“Our eyes and our sight are the most important things we own”
Owner of Beaconsfield’s CBTR Opticians, Hayley Brunsden, talks OT through a working day that starts with weights and dogs walks and ends with a cosy crime novel
09 February 2024
Occupation:Owner of CBTR Opticians
Business owner since:November 2023.
9amI arrive at the practice around 9am. We’ve got a very posh coffee machine; that was one of the first things I bought. I was laughing with my partner. He was like, ‘Hayley, you haven’t even signed a lease yet, and you’re researching which coffee machine you want to buy.’
We’ve also got some electronic diffusers that we use in the practice, so we like to switch those on nice and early, to make sure the practice is smelling lovely when the first client comes at 9.45am.
9.15amThere is just two of us: myself and my colleague, who is a friend and a dispensing optician. We usually go through the clinic and see who we’ve got coming in. Obviously, at the moment they are all new clients. It’s just having a look at what notes we’ve made from their last eye examination, and just getting prepared for the clinic that we’ve got ahead.
11amCurrently we have a few clients day-to-day, but they are sporadic. I do spend a lot of my time connecting with local community, even if it’s just going around the local businesses and introducing myself, saying who we are and what we do. Because we’re a private practice, I’ve connected with some of the private dentists and private GPs.
I’m also managing our social media, so I make sure I get ideas for content and put content out a couple of times a week as well.
12.45pmLunch is usually whatever leftovers I have from the night before. Because I get up so early to go to the gym, it just needs to be packed and ready to go.
I block out an hour. I usually take half an hour off the shop floor, to give my brain that time to relax. Ideally, I’ll go out and get some fresh air again, even if it’s just for a wander around the block, because as the resident optometrist I’m sat in a windowless room most of the day. For the second half an hour, I will be manning the front of house while my colleague goes for lunch.
2pmAs in the morning, in the afternoon, we will hopefully have clients in. We’ve got an extensive drinks menu, including tea and coffee, but also bubbles and wine. If a client turns up a little bit early, I’ll always offer them a drink and we’ll sit and have a chat.
To unwind, I read...
JK Rowling aka Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels
6pmIt’s just me and my partner at home. We will usually walk the dog again in the evening. We’re members at David Lloyd, so sometimes we’ll go and have a relaxing spa session for an hour.
7pmMy partner and I are both vegan, so dinner is always something packed with lots of nutrients, but also trying to get in as much protein in it as possible. Often, it’s a veggie curry or a chilli con carne.
My phone goes off at least half an hour before I go to bed. I plug it in, set my alarm, and that’s gone. Reading is one of my biggest passions, so I always read before bed. I like to escape into fiction, and I’m not too fussy with what kind. Often, it’s a crime or detective novel – just something I can escape into.
My fantasy practice
If I had an unlimited practice budget, I would...
I’d like the practice to be a bit bigger. We’ve just got one consulting room at the moment. Because it was a complete start-up, with no clients and no previous business, we were quite tight on how much we could spend. So, a couple of consulting rooms. We always offer clients whatever drink they want, but a lounge bar would be cool too – somewhere to sit and relax.
If I could invent one piece of technology to help solve an issue in practice, it would be...
A piece of artificial intelligence technology that will allow me to find those exact clients whowant my business model, and get them through the door.
The very first change I would make to the optometry profession would be...
How the public view us. Clients often see us as just trying to sell them something. But actually, if you break it down, our eyes and our sight are the most important things we own, and such a worthy investment. But it’s trying to convey that to clients and get them out of the way that they currently think. So, to be viewed more from a medical and professional point of view, rather than as a sales assistant.
If I could be visited in practice by one influential person from history, it would be...
Elton John. My dad and I have Watford season tickets, so we’ve always gone to the football on Saturdays – that’s our thing. Elton John is our chairman. That’s one of the reasons, but also, he’s made wearing glasses so cool and fun. He makes such a statement with them. I would love that, and I would love him as a client.
One thing that would improve my practice economics is...
More clients would be nice. It’s just time, trying to get the practice off the ground up and running. I have absolutely no doubt that it will be a success. It’s something I’m so passionate about, and I’m enjoying it so much. I think it is just going to take time. That’s the bare bones of it, isn’t it?
If I could close the practice for a week without having any effect at all, I would...
Right now, after months of carnage trying to get the practice to a point where it’s ready to be open, I probably want to go somewhere with no phone signal. Just my partner, me, and the dog, in the middle of nowhere. Ideally it would be sunny, so maybe not in the UK, but I’ve got the dog – so let’s be realistic. Middle of nowhere, forests, loads of lovely walks, and ideally some sunshine.
My wildest ambition for my practice is...
The dream would be to build the CBTR Opticians brand, and have four or five practices, so everybody can experience the level of eye care that I think that we all should be having.