Issa was born and raised in Copenhagen and when he was 14 years old, he got his very first job – at a Specsavers store (or Louis Nielsen, which is Specsavers’ brand name in Denmark). During his studies he worked in the store by unpacking glasses, handing out flyers and acting as “Specman” (Specsavers’ forever-smiling, green mascot).
“When I finished school, I started working in sales,” says Issa. “I worked at a car rental company and in a supermarket. I then moved with my family from Copenhagen in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden and got a job as an optical assistant in Specsavers’ store in Ängelholm.”
“Working as an optical assistant works quite differently from other types of store and sales jobs and includes several various responsibilities,” Issa explains. “You should be able to help the customer to choose a nice and well-fitting frame, show and explain the products we have and be able to adjust a pair of glasses so that they fit comfortably. But it’s also important to understand that the glasses are actually an aid to the customer. This means that you need to have an understanding of the optical parts of the profession, but also to be able to understand the customer’s situation and what he or she actually needs. You must learn to take into account different vision needs and how we can help the customer in the best way to be able to see better. As an optical assistant, you can really make a difference and you actually work hand in hand with the eye care that takes place in the examination room.”
“The role as an optical assistant is really varied. There’s always something new happening, you’re constantly evolving and learning new things – you’ll never be fully learned. In addition, it involves a completely different type of communication than what is required in other types of sales work. A person like me, who doesn’t need aids such as glasses should be able to understand what this person standing in front of me actually feels. It's not just about “selling a nice car or the latest shirt”– it’s all about needs and without these pair of glasses or contact lenses the person might not be able to live his/her normal life.”
Issa has just started a new role as a store manager for the three Specsavers stores in Helsingborg, Ängelholm and Väla Shopping centre. He feels that he has developed a lot in the last two years – both in his professional role and on a personal level.
“It has been quite intense and gone very fast, of course,” Issa says with a smile. “In two years, I have gone from working as an optical assistant to as of today being store manager for three stores. I would say that the thing I have developed the most is on the personal level and it’s my patience, empathy and work ethic. The empathy is connected to being able to understand the customers’ needs and slowing down the sales part a little bit – and rather think about how I can help the customer in the best way and make his or her life a little bit easier – and then the sales part will also follow. It goes hand in hand.”
“We’re one of the types of stores in the retail industry where the customer stays quite long during their visit,” Issa explains. “Firstly, about half an hour conducting the sight test, then frame selection which potentially leads to an order of glasses – so we’re having the customer visit the store for an hour to an hour and a half. This means that you really have time to create a relationship with the person in front of you – which isn’t often the case in a grocery or clothing store – a completely different type of customer meeting. With us, it becomes a little more personal and you get a little closer to the customer.”
“So this job is suitable for persons who like meeting people – that like to go a little bit more under the surface and really understanding the customer. You really get the opportunity to create relationships and build a more long-term communication compared to other types of store jobs. If we have done a good job during the last visit, the customer will not come back until maybe two years from now. Then it’s really important that we’re "top of mind”– the first thing the customer come to think of when they need to check their eyes. That they think “I got really good service there, my glasses were really good – I want to go there again”. You actually only have one chance to create a good relation.”
“We all have different professions and tasks, but all co-workers – both opticians and optical assistants – we work together as a team,” says Issa. “That’s really important to keep in mind. When I see that I’m part of creating something that develops – a team that grows and thrives together, a store that is progressing, financials that are getting better and better – then I feel that I’m growing, both in my professional role and as a person. I feel that I’ve actually made a difference for both customers and colleagues, but also for us together as a company.
“Since I was a child, I’ve always been inspired and motivated by development and seeing the whole picture – what lies behind every result?” says Issa with another big smile. “How was this goal achieved? Many people focus on the top of the iceberg, but I like to look at the whole iceberg – how did everything start and how did this person manage to reach all the way? And when I feel that I’m part of something bigger, where many other people are involved – then I see that I’m part of a development and I’m inspired to become better – both at a personal level but also in my professional role.”
Get to know more about what it’s like to work as an optical assistant at Specsavers in Sweden. Or read more about all store opportunities we have and find out if we have any vacancies that may suit you.