Ideas were exchanged, performance recognised and energy levels reinvigorated at the two day Eyecare Plus Conference held at the Sheraton on the Park, in Sydney during October.
On a weekend where a number of conferences competed for attention Eyecare Plus succeeded in attracting a record number of 370 delegates. This was despite having run what is normally a biennial conference just 12 months ago.
Members of the Group, their staff and their preferred suppliers, were treated to a plethora of motivational and business presentations delivered by celebrity speakers including serial adventurers James Cartrission and Justin Jones (better known as Cas and Jonesy), and inspiring businesswoman Catherine DeVrye. Leading members of the optometric community from Australia and the United States also inspired the audience with reports of new research and promising business strategies.
The theme for the conference was Learn, Change, Learn, a reflection of the need to continually evolve in today’s highly competitive commercial environment.
They stressed the importance of checking and rechecking every part of a plan, whether launching a new endeavor or keeping the business on track
The conference was MC’d by television personality James O’Loghlin while the conference dinner was MC’d by Lisa Ricketts – the ‘face’ of Eyecare Plus and a champion performer at Theatresports. Attendees included special guest, Singapore based Patrick Cherrier, President of Essilor Asia-Pacific and Africa.
An Open Exchange of Ideas
From the very beginning, this conference was high energy and all about the open exchange of positive ideas to building business in an ethical way. In her opening address, former IBM executive, Catherine DeVrye had plenty to say about doing this by delivering exceptional customer service. As she said, many of her suggestions would already have been well known among the audience – however often those ideas slip
to the back of the mind – they simply need to be shaken forward.
One of Ms. DeVrye’s most interesting observations was one about our attitude towards delivering exceptional service. She said traditionally people have confused the concept of offering service with being subservient – something no one wants to be. However, if we choose a different definition for service – ‘to be useful’ – we all have something to aspire to and take pride in achieving.
“We need to change the definition from subservience to helping and we need to change our attitude from “she’ll be right” to “get it right,” she told her audience. Ms. DeVrye highlighted research found 67 per cent of Australian consumers have higher expectations than five years ago and 30 per cent have the same expectations as they had five years ago (3 per cent have lower expectations).
She said optometrists should focus on “opening a customer relationship for the long term” rather than “closing a sale” and that practice managers need to be aware that their business is only as strong as the weakest link.
Following Ms. DeVrye’s motivational presentation, the audience heard from Eyecare Plus marketing staff about the group’s latest initiatives before heading off to attend workshops. A variety of workshops ran concurrently throughout the day enabling delegates to choose from topics that included ‘Understanding ESPF and the patient benefits’, ‘Planning the right mix of frames’; ‘What’s new in technology, products & the industry’; ‘Contact lenses and the internet’; ‘iPad optometry’ and ‘Improving Rx sunglass sales in your practice’.
Cas and Jonesy Push the Barriers
On Sunday morning, James Castrission and Justin Jones, two extreme Australian explorers who constantly push the boundaries of human endurance, kicked off the morning with an extraordinary high energy presentation.
Cas and Jonesy (as they are best known) spoke about their recently completed journey to Antarctica where they made history by completing the longest unsupported polar expedition from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back.
The main point they made, which became critical to not only their success but their survival, was planning. They stressed the importance of checking and rechecking every part of a plan, whether launching
a new endeavor or keeping the business on track.
And Cas and Jonesy had to plan everything to the smallest details. Even with this planning they explained how things can go awry.
They had 90 days of food to complete the 2,275kms of their polar expedition – a little more than 25kms a day. Every detail was carefully calculated. If it wasn’t their lives would be at stake. They planned and trained for four years but, even with all their planning, the conditions they met required them to adjust those plans on the go.
Pulling loads on up to 160kgs in temperatures as low as -40 C, through very heavy snow conditions they reached the South Pole in 63 days. That meant that their return leg needed to be completed in 27 days. They had to cover 41kms a day on the way back, on half rations to reach the finish.
The battled frostbite, injury, whiteouts, crevasses, gear failure, slow starvation and lost a combined 55kg of body weight. It took 89 days for them to ski 2,275km without any outside support or assistance.
Needless to say, Eyecare Plus delegates were motivated and in awe of what Cas and Jonesy achieved.
Following their presentation, a seemingly endless queue of people eagerly waited to purchase signed copies of the duo’s books and DVDs which sold out very quickly.
Eyecare Plus Success Stories
Success stories from members of the Eyecare Plus Group followed, including a presentation from optical dispenser Emma Kennedy from Eyecare Plus Bundoora. Ms. Kennedy was the first to volunteer for a new project being coordinated by Optometry Giving Sight and the LV Prasad Eye Institute. The project aims to establish an ophthalmic lens glazing Lab in the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh to service 98 remote vision centres.
Philip Rose, National Business Development Manager for Eyecare Plus, said the conference was an enormous success. “We moved the conference by one year to get out of the ODMA rhythm, so we’ve had two conferences in two consecutive years. Despite this, and with the departure last year of 28 EyeQ practices from our group, we achieved the same attendance this year as we did in 2011.
“I was approached by many people who remarked on what a great event the conference was. One person said that apart from the buying advantages, events like this are so nice they wouldn’t miss it.”
Mr. Rose said this year’s conference had a greater emphasis on workshops than in previous years and there were a total of 21 CPD points available.
Exhibitors including Essilor, General Optical, McCann Optical, Mondottica, Alcon, AMO, Device Technolgies, Domani, Safilo, CooperVision, Maui Jim, Mimo, Inta Optical, European Eyewear, Eyes Right, L’Amy, Healy Optical, Hoya, Matrix/Tigervision, Precision Optics, Rimoptics, Sunshades and Optometry Giving Sight were all onsite with trade displays.
And the Award Goes to:
At the conference dinner, the highest performing practices were recognised with the following awards: