A couple of months ago Mrs Moneo and I moved house. This move entailed moving to a new part of the country and meant leaving behind many tried and trusted tradespeople and professionals. This was not difficult as we quickly made the decision that we would return to our old home town to visit people like our dentist and accountant, such was our faith and trust in them. Yes, it might mean a bit of a trek, but if someone is that good then travelling is not an issue, and we could also catch up on old friends when we were in the area. What it did mean, however, was that we were left without access to local tradesmen we had faith in to carry out the myriad projects, large and small, that we would need done in the new house. How then to ensure we were able to access good people who would carry out jobs to the high standard we wanted?

The solution was quick and simple – ask the locals. These people have lived in the area for a long time and therefore have accrued the knowledge of who to go to and who to avoid. Very quickly we built up a dossier of who was worth approaching. Understandably, those who came highly recommended were very busy and also were usually not the cheapest by far. We reasoned that quality was what we wanted and were prepared to pay for. There is no substitute for quality of work and that, in itself, brings about a high level of trust in the person chosen to do the work.

As we reflected on the early decisions we had made, various things became very apparent. At no stage had we been remotely interested in looking at adverts for the various people we required. Advertising can be misleading and often contains claims that are not fulfilled in our experience. Furthermore, it is not always easy to trust the customers comments that appear on websites as they vary wildly and, as we all know, many of these have been found in the past to be suspect. What we had done was plug into the local knowledge and taken account of the comments from people who had real experience of the various people they were recommending. This ranged from the massively important veterinary surgeon for our beloved dog to the, as it turned out, just as important locksmith who rescued us when yours truly lost his keys out walking. He has now joined our very own list of trusted traders who I would willingly recommend to anyone.

The reason I highlight these findings is that this sort of decision making is a direct parallel to the way many people select their optometrist. Can you be sure that you will be the top of the list to be recommended in your locality? If not, why not? I know that so many people would choose to come and see me for their eye care as a direct result of a personal recommendation from other patients. There can be no substitute for that personal recommendation.

It is easy to make claims about what we do in our practices. I remember a large chain of opticians advertising that they did 100 different tests within a sight test. I was never able to find out exactly what all these tests were but the best part was that, as a result of that advert I gained many new patients. I will leave you to decide why. The point here is that in everything we do, excellence in clinical delivery and service must be our guide in order that we can be successful.

The main reason our patients come to see us is because they have faith in us. Every time you carry out a sight test you have been entrusted with someone’s eyesight, their most precious sense. Surely there can be no greater privilege? What you do and say to each and every one of your patients will influence the future of your business. As we all come out of the pandemic this must surely be our guiding principle. Undoubtedly you will all have restructured your business plans to accommodate the recovery period. Maybe there is a temptation to cram in extra patients to increase income in the short term. But I would suggest this is a false economy. It is the long term that will determine our success and it is the clinical reputation that you have that will be the key factor in that success.

Mrs Moneo and I have decided to travel many miles to see professionals that we trust. Many of my patients were prepared to travel many hundreds of miles to see me. It is that sort of trusted clinical status that we should all be aspiring to and with that status comes true professional satisfaction and business success that we should all aspire to.