A minute with...Sarah Morgan

The optometrist and staff trainer explains the new Storm programme that has been created to help independent practices to grow

Storm team

Can you describe Storm in a nutshell?

Storm is a go-to hub of expertise and resources for the essential aspects of running a successful optometric practice – accessible online, by email, over the phone and in person, depending on the business needs and goals of the practice.

What was the inspiration behind the programme?

The vision of a strong independent sector for UK optometry was the primary vision behind the inception of Storm.

The typical High Street tends to look very similar no matter which town you visit, and optometric practices are no exception.

It has become increasingly challenging for independent practices to match the retailing muscle of each of the multiples, and we know that this is paralysing to some businesses.

Delivering the necessary know-how and support to shore up the independent sector for the benefit of everyone – not least continuing to provide choice for the general public – is the key aim of Storm.

Who have you been working with to develop the idea?

Storm comprises a successful, motivated and driven team of seven experts who have each served significant time in the industry, including both independent and multiple practice, professional leadership and training, as well as marketing and manufacturing across the industry sectors.

Their complementary and combined expertise ensures that every critical element of running an optometric practice has been considered, with many approaches to tailor the best business practice for each individual practice.

There are a few schemes for independents on the market. What makes Storm different?

There are some business support schemes on the market but none offers a fully comprehensive ‘one-stop shop’ such as Storm.

Storm has a range of options from owner-led development (for those who are confident in their business and would like to benefit from new ideas, essential business tools and inspiration) up to a programme with systemised support and accountability to facilitate significant transformation, should that be the goal and ambition of the business.

What kinds of practices should consider joining the programme? Is it right for everyone?

Independent practices by definition vary enormously, every practice is individual. However, they have one common aim: to deliver excellence in eye care and vision correction to their customers and patients in a manner that is commercially successful.

Storm isn’t for everyone, as not all practices can be transformed. For business owners who feel they would benefit from expert guidance and support in their practices, Storm offers the resources and guidance through carefully crafted programmes to transform either a specific focused area of the business or the entire operation.

This can be applied whether the business is brand new or has a new owner, is an established practice seeking to make important changes for the health and wellbeing of the staff and the business, or for those looking for an exit plan wanting to maximise and realise the true value of their career-long investment in their practice.

What are your goals for Storm in the next 12 months?

Storm offers exciting times ahead. I have always enjoyed working with the people in our profession and industry. Storm means that I will continue to be closely involved in our industry doing what I enjoy the most, which is helping people to be the best they can be and to enjoy their work. We are spending most of our lives at work. It has to be fun.

What are the costs involved and how can practices sign up?

Guest access to Storm is free. This offer has been put in place to enable as many people as possible to thrive in the Storm community.

For practices wanting to access a very comprehensive range of business transformation ideas, expertise and services, the cost is £87 per month on a 12-month minimum contract.

My sell-out book, The Complete Optometric Assistant is included in the online resources, which I know has been a valuable resource for many practices when developing front- of-house staff.

For practice owners who have already identified key areas in which they require a more focused approach, Storm offers specialised rapid response programmes to transform specific areas of the business in 90 days, for example ‘marketing magic,’ financial success and customer loyalty.

By application only, a limited number of subscribers may be selected for the ‘Transform in 12’ programme, which is an intense ‘done with the practice’ programme and is bespoke to the immediate practice needs, following a detailed Storm practice health check.

What impact would you like to see the programme have on the optical sector?

The future can be bright. Running a business can be a lonely place, and by bringing practice owners and their staff together within the Storm community, including regional masterclasses and an eagerly anticipated annual retreat, we can expect some mutually satisfying rewards.

Storm presents us all with an exciting opportunity to collaborate on strengthening independent practice and transforming the optical sector as a whole.