“Building genuine relationships is the most rewarding part of my role”
AOP Awards 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year, Sue Edwards, on the value of giving back to the community and treating customers as she would like to be treated
What three words sum up your feeling of winning?
Crazy, exciting, fabulous.
What does winning this AOP award mean to you?
Waiting to hear if you have won is an anxious time; all the hard work is done and you just have to wait. Winning simply feels crazy, exciting and fabulous. I smiled a lot and just felt great – I suppose the feeling I am trying to describe could simply be being truly happy.
Why did you choose optics as a career?
I did a degree in marketing and my early career was in public relations. However, in the early 1990s my father in-law, who had three small optical practices, invited me to join him. Having worn spectacles as a child, I had some interest and began by simply introducing a marketing plan to help promote the businesses in their areas. Three years later I qualified as a professional FBDO dispensing optician and the rest is history.
Optics is constantly evolving and we all need to grow together
What is the most rewarding part of your role and why?
I love meeting and getting to know new people, but I get frustrated with poor customer service standards. I like to be greeted with eye contact and treated with consideration in my interactions with others, so I ensure I treat my customers this way. Building genuine relationships is the most rewarding part of my role. Success in winning this award came from my customers’ votes and support.
What is your next career goal?
I now really want to enjoy the incredible achievements of the last 12 months, work closely with my team to continue to keep our practice at the highest level, and then who knows. I would like to promote the role of the dispensing optician in some way, to make it more visible as a career option and to champion the many excellent, knowledgeable and incredible dispensing opticians working hard in the industry.
What are your three tips for being the best possible dispensing optician?
- Retain a thirst for knowledge and embrace change and technological advances in the industry, which is constantly evolving. New developments in lens design are exciting and really work, so our customers should be advised about them. Never be complacent; the learning never stops
- Get involved in your local area and work together with other businesses and charities. You will find you have similar goals and a thriving local community is good for everyone. Promote your business, raise funds for the cause that affects your area and talk about what you are doing to your customers. In our area, the YMCA and Nomad are doing incredible work to help the increasing number of homeless people on our streets. I try to support their work by raising money in practice. Community issues matter and as a local business I believe it’s important to get involved
- Build great relationships with your customers, your representatives, suppliers and of course, your team. Optics is constantly evolving and we all need to grow together.