“To us, the partnership means both responsibilities and opportunities. Variety in working days and the opportunity to influence the content of our work is a great advantage,” says Jaana Ylätalo. Jaana and Antti have been Specsavers partners since 2017 when they started running their first store. Their second store opened in October 2019. Jaana previously worked as an optometrist in another Specsavers store in Espoo, from where she made the leap to become a partner in the busy Forum store. Antti, on the other hand, moved to the partner role from a project manager position at a bank.
“We were interested in running the Forum store because of its good location and its unutilised potential. Naturally, also the opportunity for increased turnover in the best location in Helsinki, made taking the opportunity attractive – and it paid off!” says Antti. Under the new partners, Forum’s turnover increased by 25% in the first year.
The partners say that a new store in a new shopping centre always bring challenges – but at the same time, also fantastic opportunities. “It is great to have the opportunity to start a business from scratch. We see the developing area around the Tripla store as a big potential for a successful business and an opportunity for good synergy through running two stores,” says Jaana.
When it comes to challenges, both find it difficult to divide their time between the two stores and to make sure they’re present among the two teams. It’s also important to react to any store-specific problems quickly enough.
Inspired by the new shopfit
Specsavers has been revamping the shopfit of its stores, and both Tripla and Forum are visually under the new concept, which brings light and spaciousness. Customers already know where to find the Forum store, but the Tripla store is still finding its place in consumer awareness.
Specsavers’ stores usually have both an optical partner and a retail partner. The partners manage the business jointly, and they allocate their tasks according to the areas of responsibility. As leaders, Jaana and Antti consider themselves to be demanding but rewarding at the same time: “We’re present and feel that we’re approachable. We participate in the day-to-day work. We give our team members the freedom and responsibility to do their jobs, so everyone feels that their work is meaningful. And, we encourage our people to grow in their careers and to develop themselves. As an example: three of our people have gone on to become Specsavers partners and now run their own stores!”.
A good team is at the heart of success
According to Jaana and Antti, a good team is the key to a successful business: “We want everyone to enjoy their work. All team members have their own personality, and they can all be themselves. By sharing responsibilities and working together, everyone feels part of the team and part of the success.”
“The support we get from the Finnish support office also plays an important role in the success of our business. With the back-up of a successful and well-known international brand, and the opportunity to share our viewpoints, we have all the possibilities to be successful,” says Antti. “The purchasing power of a big chain, which makes it possible to have low prices for our customers, is also a bonus,” adds Jaana.
In our stores, we see many customers, and some of them stay in our memories for a long time. “Particularly the customer who brought a gift to our optician last Christmas, to say thank you for spotting that something wasn’t quite right and, after further examination, revealed a life-threatening issue. Those customers remind us how important our daily work is!” says Jaana in conclusion.
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