Maskell And Josephson offer world class eyecare and products in Altrincham
The opticians has been around for 50 years and Anthony Josephson took over in 2017
We spoke to Anthony Josephson about taking a well established optometrists brand into the Social Media and digital age
In this interview we talk
– Opticians, Social Media and the sales process
– The power of local communities
– The importance of reviews
– Social Media when you have multiple locations
Q: Maskells has been around for 50 years and you’ve been involved in the business for a number of years now. Would you like to tell us a potted history of the business for those that aren’t aware of you?
The practice began life on Oxford Street in Manchester as a contact lens only practice (when contact lenses were new!). It extended its services to offer eye examinations and glasses. In 1983 a second, new, practice opened in Altrincham (in its current site on Regent Road) and both ran side by side for a few years until the Manchester branch was bought out (and closed a few years later) and the Altrincham one could sustain itself. The practice was the first place in the UK to fit daily disposable contact lenses and continues to be at the forefront of contact lens technologies, including offer overnight corrective lenses for myopia (short-sightedness) and various options to slow down the progression of myopia in kids. I joined the team at the start of 2013 and in May 2017 took over the business. We rebranded as Maskell + Josephson in September 2019 keeping the Maskell name for familiarity.
Q: I want to talk a little more about your business model. You’re world class rather than get as many people through doors like the high street chains and supermarkets. Can you explain more about your products and who you’re aimed at?
We are a ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’ business. That has proved very fortunate this year as COVID has resulted in seeing fewer people than normal, having much more of an impact on practices that see a larger volume of people churned through their doors. It’s really important to me (one of the major changes we’ve made over the last 3 years) that everyone who wants high quality eye care or eye wear can have access to this. That is our demographic – anyone and everyone who values good quality eye care and good quality eye wear. As is the case with many things the more a person is able, or willing, to spend on their eye wear the more special a product they’ll get but you can guarantee whatever your budget we’ll be able to offer something exceptional to meet your needs and desires.
We invest heavily in equipment to make sure we can look after people’s eyes to the highest of standards and keep people safe in doing so. Our investment from COVID easily surpasses £100k and you only need to look at our Google Reviews and Facebook Recommendations from the last 5 months to see how grateful people are for the measures we’ve put in place.
Q: When you joined the business how were you marketing the business and at what stage did you start using social media for the business?
The business was already on social media (Facebook and Twitter certainly) when I joined but these were rarely used and updated. Our practice in Altrincham has never really advertised. It has grown organically by word of mouth recommendations and we find even to this day that is the best way for us to appeal to those who need us most and appreciate what we do the most. What better way than from someone who’s already experienced what we’re about. Social media is a game changer for this as people can shout their praises (and also shout the opposite if they wish) to people they’ve never met before and their words can be heard by far more people than conventional word of mouth – it really is more of a case of ‘word of fingertips’ these days.
Q: Social Media for opticians. It isn’t a purchase you buy every week? It’s every couple of years in the main so what has been your approach to social media when the sales process is very different than an everyday purchase?
Like everything technological, things evolve and change; whether that’s the way people use social media, what they look for in their respective platforms or how the business user should best use it to appeal to them. If you don’t spend huge amount of time looking in to these things it’s hard to keep up with the changes and so, like servicing a car (it’s not a legal requirement but it’s really rather useful!) it’s good to service one’s social media skills every now and again to make sure the experience is fluid and effective – and yes, Alex, you can keep that analogy if you like 😉
Q: I know when you came to us for social media training you have (and still do) 2 faces of the brand. Anthony and the businesses Twitter account. How do you separate the 2 accounts (and many will be asking – how do you find the time as well for 2 accounts)?
Managing two accounts is about my limit. I do run a 3rd Instagram account for my dogs (cocopops_puppies) but sadly their page is updated less frequently.
There are certain things that both @MaskellOptom and @Antjo1987 share in common. Both engage with Altrincham posts and businesses. Living in Timperley, Altrincham is my home town and a place I’m super proud to live. Supporting the local area and businesses is crucial as these are places that make the town what it is and worth living in. Then there are the things that I differentiate between. The business page will not engage in political opinions or post anything controversial or things that may offend anyone. The business page engages in things, or with people, that are primarily “local” or eye related. There is the odd occasion where I post on one account thinking it’s the other but fortunately never with anything too damaging.
Q: What tangible results have you seen from social media since being more active after our training?
The main change I made following our session was to run the business page more as a person than a corporate brand.
Rather than simply using it as an advertising tool (to little effect) and posting things about the business I now use it to engage with others as the business. This creates far more brand awareness and people will support a business more if the business is more approachable and relatable. I need more fingers than I’ve got to count the number of people who’ve come to us on the back of social media posts the last few months. By attracting these people, and getting the job done properly, we create happy and very vocally loyal people to help support us going forwards, and after this year every bit of support is much appreciated..
Q: Is the majority of your business from organic or paid social media? And what sort of content goes down well with your audience?
Mainly organic. We will, however, be trying more paid content to try and help grow the Warrington site in the near future. People love a good video or photo (another tip we got from you) as it breaks up the monotony of a solely text-based timeline. The equipment we have, the technology we invest in and the products we offer are quite simply jaw-dropping at times and for people who have been going to another opticians for years and years they’ve likely never seen anything like it.
Q: You mentioned that each new customer that comes from social media has led to great online reviews. How important are reviews to your business?
Very. Feedback in general is hugely important. We want to know that we’re doing things right and equally I need to know if we miss the mark at all. Online reviews, especially Google, is often something people will look at before deciding whether to visit a service-led business. We don’t require thousands and thousands of reviews but having regular reviews makes the difference. Nobody is interested in what we were like 10 years ago, but what we’re like now, in the post-covid world can make all the difference.
Q: You recently launched a Warrington outlet. How have you found managing the social media with 2 different locations? Has it made things more difficult or time intensive?
A little. I originally wanted to keep both sites operating from the same social media pages but that’s not possible with Facebook or Google if you want a phone number or street address on there. The Warrington Facebook page is co-managed by my team there as without me being on site there it can be a challenge posting relevant topical things. That does meant there’s a new Facebook Page (MJWarrington) to get the new local community to find and that’s where hopefully some paid advertising will bring in some more ‘likes’ of our page.
Q: Altrincham is a really strong town for active social media – is Warrington the same and what are the differences between the 2 towns?
Warrington is now what Altrinchan was 10 years ago. It’s a great time and it has huge potential and needed a good dollop of investment to start turning things around. The new Market Hall is outstanding and is precisely what the town needs to kickstart this. There are lots of businesses in Warrington on social media but they tend to be operating more like we used to – business posts and little engagement. I’m confident that will change in due course. Like many towns Warrington has been hurt badly this year and just at a time it’s trying to grow itself and develop it now finds itself fighting huge closures of businesses and needs time for this to clear to start growing once again.
Q: And finally if people want to find out more about what you – what are your socials and website address?
You can find our Altrincham pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all using @MaskellOptom
Our Warrington Facebook page is found at MJWarrington
Our website it www.maskelloptometrists.com
I can be contacted directly at Anthony@maskelloptometrists.com if any questions.
NEED HELP WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Chat to us about Social Media Marketing for YOUR organisation , so we can better understand YOU and what will grow your organisation
We can only find out what is unique to your business by chatting with you
We offer Social Media Training on
We can do this
* Corporate Workshops
* Group Workshops
* Face to Face or Via Zoom / Skype
Please call Alex on 07806774279 or email email@example.com