Ceremony on 2 December 2021 at Grosvenor House Hotel, London,
Contact Lens Practice of the Year
Exciting, vibrant practices employing innovative ideas that enthuse and engage patients in contact lens wear are the focus of this award. Our panel of judges will be looking for evidence of the strategies involved in promoting contact lens wear to a wide range of patients. The panel will want to see how lens selection is made to maximise comfort and vision, strategies for reducing dropouts should also be explained. The winner of this category will show creativity in communicating and promoting lenses to patients and growth in their contact lens business. This award is looking for new approaches, new talent and, potentially, younger practices who are growing their contact lenses from a modest base. The winner may be operating in the independent or corporate sector and will be promoting the widest array of lenses to the broadest spectrum of patients. The panel has been instructed to select no fewer than two multiple and two independent finalists.
Contact Lens Practitioner of the Year
Being passionate about contact lenses means fitting lenses that transform people’s lives. This award isn’t about excelling in academic achievement or clinical research. This award is aimed at contact lens practitioners who work in high street practice and change the lives of patients on a daily basis. For example, there are 30 million presbyopes in the UK today yet only a tiny fraction wear a contact lens that could change their lives.
This year our panel of judges will be looking to reward a contact lens practitioner (optometrist or contact lens optician) who has embraced the concept of contact lenses for their patients. The judges will take account of the approaches taken in discussing contact lens options and some of the ways the benefits are explained to patients.
Your entry should provide evidence of the volume and types of patients successfully fitted, the follow up care provided and patient feedback.
Contact Lens Supplier of the Year
Entries in this category are open to suppliers of contact lenses, solutions and related products or services based on their interaction with the market since the beginning of 2020. Entries should showcase excellence of customer care, communication and product innovation and demonstrate how this has impacted the customer base. Entrants may wish to showcase a particular product launch, market initiative or focus more generally on how they exceed customer expectations and go the extra mile for clients. The judges will be looking for evidence linking the entrant’s actions to success in practice, proof of listening to clients and for positive feedback from customers.
COVID Heroes Award ***NEW***
Two trophies will be awarded in this double award which will recognise one individual and one practice team that went the extra mile to put the well-being of patients, colleagues and the public uppermost during the COVID Pandemic. Entries and nominations are welcome for this double award which will be judged on actions taken rather than statements made, articles written or website postings.
Actioned considered will be outside of the entrant’s core role and standard responsibilities and should not be made as a result of directions from and employer, official or guidance from a professional body. The judges will be looking to reward an individual and a practice team that provided practical help and support to others through the pandemic. The pandemic lockdown periods highlight the importance of contact lens subscriptions to optical practices and this should be reflected in the entries. Nominations and entries should describe the situation and the actions taken to provide a solution. Testimonials, quotes, from those helped are welcome. Nominations must include supporting evidence.
Dispensing Optician of the Year
How high profile is dispensing in your practice and who drives it? The winner of this award will be an excellent dispensing optician with great communication skills who champions dispensing. Entries are welcome from DOs working in practices of all types and sizes and evidence of patient satisfaction should be demonstrated. The judges will also want to see evidence of the DO’s expertise in eyewear styling and feedback from patients to that effect. Emphasis will be placed on everyday eyecare solutions, patient communication as well as clinical excellence and all-round practice skills. Whether your specialism as a DO is clinical or fashion this is the category for you.
Enhanced Optical Service Award
The optical profession’s role as a primary care provider has come to the fore following recent changes to the NHS. The panel of judges in this category will be looking for a practice that is offering enhanced services and primary eye care in its community. This may be through schemes for those with diabetes, glaucoma and AMD or offering triage, refractive surgery or dry eye management normally provided through GPs and the Hospital Eye Service. The judges will want to know how these schemes have emerged be they through Clinical Commissioning Groups and the HES or with private providers.
Fashion Practice of the Year
Fashion and eyewear are synonymous for many customers and optician wants to reward a practice that understands how that is translated into retail and eyecare. The judges will be looking for a practice that can demonstrate its ability to promote and retail fashion eyewear effectively. The winning practice will understand the importance of colour and stylish eyewear to its patients and will be proactive in sourcing product that makes the practice stand out. Our judges also want to see trend leadership offering styles from luxury brands and bespoke or innovative new designers. The panel will be particularly interested in hearing from entrants how their practice is promoted and positioned within the community and about links with other fashion-focused businesses.
Frame Supplier of the Year
This category seeks to reward suppliers of frames and sunglasses demonstrating superb service, product innovation and an understanding of their clients’ needs. Entries should highlight activities taken since the beginning of 2020 and evidence of their impact on the ability of practice clients to succeed. This evidence may be customer through the provision of market-beating products, business support or flexibility on terms. The judges will be interested in how entrants support practices with the right products, marketing and business propositions as well and showing how they listen to the customer. Evidence of wider support in driving footfall to practices and customer feedback would also be welcome.
Independent Practice of the Year
Independent retailing is enjoying a resurgence around the country and Optician is looking to recognise the best of the optical bunch. The panel of judges will be looking for a practice that offers real product choice, an outstanding customer experience and clinical excellence. The judges will want to see evidence of how the business has created its personality in its local area, links with other businesses and its profile within the community. The judges will be looking for evidence of service, individualised eyecare and a practice that adds something a little different to its competitors. The panel of judges will want to see the quality and diversity of optical products offered and see positive feedback on that from the practice’s clients.
