Dipple & Conway Opticians

James Conway, an owner of Dipple & Conway Opticians in Norwich, joined the opticians marketing programme two years ago, and has seen spectacle sales rise significantly in that time.

“We’ve really streamlined our system for taking on new clients where we’ve reached the point where we know that more people coming in for tests are more likely to buy,” he said.

“We’ve introduced a pre-initial interview with new clients, which can take place either over the phone or face-to-face. It doesn’t take long, just a quick conversation to identify what their needs are and to make sure that we take on clients who are right for us and vice versa.”

The business has two other branches, in Swaffham and Diss, that carry out a lot more ‘old school optometry’, with the original site in Norwich being a lot more multifaceted and delivering more diverse services, and is substantially bigger than the Swaffham and Diss practices in terms of turnover.

This expansion has helped Dipple & Conway grow into one of the most successful independent groups in the East Anglia region.

“We were running marketing initiatives before we linked up with Scenicus,” James added.

“But the real benefit has been bouncing ideas off the team, identifying what works and what doesn’t. So getting involved with Scenicus has reinforced what we were doing and the policies we had in place. Speaking to the team at Scenicus has given us more confidence to try things out, even a few radical things like firing clients and being more bullish about which new clients we take on.”

James believes it’s very important for independent opticians to receive quality marketing advice, with most practice owners being clinical professionals first and business strategists second. “Things move so quickly it’s hard to keep on top of – you do need help,” he said.

“We’ve managed to strengthen our business in the current economic climate and it’s definitely helped by strengthening our focus on our best clients – identifying them and advising them to join our vision care plan for example.”

The practice has recently adopted a strong client-retention tool by creating a “vision care plan rewards month” for those top clients who pay by direct debit. There are over 1,000 people in the vision care plan and all of them were invited to an exclusive whisky tasting evening, while they were also invited to opt into a prize draw with the prize being a £100 voucher to spend at the practice.

James has also organised a special offer for those clients to coincide with the upcoming Norwich Beer Festival, where they each receive a free beer glass – which Dipple & Conway had made bespoke with their logo – and £10 voucher to spend at the festival. So when clients go on to use the glass at home in the future, the branding message continues.

James said: “Having spoken to Scenicus about what we can do for these clients in the plan, we decided to set up a month of activity for them. It comes at a cost to us but in the big scheme of things these people are our best clients. When you sign up to a plan you often think “what do I get out of it?” so it’s nice to give them something tangible to show that we appreciate their custom and will in turn mean they’ll be happy to remain in the plan.

“We are now in a position where we can really look to the future with confidence and continue to discuss ideas with Scenicus,” James added. “Last month in a meeting, for example, we talked about introducing email communication to our clients which we weren’t doing, and now we have done that and we’re really making use of it.”