How I Raised Our Practice From Failure To Success With Eyewear Styling!TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS…
It was December 2014, just before Christmas and we’d had been having a tough quarter in the practice.
I was pacing the kitchen with my husband, when we came to the horrible, sudden and sickening realisation that we had a severe cash flow problem and that making ends meet was going to be challenge! December can be a notoriously bad month in optics but that year it nearly broke us!WE WERE STRUGGLING TO KEEP OUR HEAD ABOVE WATER!
My husband and I own a small independent boutique optical practice in Market Drayton, a sleepy Shropshire Market town close to the Staffordshire and Cheshire borders.
Late in 2013 I gave birth to my third child Milena and during that year we lost two family members. Preoccupied with the family crisis, our business went on the backburner for a short while until we suddenly realised that we were falling into debt and FAST.
The severity of the situation dawned on us when my husband turned to me and quietly said “We going to have to walk away from this Eva, I think it’s over,’’. It was at this point that something in me just snapped!
I WAS NOT GIVING UP!
NO, I was not giving up that easily. I was not a quitter and I did not let people down. We were going to do something.We were going to change. And we were going to change in a big way
THE FIGHT BEGINS
Our business was a predominantly an NHS practice with a low average dispense value. However, I had always had a passion for fashion and beautiful eyewear and dreamt of owning a boutique type, upmarket practice that people would travel to for miles to find and buy beautiful eyewear, and have an incredible experience! And it was at this point that I realised this is what we had to do.
Of course, I had absolutely no clue how this was going to happen and the following three months were a tremulous time of great anticipation & anxiety. But despite this, the passion to fight which lit up in me that December day kept me going. We decided to invest in our idea and took out a business loan to begin our journey.READING, LEARNING AND TAKING ACTION
I set to work, reading everything I could plus I sought advice from the leading experts in our industry. I joined Optical Success Academy – the place for Optical Entrepreneurs – and learnt from being part of a group of likeminded practice owners. I began to extend my eye examinations to spend more time with clients, we invested in a coffee machine, fresh flowers and beautiful new eyewear which we had sourced from Paris and things really began to change. We even began to call our dispense, ‘a styling consultation’. Clients seemed to be loving the experience and also putting their trust in us to help them choose the right eyewear. Then things really started to look up.
However, the more I read, the more I realised what the optical industry was lacking- genuine style advice and training! There seemed to be no understanding that eyewear was an accessory which could be used to enhance appearance and boost confidence. There was basic information floating around the Optical Industry at the time and online about face shapes plus warm vs cool colouring, but it was outdated and didn’t seem to work for everyone! So I looked elsewhere.
I NEEDED MORE!
I really wanted to help style my clients and be confident that I was helping them make the right choices. So I reached out to the image industry for alternative training.
THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED MY LIFE
Colour Me Beautiful kept coming up as the leading image consultancy in the Europe and so I looked for a local consultant who could give me some advice. In September 2015 I met Pat Henshaw, the woman who changed my life. Pat is one of the UK’s leading image consultants (see her amazing bio on the home page) who travels the world and has co-authored all the colour me beautiful books as well as helping to create the system of ‘colour analysis’ which image consultants across the U.K. use today. She has styled people all over the world including a head of state!
I trained with Pat one-to-one as an image consultant in multiple styling disciplines.
Colour me Beautiful has taught me about the transformational effects that wearing the right clothes and colours can have on confidence. I also learned how face shape, body shape and colour are only a small part of being a stylist. That, primarily, understanding your client’s style personality is perhaps the most important thing to know!Below is Eva and Pat
BECOMING THE UKS ONLY FULLY TRAINED IMAGE CONSULTANT AND OPTOMETRIST WITH COLOUR ME BEAUTIFUL
Colour me beautiful gave me a tremendous knowledge on image, style, facial analysis and personality, however they have never claimed to be experts in the Optical industry and eyewear trends– but I was!COMBINING MY OPTICAL AND IMAGE TRAINING TO CREATE A REAL EYEWEAR STYLING CONSULTATION
I now knew I had enough knowledge of the Optical industry by travelling to Paris and Milan and observing key eyewear trends, plus learning about style personality, facial features and colouring, that I could create my own unique eyewear styling consultation.
The idea really excited me but I just had to work out how to make it happen.
Eventually I created the Mincher-Lockett & Co Style consultation, which took over 3 years to perfect as it was a unique combination of everything I had learned previously about dispensing, selling and styling and I read and research a lot! However it began to have a tremendous impact on our business growth, precisely because it was so different and really gave my clients the specialist advice and experience they had been searching for!
MY AVERAGE DISPENSE VALUE EXPLODED AND SO DID MY CLIENTS SATISFACTION!
Here is how it started to look:-
1- The more styling consultations we did the more multiple pairs we sold.
2- It sped up the frame selection process, allowing more time to discuss mulit pairs and different looks.
3- The response from clients far surpassed what I thought; they found it so different that they would book their mum, dad, sister, or friends in the very next week for glasses!
4- It made purchasing stock and colours for the practice so much easier.
5- Previous clients who were quiet began to open up to us about their lifestyle and clothing choices, we built much deeper relationships with them and loyalty increased.
6- Styling clients in eyewear they loved and watching the transformation and increase in confidence is a much more fulfilling way to work
7- We began to have people travelling 200+ miles to see us!
AND THEN SOMETHING EVEN MORE STRANGE HAPPENED
I began to get contacted by other Optical Practice owners and Dispensing Opticians asking me to train them and their teams and give them styling advice.SHARING MY KNOWLEDGE TO HELP YOU ADD VALUE TO YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE
So after much thought and with the encouragement of others such as Pat Henshaw who kindly offered to help me write the programme, my accountant, my best friends, husband Sam, and team, I have decided to share my knowledge with the optical industry and have created the U.k.s very first e- learning course for the Optical Industry.
The course will enable you to learn the skills of an eyewear stylist and a give you a step by step process by which you can style your clients in eyewear they will love, plus give value to the experience you offer, enabling you to grow your practice and gain the skills as I have.FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
Our practice, Mincher- Lockett & Co. Opticians, is now a successful multi award winning styling practice in Market Drayton. In the last 4 years our average dispense value has more than quadrupled from 120 to 900+ , we have a small team of eyewear styling experts, and we have become a destination practice!
My dream to create my eyewear styling boutique has been fulfilled. And now my dream is to help you to do the same.
So why not add some style to your practice! Let’s revolutionise Optics together!
Love Eva xx
Eva is an Optometrist, Optical Practice Owner and Image consultant with Colour me Beautiful, she is often called on for style advice by local newspapers, gives talks and runs events on eyewear and style in her local area to promote the importance of eyewear as an accessory. Eva is highly respected within Colour me Beautiful as the eyewear style expert and regularly gives advice and training to other image consultant on how to help their clients choose eyewear.Her practice has won awards for outstanding customer service and has been named one of the top 5 fashion practices for 2 years running.