ProVision’s 2018 optometry conference was themed ‘Accelerate’ and members walked away inspired and armed with numerous strategies to boost their practice performance. Professional speakers presented on defining purpose and meaning in work and life, building and managing respectful teams, obsessing about customers, and setting clear but flexible goals. Workshops, interviews with industry leaders, and a strong supplier exhibition complemented the speaker presentations.
The ProVision conference never fails to impress its audience of members and suppliers, and this year in Adelaide, it was no different. Following a well-attended opening party at the Adelaide Oval sponsored by Hoya, members were treated to a line-up of high-energy professional speakers that included Amanda Stevens, Phil Nosworthy, Martin Butler, Rachael Robertson, and Anna Meares.
ProVision CEO Steven Johnston said the aim of the conference was to help members identify something they could do better and execute that initiative faster. “Most of the conversation was around the client experience and their expectations and around leadership in practice. We all get bogged down in ‘business as usual’ and it is hard to find the space to implement new ideas, so we also workshopped a process for getting the right things done faster.”
A record 310 delegates, representing just over 150 practices and inclusive of over 130 optometrists, attended the conference. Additionally more than 100 suppliers attended sessions and participated in an exhibition, during which AU$4,000 was raised for Optometry Giving Sight.
TURNING CUSTOMERS INTO ADVOCATES
Marketing thought leader Amanda Stevens spoke about how to turn customers into advocates. She said in a world where technology is driving expectations it is more important than ever to create connections that keep consumers coming back.
“It may be easy to solve people’s problems quickly but to do so too quickly will miss the opportunity to connect with the customer, to find out more about them. The conversations you have, the questions you ask, and the connections you make within that experience, that have nothing to do with glasses, are the connections that bring them back.”
Reflecting on her own recent experiences as a patient being prescribed her first pair of glasses (which she was told was “nothing special”), Ms. Stevens said, “in becoming so brilliant at what you do, you lose the ability to see through the eyes of your patients. You go about your tests… so efficiently – because you’ve done it thousands of times, forgetting that it’s the first time for your patients.
Ms. Stevens said to turn a loyal customer into a powerful advocate you need to create ceremonies and surprise because consumers place a high value on a customised experience.
“When a customer gets their first pair of glasses, it’s a big deal – look at it through their eyes and make it a celebration… give them something to talk about at a dinner party.”
FINDING THE MEANING AND PURPOSE
Psychologist Phil Nosworthy spoke about how pursuing ‘meaning’ in life and work, differs from the notion of pursuing ‘happiness’.
He said happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. “You might have everything you need to be happy – all the ingredients – but you just don’t feel it”. Meaning, on the other hand, can be manufactured. It’s about deciding on and focussing on who you want to become.
Mr. Nosworthy said meaning is clustered around four central themes:
Connections – connect what you do with something bigger than the simple task itself,
Challenges – challenge yourself and others to be better than yesterday, or to do something that you’ve let go or never done before,
Contributions – give to something bigger than yourself, and
Control – give people control and create control in your own life.
Mr. Nosworthy said millennials particularly enjoy taking control. “They crave mastery, autonomy, and purpose. Stop switching their tasks, let them get good at what they’re doing, let them take control and know that they’re contributing,” he said.
RESPECT VS. HARMONY
Rachael Robertson, who led an 18-month exhibition to Antarctica, delivered fascinating insights into life on the Earth’s southernmost continent, interspersed with messages about managing teams. She said one of the key learnings she gained from her experience was that “respect trumps harmony, every time”.
“You can’t expect diverse people to get along and like each other but you can expect people to treat each other with professional respect.
“If you’re number one goal is that you’re all going to get on, or going to achieve harmony, then things will go wrong. Bullying will go underground, innovation won’t happen – no one will be prepared to speak up with new ideas, to rock the boat, or to say something is going wrong.
“A team built on harmony will shatter under pressure. Respect… helps withstand crises… you won’t always see eye to eye, it’s how you handle the conflicts that matters.”
