“I first worked as an optician for about 26 years and also ran my own business. In 1997, I was offered a job at a contact lens company, where I worked with training, marketing and launches. In that job, I had contact with all optical retail chains in Sweden. I realised that there are many different ways to conduct optical business, and also that it’s possible to be successful in many different ways. The discount chains entered the market and at first, the quality may not have been as good. But they were very successful and constantly improved both their quality and their offer. So I realised that you don’t have to come from a ‘fancy optical store’ for the offer to be good. I could see that the emerging companies were quite skilled. And the company that stood out the most after a few years was Specsavers.”
Ulrik started working at the Specsavers support office in Gothenburg on the contact lens side. He also took part in building up the new retail business in the stores. Then he continued as a product manager for seven years until he decided to slow down. Instead, he worked more with clinical issues and marketing to students in optical education until he retired in 2019.
“The office in Gothenburg is an incredibly good workplace. The atmosphere is really familiar, the decision paths are short and even the owners and top management are available in a way that’s quite unusual. It’s very clear throughout the organisation that Specsavers is a family business.”
Ulrik started as an optical consultant in the summer of 2019 and worked quite intensively for a year. Then the pandemic broke out and he started to work in the new Optician on Demand concept, which means that you are conducting eye examinations remotely, while the customer is in a store with a clinical assistant.
“When I first heard the idea of working as an Optician on Demand, I thought it’d be very limited and difficult to make it work smoothly. But it has been working really well, especially since the teams in the stores are so well-trained and really tuned into this. I see a huge potential in this concept, and believe that it’s only in its infancy and will develop more and more. Now I work part-time as an optical consultant,” says Ulrik. “Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. I’ve been working in many Specsavers stores – around 15 so far. I know most of the store owners since my previous job, although of course a lot of new ones have started. And it’s always nice to meet them again.”
“I can decide how much I want to work and when. Specsavers has a great booking system where I can enter my availability and which days I want to work. Then the support team tries to match this with requests from the stores and I get suggestions for working hours. It works very well and smoothly. In addition, it’s the same system and equipment in basically all stores. This means that it’s always easy to get started when you come to work in the morning. At Specsavers, we use the so-called ‘three-way handover’. It means that someone welcomes the customer and enters everything in the system, takes care of payments and then ‘hands over’ the customer to the optician. When I have finished the eye examination, I ‘hand over’ the customer to the assistant and explain what we have agreed on. This also means that I can focus entirely on performing eye examinations.”
“Specsavers has a model where the company can highlight a person they believe in. It can be a super-skilled sales employee or assistant who can just as easily become a partner and own a store. Partner in Development is a training programme for motivated employees who dream of becoming self-employed. An optical partner and a retail partner run the store together. One of them takes care of the entire clinical part and coaches opticians, while the other one is good at team management and store operations. It’s a very strong combination.”
“Many of the employees that Specsavers has invested in have become successful entrepreneurs. As a partner, you get all the support you need with finances, marketing and store operations. You get help with all those parts so you can get started. If you have the slightest inclination to becoming self-employed, I believe you should turn to Specsavers. It’s one of the few places where you can realise the dream to run your own store in a fairly simple way.”
“First of all, it’s a wide-ranging profession. There are many different opportunities and you can work with a great variety of things. You get a very good job with great job opportunities. I haven’t been unemployed a single day in my entire life. I haven’t even been close and after all these years there’s still a very high demand for opticians. Working as an optical consultant is a very free profession, and it suits me very well right now. It’s an interesting job and I get direct feedback from the customers in the stores. If you do a good job, you will be appreciated, there is no doubt about it.”
“My father – he was a very good role model and a fantastic person. I also have an amazing wife who has supported me all these years and brings me down to earth if I tend to veer off too much. Then I have to say that my children inspire me. They are smart and well-educated and know a lot of things that I don’t. Professionally, there are role models in many good colleagues at Specsavers. I still have close contact with many of them.”