Thirty at Thirty – Stories to Celebrate Thirty Years of Vision Express – With Daniel Sawyer

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For Daniel Sawyer, an unexpected new role at Vision Express quickly became a perfectly suited career change. Within just five years he has made his mark as an Assistant Store Manager with a reputation for extraordinary customer service and colleague support.

How would you describe your Vision Express journey so far?

It has been very eye-opening! I joined Vision Express from music retailer HMV, which went into administration when I had a baby boy on the way, so I needed to earn a living. I took a job in the Vision Express Leeds Trinity store, with the intention of it being a stepping stone. I’d never pictured myself in optics and had no industry experience as such, but I’m the sort of person who likes to learn and asks what’s next. I’m always eager to develop and take on every new learning opportunity, so I got involved in all aspects of the store operation. I quickly realised that the Vision Express training programme was perfect for me and in the end, I thought ‘I could make a real career out of this’.

What were your first impressions of Vision Express?

I had a great first impression, especially since I wasn’t expecting anything out of it. Since I moved from the Leeds Trinity to the White Rose store, which is made up of 35 employees, I’ve seen people come and go, often progressing into more senior roles within the company, and I like to think I’ve had a role to play in that. Vision Express is like a family where everybody wants the best for their team members and people are very supportive of each other, helping others to develop. If you work hard you can go a long way.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Definitely the people. Vision Express has offered me such great opportunities to pass my experience onto others and help them learn, as my managers did for me. I’ve seen team leaders go on to provide support across the company in head office positions, and others significantly progress in their store roles, and it feels fantastic to be a part of that. It’s hugely rewarding to know that you have supported others in their career journey.

Your Store Manager said that you have a ‘loyal fan base’ of customers – how have you built that?

It’s all about being a people person and building trust with customers, so they are compelled to come back to store whenever they have any eye health concerns. Today in-store I met a lady who has sadly, been ill for the past nine months and has been changing lenses frequently but was struggling to find the solution to her vision issues. By giving her individual attention and tailoring our services to her needs, that customer knows she can visit whenever she needs advice. Being a good problem solver always helps to retain customers and build a ‘fan base’.

In your opinion what is the most important skill for an Assistant Store Manager to have?

Patience. I’m the middle man between the Store Manager and the team, so when it’s time for feedback or to implement something new, I filter through the information and make sure what we need to deliver is done effectively. It can be challenging to cut through all the white-noise and communicate with people to make sure everyone is on board, but patience is key to doing that successfully. My store manager and I have an excellent relationship and support each other constantly, which is really important too.

What piece of advice would you give to a new starter?

My advice to any new starter at Vision Express is to take it slow. No matter what your role is, there’s a huge support network here so anything you don’t know, never be afraid to ask – that’s how you develop and become a stronger and more experienced member of the team.

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