“I remember lying almost shivering from the cold in the caravan, with the gas burner ticking, knowing that I would soon have to get up and change the gas in the bitter cold. It was true love that my girlfriend agreed to go with me,” laughs 33-year-old Andrzej, who, years later, was able to return the favour when he hired his girlfriend as a member of the store team.
*In 2005, Specsavers acquired the successful Danish optical chain Louis Nielsen, led by its founder of the same name. As the brand was so well-known within Denmark, the stores kept operating under the name Louis Nielsen.
At Louis Nielsen, years of experience are not necessarily required to get great responsibility. Dedication goes a long way. Andrzej’s story is a great example.
As a newly trained multimedia designer in the 00s, Andrzej searched in vain for all the jobs he could find. Instead, he had to settle for a job at the checkout of a discount store before trying his hand as a trainee in the telecommunications industry. His sales talent was obvious, so when his old boss later became a partner at Louis Nielsen, he called to get Andrzej on the team. It was the start of a fast-paced career where Andrzej, at the age of 26, got the offer to become a partner at Louis Nielsen, managing his own store in Helsingør.
In Helsingør, he followed Louis Nielsen’s usual business model, where a retail partner and an optical partner jointly run the store. But after a couple of years, Andrzej Petersen’s optical partner left Helsingør, and Andrzej was on his own. A bit of a challenge for a young partner. But this was when he realised that you are never alone at Louis Nielsen, says Andrzej.
“You are never alone with the challenges. Everyone knows each other and the support from the main office is very good. It’s nice to know that you can always get help, whether it’s with HR, financial or marketing issues. It has been a huge ballast for me, while at the same time I’ve had great freedom to be myself,” says Andrzej, who enjoys the room for creativity and for setting his own framework and structures. Both for the daily operation and the relations with the customers. For example, one of his opticians is interested in contact lenses, so she insists on following up personally on all the store’s contact lens customers.
Andrzej also takes pride in calling customers to hear how their eyewear adjustments are going and if there is anything else he can do for them.
“Although we make our living from selling spectacles, personal advice and being a health professional are the essence of our relations with the customers. Relationships are essential, because selling spectacles is very much about health. We do everything to be down to earth and to meet customers at eye level. That is insanely important, no matter who you are.”
After settling completely in the partner role, Andrzej has taken on more of a mentoring role for his employees. Where money and bonuses used to be a great part of his driving force, today, he says that the collaboration and the relationships with other people make Andrzej get up in the morning.
“Once, I was in top gear all the time. Today, I enjoy things a little more. I’m still a salesman to the bone, but in everyday life it becomes secondary. Today, I am more driven by helping others along. Right now, I have a young intern at the store, and I enjoy following how he is constantly evolving. Creating value for others and seeing them achieve something means the world to me.”