April 2017 - Page 38

was an optometrist, so he decided to give it a try. “I told myself I'd try optometry one year, to see if I liked it, and finally I did it all,” he says. Sauvageau has an interest in biology and physics, and he also wanted to own his own business – all factors in the success of his career choice. “I was pretty intrigued by the eye and the visual system so I told myself it seemed like a good fit for me,” he says. “I like people, so I like to work and meet new people. I told myself I better try it for real.” Sauvageau enjoyed the courses so much that by the end of his first year he had three jobs, one in research in optometry, one in a clinic and one tutoring children in science. “From that moment, I realized I really liked the profession and what I could do in it,” he says. His advice to those entering the industry comes from what he's seen change in the short time he's been practising optometry. “You have to be curious because it's a profession that always evolves,” he says.“There are always new technologies, new p roducts out there – pharmaceuticals, eyewear, contacts – it changes every month so you have to keep reading and be passionate about it to be good at it. That's the first thing I realized - that passion is an indispensable tool.” The evolution of the optical industry he mentioned has been more rapid and surprising than anything else he's seen, 36 Optical Prism | April 2017 which is why he founded Opfront.ca to help independent optical practices with online tools that showcase in-store inventory. “The industry is changing more rapidly than I ever expected,” he says. “There's consolidation in the market and it's becoming harder and harder for independent practitioners and eyecare professionals.” Since he graduated in 2010 when online services were fairly new, he says independent eyecare professionals entering the market have to be ahead of the game. “You have to look at where the market is going and be interested in it,” Sauvageau says. “My biggest advice for a young eyecare professional would be to stay up to date of where the industry is going, what consumers are looking for.” The new face of competitiveness in the optical industry is forcing all sectors to be more competitive and reach out to people they're not currently reaching. “More than 90 per cent of people, in all industries, are starting their buying process online these days,” he says. “So internet is really the core of retailing right now, there's more than 80 per cent of Canadians bought online in 2015 and that jumps to 95 per cent for millennials so those figures are pretty high. E-commerce is growing three times as fast as retail, in general. So in our market, we need to adapt quickly to make sure we get our fair share of this opportunity.” With e-retailers discovering they too need physical spaces to attract the consumer, independents changing their game is imperative to their survival. “They're opening the physical spaces we already have. We already have that expertise and physical space, the inventory, so we have to do it better than they are.” LM3191 col.4 shillingoptical.com 416.630.4470 | 1.800.263.1402