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Whether it’s through running marathons or serving his customers, co-owner of Specsavers Botany Town Centre Andy Willmott has a vision – to help people regain theirs.
Since October 2009, Andy, business partner David Peacock and his team have been assisting the community with their personal eye care needs. When the opportunity came up to open a store at Botany Town Centre, Andy went for it. He was already signed up to Specsavers when it came to New Zealand in 2008, and worked for the company as a locum opening other stores until his own came to fruition.
Before immigrating to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in January 2007 and joining Specsavers, Andy worked as a contact lens optician. Unable to practice in New Zealand as a result of legislation, he seized the opportunity to open a Specsavers at Botany Town Centre.
“I am from an optical background, so I was dragged kicking and screaming into retail,” he says jokingly. “Retail is not where I started, but am now considered to be a retailer rather than anything else. As soon as the opportunity came up to open a store, I realised it was the best thing for me.”
From day one, Andy has had one leading goal – to be the store that other Specsavers stores strive to be. His store is one of the top three in the country for contact lenses and received 100 percent in the last mystery shopper round.
“We work very hard on customer service and our goal is to step it up to the next level. Whatever we are doing now, we have to find a level above it. There is no stopping how far we can reach and what we can achieve. This year we are expanding by opening a second consulting room, which means we won’t miss out on assisting customers when the store is busy.”
When he is not overseeing the everyday operations of the store, you will find Andy pounding the pavement, in training for his next marathon. “My wife and I run marathons. I am about to do my tenth marathon and want to push it up to fourteen this year, with the hope of also raising money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.”
Specsavers New Zealand supports the Fred Hollows Foundation by raising funds for project work in the Pacific region, including life-changing cataract surgery to restore sight to the blind.
“The Foundation’s work has helped reduce the cost of cataract operations to as little as $25. A very small donation from people can make a big difference by helping people to see again. We are hoping to get a team together from the company for the upcoming marathons, including Rotorua, Gold Coast, North Shore and Auckland.”
Andy also recalls an experience he had with a customer who didn’t realise how much of a difference a pair of glasses would make to her vision. “She started crying and gave me a very big hug. It was a whole new experience for her as she had never before been to see an optometrist. She didn’t realise that she couldn’t see very much for distance and of course had heard the horror stories about the price of glasses. I don’t think she realised that she didn’t have to spend a lot of money to get what she wanted. It’s one of those encounters that stick in your mind.”
Specsavers is located on Town Centre Drive, Botany Town Centre.