So here we go again – another New Year and a new set of resolutions.
Let us hope that we set ourselves some new goals and aim high for 2013.
Personally, I am pledging to push forward once again and resolve to do even better through these tough times we are all experiencing – how? By remaining positive and taking the good out of whatever I can.
Let us not forget, there are some good news stories out there in amongst the bad – we just need to search them out.
We have Optrafair to look forward to and a host of up coming optical related events all aimed at helping our industry.
Why not resolve to attend this years professional and trade show at the NEC between April 13-15th. It is there for us all – for those of us who will be exhibiting – it will be a great chance to show off the latest products and services but for others (visitors in attendance) it is to see what is new, meet with suppliers and generally get a feel for how to improve business and move things forward.
I believe that after 3 years of negative growth in this industry, 2013 will be a make or break year for many independents – it is therefore imperative to take positive action and embrace the opportunities that are still out there now.
Sitting back and waiting for another year will surely mean falling even further behind and coming back from that will be a huge mountain to climb – some may even say an impossible journey ….
Every 2 years I see the same faces and don’t get me wrong, many are good friends and great long term customers and I love spending time with them all but this year, it would be a nice change to see some new faces and to let them in to our little (big) secret.
Make this year, the year you make the journey to Birmingham and let us see if we can’t all work together to make 2013 the year that recovery kicked in to UK optical PLC.
The Ghost in the Machine.
So, I am just back from a wonderful family holiday (Grandma’s included) to the sunshine state, which turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not something I do often, this trip has been in the planning for nearly 3 years (firstly, so my two kids were tall enough for the Florida attractions and secondly, so I could save up enough money to go!).
What struck me more than the staggering organisational / logistical competency and scale of the theme parks was the service levels, over and again, service was first class.
We at Lynx pride ourselves on offering world class service and indeed, members of certain departments such as sales and after sales have excellence in service as their mantras but even by our standards, I found the general levels I experienced throughout Orlando, from Gas station attendant, to restaurant service, to ride handler – All were exceptional.
I know that this is partly to do with the tip culture but not entirely – A lot is to do with the way that the companies who employ these people train their work force and expect them to behave.
Maybe some of our high street stores here at home should take a leaf and maybe we (UK optics plc) should think long and hard about the effect that service levels have on patient / customer retention and loyalty – I am certain, (100% certain) that all are intrinsically linked and can only reflect positively if well executed.
Something we should all strive for?
Just a thought….
Until next time.
So the ‘main’ Olympic games are over and what an amazing success for Great Britain PLC…
Now we witness the Paralympics – feats of even greater endeavour in many ways – truly awe inspriring how these dedicated athletes overcome adversity and prove just what real commitment to a cause is all about !
So this month my message is to draw on this incredible spectacle and try to visualise how, in our own small way, we can all commit to beating the recession and emerging victorious.
Let’s try and put to one side the obvious negatives, which the world’s economic position has thrust upon us and look to how we can work around the problems.
With little money to spend, it is vital that it is spent wisely and with due consideration to what the results will be.
Why not talk to your suppliers / service providers and ask what can they do to help? Ask what ideas are others in our position employing successfully and most importantly, if I spend my hard earned money with you – what benefits will it bring.
Tangible and provable statistics should be available and a true reflection of how your investment will pay dividends should be readily forthcoming!
There are many suppliers within the profession who are trusted and have credibility which goes beyond the norm. (Our customers and loyal clients testify that Lynx IDG fall into this category – thankfully !) But, unfortunately, there are also those who have a habit of disappointing.
The point here is, do it once, do it right and try not be one of those who live to regret a bad decision.
As always, I am here to help – feel free to give me a call and I will do all I can to assist.
Until next time, enjoy part two of the Olympics and stay positive.
The Ghost in the Machine
Bradley Wiggins – What a Star…An exceptional athlete and a true gentleman to boot.
Brought up by just his mum after his alcoholic father left them early on in Bradley’s life.
He is an example of what hard work, determination and a will to simply not give up can achieve.
At times I am sure, we have pretty much all felt like giving up, letting go or simply wondered where can I turn and who can I turn to.
It is a sign of the times and many people have become despondent and started to believe that things will never be the same again.
Maybe they won’t but one thing is certain – they will get better. As sure as night follows day, good follows bad and boom follows bust.
It is a case of making the best of a bad situation, staying positive and looking for those chinks of light that penetrate the darkness.
