“We’re here to charm our audience”

22/11 2021 - Stores

“We’re here to charm our audience”

Tapani Väisänen is the retail partner in the two Specsavers stores in Kuopio, Centrum and Kolmisoppi (Finland). Next spring, it will be five years since he took up the partnership, coupled with Jenni Hiltunen, who already was the optical partner in both stores. The Specsavers concept is based on two-fold entrepreneurship: one partner manages the optics side while the other takes care of the glasses and their side products. “My previous job had run its natural course, and I was looking for something new and exciting. Then, one morning I got an email alert of a Specsavers retail partnership in Kouvola. I began reading up on the company, and the more I read, the more interested I became,” Tapani says.

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Tapani had never been an entrepreneur before but had solid experience in leadership. “I had thought that being a partner in the optical field required an optical and medical background. Soon I realised that with Specsavers, that is not necessarily the case. The divided entrepreneurship means that when one partner has optical expertise, the other can focus on the business side of things.”

Tapani didn’t end up as a partner in the Kouvola store. Instead, the perfect store for him was found in Kuopio. This did mean that he had to leave his old hometown. “Working life taught me early that security doesn’t arise from lack of change but from the ability to renew oneself. Kuopio seemed a vibrant city, and it had two ready stores in excellent locations.”

Before Tapani began in his new job, he hit the road for two months, visiting Specsavers stores all around Finland. As a result, he learned hands-on what it means to be a retail partner. “I have worked in several large, even international companies, and none has had an equally thorough induction programme. It made a big difference and prepared me exceptionally well for the new job.”

Genuine encounters and responsibility for customers

Tapani enjoyed the new job from the start. Kuopio is a relaxed small town with a laid back atmosphere. The new field required lots of learning and making mistakes, but quickly small wins accumulated.

“Challenging cases that turn into a win or being able to genuinely help someone with a problem is rewarding. So is seeing our customers’ appreciation. For example, an elderly lady had to come in numerous times to adjust her glasses. When we finally got them right, she was so thankful that she now taps at the window and waves every time she passes the store. It feels fantastic to see how concrete the improvement was and how much joy it causes.”

That’s also what Tapani feels is the essence of his job. “The strong input from the Specsavers support office – state-of-the-art optics and a properly thought-out customer journey – means that we get to concentrate on customer service with our whole hearts. It’s all about a genuine connection with the customer and listening to their needs. Aesthetics are important to most people, and glasses are part of their identity. Specsavers has selected gorgeous glasses that we can offer our customers at low prices, thanks to the massive volume. Our job is to find the perfect pair or two for each customer. It’s a job that carries weight.”

Unexpected career turn to the optical field

Tapani is a mathematician by training but has worked all his career in corporate management. Being a retail partner in the optical field bears certain similarities with his previous jobs. “In my first summer job, I learned the importance of taking responsibility for your actions and for those you manage. Onni Ketola, my employer, listened to his employees and allowed for mistakes. That was invaluable for me to learn and has followed me through my entire career. You can say Onni was my mentor.”

Numbers and economic aspects are an integral part of the job. Tapani says they have been easy to take on, thanks to his background in management. Aesthetics are also a passion of sorts. “I have always enjoyed the beauty in music and other performing arts. Glasses are a part of that world of style and aesthetics,” Tapani says. “If you talk to a customer, you just need to be your best self and be genuine, as artists are in gigs or performers in theatres. And the best ones, they charm their audience.”

In his free time, Tapani enjoys culture, but also sports in many forms. Particularly close to him is cycling. He rode around 4,000 km in the past summer, some of it for the charity cycling team Team Rynkeby. “Few things empty your head from daily work more effectively than riding 60 km before bedtime,” he says.

A dream job for the hungry for learning

Tapani hasn’t regretted his surprising career change into a Specsavers retail partner for a second. Those contemplating the same choice he encourages to go for it: “Every day, I feel that my work is meaningful and that I genuinely help people. The job suits those who understand that as partners, they need to be active and initiative. You also need to learn and evolve continuously. Specsavers offers lots of opportunities to learn, improve, and take part.”

The retail partnership has made Tapani an active participant in different entrepreneur events and organisations in Kuopio, which, in turn, has helped him find his place in the new city. A Specsavers partner has the full support of an international corporation, combined with an entrepreneurs freedom to develop the business to its full potential. “Specsavers is a trail-blazing, international organisation that offers possibilities beyond those of most other optical chains. Yet, it is approachable and relaxed. Specsavers is easy to work with,” Tapani says.

Do you also want to change your customers lives as a Specsavers retail partner? Read more and get in contact with us.

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