Disclaimer: This post contains ranting.
Continue reading if you want to know why I’m provoked by the eyewear industry in Sweden. I am open for a discussion.
During the last 10-15 years a lot has happened to the eyewear industry in Sweden.
I got my first glasses in the year 1999. Living in a smaller town in southern Sweden, there weren’t many types of frames to choose from. I looked through the internet and couldn’t really find anything. And since my parents didn’t have glasses they didn’t really know where to look for the best glasses either. My first pair were super simple black thin oval shaped metal glasses. I looked like a dork in them and they didn’t feel like they had anything to do with my personality at all. I didn’t want to wear them so I started looking for new ones.
It took me months to find a pair that felt like me. But I did manage to find one! I got great help finding them as well by the coolest optometrist ever. They were the latest trend back then; small-rectangular-thin-metal-brownish-copper from Mario Conti. I had them every single day for about two years I think.
Think about it. The glasses are sitting in the center of you face. What could be more important to invest in? Get one pair you really like. One that has the color and the shape YOU like. One that has good quality. Get help from your optician. If the optician can’t help you then find another optician that can help you.
I understand that everyone doesn’t have the money to buy expensive glasses. Especially during the economic circumstances the past few years. Expensive is not the same thing as affordable though.
And I understand that everyone doesn’t care about what they look like. But will you compromise on optical quality or durability?
I’m super frustrated with cheap chains selling out the whole eyewear industry AND the profession of optometrists and opticians.
(In sweden an optometrist and optician are pretty much the same thing. The same person who does the eyesight test and fits contacts can also sell glasses in the store, adjust them and so on.)
See, I studied hard at Karolinska Institutet for three years and I simultaneously worked hard at an opticians during those years. I didn’t do all of this to then give away an eye sight test for free if you buy glasses. I care too much about your eyes and vision to do it for free. I will not sell you something I know looks bad on you. I’d rather spend weeks finding a great one for you instead. I will not sell you a pair of glasses that has poor quality.
If your dentist told you you get the exam for free if you needed a filling, would you take him or her seriously? I’d start doubting if the dentist was doing a good job since I wouldn’t be charged for it.
This goes out to all the cheap chains:
You give away eye sight tests for free. And you perform a test in less than 15 minutes. Is this a serious way to work? It basically says that your product is worth way more than you knowledge, expertise and skills. Please.
You think you are “the IKEA of glasses”. IKEA has sense of taste, is revolutionizing in many clever ways and thinks about it’s future and it’s brand. You however do not.
You think you were the ones that made glasses into an accessory but I think there were a few others who actually set the trends before you started mass producing bad quality glases. Please correct me if I’m wrong?
You also think that the lenses you sell holds great optical quality. Can you compare the crappy vision you get in your $200 progressive lenses with Carl Zeiss or Hoya’s custom made lenses? I’d rather take that money and throw it in the garbage than buying a pair of your lenses the day I need progressives.
And this one goes out to all the other opticians who say they are not a cheap chain:
If you don’t exist online you basically don’t exist at all for anyone born after 1980. That’s a lot of potential customers. And considering the growing smmount of myops this should already be obvious. Any 20 yearold will make a thurough research online and then go buy glasses – not the other way around. They might not buy the pair they saw online but they chose their store because they got to know about it through the internet. Get to it. create a useful website. Maintain and update it often.
Noone knows your job better than you. Make sure everyone knows that after leaving your place. Make a thurough exam. Listen. Try harder. Talk with your patients. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “This was the best eye exam I ever got, so professional.” And I graduated in 2010. Surely there must be better optometrists than me?
Modernize the way you work. Invest in modern equipment. Do crazy things.
Make the shopping experience something special. As soon as someone steps into your shop you have a potential customer. I go to opticians often and the staff doesn’t even greet me. I could be your best customer and spend lots of money if you took care of me just a little.
You can never be good enough. Stay active. Read new studies, start with one study a month. Discuss patients with your colleagues. Take courses. Discover new eyewear brands.
The optometrist as a profession in Sweden is as of now dominated by females. This means: lower salaries, slower salary growth, worse benefits, more control from headquarters and less individual inpact.
I will not accept the fact that this profession is valued less each day. Discuss this with me please. If we want to gain the customers’ respect we need to respect ourselves first. We should work together to make our profession worth something more than “free eye sight test” and “3 for 1”.