Four time Olympian track cyclist Anna Meares OAM spoke about goal setting with flexibility and overcoming obstacles in pursuit of success. In 2008, Ms. Meares fell during a time trial at the World Cup in Los Angeles and broke her spine. She was extremely fortunate to escape quadriplegia, and went on to compete at the Beijing Olympic Games just eight months later.
“My success has not been about remaining undefeated, it’s been about how I’ve managed my defeats along the way,” she told an appreciative audience. She said while in recovery she learnt to look for the opportunity within her reality. “My coach said don’t ask what if, ask what is… and it’s amazing how powerful that change – that use of one word – can be.”
PRACTICAL PRACTICE TIPS
Over two solid days, professional speaker presentations and workshops were interspersed with short sessions during which Mr. Johnston interviewed conference sponsors to get practical insights into how their products and services could help practices differentiate their businesses.
Wayne Rueben from CooperVision highlighted consumer buying behaviour and said modern consumers tend to browse and, if they don’t see what they’re looking for, will leave the store rather than asking for it. This needs to be considered when designing retail floor space.
“Optical retail spaces look like spectacle shops – so the customers’ assumption is that you sell spectacles. Practices that get their contact lens (CL) business happening have a small section dedicated to CLs, perhaps with a lifestyle shot that shows consumers CLs are available.”
He said optometrists can avoid contact lens drop out by contacting new CL wearers soon after being fit to alleviate any concerns that have arisen. Additionally, by selling a home brand CL, (as ProVision does) practices can minimise the risk of customers purchasing CLs online.
Sean Rosenberg, Managing Director of Frames Etcetera took the opportunity to talk about his new collections. “We’ve launched Spinach Boost, as well as OWP and Mex from Germany, and we’ve added to the existing Caroline Abrams and William Morris collections. We’re about to launch Matisse, a hand painted collection from New York,” he said.
Brad Saffin, Managing Director of VSP Australia took the opportunity to reflect on the history of his company, and describe how it is assisting independent practitioners in Australia.
“We’ve got some great brands and great lens options. We’ve brought VSP lens technology to Australia and we’ve launched Unity Via – the fastest growing lens technology in the US.” He said VSP Australia is helping independent optometrists differentiate themselves by offering lens packages and frames from the likes of Calvin Klein, which has recently reinvented itself, Nike, and Longchamp.
POWER OF TECHNOLOGY
Tim McCann, General Manager of Rodenstock, spoke about the power of technology to enhance the customer experience and improve visual outcomes. While at the conference, delegates were able to discover Rodenstock’s DNEye Scanner 2, a new device that maps and calculates the eyes’ anatomy including, for the first time, eye length, as well as both low and high order aberrations for distance and near vision, and the individual pupil reaction to brightness. This data is combined with a patient’s prescription for optimum lens design and provided as a report to the patient as well. According to optometrist Zacharia Naumann, who has trialled the DNEye Scanner 2 in his Wagga Wagga practice, patients are impressed with the technology, which he claims has led to a 12 per cent increase in lens revenue, a 10 per cent increase in average lens sales, and a 10 per cent increase in new customers.
“We were very pleased with the interest in the DNEye Scanner. Independents are embracing technology and want to keep ahead of technology developments as it is a great value creator for their patients and their business,” Mr. McCann said.
Among plenty of exciting industry news at the ProVision Conference, VMD Eyewear announced that it had become Australia’s distributor of Danish eyewear company Fleye.
“Fleye uses innovative craftsmanship to achieve beautiful design, fit, and quality unlike anything else on the market and we are very excited to be the new Australian Distributor,” said VMD General Manager Philip Crabtree.
Maui Jim showcased its premium polarised sunglass range alongside its new ophthalmic range. “Featuring two lens options (HEV and High Contrast) along with our unique Hawaiian inspired frame styling, the ophthalmic collection brings an exciting growth opportunity to new and existing Maui Jim retailers,” said Steve Polesel, Maui Jim’s Sales Manager for Australia and New Zealand.
ProVision’s Accelerate conference was concluded with a lavish dinner, sponsored by Essilor, and an after-party sponsored by Maui Jim complete with traditional Hula dancers, leis, fire shows, live musicians, and of course, plenty of ‘Aloha’.
Plans are already underway for the next ProVision conference, which will take place in 2020.