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Becoming bespoke

Ahead of his presentation at Optos’ roadshow, co-owner of independent practice Hammond & Dummer in Milton Keynes, Dr Bob Ranger, tells OT  why it’s important to set your practice apart with new technology

23 Jan 2018 by Andrew McClean

What topics will your presentation cover at Optos’ roadshow?

I’m not an optometrist, but I own a practice with my wife Claire, who is an optometrist. The thing I bring to the practice is to ask, ‘why are we doing that?’ We try to do things in a completely different way and because we’re independent, we feel that we can react to the marketplace really quickly.

I will be giving a review of where we’ve come from but also to point out that there are methods, which other opticians can use by taking our example, to improve their business, diversify and make themselves unusual and different. This doesn’t come from an attitude of ‘we know all the answers,’ because we’ve made a lot of mistakes. Instead it is ‘these are the pitfalls, but these are the things that worked for us.’

The event is focused on ultra-widefield technology, what do you consider when adopting new equipment?

We look at every aspect of the business and everything goes under scrutiny for quality. If we’re going to do optometry then we’re going to do it to the very best of our ability. We have the very best staff and we have the very best equipment. Providing it is proven technology and providing the company is secure, we’ve always adopted the technology early. We charge £100 for our eye test and it’s almost an hour long – it differentiates ourselves from everybody else giving away free eye tests.

"Anything we can do to become bespoke and different, or to build relationships, it just sets us apart"

Why is it important to invest in technology?

We have every multiple you can think of in Milton Keynes. We have a few independents, but they’re suffering. It’s my view that because they’re under such pressure, they’ll go the same way as butchers and chemists – it’ll all be multiples. Anything we can do to become bespoke and different, or to build relationships, it just sets us apart. It’s shown in the figures – we’ve increased our turnover five-fold in a decade.

What are you top three tips for those looking to invest?

  1. Staff – make sure that everybody is on board and they all understand it. They have to be able to sell it. If someone phones up and asks, ‘how much is your eye test?’ and you say, ‘it’s £100,’ you have to be able to sell that
  2. Marketing – you have to tell people out there that you have this equipment and that you are different. My job is to get people in the front door and a serious marketing campaign is critical to that happening
  3. Spread the word – get out there and make sure that everybody who is clinically orientated in your community understands what you’re doing. Have GP meetings, invite consultants to the practice, give them complimentary eye tests, so that when they see someone with an eye problem they recommend you. 

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