Self-confessed people person Matthew Trusty FBDO is a retail partner in Specsavers Dover store and has also had an incredible career trajectory – from working in store as a teen to his current role on the Specsavers leadership team as the partner voice for home-visiting services.
Matthew tells us more:
My career at Specsavers began when aged 14 (yes 14!) when I completed a short period of work experience in a store. I originally aspired to become an ophthalmic optician but very quickly realised that I would prefer to work within the dispensing/retail side of the business because I could see that our retail partner had a lot of variety in his work. He could spend time in the lab, shop floor, office and fitting contact lenses. This appealed to me as a people person.
It was actually my auntie that gave me the idea about Specsavers. She was a retail manager at a store in the Midlands so I decided to give it a go for my work experience. I did my two weeks shadowing and really enjoyed the work and the people. I was fortunate to be asked back a few months later as a Saturday boy. I think at the time I could only do four hours a week until I officially turned 16!
After A-levels, at the age of 18, I started at the Dover store full-time as an optical assistant also studying at ABDO College near Canterbury. I completed my course as a block release student which meant I could carry on working as well. Working and studying this close to home meant that I could continue to live with family and keep my money for socialising and enjoying being a teenager.
I would never have predicted being in the amazing position where I am now
Learning from my mistakes
I became a fully qualified dispensing optician at 20 and then through management development support and training, I became the store manager at 22. I embarked on the Specsavers manager training courses to gain knowledge about managing a team effectively and was luckily enough to have a store director that believed in developing people.
My transition from trainee DO to manager was a tough move as I had always had a lot of fun along the way and now found myself in a position of having to lead the team I had grown up in. Most staff were supportive of this change although I had a few challenges!
I remember learning one big thing around honesty that has stuck with me for life. I went out with friends unexpectedly one evening, stayed out a little too late and forgot to set my alarm clock. When I woke the next morning at 10am, I realised quickly with horror, that I should be at work and so phoned my director John immediately. He advised me to take it easy and make my way to work when I felt safe, which is what I did. When I arrived at work John called me in to the office, sat me down and thanked me for my honesty. It was not what I was expecting! Since then I have remembered this and always tried to be approachable myself.
Onwards and upwards
In 2008 I successfully passed the Specsavers partner assessment programme Pathway and was overjoyed to became a store partner in the Dover store. I don’t think I was actually the youngest partner but it sure felt like it at the regional meetings. Since then in the last nine years, I have, alongside my partner roles in optics, expanded into audiology and domiciliary with Specsavers Healthcall. I volunteered to be the Divisional Chair for the South East region, representing optics and domiciliary, where I had the opportunity to represent the partners views at the partner forum for the whole UK group, and felt really privileged to be able to help shape the future of what we do.
Are the things you loved about optical retail still the same things?
Yes, I still love retail and Specsavers is a great place to work. The environment and our focus is always changing and that keeps it a fun place to work.
The passion of the partnership is what’s driving the business forward. I love it here, as decisions within individual stores can be made quickly and this helps keep our teams happy. Specsavers always consults the managers and partners within the businesses for their views and together we can be really strong. It’s the best of both worlds – I run my own business but have a great brand and marketing behind me.
Our optometrists really feel like they are making a difference
Why did you champion the home visiting services?
In Dover we had been doing home visits for a few years and having a Specsavers Healthcall add-on to my business was the next progression. We can now offer affordable eyecare to everyone in store and in their home. I have since taken a position on the Healthcall leadership team as a partner representative.
Why do Healthcall optometrists love visiting the elderly housebound patients?
Our house bound patients are some of the most vulnerable people in society and most really appreciate us seeing them at home – this creates a warm atmosphere, and a feel-good factor that for some is hard to beat. It’s amazing how much the correct prescription can immediately help our customers with the basic things in their lives – and helps our optometrists really feel like they are making a difference. Plus, the job really comes in to its own in the summer, optometrists can be outside enjoying the sun whilst travelling between venues and not be stuck in a dark test room all day.
Do you still dispense?
I do but a lot less now than I used to as I am doing management tasks. I put myself on the rota for an occasional shop-floor day or domiciliary clinic keep up my dispensing skills up to date.
What frames do you wear currently wear?
I don’t wear glasses but make sure my sunglasses are kitemarked for UV protection.
What is your management style?
I’m a relaxed individual, I like having fun at work but still get the job done. In my stores we have great teams and a great atmosphere.
Have you changed as a manager over the years?
Definitely. I have had to become stronger and take more of a back seat. Originally I used to man the reception desk and put myself at the heart of what was going on. As the business has changed I have had to step back and oversee things more and enable others to take on the more customer-facing roles.
What is next in your career with Specsavers?
If you’d asked me five years ago I would never have predicted being in the amazing position where I am now – so who knows!
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