Becoming a Partner at Specsavers… during lockdown
Specsavers joint venture partnership (JVP) is open to experienced clinicians and retail specialists from many different backgrounds – they may have joined Specsavers as a pre-reg or OA and worked their way up internally through our ‘Pathway’ scheme, or perhaps they’ve come from the locum world, retail management or employment elsewhere. Whatever your background, the benefits of JVP really are hard to ignore.
Just ask Thanuja and Jug, two partners who ‘incredibly’ took ownership of Yate Specsavers during the first COVID-19 lockdown at the start of July 2020 – both have their own unique paths into Specsavers partnership.
“Partnership has always been something I’ve wanted to do.”
“I did my pre-reg year at Specsavers, I worked my way up to becoming the ophthalmic manager. I then relocated to Bristol and started locuming to see what other stores were like, but partnership has always been something I’ve wanted to do” said Thanuja Sathiananthan, optometrist partner.
“It was too great an opportunity to miss as I wanted to have a business of my own.”
Whereas, retail partner Jug Singh has shown how career progression through Specsavers can lead to partnership “I joined Specsavers 10 years ago, as a graduate and trained to join the regional support team…” In that time, he moved from optical assistant to divisional general manager. “When Yate became available, it was too great an opportunity to miss as I wanted to have a business of my own”.
“We are also very hands-on, we both work on the shop floor, we’re both in the business from start to finish.”
The pair firmly believe teamwork is key to their success. “I think as much as you work for the team, being in a partnership, you work for your partner, you don’t let each other down, you are side-by-side with whatever you do; there’s days where it’s challenging and there’s days where it’s really fun – but you go through all that together,” says Jug. “We are also very hands-on, we both work on the shop floor, we’re both in the business from start to finish.”
Thanuja adds, having firm belief that Specsavers ability to pair an optometry partner with a retail partner is perfect, “I do think Specsavers have got the right combination with a retail and optometrist partnership because however good you are individually, you both bring different things to the table.”
“A highlight was my parents visiting the store, I can’t tell you how emotional I felt, we’re from humble beginnings, so for my dad to see his son doing well, it really meant the world to me.”
We asked them if they could tell us one highlight from their journey so far. Jug reminisces on a memorable moment: “I’ll tell you what, a highlight was my parents visiting the store, I can’t tell you how emotional I felt, we’re from humble beginnings, so for my dad to see his son doing well, it really meant the world to me. He came in and he had a proud look on his face and that meant everything.”
Thanuja praised the team they inherited upon arrival, and how humbled the pair were: “a highlight was the team – we had one-to-ones with the team, and they were all quite emotional because they were proud of what they were now able to achieve with the right leadership and support which they hadn’t had before, they were all amazing, so for me, the team were definitely a highlight and hearing their positive feedback.”
“When we took over the store we were coming out of lockdown and we had seen how other [Specsavers] stores were resilient and able to continue to operate in some capacity.”
We asked Thanuja and Jug if they had any concerns about opening their store during the COVID-19 national lockdown. “The pandemic was concerning at first, however having seen how strong the Specsavers brand is we were confident that the business model would survive the pandemic/recession. Stores were still operating and providing essential eye care to the public therefore it highlighted to us regardless of the pandemic Specsavers were still able to deliver. When we took over the store we were coming out of lockdown and we had seen how other stores were resilient and able to continue to operate in some capacity. Many other opticians were completely closed but Specsavers were able to help the public with essential care. Eyecare is vital in any situation, whether it be a pandemic or recession.”
“After meeting Jug, I knew we would be a combination that would make Specsavers Yate a success.”
Overcoming uncertainty is certainly a big challenge, nevertheless, Thanuja and Jug believe that your partner is key to success and having a strong partner by your side is a strong benefit; “After meeting Jug, my uncertainty was definitely overcome. I was always confident what I was able to deliver as an ophthalmic partner but also aware that any store would require good retail leadership. My business partner would have to share the same ethos and vision for the store. After meeting Jug, I knew we would be a combination that would make Specsavers Yate a success and to date neither of us have proved me wrong. Ultimately, sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith as things can never be certain but it’s all about calculated risk.”
“You have to work hard; you’ve got to be involved in the team and be hungry for it, but you will always get the rewards if you do that.”
We asked what advice they would give to a would-be partner. “If you are hesitant, take control and believe in yourself to make the business what you want it to be – because you’re damn right it’ll happen if you absolutely believe it, as cheesy as that sounds,” Jugsays. Thanuja echoes this as she believes that you’ll get out what you put into it, “You have to work hard; you’ve got to be involved in the team and be hungry for it, but you will always get the rewards if you do that.”
From the application process, to the panel on selection day; at the end of the road awaits the keys to not only a store (or domiciliary business), but your future. Additionally, as far as Jug and Thanuja are concerned, it’s certainly worth it. “It’s rewarding, you have a laugh with customers and each other, having that element of support and challenge is great, we really enjoy it – it’s a rollercoaster with a lot of highs, we are really glad we did it”.
If you would like to find out more about Partnership opportunities at Specsavers, click the button below to register your details and we will happily share more information with you.