There is a lot to like about Transitions as a company. Products aside, the investment the company makes into the business development of the eye care professional is enormous.
To help us all look beyond the doom and gloom the media has been trotting out, Transitions drew together the collective knowhow of social experts and financial analysts to help equip us in improving our personal vision and that of our business.
On 26 May, Transitions presented the ‘Live Your Vision, with Business Insights’ business breakfast seminar. Held in Sydney, the seminar was simulcast to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth with a panel of experts including social forecaster Phil Ruthven; NAB Senior Industry and Business Economist Dean Pearson; sales and marketing specialist John Lees and optometrist Narelle Hine.
The presentations were swift and concise, with Narelle connecting the dots on how each related to, and would impact, the optometry profession.
Transitions CEO Eric Breda introduced the speakers and set the tone of the morning by saying: “Everyone in this room wants the optical industry to do well.”
Phil Ruthven got us underway with an impressive analysis of the global economic climate stating: “It’s nowhere near as bad as the media says it is.
“The sports writers have taken over the financial pages and made a blood sport of it,” he said.
“It’s about as bad … not quite … as the recession of the 91, not the recession of the 80’s.”
He stated that the average age of a person living in Australia is 34, subsequently most Australians have never experienced a recession and “the consumer has money”.
With falling interest rates, lower petrol prices and the government kick backs, he said most Australians are today AUD$10,600 better off than they were this time last year.
“The government gave AUD$900 to people. It was like giving a drunk another drink … It’s psychological … We simply need more confidence.
“The optical industry is regarded as a service industry so make the most of Generation X.”
He skimmed through a broad history of economics, from the Industrial Age to the Great Depression, and then locked in on today, saying we should expect growth in 2011 and 2012 to be “like a hockey stick. No such thing as slow growth. There should be 4 per cent growth or more.”
“Although these are tricky times … times like now don’t last long. If you’re under 35, you’ve never seen a time like this. Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world. We have no debt and are as close to bullet proof as you can get.”
Ruthven’s analysis was supported, in the main, by Dean Pearson from the NAB who said: “we’re at the start of a very slow confidence” and Australian business surveys have pretty well “got it right”, with the April survey showing “confidence starting to turn … We are in a modest recession with a recovery of 1 per cent in 2010.
“Health is the best performing sector and the key message is ‘demand remains strong’ … optometry is a low risk and high growth sector,” he said.
There is a huge opportunity today for optometry as it is “a very stable industry” and “health is among the select group of strong industry performers.”
John Lees then leapt onto the podium and got straight to the point: “up-selling is pathetic – an afterthought – sell success, not products”.
“Don’t treat the economy like traffic lights. You can do something about your business. There is a lot you can do about your own business. Business is supposed to be an enjoyable struggle.
“Develop a good attitude, motivation and character. Stop complaining.”
He said, in optometry, we “need to create demand, not meet demand.” and that: “People are buyers and customers are people … the knowledge you have, they don’t have, but they must have. Don’t ask permission to do your job.”
He reinforced his dictum to “not up-sell, but down-sell” by telling people (customers) what is best for them and helping them “with the flow of intelligence and ideas” to get what they need. This will result in “very happy customers, not just happy customers,” he said.
Narelle Hine wrapped up the seminar and reiterated that the health sector is “performing well” and “optometry fits squarely in the middle”.
“Stop being charity workers – charge higher consultation fees. Charge for retinal photography and stop bulk billing. We have the expertise and we’re worth it,” she said.
“Be in control” and “invest in upgrades”, improve staff knowledge by training and “stock products of desire and join a buying group to reduce costs.”
Finally, Narelle brought it home by saying: “it’s not as bleak as it seems. There are lots of opportunities and we’re in the right sector for market success.”
Transitions Optical is visiting optometrists around Australia and New Zealand to reiterate these central ideas with their Business Building Kits, which include presentation summaries and a DVD of the event. Live Your Vision with Business Insights is also available to the public on demand at: www.transitions.com.au/businessinsights