Mike Protopsaltis joined Specsavers when the optics business was in its infancy; he was part of the team that launched 100 optical stores in 100 days. It’s no surprise then, that when he had the opportunity to do it all again with audiology, he was excited to take up the challenge.
“When Darrel first approached me to share his ambition to bring audiology in Australia and New Zealand, it felt like a great opportunity to start from scratch again, to have the excitement and challenge of building something new, to transform people’s lives.
“I reflected on our journey in optics, how sitting down with a person and having a coffee turned into them doing something for themselves by starting their own business. Having been an optics partner and business owner myself, it was a tremendous pleasure helping people achieve their dreams of starting and growing their own business and I just knew we could do it again in the audiology space.”
As the team came together, Nick Taylor, Specsavers Audiology’s Head of Professional Services and Product, asked Mike to make a difficult decision, at which point the opportunity to transform people’s lives through audiology became clear.
“I remember we were having a conversation and Nick challenged me by asking if I had to choose between eyesight or hearing which would I choose? I quickly said ‘eyesight’. And he responded by saying, ‘I’d probably keep my hearing, because I have my memory – I know what you look like, what a sunset looks like. But to never hear music again? To never hear your grandchild call you granddad or listen to the sound of the ocean? It would be so isolating.’ And immediately it made me realise the impact losing your hearing can have on your quality of life.”
“I knew the impact of our optical business, the millions of customers we were supporting with eyecare and I realised we were doing them a disservice if we didn’t use that network and that experience to extend our service to include audiology,” he says.
And it’s that commitment to our customers that Mike says really sets Specsavers apart.
“We wanted a model that delivers ultimate customer care and then matches that with a product the customer can afford. And that’s exactly what we’re doing at Specsavers.
“We believe in our people and we want them to do what is right by the customer. When I meet with prospective partners and I talk to them about our values and our approach, when I talk about the fact that they will never see a sales target, that the expectation is to treat the customer in front of them as an individual, not to make a sale, they can see pretty quickly that we’re not focused on numbers. We’re focused on people.”
Mike says several prospective partners have said to him that before sitting down with the team, they thought that Specsavers was ‘too good to be true’.
“It’s an expression people have used, but in our case, it’s good and it’s true! We believe in partnering with the right people. Those who are aligned with our mission and values and who are motivated by the desire to help people, and then we give them the freedom to build their own future and business, within a tried and tested framework.
“We’re a business built on honesty. And that surprises people. But when you come and talk to us, there are no airs and graces, if you have a question, we’ll answer it.
“I often say to our store teams “all it takes to get someone on the journey for hearing care is to start a conversation.” So that’s all we also ask of audiology professionals, “Talk to us.” You might be surprised at how much you like what you hear.”