Running an opticians during Covid19 – Looking forwards to the future
Eden Eyecare opened its doors as a start up independent opticians in July 2015. When taking the decision to embark on setting up an opticians without a patient base, you prepare yourself for uncertainty & the resolve to dedicate a big majority of your life to the ‘hopeful’ future success of a business not just for you, but for the responsibility of providing jobs & looking after your customers.
The hope was to create a practice that has a warm welcome community feel, bespoke eyewear styling to ensure great fitting & create new eyewear looks. We made a promise 5 years ago to provide FREE OCT scans to all to ensure that we could provide an excellent level of eye care to all following our core belief that the health of our patients must be our top priority and accessible for all. We could never have foreseen that a day would come on the 23rd March 2020 that the decision to close the doors to the practice would be taken out of our hands.
With the practice closed our main concern was to quickly adapt, to ensure lines of communication stayed open with our customers.The orders taken before the sudden closure due to covid19, would & could still be fulfilled providing customers with everything visually they should need while we all adjusted to life in self isolation, enjoying tasks at home & in the garden.
We implemented a number of processes to provide a continuous service, when & where needed whilst keeping the health of our customers & staff protected. The staff we decided to furlough to protect their health & jobs leaving myself & business partner to maintain Eden Eyecare services.
My role as a co owner/dispensing optician is to ensure patients are triaged & anything glasses related. I made the decision to move the whole lab operation to my home, so I could carry on making glasses & delivering them to patients. I redirected our courier company, lens & frames suppliers to home as well as a phone line to receive calls. I integrated an online chat to our website which worked really well to keep our operations busy. Our optometrist Mr Macnish was on hand to triage patients remotely & attend practice for urgent eye appointments as and when required.
During this time of navigating to ensure the business would survive this pandemic, I realised that Eden Eyecare isn’t just the bricks & mortar of 8 Angel Lane Penrith but so much more, its the people that have made it possible the last 5 years. The people who have shown support to the business in such a difficult time, we have received so many kind words & messages to check how we are all doing. Its also the Eden Eyecare team that worked everyday in practice, who are always there to meet & greet with a smile & always want to help customers it makes looker to the future & gives me the positivity in how I know we will adapt as a team.
We are currently working hard to envisage a NEW Eden Eyecare for when we are given the go ahead to partially reopen. We are working hard behind the scenes to implement a new practice environment. An environment that makes our customers feel safe. We can achieve this by providing a spacious, clean, light & airy environment, a minimal interaction environment ensuring distance between people. We are lucky to have a large well laid out practice. We have safety equipment provided to staff, extra PPE for testing & dispensing as well as extra masks & gloves to give to customers on arrival to wear. We are setting up processes to enable you to order contact lenses & glasses without visiting the practice & paying remotely.
I wanted to write this to update you before we take a few weeks leave, to reassure you that when we reopen the doors to the practice, we will be organised & ready to look after you should you wish to visit us.
Kind wishes & stay well
Zoe Anderson fbdo