Becoming a business owner

“I wanted to modernise the outlook”

Farzeen Khan on her journey from discovering optometry accidentally in Nepal to running her own practice on the Isle of Wight

Farzeen_
After graduating in chemistry, with a post-graduate diploma in computer programming, in 1994 I married an ophthalmologist and we moved to a small village in Nepal where he worked in a hospital run by an American charity. In the absence of anything to do and without the presence of any family or friends, I started to read my husband’s books and became hooked on optics. That’s really when my career in optics started. I began working in the same hospital as my husband, pre-testing cataract patients. We moved to Saudi Arabia for a brief period, finally settling in the UK in 1999. When my daughter was two, I applied for a job at a multiple. I began working as a frame stylist in 2002, and I had a plan to become a dispensing optician (DO).

Making the decision

After 15 years at the group and with two grown-up children, it was time to invest in my own project. I had always wanted to be able to give more to my patients’ care and implement my own ideas; I knew in the back of my mind that I could do better if the opportunity came about. As luck would have it, a family friend was looking to retire and they offered me the opportunity to buy a practice, which I did in 2017.

Farzeen outside shop
Farzeen outside her practice, Ryde Opticians and Hearing Care, a Hakim Group practice on the Isle of Wight


Initial challenges

At first, there were naturally a few teething problems that needed sorting. Everything was on paper records, with nothing backed up on computers. Coming from a multiple, where everything was done digitally, and going back to paper records was challenging to say the least. I wanted to modernise the outlook and set up social media channels and a website as well as advertising the practice locally. I also updated the branding, so it looked more contemporary. Those aspects were really enjoyable to work on.

I had always wanted to be able to give more to my patients’ care and implement my own ideas. I knew in the back of my mind that I could do better if the opportunity came about

 


One thing I have learnt, if you move too fast in implementing changes, it can become difficult to keep up. The focus was to settle in and then implement small changes in the day-to-day running of the business that were lacking before I joined. I started to implement processes which would make the clinics and overall business run more efficiently. We had a lot of training sessions for staff in the first few months, with brand reps from various manufacturers for frames, lenses, contact lenses, solutions and sunglasses. I looked at updating the frame selections to introduce new brands to our portfolio that reflected our patient base. Over time, we’ve also introduced stronger window displays and planned promotions to drive footfall.

Joining a supportive community

I joined Hakim Group in 2019, but I first met Imran Hakim many years ago when I was a DO, so I knew about the group and had read articles about them in magazines. I came over to Hakim Group HQ and the energy and enthusiasm of the whole team there was just infectious.

If you move too fast in implementing changes, it can become difficult to keep up

 


I knew instantly it was the right decision to join, allowing my business to grow with the support of a larger group. The culture was the decision maker for me – I know I can pick up the phone at any time and someone is there to assist me. The practice ‘Buddies’ are our support system, guiding us along the way. The whole package gives us the confidence to do what we do and do it well.



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