After years working as a Locum, Optometrist Darren Remy, made the leap to full-time employment. He shares his story and what encouraged him to take up a permanent role at Specsavers Althorp Road, Hull.
I’ve been an Optom for over 15 years and was a locum for the last 5 years. The monetary side of locum work is attractive and very lucrative, but I wanted to grow my career and potentially have an asset at the end as a Joint Venture Partner.
Before I joined Specsavers, locums would tell me how much they loved working there. Each customer is brought in pre-screened and ready for their appointment. Specsavers are very organised; It has pleasantly surprised me how they run things. They don’t churn people through the doors like a machine.
The store takes customer service very seriously. To succeed as a business, they need to achieve a lot of dispenses, but they don’t fly people through the doors. They take care of their customers, and they do it very well.
Specsavers has a big team in the support office to help stores take care of things. If you have a query, or if there’s something you’re unhappy about, there is someone who’ll be able to help fix and solve whatever issue you may have.
How was the move from locum to perm?
I spoke to the Directors at Althorp Road to find out what their views were around running the clinics. It was important for me to find out if we agreed before I started working for them. I could share my own opinions on how I like to work, and it felt a good working environment and that they heard my views.
I had previously been a locum at the store, and David Proudfoot, the Director, sat me down and asked, “what are you doing right now and where would you like to be?” He was interested to know my thoughts on retirement and how long I wanted to work. After that, he said you should look at Directorship and went through the details with me.
Soon after, I thought, you know what, I’ve been an Optician for a long time and have the experience, this is a good time to pursue this. It wouldn’t have been as tempting to take up residency without the future possibility of the Joint Venture Partnership.
What interests you about JVP?
It’s the idea of having ownership of something, being able to grow something, and learn more about how the business functions and how you decide to manage your own work.
You have control over how long you spend with each patient and how the clinics are run – which is better than other companies. For some companies, it is not under their control – they are answering to somebody above rather than on a local level.
I’ve been accepted for the Partnership Pathway and had the interview a few days ago, so it’s all going very well so far.
Are there benefits to permanent employment?
I definitely like having my own room again! I would say I’m happier than I was before because the day is at least an hour shorter. It’s only a five-mile journey and I can get to work in a reasonable amount of time. That gives me the ability to balance my work/life better. Most weeks as a locum I would’ve had to travel further.
Some things I will not miss about locum work is being cancelled at the last minute or when extra clinics were added without the staff to support them. Other than the pay cut there’s not really any difference to my day as it’s roughly the same job.
What advice would you give to a locum thinking about permanent employment?
Moving to Specsavers has been an excellent decision for me. The testing is to a high standard as is the equipment that’s available. There’s definitely a better work/life balance.
I would suggest you speak to the Directors of the store and find out what their opinions are on testing times and conversion expectations, to ensure they are aligned with your own values.