Ryan is the CEO of Leightons Opticians and the founder of Leightons Hearing Care.
He’s the grandson of H. O. Leighton, who established the company in 1928. Ryan is passionate about developing the family business. He blends the strength of its heritage as a ‘real’ optician while innovating the brand and service to meet current consumer needs. He loves small business and start-ups and he’s passionate about Leightons Franchises. Ryan has a degree in Business Management.
Favourite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Loves: Sport, travel, skiing
Sunglasses of choice: Oliver Peoples – Jack Huston square-frame acetate
Hear his thoughts on life at Leightons
What are you most proud of at Leightons?
Well, for me, it’s an honour to be leading our family business. It has so much heritage – connecting back to my grandfather, Oscar Leighton, who set up the company in 1928. I felt incredibly proud to take over from my father Richard in 2011, and since then it’s been incredible to be part of an amazing team who’ve re-energised and refocused the business. But I guess, I’m most proud of aligning the business and our people around a common purpose of helping customers live life to the full, to witness the shift in staff engagement and their commitment. Seeing this purpose being lived out every day is truly inspiring.
How would you describe the culture you've helped to create?
Well, firstly it’s worth saying that it was a pretty good canvas to start with. We had so many amazing people who really understood what we stood for, which in one word is ‘care’ and that’s something that is hard-wired into our DNA. So I cannot lay claim to creating this foundation. But what I’ve tried to do is evolve and modernise the culture. We did this by engaging our people in the process of understanding who we are, what makes us different, and helping our people to understand why we exist. So collaboration and working together is really very much central to the modernised culture. Simply put, it’s about listening, empathising, educating and delighting. The brand essence is all about care with the ultimate aim of being with our customers for life.
How will Leightons stay at the forefront of technology?
We’ll stay one step ahead by investing in technology. We believe in helping to diagnose problems before they become apparent – whether that’s eye health, vision or hearing. The sooner we detect an issue, the quicker we can help the patient to manage it, so they have more chance of living life to the full.
We’ve just invested in an Optical Coherence Tomographer (OCT) for every store. This is cutting-edge technology, which produces amazing high definition 3D imagery. It helps provide our experts to study what’s happening beneath the surface of the retina. Using OCT, they can detect very small changes up to 5 years earlier than using a traditional ophthalmoscope or standard retinal photography.
We’ve also been an early adopter of computerised clinical records. These give our experts easy access to patient files and help them see the bigger picture, with all elements of the exam in one secure place including images of retinal photos, OCTs, etc.
In terms of customer experience and technology, we are looking to introduce a group wide software to help better explain clinical findings – especially for more advanced or complex tests.
Proudly, we were one of the first UK opticians to offer ‘real-time’ appointment booking and we’ll continue to embrace online and digital capabilities to improve our customer experience.
Staying at the forefront of technology also means partnering with the most advanced and innovative manufacturers across all products and equipment providers.
Where will the business be in 5 years time?
We’ll continue to focus on out-caring the national competition. And we’ll carry on doing what we do best: helping people to live life to the full.
So over the next five years we’ll invest more than ever before in our stores to make sure they’re equipped with the very latest clinical equipment, and designed in ways that create the optimum customer experience.
Our people will have access to the best training in the industry and will be fully supported to fulfil their career goals. We intend to offer Optoms and DO’s with industry leading business and commercial training enabling them to learn all the skills in order to own and run a successful opticians business. This business and clinical grounding will enable Optoms and DO’s to move into shared ownership, joint ventures or franchise opportunities with Leightons.
Our central support services will provide our store network with the highest level of business support in all key areas. That will allow our people to work smarter, perform higher, and care more, to help form even stronger ‘for life’ customer relationships.
By focusing 100% on our purpose and living our values, we will have significantly grown our customer following. And our expanding network of stores will be known for being the best place to go for eye and hearing care, nationwide.
It can be scary setting up your own business, but with the safety of our models and an established brand with a proven business plan, you’re in the best position to make a real success of it.
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