Winner: Sophie Johnson
Dispensing Optician, Sophie Johnson has optics in her genes and works in a family practice, combining clinical knowledge and an eye for future trends to provide the best customer service possible.
Sophie Johnson has been part of the family practice, where she works alongside her mum, stepdad, sister and brother-and-law, from the beginning. “My mum started Eyesite nearly 30 years ago when she was pregnant with me, so it’s not just a job, but a way of life — I have been involved since day one,” she says.
After working as an optical and lab assistant, Ms Johnson was ready for a new challenge and trained to be a dispensing optician, a role she hoped would help her progress her career and give her the knowledge to better serve the public.
Today, as a sales director, branch manager and dispensing optician, she says the most rewarding part of her job is still helping people solve their eyewear problems. She also believes the mix of technical elements and fashion retail keeps the role interesting.
Ms Johnson ensures the practice’s eyewear collection is kept up-to-date and believes that predicting future trends is a must. She regularly meets with brand managers to select styles for the season ahead, and keeps abreast of upcoming colours and trends. She explains: “Clients see a piece, they want it now — if we don’t have it, we miss out.”
As well as keeping up with current fashions, Ms Johnson is passionate about the patient experience. She emphasises the importance of going through different options, and uses the practice’s dedicated ‘Lens Lounge’ to demonstrate and discuss lens and frame options. She also maintains the practice’s branded areas, or ‘stores within a store,’ for collections such as Dior, Tom Ford and Chanel, which make purchasing simpler and ensures displays are always fresh.
Discussing what makes a successful dispensing optician, Ms Johnson advocates carefully listening to patient needs, advising: “Be interested in the patient’s job, family and hobbies. That way you can ensure you give the best advice to fulfil their needs and fit in with their lifestyle.”
Finalist: Sue Deal
After working as a dispensing optician for over 35 years, Sue Deal continues to be passionate about the profession.
During her time in optics, Ms Deal has channelled her passion for paediatric dispensing into expanding the practice’s range of frames for non-standard facial features. She is also a distance learning tutor for ABDO.
Finalist: Phil Howlett
Phil Howlet began his interest in optics as a child when he fixed his grandma’s glasses and now works with patients to find the ‘wow’ factor.
As a dispensing optician, Mr Howlett enjoys helping patients make informed choices and thinking outside the box to find solutions. He has promoted the use of technology in the practice to help patients choose eyewear and to build rapport.