When Anne Gill first opened the doors of her new optician’s practice in London Road Portsmouth January 2013, little did she know what the next five years might bring? True, she had gained over thirty years of experience as a dispensing optician, but it had all been working for other people. Managing her own business brought a new set of challenges to be faced and overcome.
Now, five years later, she can look back with pride (and some amazement!) at her journey.
“I opened Anne Gill Eyecare on 15th January 2013, and I can remember, sitting at my new desk in my shiny new premises waiting for someone to come through the door. Eventually, someone did and then, over time, another, and another.”
Some were people Anne already knew. Previous patients who followed her when she set up on her own. Others just appeared out of the blue having seen the shop or picked up one of her first flyers. “Sometimes, I wonder why those first patients chose to put their trust in me, but I am so glad they did.”
Today, Anne has 2,151 patients on her list and a team of five highly qualified and approachable experts. Her independent status, her passion for unrushed, personalised care and her willingness to invest in the latest eye care technology, has made her optical practice the popular choice for individuals and families throughout Portsmouth. “I am now seeing the children of my first patients, and that’s a special feeling.”
“It’s not always been a smooth ride, and I am not ashamed to admit that there were times, particularly in those early days, when I wondered if I was going to be able to survive,” says Anne. “It’s a competitive marketplace, and the growth of the large high street chains has forced many private opticians out of business.”
Offering exceptional service and qualified staff is not enough to guarantee success. One of Anne’s most significant learnings has been about how best to make people aware of her practice and what makes it different. “Over the last five years, I’ve had to learn about websites, advertising, social media, mobile apps and networking.”
Anne says networking, in particular, was a godsend. “Few opticians seem to embrace this opportunity, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the power of networking.”
“It’s not just the promotional opportunities networking brings. I’ve learned so much about running my business from talking to other local business owners. I’ve also found local business experts who I trust to do the things I am not so good at, and I’ve made good friends who I can talk to when setbacks occur.”
Anne is now looking forward to further growth in 2018 and is planning a whole year of activities to celebrate her fifth birthday. You can find out more information on the Anne Gill Eyecare website or the Anne Gill Eyecare Facebook Page.