Importance of explaining the optical journey to the client

Author: Beatrice Castioni

Retail Inspiration
September 27, 2021

Optician Sinead McGurk and her Staff

Where? UK

Since when? 2002

Shop Type: Independent Optician

Optician: Sinead McGurk
Brands: Roussilhe Les Millésimes, Maui Jim, Lafont, Carolina Herrera, Etnia Barcelona, Reykjavik Eyes, Woow, Safarro Absolute Eyewear, Jimmi Choo, Mulberry, Salt., Face è face, Vanni, Dutz, Prodesign, Morel

Q: Please introduce your family practice to our readers. How many stores do you have and when was the shop first created?

A: My own first practice was initially opened in a smaller office in the market town of Magherafelt, in County Derry, Northern Ireland, in September 2002. (The late Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney was from our area. He describes our landscape, culture and way of life in the most eloquent way in his poetry, which is read and enjoyed world wide. I was very fortunate to have met and spoken with Seamus on several occasions.) I was 7 months pregnant with my third daughter, so not the best timing! I opened a second practice in another village 20 minutes away in 2004, but decided to sell it in 2007 and concentrate on the one location after baby 4 came along! After concentrating on the family for a few years, I gradually got back to working full time in the practice again with renewed enthusiasm. I decided that I wanted to improve the provision of Eyecare services in my area, and being a competitive person, I wanted to be the best in my business. I thought that just because we are situated in a rural locality, didn’t mean that our clients were country bumpkins, not needing or deserving of high standards of eyecare and good eyewear styling. I decided that I could go no further with the business in the property we were renting at that time. I needed purpose built facilities that reflected what I was about as a service provider, in a more prominent positioning in the town. This led to the decision to purchase a dilapidated old building dating back several hundred years near the centre of the town.

Q: Do you have an architect designed store, can you talk about it?

A: The building was full of character, and I’m delighted to say that my husband, RIBA award winning Architect Colm McGurk, did a fantastic job with the complete renovation project. The practice is both noticeable and notable in the town with it’s copper front facade. It has a spacious and stylish interior, which exudes an aura of calm, and gives confidence to the client that we are professional, know our business and can deliver our services with flair. The examination room is well equipped but uncluttered. The bespoke product displays highlight our handpicked eyewear collections.

Q: On your website you write that the team is small but dedicated. In your opinion, what’s the strengths of Sinead McGurk Opticians team?

A: Our team are experienced optical people. We develop professional relationships with our clients, in a friendly, welcoming manner. We listen to our clients needs, and with our observations, knowledge, and technical know how, fulfil their requirements with the provision of excellent products and services, paying attention to detail at all times. The importance of taking time to fully explain each step of the optical journey to the client, and options available for frames and lenses, is key to the success of our practice. It develops a bond of trust with the client, and hopefully a loyalty becomes established.

Q: On your socials, you put a lot of attention on children’s vision, and how to detect if they need optical glasses and periodic monitoring. How important is an early eye test?

A: My late father was a secondary school principal, and a great educationalist. His ethos about the importance of education has rubbed off on me, and I’m great advocate for helping kids to achieve their full potential. This is not possible for children if they’re disadvantaged by poor vision. In some cases the children who have never had their eyes tested, don’t know that it is not normal to be seeing the world through blurred vision. Parents know to take their children for dental check ups from an early age, yet so many parents never think to take the same child to have their eyesight examined professionally at the Optometrist’s practice. Children’s visual systems are so plastic at a young age, I am always very happy to routinely test children form the age of 3, so that if a visual error is discovered, attaining good binocular visual acuity is a more likely outcome than perhaps not seeing that same child until the age of 6 or7.

Q: What brands do you include in your shop?

A: We have recently done our stock take, and there are over 3000 frames in the practice! We have to stock for all budgets, as being in a rural setting, we have to cater to all demographics. Our favourites are Faceaface, Etnia Barcelona, Lafont, Vanni, Dutz, Prodesign, les Millesmimes, Morel, WOOW, and many others.

Q: Magherafelt is the cultural and economic centre of your shop’s area. Do you think the position of your shop could could help to promote your activity?

A: A prominent, central location, is key to a successful bricks and mortar business these days. It’s also important to have other successful well appointed businesses around about, to encourage footfall. It is already 5 years since we relocated to our beautiful practice, and we should have taken the leap and done it years before. We have attracted so many new clients, from near and far. It delights me when someone has found our website, and travel from outside our locality to us for their Eyecare and new optical goods.

Q: You are an Award winning optician thanks to the National AOP Award winning practice. Can you comment on this important step for Sinead McGurk Opticians?

A: Winning the AOP Practice of the year in 2018 was a fantastic accolade for my practice. It was a hugely important step for the business, as it gave recognition to the amount of hard work, thought and effort that had gone into raising the bar in the design and build of this Optometry practice. This was personally very pleasing, as it proved that what we were doing, was being done well, and this then gave me confidence to continue to develop the business with technology advancement, quality products, and the simple, yet important ethos of providing the highest level of individual personal attention possible.I strive to do my best for all my clients, at all times. In 2018 we were named as the Randox Healthcare Awards Optometry practice of the year. And this summer we won the ‘Global Healthcare and Pharma’ 2021 Optometry practice of the year. As we continue work through the pandemic, this is again a fantastic reward for our efforts.

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