Ceremony on 2 December 2021 at Grosvenor House Hotel, London,
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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.
The Family Optician of the Year
This Award will recognise and reward a practice that has family values at its heart. The judges will not only be looking for a practice that appeals to families as customers but also a practice that operates on family values too. The judges will be looking for evidence of the mechanisms that encourage children, parents, grandparents or other relatives, to share and engage in eye care. Entrants may want to major on a single family’s delivery of eyecare offering cradle to the grave or care for successive generations by successive generations. Entrants should show how their approach to the whole family makes business sense and cements the practice’s position in the community.
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.
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.
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.
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, from young to old. They will also want to see how those patients are managed to maximise comfort and vision while reducing drop outs. The winner of this category will be able to show creativity in communicating and promoting lenses to patients and growth in their contact lens business. 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 judges want to see different approaches and fresh ideas from some of the less well-known names in the profession.
Practice Growth Award
This category will reward a practice providing evidence of activity that has had a profound positive impact on its business. The judging panel will be looking for evidence of action that has achieved clearly set out objectives. This could include enhanced clinical activity and related fees; boosting patient numbers; improving turnover or increasing capacity through refurbishment to grow the practice. The panel will want to hear how development activity was conceived, the plans put in place, the objectives set and how success criteria was met. The judges will want to see how messages were communicated and the methods used to achieve results. Testimonials from customers, colleagues and suppliers are also welcome. All information provided will be handled in the strictest confidence.
Lens Product of the Year
Entries in this category are open to lenses, coatings, tints and treatments that have made an impact during the last 12 months. On our shortlist will be lens products that our judges feel have given patients and practitioners added value and have met, or created a market need. Other factors taken into consideration will be the product’s significance to practice and patients and those products that deliver the wow factor. Emphasis will also be placed on the level of innovation the product employs and the way in which it has been presented to the market. Entrants should provide the judges with samples or demonstration tools where applicable.
Frame of the Year
This category is open to frames that have made an impact during the last 12 months or a frame destined to become a future classic. The panel of judges is looking for a frame that has made an impact and one that has broad market appeal. This may be because of it style, value to the wearer or technical excellence. The panel will be assessing the frame’s style, saleability and innovation. The judges will take into consideration the way in which the frame is presented, its appeal to customers and its ability to be a practice pleaser too. Entrants should enter a single frame style and provide the judges with a sample.
Contact Lens Product of the Year
Entries in this category are open to contact lenses, solutions and related products that have had an impact on the market in the last 12 month. The product does not have to have been launched in the last year but will have made an impact in offering new levels of performance, boosting new fit volumes or keeping patients in contact lenses. Other factors taken into consideration will be the product’s significance to practice and its ability to grow the contact lens business. The judges will be looking for evidence of the lens’s success in practice, the level of innovation the product employs and the way in which it has been presented to the market. Entrants should provide the judges with samples or demonstration tools where applicable.
Optical Supplier of the Year
Optics is a relationship business and this award will be presented to an organisation that excels 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. Entries are welcome from suppliers, prescription labs and service providers who are valued as partners by their optical practice customers. 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. Practices are welcome to nominate suppliers they will be invited to submit an entry by Optician’s Awards team.
Low Vision Award
Technology has transformed the range of aids available to those with low vision but what does your practice offer on a day to day basis? This award will be made to a practice, individual or organisation demonstrating the ability to provide patients with practical solutions to their Low vision needs. The panel will consider all help be that the provision of products, training or partnerships with upstream organisations and clinicians. The panel of judges will want to see how the entrant has identified low vision needs and created strategies to implement changes that transform people’s lives. Entrants should describe the range of aids and training that have been provided and how those solutions are funded. The panel will be particularly interested in novel and innovative solutions be they magnifiers and lamps or the latest smartphone and digital technologies.
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 scheme have emerged be they through Clinical Commissioning Groups and the HES or with private providers.
Frame Stylist of the Year
Matching frames to faces is a skill that all optical practices must possess to keep customers coming back, this category will seek to reward the ultimate go-to person for all round spectacle styling including photochromic lens choice. Our judges will be looking for an individual who not only has the eye for style and detail but has the charisma and communication skills to ensure the customer leaves the practice in the right frame and lens combination. The panel will be looking for stylish and intelligent use of the latest generation of photochromic lenses. Emphasis should be placed on photochromic tints which share the stylistic values of the selected frame and are in harmony with the wearer’s features. The entrant should explain how they have matched the lens to the frame as well as the spectacles to the customer.
NOTE: Entries to this category is image lead. Entrants should provide good quality photographs of frame and lens colour combinations with the lenses in their clear and activated states. Images of no more than three styles, being worn by the customer, should be submitted.
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 of those special things that make customers come back for more.
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.
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.
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 made an effort 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.