Sight Care has announced the speaker programme and theme for its annual business conference for independents.
The event will run under the theme of Better together and will be held on Monday, 29 February at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham, with a workshop and pre-conference dinner on Sunday, 28 February.
Despite a crowded optical calendar, Sight Care is anticipating over 500 registrations for the event. The business and networking group has confirmed that its 15 year-long policy of not charging for places for independents and their staff will remain in force for 2016.
Sight Care’s chief executive, Paul Surridge, said: “As the internet and technology changes business practices and the way we live our lives, there is an increasing need for independents to adapt to new ways of retaining existing patients and attracting new ones.
“It’s essential that independents establish and execute coherent business plans and work together to avoid becoming irrelevant to consumers in the long term.”
Sight Care’s newly-elected chairman, Garrey Haase, will open the conference. Responding to the conference theme, Mr Haase will highlight some of the challenges facing independents today, while recognising the progress that has been made in responding to market conditions and the competitive landscape.
A favourite of Sight Care events, internationally acclaimed writer and broadcaster, Nigel Risner, will return to motivate delegates to get out of their comfort zone and do things differently.
Having a father who was an optometrist, Mr Risner has an understanding of the everyday challenges facing the profession. His style of delivery and message has entertained audiences across the world for decades.
On the basis of learning from other sectors, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, James Lowman, will offer his views on what today’s consumers want from small businesses and the professions.
A regular broadcaster and commentator on retail, Mr Lowman will give insights into how technology is shaping lives and why embracing technology in business is important in the 21st century.
Speaker Erak Simsson, a former warrant officer in the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, will also build on the conference theme, explaining how connecting with other local health and well-being professionals can increase a practice profile within a local community, improving practice referrals and business growth.
Presenter Antonia Chitty, a former optometrist turned writer and social media consultant, is well-known in optics and has authored more than 20 books. In her presentation she will explain how to use local PR and social media effectively, and how to be interactive online.
With the lecture title, A business owners curse, optometrist John Davidson will argue that, as a practice owner, being creative and having ideas are indeed key skills, but can also be a curse in his opinion.
He believes that the endless stream of ideas and the challenge of implementation is often the biggest challenge facing practice owners when trying to make changes. He will explain the ‘four disciplines of execution’ that he believes will make a practice-owner’s life a lot easier.
Owner of an independent hearing care practice, Curtis Alcock, took the business over from his father-in-law in 2008, just before the UK recession and found himself in the midst of immense upheaval.
At the conference, Mr Alcock will explain that the same challenges can be found in hearing care as they are in optics. In his presentation, Uncertainty rocks, he will look at the tools that independents need to succeed and turn uncertainty into an advantage.
Optometrist Nick Rumney will also take to the stage during the event. In his presentation, he will draw perspectives from education and clinical practice to develop the business case for an advanced clinical services proposition that can increase practice profits, as well as offering career and lifestyle benefits.
Mr Surridge concluded: “Our aim continues to provide a thought-provoking and motivational day aimed at every member of the practice team and we’re confident this year’s programme will not disappoint.
“We encourage all independents to be a part of our Better together conference. Attendance guarantees a copy of all speaker presentations on DVD post-event, but places are limited.”
In addition to UK practitioners, Sight Care is expecting representatives from a number of European independent business resource groups to attend the event.