Over 300 independent practitioners attended the Optix annual conference in Kenilworth, near Warwick, last week (10–11 March), which concluded with Alastair Campbell, the former director of communications and strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair, as its final speaker.The other presenters included ‘boom to bust’ jewellery retailer, Gerald Ratner, and entrepreneur Richard Noble OBE, who amazed the audience with film clips of the British 1000mph land speed record car ‘Bloodhound’ being developed. Brand guru, Rita Clifton shared her business tips, as did Kevin Gaskell, who explained how he turned around the former struggling brands Porsche, BMW and Fairline Boats.
The user group conference has grown substantially from 37 delegates at the first event eight years ago, to 304 this year. The programme has also developed with more business content and a choice of workshops.
Managing director of Optix, Trevor Rowley, explained: “It started out as a way of being able to assist new customers with Optix software in a more relaxed informal setting and we wanted to make it more business orientated by adding some world class speakers.
“But it’s amazing how large the conference has grown and every year I think, how can I top that next year, because the speakers we have are just exceptional.”
During the two day conference, it was revealed that the business management software company will be implementing some system enhancements shortly, including a new MySight app which will enable patients to book and reschedule appointments from their mobile devices and an extensive 86,000 online frame catalogue.
Luke Wren, director of business development at Leightons Opticians, which has 34 practices across the sough of England, said of the event: “The new format was excellent, a nice balance between Optix related information and some really inspiring speakers. I think you would struggle to find so many good speakers in one place at any other event.”
Throughout the event, held at Chesford Grange country hotel, delegates were able to attend various Optix software sessions to help gain further expertise in recall and marketing, MySight set-up, Access aCloud HR and accounts updates, productivity tools for mobile working and advice on how to add value to their practices.
At the conference dinner, 275 guests enjoyed a selection of wines during a fun tasting session with practitioner wine expert David Bennett, and later danced the night away to The Bogus Brothers band.
Gareth Evans, UK and Ireland sales director for Maui Jim Sunglasses and Zeal Optics, which exhibited at the event, said: “Maui Jim and Zeal Optics were first time visitors to the Optix conference this year. We were made to feel very welcome and were extremely impressed with the very well organised and professional event. The guest speakers were all inspirational and I am sure we will all take some of their ideas and concepts back into our businesses.”
Other exhibitors included Abbott Medical, Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, CooperVision, Essilor, Hoya, Mid-Optic, Rodenstock, William Morris and Carl Zeiss.