Monthly Archives: March 2012

Shakeout at Opticalswala

From the Crucibles of JPS Customer Value Academy

                            Just Plain & Simple                       

                            ….. Helping Create Customer Value

Indian Optician, January-February, 2012

My professional association with the optical industry is 18 years old now. However, as a user of their services and products, it’s been exactly double that period i.e. 36 years. My first exposure to an optical outlet was while accompanying my parents for their eye check up. We had a very good optician in the southern part of Delhi and were very happy with their service level, quality and personalised dealings. For years, we used to go only to this shop. Even when we shifted to another part of Delhi, for quite some time, we kept going to the same shop for our requirements of spectacles.

During my first decade with the optical industry, we worked and learned together, with many other people in the industry, putting in efforts towards growing/upgrading several aspects like equipment, ambience, quality, business levels, skills ….. A lot of Creativity at play a-la Brahma and Vishnu !! There was steady, stable and sustainable growth visible all over in multiple dimensions ….. and growth is life !!

However, during the last decade, while the optical business has really gathered further momentum, alongwith news of growth and new outlets expansion, one gets to hear about a shakeout and many closures as well. Change and cycles are a part of life, but this extensive play of Shiva indicates that something else is also happening. Why should there be so much of a shakeout ? At a philosophical level though, destruction is also followed by creation. But are there some other dynamics in this churning ?

In the evolution of an industry, at different stages, certain characteristic events do play out. In the growth phase for example, players do rush in, create a crowding and then the fittest survive. In the evolution of species, this has played out over the entire history of this planet. Whenever an ecosystem gets cluttered with overgrowth of a species, an imbalance gets created in the ecosystem, there is a fight/struggle for the limited environmental resources and then balance is regained ….. survival of the fittest/adaptive (not strongest) is the rule !!

In the background of such a history, how can we learn in the context of the optical industry ? Man has been granted the wisdom to make choices and exert free will.

Given below are some very simple questions, in no particular order, which if dealt with well, can reduce risks of business growth/expansion.

Are you ready for the Twenty Question Test ?? Ignore them at your own risk …..

  1. Why do we want to expand ?
  2. What is our long term goal/objective ?
  3. What are our strengths and weaknesses ?
  4. What are the new trends coming up ?
  5. What are the changing customer behaviours ?
  6. Which geographical areas should we look at ?
  7. Why ?
  8. Who are the other competitors ?
  9. What are they doing ?
  10. Is there enough business for everyone ?
  11. Which customers will we serve ?
  12. Which products and services can we offer our customers ?
  13. Is there a different/better value we can offer to our customers ?
  14. Can we sustain the resources needed till we start getting returns ?
  15. What are the type of people we will need ?
  16. Where will we get these people ?
  17. Are we willing to invest in the development of people ?
  18. How will we serve our customers ?
  19. What values do we believe in ?
  20. How will we generate profits ?

It is always wise to inspect the playing field well and to understand one’s own strengths and weaknesses ….. to be able to prepare, practice and finally play the game according to one’s own strengths ….. It needs great discipline in thought and action so that the mind does not play havoc !!


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