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Featured in the February 2016 issue

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2015 was a landmark year for Doctor of Optometry, Martin Smith BSc DOptom DipTP (IP) MCOptom and his optical practice on Saltergate, Lincoln.

Not only was he one of the youngest optometrists to have his own independent practice when his name went above the door in 2004, but at the end of last year he was the youngest person to date to win the title of Association of Optometrists (AOP) Optometrist of the Year 2015.

The AOP Awards 2015 took place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole in November and although Martin knew he had been shortlisted, the award could not have been more of a surprise and delight to him.

“To be nominated is an honour,” explained Martin, “but the competition is then judged by a panel of peers and optical experts. I knew I had made the final shortlist of three and then the voting is via a website and open to customers and the profession. I was up against people from large organisations so I thought they would have a lot of momentum behind the voting. When it was announced I had won it was so wonderful to have the professional recognition.

“I have never approached my business or this type of award with an eye on what other people are doing so it took me so by surprise, I had gone to the awards by myself. Now I wish more of the team from Lincoln could have been there to share the moment with me.”

Martin thinks that one of the reasons for his win is the amount he has achieved in a relatively short time. “Taking over the practice at such a young age gave me the impetus to work hard and achieve further qualifications. Furthermore, we are a very client focussed practice, where I carry out all the consultations myself.”

Martin was also one of five finalists for The Optician Awards in March 2015. No other optometrist was shortlisted for both national awards.

As part of the research for his Doctorate in Optometry Martin specialised in cataracts and the causes of macular degeneration which is an area of great relevance and importance in private practice. Martin’s NHS clinical work is also a growing part of the practice’s business and he is a Practitioner with a Special Interest, who as part of a small team of optometrists working for the NHS across Lincolnshire accept and treat patients with challenging eye conditions.

“We also offer private consultations and began Independent Prescribing in April 2015. Different eye conditions can show similar symptoms but there can be many different causes. One great advantage we have over many optician practices is that as a PWSI practice and with my Independent Prescribing qualifications, we can offer prompt appointments to patients with clinical eye problems and judge whether to treat or refer a patient to the hospital eye clinic,” explained Martin.

There are more qualifications Martin could pursue in the future but for the moment he plans to concentrate on the practice and build his experience of treating clients with complex conditions. There has to be some play to balance with the work and Martin is a keen cyclist. He rides into work almost every day and also competes nationally and is one of only around 100 people in the UK to hold an Elite Racing Licence. Most recently he won the National Short Distance Grass Track Series which puts him amongst the best of amateur and professional riders in the UK.

A FRESH NEW LOOK
Visitors to the Saltergate practice will notice a new colour scheme and layout to the reception and consulting rooms. Lincoln based interior designers and fitters APSS have been responsible for the transformation which was completed in only one and a half weeks during December. “We chose APSS as we wanted originality. We were still open while the work was being carried out,” said Practice Manager, Sue Edwards, “but the whole process went so smoothly thanks to the wonderful approach of both the design and project team. I truly cannot praise APSS enough – from initial design to the final handover, nothing was too much trouble.”

The colour scheme coordinates with the green and grey of the company branding. The receptionist’s area sits within a wall of block green, accentuated with the clean lines of the white desk and gleaming glass display cases; limed oak effect flooring tones with the heritage grey finish of the walls.

“We are delighted with the restful effect of the palette,” added Sue, “and the whole ambiance is uncluttered, efficient and professional while being so welcoming for customers.”

The final stage of the refit will be new frame display fittings which are planned for early spring.

QUALIFIED TO CARE
Martin and his team pride themselves on offering outstanding customer care and a clinical knowledge of their clients which others might struggle to achieve.

Sue Edwards BSc FBDO, the Practice Manager and Dispensing Optician said: “We offer a very personal service to our clients and are very different from the high street chains as Martin conducts all consultations, has the greater depth of knowledge as a Doctor of Optometry, and ensures clients are given the time to explain conditions. We also have a highly qualified and experienced dispensing team which ensures the client’s experience is of the highest standard at all stages and once again there is continuity – our clients see the same team each time.”

Sally Newman FBDO CL, the Contact Lens Practitioner and Dispensing Optician, has worked in the Saltergate practice for more than twenty-two years and loves the challenge and variety of her work. “My job constantly changes and training and research have become more important than ever with the advances in the lenses. There are so many new lenses available – particularly for progressive lens wearers, and those using all the different multi-media such as mobile phone/tablet/laptop. I ensure I keep ahead of the game and believe I can give the best advice relevant to each individual’s circumstances.”

Customers are welcomed by Mandy Gothorp and Rachel Rossington, the Receptionists and Optical Assistants. Rachel is an experienced Frame Stylist who is now training to be a Dispensing Optician and she enjoys spending time with customers when they first arrive in reception to show them brands and styles of frames before their consultation. “I like to put clients at ease and really enjoy helping them consider which styles they might prefer.” Mandy is experienced in all aspects of eyecare and deals with all aspects of administration and referrals.

STYLE WITH EXCLUSIVITY
Operating independently has not only allowed Martin to offer remarkable care, supported by very qualified staff; there is also the opportunity to search the UK and beyond for well designed and original eyewear styles.

Sue has led the practice’s transformation in the frame styles that are now offered. There are fashion inspired collections from Europe by Lacoste, Silhouette and Salvatore Ferragamo resting alongside independent niche designers which Sue has brought exclusively to Martin Smith Opticians. Etnia from Barcelona offer some intriguing styles that accent colour, braver lines and a wider variety of materials. Two new brands, Kliik from Denmark and Fysh from Canada, offer internationally sophisticated flair and style.

“We like to invite our clients to additional events,” said Sue, “such as our Colour and Style Days when clients come along for colour and style consultations and to meet our frame experts. This can help them not only be more adventurous with their choice of eyewear but also in their everyday styling. The next session is being held in March. We also hold Brand Events when our frame representatives bring along their complete range for customers to try. It’s like a fashion show for eyes. So if you need help in finding a new look, then we would love to help.”

DO YOU HAVE A SUMMER WEDDING AND NEED A NEW LOOK?
A major Summer Spectacular is also planned for June 2016 when clients looking for new eyewear will be treated to a complimentary one-hour individual frame styling consultation with a nationally acclaimed fashion expert who will help make the perfect choice from the exclusive range of frames and eyewear. This is a really exciting and exclusive opportunity – totally unique to Martin Smith Opticians, so contact the practice for more information and do visit the Facebook page and website. Perfect if you have a summer wedding or cruise to look forward to and are looking for a new look for those photos which last forever.

You will need to book for the Summer Spectacular as there are a limited number of places so do call us on 01522 521100 if you would genuinely like to be included.

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