lulabelleg Sat 16-Nov-13 12:16:17

My DD has a specific eye condition which means finding glasses to fit is tricky. We had a great local optician who used to order frames from an Italian designer which suited perfectly. They also spoke directly with the hospital who prescribed to arrange small frame allowance to cut the cost. We moved and tried a local independent and boots optician who only wanted to give the Nhs standard which she will not wear. We ended up travelling back to the original and always will, they posted the glasses to us. They just could not be more helpful. No toys in there which would be handy though as I fear my DC will destroy the displays!

As a lifelong glasses/contact kens/glasses again wearer (45 years!) the thing that draws me in is my confidence in the optician's ability and really good help given with choosing frames.

Neither of my last two opticians spotted that I have cataracts. Both were independents, but didn't find the cataracts. It was a Harley Street clinic that found them when I went to enquire about laser surgery.

But one was really good in helping me choose frames that were interesting, and suited me. I'm blind as a bat without glasses on (can't wear lenses any more) and I couldn't see what suited me, and what didn't. They're too expensive to make a mistake with, so I appreciated the advice.

MisguidedAngel Sat 16-Nov-13 13:22:32

I am a lifelong glasses/contact lens wearer. I really appreciate an unhurried and thorough eye test with full explanation, help and advice choosing frames, my history known and referred to and no waiting.

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