How do you look? Creating the right impression for an optician’s business
Whatever your business, creating the right impression is essential. On the high street, appearance is particularly important - because if your business does not create the right impression, people will walk past and call on your competitors instead. Investing in the appearance of your business can be as important as investing in the equipment you use.
Getting your practice noticed
Retailers of all kinds have always known the importance of providing a bright, welcoming shopfront and interior to attract customers But it’s not just supermarkets that need to invest in their appearance. Professional practices like opticians need to create the right impression too.
Many in the profession may be happy to invest in new equipment for their consulting rooms, but may be tempted to avoid spending out on their shopfront and retail area. It’s easy to think that the money spent on windows and interior might be better spent on equipment, training or even publicity - but this could be a mistake.
People make decisions on where they shop, and the services and practices they choose to do business with based on appearances.
If an optician’s premises looks run down or dated, it sends out a subconscious message.
It may have all the latest equipment ready and waiting in the back, but if the front of a business is dowdy, patients will never see it. They may look at the shopfront and assume that clinical standards, diagnostic equipment and frame selection are equally dated and will simply move on to a competitor.
It is no secret that franchised opticians invest heavily in their shopfront and retail areas. They do this because it has a proven effect to build the business. Looking good is as important for your optician's practice as it is for any other retail outlet dealing with style-conscious customers.
“I have the latest equipment in the consulting room. But there is no point in investing in kit that will not get used - and it won’t unless I get people coming in for sight tests. That’s why I am also investing in my shopfronts. They are what people see first, and first impressions count.”
Of course, a new shop front and interior is a major investment and will need to be carefully thought-out. Plus, you may need planning permission from your local authority if you want to make major changes to windows and signage. You also need design and fitting contractors that specialise in optician’s premises. Builders who are perfectly capable of fitting out a grocer’s shop may not have the design awareness or finishing skills to provide the quality interior your business needs.
The supplier you choose should be able to suggest an approach which will impress you as much as your passers-by, and provide detailed costings. They should be able to take care of all aspects of planning approval too.
What style does an optician business need?
There are fashions in shopfitting just as in anything else. A few years ago a consciously retro approach, with dark wood and brass fittings might have been popular, as it provided a theme that many felt suggested tradition, dependability and quality. But the frame designs of 20 years ago no longer have the same appeal. Neither will a dated shopfront.
Today a more modern style is popular. Interiors are light and fittings are pastel, rather than mahogany. This might seem like change for change’s sake, but remember that a great deal of research goes into design as a sales tool. A new generation of customers is looking for a fresher and more contemporary approach.
The business case for a stylish retail exterior
It can be difficult to justify investing large sums of money in redesigning your shopfront and re-fitting your interior, but many practitioners report that even a minor overhaul can contribute to increasing customer numbers.
“I’ve seen the effect a good shopfront can have. I had a small branch practice in the next town, and it was not doing well. I realised that people simply didn’t know it was there. I spent a few thousand on lights and some signage, and there was an immediate increase in drop-ins. People were asking when we had opened - the shop had actually been there for more than thirty years.”
Interestingly, it is not just customer numbers that are seen to increase. Some practitioners have noticed that spend per customer has increased too after a refit of their premises. It may be that a more stylish interior encourages people to spend more, or it could be that it simply helps to attract a more style-conscious customer who prefers a designer frame.
Funding a new shopfront for your optician practice
However, investing in the appearance of your business is likely to cost a minimum of £10,000 and possibly more for the shopfront alone. A new interior, with lighting and fittings, could cost ten times that, especially if building work is involved.
However, this is a justifiable business expense and certainly one that will bring in returns in the form of additional revenue. There are also a number of types of business funding, including some innovative new solutions, which could help provide the capital you need too.
Getting the funding you need to refresh your business can start with a call to our business funding finder partner, Rangewell. The Rangewell team is made up of experts in every area of business lending. They can work with you to find the business funding solutions you need, and search more than 300 UK lenders to ensure you get the most appropriate deal along with the most competitive rates.
We’ve recently arranged to fund a rolling refurbishment plan for an optician with six retail properties across the East of England. Costs will be in the region of £200,000 for building work on some properties, with another £50,000 of new fixtures, fittings and equipment.
We used a combination of an Unsecured Loan and Asset Finance to provide the most cost-effective funding for the project. By arranging the entire project with one shopfitting team - and making full use of our expertise - we have helped the owners keep the cost of the investment to a minimum. So, if you need to look again at your premises, call the Rangewell team to discuss how your refurbishment can be funded.