Open up your world to the possibility that the good times will roll once again and dig deep for the inner Bradley that exists in all of us.
Those still standing when this recession is truly behind us will be fitter, stronger and more capable than ever they thought possible – Be one of them and don’t give up.
The Olympics will be over when I next write and I hope there are a whole load more success stories to comment on – Until next time, have a great August.
The Ghost in the Machine.
So half term has been and gone and a 4 day camping trip with family and friends reduced to 2 due to the rainfall on a torrential level.
We did try to sit out the storm but were finally forced to admit defeat.
Sometimes it just becomes inevitable that circumstances force a change of plan and this can be a very powerful motivator in many situations.
Take optical retailing – A supermarket opens up a new optical department and all of a sudden a large percentage of your (previously) loyal patients abscond.
The natural reaction is to panic but if you stood back and considered a way to fight back – you may well see the solution starring right back at you!
We all know that you cannot compete on price, you simply don’t have the buying power but you can supply frames and lenses that the supermarkets simply cannot stock and sell effectively.
Niche marketing is the ideal, improve your offer of upmarket / alternative frames and sell the idea that the professionalism you offer is superior to a food retailer.
Look the part, feel the part and the discerning patient will come – Those that are not self driven by cost will understand that you are offering better products and are prepared to go the extra mile that the model used by the uber retailers is incapable of sustaining.
Each has its place, it is simply a question of defining who and what you are – differentiation is the key.
Still raining outside but let us hope the sunshine is not too far away – Until next time, stay ahead.
The Ghost in the Machine.
So, how amazing was comedian John Bishop in his endeavours for this year’s Sport Relief campaign?
Truly inspirational – A guy who makes a living being funny, putting himself through utter purgatory in order to raise money to help people he has never met.
No doubt spurred on by David Walliams’ earlier heroics (swimming over 140 miles of the River Thames) – Both incredible feats.
It makes me feel proud and also more than a little inadequate when I see such selfless acts – both right outside of their comfort zones, physically and metaphorically – Awesome!
Perhaps we all need to look outside ourselves once in a while and see where it takes us...?
What if we were all collectively as a profession prepared to step into the shoes of our patients? What would we see? Beautifully presented premises, promoting the very latest in both high tech product and technology?
Perhaps not in all cases, sadly. Some of you are doing it all, looking great and stocking frame brands and lenses that others around you are not and naturally, you are prospering – hats off to you.
To the others who have sat back in fear for a little too long now – let’s up the ante, get back on the horse and get things moving back in the right direction – It is a proven formula after all.
Until next time, enjoy the sunshine and here is to a prosperous spring / summer. As always, I am here to help.
The Ghost in the Machine.
Finally spring is here, winter is behind us and as I write, I have sunshine flooding into my office (yes, here in Manchester!).
Wonderful and on top of this, the slow but significant signs of recovery we were seeing throughout the profession towards the tail end of 2011 are now finally taking root.
It may be a cliché but the green shoots of recovery, now appear to be coming into full bloom, just as the daffodils are in the car park outside.
It has been a long and tough struggle for many of our customers, and more than one or two have unfortunately experienced severe hardship but the news I am getting now (on a daily basis) is that the upturn is finally underway.
This is naturally mirrored in our position and I am pleased to report a healthy order book for the coming months and through to the end of Autumn 2012 – I am sure that other suppliers in the profession will also be experiencing similar trends.
I am sure the renewed optimism has been given a boost by the forthcoming Olympics and a resurgence in the enthusiasm on the high street.
Those of you that have sat tight and weathered the storm – Now is the time to invest in promoting your business and re-engaging with the public and whilst you’re at it think about freshening up your practice interior with a micro / mini makeover!
If you’ve been putting off the essential job of cosmetic improvement – Take a look at my news article on this very subject at http://www.lynxidg.com/the-retro-fit-phenomena.html
and see just how quickly, easily and inexpensively you can give your practice that new lease of life.
As I have said before (and no doubt will say again) image is everything in today’s "retail" environment and investment now pays dividends in the future – and that is a fact I will happily prove to you.
Until next time – Enjoy the sun, it won’t be long until the BBQ needs cleaning off.
The Ghost in the Machine.
So here we are at the beginning of February and as I write this piece, we are experiencing this winter’s second spell of heavy snow.