Lens Supplier of the Year
Entries in this category are open to suppliers of lenses and related products based on their interaction with the market since the beginning of 2020. Entries should showcase excellence of customer care, communication and product innovation and demonstrate how this has impacted the customer base. Entrants may wish to showcase a particular product launch or focus more generally on how they exceed customer expectations and go the extra mile for clients. The judges will be looking for evidence linking the entrant’s actions to success in practice, proof of listening to clients and for positive feedback from customers.
Multiple Practice of the Year
Multiple optical outlets can be found on most high streets but what makes the ideal multiple practice? The panel of judges will want to see evidence of why customers choose the entrant’s practice over others and how their expectations are met once they have booked an eye exam. Entries are welcome from outlets that have taken ‘big is beautiful’ as their motto and harness the power of a national recognition brand at a local level. The panel will want to understand the character of the practice and the processes employed for serving customers. The judges will also want to see evidence of the clinical, commercial and community success of the branch. The judges will be looking for evidence of eyecare par excellence, big team working and have used the power of a national brand to their advantage.
Optical Assistant Team of the Year
This trophy is designed to reward a support team of optical staff that can demonstrate excellence in customer service and patient care. The judges will be looking for reception and other non-professional staff who have made a tangible difference to the experience of clients and the practice’s success. Our panel will be looking for teamworking that makes customers look forward to their visit to the practice so much they encourage their friends to use the practice too. The judges will want to hear how the team interacts with patients, how products and services are communicated and the approaches made to training and gathering feedback. This is a team award so close working within a team should be highlighted. The judges will be interested in any activities outside the practice that drive footfall and raise the profile of the practice in the local area and all those special things that make customers come back for more.
Optical Supplier of the Year
Optics is a relationship business and this award will be presented to an organisation that exceeds its customers’ needs. The panel of judges will be looking for suppliers to the retail optical business who can demonstrate excellence in service, quality and relationships. Entrants should provide examples of how they have exceeded customer expectations and provide testimonials from their customers. The judges will be looking for evidence of excellent service over and above what might be expected and innovative ways of engaging with customers. Feedback from practice clients and case studies showing best practice should be included.
Entries are welcome from suppliers of technology and other areas not covered by the awards for suppliers of lenses, contact lenses and frames.
Optometrist of the Year
This category is designed to reward an optometrist who uses their optometric skills to enhance the lives of patients, colleagues and the community. The judges will be looking for evidence of excellence in a range of areas. These should include clinical techniques, interaction with other practice staff and, most importantly, patients. The judges will be looking for true commitment to patient care and examples of how the optometrist’s actions have benefitted patients and the practice. The judges will also want to see how the optometrist has tried to further the eye care of their patients and enhance their practice’s reputation. This category is for the optometrist who goes the extra mile for patients and the profession. It may also be an optometrist who works as hard outside the practice to improve the eye care of patients as they do inside, perhaps something else the judges may want to see evidence of.
Social Media Practice of the Year
Engagement with customers is increasingly carried out online and this Award seeks to reward a practice that has excelled in using tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The judges will be keen to hear about the reach of the entrant’s social media platforms, the frequency of posting and success in achieving comments, shares and likes. Entrants are invited to showcase up to three postings used during the last twelve months and describe to judges how those posts came about and the traction they created on social media within the practice and for the business. As well as highlighting up to three successful posts, entrants should also use their entry to describe the ethos behind the social media approach taken by the practice. This should include how subject matter is decided upon and how the work of posting carried out.
Sustainability Award ***NEW***
How sustainable is your business and what actions are you taking to reduce your environmental load on the planet? The winner of this award is an individual, business or practice which has thought about the long-term impact of the actions they take whilst meeting the needs of their clients. The judges will want to see evidence of the entrant’s actions in reducing waste, improving efficiency and keeping consumption of non-sustainable products and services to a minimum. This could be through the provision of recycling, energy saving or through education to eliminate unnecessary consumption. Entrants should provide the judges with a case study-style precis of the non-sustainable issue highlighted and then the solution implemented. Timelines on the project, costs and resources involved should also be provided.
Technology Practice of the Year
This award will seek to reward the practice that can demonstrate an ability to use technology effectively. This might be for the direct clinical needs of the patient or the efficient operation of the practice for the patients’ benefit. Particular emphasis on the detection of ocular conditions and provision of strong eye care should form a major theme in any entry. The judges will be looking for evidence of a range of technologies such as tomography, tonometry, perimetry, pachymetry, retinal and anterior digital imaging and corneal topography plus links with local hospitals and ophthalmologists. This award seeks to reward a practice that has applied technology for the benefit of the patient and the promotion of the practice.
Technology Supplier of the Year
Technology is an increasingly important tool for optical practices, this award will be presented to a company that not only offers the best kit to the profession but fully supports its customers too. Entries in this category should showcase excellence of product, commissioning and training but more importantly patient care. The judges will want to hear the entrants’ strategy for provision of technology and the clinical and business needs met. Entrants may wish to showcase a particular product launch or market initiative but should also focus on how they exceed customer expectations. The judges will want to see how the entrant has helped customers in practice, this should be backed up with examples and feedback from customers.