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HomemieventsProVision Sets Path for Future

ProVision Sets Path for Future

ProVision’s first national conference in four years came to a close on Sunday 23 October. The three-day event in Melbourne attracted the highest numbers in the company’s 30-year history.

In line with the company’s charter to support the sustainability of independent optometry in Australia, and in the wake of a challenging few years due to COVID, this conference was heavily focussed on mental, emotional, and physical health, all of which are needed to be “the best we can be”.

The future for independent optometry is truly exciting. No-one wants to stand still, owning an independent optometry practice is about moving forward

Two outstanding keynote speakers – Julie Cross and Dylan Alcott AO 2022 Australian of the Year – book-ended the conference, sharing the passion and purpose they’ve discovered by tackling momentous personal hurdles.

Playing with the concept of personal energy, Ms Cross said it’s this that creates “your sparkle” – the uniqueness that inspires your patients to come back to you, your team to own your vision, and new staff to your business, even in a difficult employment environment.

Ms Cross reminded the audience that our energy is in our control, however it takes emotional discipline and courage to access it, especially when times are challenging. Like physical muscles, practice on your emotional muscles by reframing poor experiences. In doing so, you’ll be stronger for the bigger challenges in life.

An interactive presentation by Keith Abraham had the audience setting personal and professional goals, then preparing a six-step path to help them move from point a to b faster, easier, sooner; and in doing so, become their best self.

Red Flags for Mental Health

Leanne Faulkner, a small business mental health advocate, spoke about red flags for mental health that can be observed in yourself and others.

She challenged delegates to recognise these flags and analyse the stressors, then be brave about making positive change. Noting that younger people are more comfortable with discussing mental health issues, she said it’s up to all generations to bring this discussion to the table. When you identify someone whose behaviour has changed, find somewhere quiet to talk; focus on behaviours and not emotions; allow time to listen and discover what the person is really saying; collaborate on a solution; and connect the person to additional resources.

Most important is self-care – we can only look after others when we look after ourselves.

Business Development

Change was a constant theme at this conference. As MC Nigel Collin remarked, the world is completely different – it’s changing at a rapid pace – the expectations of Gen Y and Gen Z, advancements in digital technology (and technology in general) mean we all need to rethink how we do things and to be adaptable.

Katrina McCarter, author, and marketer provided five key ‘rules’ for engaging with Gen Y and Z – and while there were overlaps, there were also significant differences between the two groups. A digital first approach, cause marketing initiatives, fast service and product delivery, and authenticity were high on the agenda. Interestingly for optometrists, she noted that Gen Y takes parenting very seriously – 32% of Gen Y parents have taken their child to an optometrist before starting them at kindergarten, representing an important opportunity to educate this generation when they’re in the consult room.

Inclusivity

Closing the conference, Dylan Alcott AO addressed the need (and business opportunities) for inclusivity in the community and workplace.

Paraplegic from birth, he became sensitive to his disability in his teens when his friends excluded him from activities because they were too shy to talk to him about his needs.

“When I started talking about my disability more, it normalised it for everyone else,” he said.

Mr Alcott’s disability enabled him to discover his purpose, which is to ensure people with a disability get to enjoy the life they deserve.

“The hardest challenge is not the lack of accessibility, it’s the lack of expectation of what people think you can do. Ask questions, put in a bit of effort, listen, and learn from your consumers about what they need, and you’ll change their lives – it’s the right thing to do.”

With 4.5 million Australians living with a visible or invisible disability, he said it’s also a good business decision – they are all potential employers, employees and customers.

Workshops

The ProVision conference also presented a series of workshops on digital marketing, future planning for succession, and business growth strategies. Additionally, Mr Collin led a panel discussion with the company’s senior management team on programs and plans underway to support its 450 members, 80 Associate Members and 33 suppliers.

As Ian Bluntish said right at the beginning of this energised three day event, “The future for independent optometry is truly exciting. No-one wants to stand still, owning an independent optometry practice is about moving forward”.