Since 2017, Marita Tinmannsvik has run the Specsavers store in Orkanger, four miles southwest of Trondheim. She is a trained optician and takes her share of the eye examinations but says that she spends the same amount of time on the retail business and administration of the store. It's always challenging to get the staffing cabal going up with an eight-person team to cover the store’s opening hours – particularly during the pandemic period we’ve been through.
When we meet Marita, she has just returned from a weekend seminar in Svolvær. 360 Specsavers colleagues met for kick-off. This was the first seminar in three years, so it was a team in need of professional refills and socialising with colleagues in the spectacular Lofoten nature. During the hectic cod fishing season, it’s packed with fishing boats in the harbour and bustling folklore throughout Svolvær. The smell of freshly caught cod hangs over the city, but the Specsavers delegation is not going on a fishing trip. The team would instead go on an eagle safari with high-speed ribs. It suited Marita well because she likes speed and excitement.
“It was just great to meet the whole herd again,” says Marita. She took five of her employees on the trip and now says they are all ardently motivated after the weekend. “It's incredibly inspiring to get together and hear about all the plans Specsavers has for the future. A real boost for motivation and work ethic – very instructive,” says Marita.
The optician business became a career change for Marita. She was a trained chef and worked for a few years as a chef and waiter in the restaurant business but wanted a job during the day and more time off in the evenings and on weekends. After getting a job as a store employee and assistant in an optician chain, Marita's professional career and life took a new direction. Literally. She completed her optician training in Copenhagen and worked for Louis Nielsen* in Lyngby for four years. Back in Norway, she takes a full-time job as an optician and extra courses on the side. Marita has the qualifications and personal qualities Specsavers is looking for. She completed the Partner in Development programme, and in 2017, she signed the joint venture agreement and took over as partner and manager of Specsavers Orkanger.
*Louis Nielsen is Specsavers’ brand name in Denmark.
“My everyday life is busy and varied,” says Marita. She's up early and will have her coffee ready well before the first shift starts at nine. “It's some administration to handle, but otherwise, I work 50/50 as an optician and customer advisor.” Marita is fond of sales and makes sure that she gets time for customer contact; she believes that it’s important to take the pulse on the market.
“The best thing about the job is to help people to good sight or look good. Preferably both at the same time,” says Marita, who can look back on many great moments with customers overwhelmed by what the right glasses can do with their vision and appearance.
Management of the in-store team is Marita's most crucial function. The group that works together in the store must act as a team. They must complement each other and create good chemistry and a positive atmosphere. It affects the customers positively. “No one is the same, and I must see and treat everyone as individuals,” says Marita. “I learn along the way and from mistakes I make, but it's a fascinating part of my job.”
“The concept of two pairs of glasses for the price of one is incredibly good,” says Marita. She says that most customers have decided to buy glasses when they come to the store and that it’s the two for one offer they are asking for. Marita believes in seeing a trend toward people being more price-conscious than before and that this is bringing growth to her store. “Our low prices are a direct consequence of Specsavers’ size as a chain. ‘Eyewear for the people, that's us in Specsavers,’ a colleague used to say. It's wonderful to have an organisation like that behind you. It provides security for me as a partner,” says Marita, who also believes that the optician industry is a safe industry to work in. “There is nothing to suggest that people will get better eyesight and less need for glasses in the future,” she adds.
Marita was going on her honeymoon in Bali in the fall of 2020. That dream broke when the pandemic came, but now she has new hope that the trip can take place soon. Meanwhile, she enjoys family life with her husband and two boys, ages 23 and 13. In the summer, she'll learn how to kayak and paddle the stand-up board.
“Bali can wait. Holidays are nice, but what really matters are the days in between the holidays. Having a meaningful job and my family around me, that’s what keeps me happy,” Marita states.