“I owned my own store just two years after my graduation”

11/03 2024 - Stores

“I owned my own store just two years after my graduation”

Meet one of our young optical partners, Wanwisa Vallberg, who runs a Specsavers store in Skärholmen outside Stockholm with her retail partner. As an optical partner (store owner), she can focus on what she’s passionate about – performing eye exams, helping customers in the best possible way, and coaching a team of optometrists and specialists who help make the store reach its full potential clinically and commercially.

”I’ve always liked helping people”

"I came to Sweden when I was 21," Wanwisa tells me. "Back home in Thailand, I’d to drop out of school at the age of 14 because we’d so little money, and I needed to work to make ends meet. My first job was as a dishwasher, and I only earned 15 kr a day. I never thought back then that one day I’d become an optical store owner, " she says with a big smile.

“In Sweden, I studied SFI (Swedish for immigrants) for four years and worked as a cleaner. Since I love cooking, I started the culinary programme at the Stockholm Hotel and Restaurant School. However, the kitchen work was very demanding, with many late nights, so I returned to the classroom, studied Swedish high school subjects, and applied to university.

I wear glasses myself, and optometry seemed like a perfect fit from what I've seen during eye exams. The optometry training was tougher, more demanding than expected, enjoyable and fascinating – I don't regret a single day.”

”As an optical store owner, it's been an incredible journey”

Specsavers has, for many years, developed one of the industry's most successful ownership possibilities – partnership models – where an optical owner (partner) and a retail owner (partner) jointly own and manage one or more stores. While the optical owner primarily focuses on the clinical aspect of the business, the retail owner handles everything outside the examination rooms. Additionally, as an owner, you’ve got the backing of a strong and well-known brand concept and a support office that assists with marketing, recruitment, and training.

“I’ve always been a Specsavers customer. Before I started here, I worked as a consultant optometrist, allowing me to work with all the players in the market. And I must say that the Specsavers concept appeals to me the most with the mission to change lives through better sight and hearing. Almost immediately after hiring, I started the Partner in Development programme, which was a great start. It's a solid education of almost a year, where I learned a lot about leadership and how to run your own store as an optical partner.

The training was very rewarding. And that's what's so great about Specsavers: you can constantly improve. You can work as an optometrist, be a partner or a consultant optometrist. You’ve got so many different choices. I take great pride in becoming an optical store owner only two years after graduating.”

”A successful concept”

“I really believe in this concept – where you split leadership and responsibilities between an optical partner and a retail partner. My retail partner has been around for a while and knows precisely what's up on the admin front. I love the clinical aspect of the job and want to focus on those bits. The most fun is when you turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy one who leaves our store with a smile. I'm genuinely passionate about making customers happy and offering top-notch eye health. Since I haven't been a partner for too long, I'm attending a course on strengthening your leadership this autumn.

And what I think is quite unique for Specsavers is that both store owners are in the store daily, giving the whole team an extra dimension. That bond is essential. It’s also made me calmer and more confident in my skills. Your problems don't matter; you get as much support as you want to develop in your career. As a partner, you really don't feel alone, which feels really good. And we have had the best kick-off every year," says Wanwisa with a big smile again. "So, if you like to work in a fast-paced environment with varied tasks, love to solve problems and have service at heart, the optical partner option is definitely right for you.”

Interested in working as an optical partner at Specsavers? Read more about our opportunities and current job openings that match your preferences.

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