Up and down the land, roads are gridlocked, heating systems are going on the blink and the sledges are out in force.
Don’t get me wrong, I love snow but only on a mountainside with 2 carbon fibre planks strapped to my feet.
Here at home, I like it best if the white stuff stays away. I hate that the whole country comes to a standstill and that most cars (particularly German rear wheeled drive models) are just awful come the first signs of snow.
Sure 4 x 4’s can get pretty much anywhere and small front wheel drive cars can more or less get around but rear wheel, automatic ……………. forget it.
This I do not understand as most of the vehicles originate from a country far more used to this type of weather than we are (BMW’s are made a stone’s throw from the Austrian Alp’s) – so why are they not engineered to deal with such conditions?
It simply does not make any sense to me and in this day and age, I believe we should be able to expect all cars to be able to operate in all but the worst conditions.
The knock on effect to most optical practices is No Shows, cancelled appointments and the resultant downturn in trade.
Not good when everyone is trying to make a good start to the year, just another unwanted obstacle to success.
So, call me a kill joy but I think it would be better all round if snow, sleet and ice were banned by law here in the UK.
We can always look at photographs of snow covered mountains on the internet or if lucky enough, hop on a plane to experience it first hand.
Next time I write, we’ll be heading straight into Spring and with any luck all of this misery brought on by snow will finally be behind us.
Until next time, drive safely and wrap up warm.
The Ghost in The Machine
Happy New Year and welcome to my 1st blog of 2012.
So here is the news – if you hadn’t already heard, the government have decided in their wisdom to reduce the capital allowance tax relief from £100k to £25k on capital purchases as of April this year. This comes barely a year after it was lifted from the previous £50k limit to the all time high at £100k – Unbelievable!! So much for assisting SME’s on the road to recovery.
All is not lost of course, as long as your equipment / shopfittings etc… are in use before the March 31st deadline, you will still qualify for your full allowance – So if you are thinking of making a large capital investment, the message is clear… Do it now, or lose out.
On a brighter note, research group (GFL) have just released the latest findings – Guess what? Niche sales (high value frames / lenses) are seeing a marked increase (frames valued at £250 plus - rising a staggering 26.1% against the same period 12 months ago) while mid / lower value frames are seeing a decline in numbers sold.
It would therefore appear that those amongst you who decided to venture up market in search of the higher value dispense got it right.
I have long advocated this approach (where viable) as the best form of defence (or attack) against online retailers and multiples.
Only independents carry the kudos and weight of experience the high end purchaser needs when purchasing at this level and this is where professionalism and service trump a discounted offer.
This is your natural domain and surely the figures speak for themselves.
My message for 2012 – Up the stakes, take the bull by the horns and ramp up your offer. Be bold, stock higher value, out of the ordinary brands and styles and push those coatings. It is clear there is still a huge market at this end of the scale, so capitalise on it – Or others will do it for you!
Naturally, your practice will need to look the part in order to exploit this position to best effect. Give me a call and I will help you get there.
Until next time – keep positive and here is to an exciting and profitable 2012.
The Ghost in the Machine.
Following on from my last blog, I thought it would be interesting (and a little light relief) to look beyond the coming events, Christmas, Hanukkah etc.. and to take a peek into 2012.
A massive year for the UK – London Olympics and the continuing struggle to stand clear of the carnage of the Euro Zone! to note but two.
Both will involve determination, commitment and unity and those 3 things are, I believe the core to any successful business - read practice.
It is a given that you will have self belief and confidence in your/your staffs ability but during testing times, it is those 3 qualities which separate the wheat from the chaff.
There are naturally opportunities to be had surrounding the world’s largest sporting event – the public’s raised awareness of sports eyewear and the influx of tourists needing sunglasses/emergency frames/lenses and repairs etc.. and I am confident that those closest to the larger stadiums/arenas are already preparing themselves with extended ranges and furthering their knowledge of sports specific lenses etc..
That said, I am sure we will all step into the next few years with some degree of trepidation but we need to be bold, work together and face the challenges head on.
Nobody (or very few of note) ever achieved anything without a little adversity along the way and if you and your team adopt the principles of determination, commitment and unity, I believe you will be stronger and better prepared to succeed next year, the year after and for many after that.
Keep on keeping on and until next time, I hope you have a very enjoyable festive season (whatever your faiths or beliefs) and here is wishing you a Very Happy New Year.