The Specsavers story after 29 years –
Specsavers are the marketing man’s perfect ‘category killer’ with all the advantages of being the first mover in a static market. Specsavers represents all of the retailing spirit of Marks and Spencer, Selfridges, Boots and Amazon . The Specsaver owners Doug and Mary Perkins are gifted, pioneering, brave entrepreneurs who took on the might of circa 40,000k independent Ophthalmic opticians who had hitherto enjoyed the privileged world of professional mystery. In the early 1980’s the average optician enjoyed all the trappings of a secure income and was always safe in the knowledge that one day he/she would be able to sell their practice for a considerable sum guaranteeing a comfortable retirement probably at 55. From the customer’s perspective the buying experience was bordering on Victorian, limited choice of frames, limited opening hours, mysterious pricing structures and critically no real understanding as to the quality of service being dispensed.
Today the number of Optician practices in the UK has shrunk from circa 40,000 to just 4000 and yet the buying experience for the general public whatever their age or income level has improved immeasurably due to the use of technology, lower cost and vastly increased range of frames but principally through a retail customer centric approach to the business of optics lead by Specsavers, earning the status of ‘category killer’ meaning they own the category – others must follow.
The business model that Specsavers use is a unique form of franchising which Specsavers call “Joint or Shared Venture Partnership”. This is similar to a franchise agreement between Specsavers and the franchisee; however, unlike many franchises, Specsavers practices work under the policy that ‘any Specsavers customer is our customer’, thereby meaning that a customer from one branch of Specsavers can expect to get equal service from another branch. It also differs in that Specsavers own shares. Today Specsavers operate 1500 [750 in the UK] practices in 10 countries . The Perkins have stated regarding the remaining local opticians that “their days are numbered”, and in fact their major competition now comes from large chains such as Boots and Vision Express.
So is there room in the UK for 750 Dentalsavers? The answer is yes, the space is open, the UK is desperate to find a dental retail hero that demystifies the world of dentistry and provides a contemporary efficient best practice service – making it work as a franchise model makes it far more likely.
Anybody want some help setting it up?
Give me a call.