Family feeling maximised

27/05 2024 - Stores

Family feeling maximised

Specsavers is known as a family-owned business with a unique family-like atmosphere that has awarded it a status as one of the best workplaces in Finland. In Specsavers Savonlinna in Eastern Finland, the family feeling is literal. Optometrist Jutta Liimatta and her father are colleagues in a store with another father-daughter combo. Despite the close relationships, things go smoothly in Savonlinna, and in the future, the two daughters may carry on as store partners.

The optical field was not a clear choice for Jutta despite her father's occupation. After high school, she needed a new perspective, so she packed her bags and moved to Helsinki. After a half-year-long stretch behind a cafe counter, weighing her options, her father nudged her in the right direction and suggested an optometry school. Jutta decided to take the advice and applied. The decision took her on a road that led to a professional family feeling that she couldn’t have predicted.

Professional ambition fuel for optical partner

Jutta graduated in 2018 and moved back to Savonlinna, where she got a job as a store manager in an optical store. A couple of years later, she was managing two stores simultaneously. The owner of Specsavers Savonlinna had met Jutta before and informed her about his plan to eventually hand over his store to his daughter. Since the store still needed an optical partner, he inquired if Jutta would consider the opportunity. Her response was yes.

Changing jobs meant more than changing chains, however. The new store already had a manager, so Jutta had to step down from that position. According to Jutta, she didn’t hesitate a moment because while she’d been thriving as a store manager, ownership was a goal she couldn’t achieve elsewhere. An optical partner is also a professional role model for the optical team, so getting as much experience and learning as possible is crucial. Jutta’s father was employed a little later, which only increased the family feeling in the store.

“When I started as an optician, there were plenty of reclamations. Even if you perform all tests correctly, it says nothing about how, where and for what purpose the customer uses their glasses. Sometimes there are also big differences in how they wish to see – someone wants a super sharp vision, and someone else would rather see softly. Occupation is also important – someone operating a forklift needs different viewing zones than someone working on a computer. There are lots of variables, and you learn them by doing. Handling your reclamations is the best way to learn from your mistakes”, Jutta says. According to her, those working in smaller stores are more likely to receive complaints themselves, which is an advantage.

Customer service is most rewarding right now

In her current position, Jutta enjoys customer service the most. Her goal is to get even the most frustrated customers into a sunny mood by the time they leave the store. According to her, the fact that her store is owned privately shows in how customers are greeted and treated. Employees receive equal respect, and there’s a pursuit for excellence.

The chance to help others is rewarding. “For example, last week, I performed an eye test for a customer to see how the cataract had advanced. I noticed a detached retina and sent the customer directly to the ER. They fixed the retina the next day, and the customer called to thank me. The operation saved the eyesight.”

Retinal imagining is super important, according to Jutta. “Without it, many things would go unnoticed. I might have said we should wait a little longer with the cataract and sent the customer home.”

Professional support and family feeling

Jutta’s store employs three opticians, so customers do not usually wait long for sight tests. Jutta is the store's contact lens expert, so she handles reorders and fittings with the customers. “It is easy to recommend contacts when you use them yourself and know how much easier they can make daily life.”

There are also six ophthalmologists. It is an exceptionally high number for a small town, but Savonlinna is a popular holiday destination. Many ophthalmologists have their cabin or second home in the area, which benefits the other residents. Usually, a quick second opinion, consultation, or a doctor's appointment is fast to get. Jutta also says having enough personnel leaves her time for other duties besides sight tests. “I like my job so much because there is versatility – I get to do different tasks, which keeps things interesting. I can also move around more and not just sit on a chair all day”, she says.

Getting ready for ownership

The exact time for the ownership handover is not clear yet, but in the meantime, Jutta wants to prepare for it as well as she can. In the spring, she began the Partner in Development Programme. “I’m proud of my career, even if it’s not that long yet. It has made me want to develop and move forward. My family has never owned a business, so my own professional development has awakened that urge”, Jutta says.

Jutta envisions a business where everyone feels safe to give feedback and fosters a family-like atmosphere. Open communication, regular meetings, and alignment are essential to her. She also values Specsavers’ two-partner model for shared responsibility and support in running the store.

In her free time, Jutta goes for a jog or HIIT training to reset her mind. Her childhood passions, mathematics and astronomy, have found their outlet in optometry.

Have you discovered a need to move forward in your career, or are you looking for new motivation? Why not read more about the Specsavers partnership and see what job openings we have on offer right now?

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