This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That? We've asked readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories. Their answers are edited.
Introducing Dr. Ritesh Patel, owner of See & Be Seen Eyecare, a full service eye and vision care provider located in Toronto's Liberty Village.
1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, and where you operate?
We opened the doors of See & Be Seen Eyecare in 2013, but had the idea of the business years ago. We are located in the heart of Liberty Village just West of the downtown Toronto core and absolutely love the neighbourhood. We are surrounded by a great community that has a unique, hip vibe that the practice fits into very well. As an optometrist, I am driven by providing patients with the highest level of eye care. I also have a passion for fashion so I love helping a client find eye wear that suits his or her personality.
Beyond general optometric care, I have a specialty in dry eye disease treatment and have state-of-the-art technology to help manage this condition.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to branch out on your own with this idea?
I owe my entrepreneurial spirit to my parents. It was always my dream to open a boutique optometry clinic and Liberty Village was the community that resonated with me the most. Although it was a scary decision at first, I knew I wanted to take the plunge and start my own practice.
The public generally perceives going to the doctor as a necessity or a chore. Our goal was to be different – we wanted our patients to have fun while truly having the best quality eye care experience of their life!
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
Anyone with a need for eye care, appreciation for unique eye wear, great customer service and an appetite for fun! The average patient spends one hour in our clinic from their exam to their eye wear fitting and we want them to have fun and be educated every step of the way. We have an active online presence so people find us through word-of-mouth, social media or Google. We are also very entrenched in the Liberty Village community and like to support the local events. Currently, we are hosting a food drive to support a local food shelter.
4. What are the roles of you and your co-founder in the business? Do you have any employees?
My wife and I shared the vision for our boutique clinic. We discussed and designed every detail together. I manage the medical component and she manages the marketing. We are obsessive over the little details and collaborate whenever possible. It was a labour of love getting the practice open this fall and we are very happy with the end result.
We are very proud to have the people on our team that we do. Our eye wear aficionado, Zey, is second to none. A trained optician, he has an incredible eye for style and precision. He has a knack for finding the perfect eye wear for our clients. Our patient coordinator, Janine, is responsible for making sure every person walking through the door is treated like family. She has an amazing charisma about her and ensures clients feel like they are a member of our own family.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
A superior experience. Every touch point with our clients has been given much consideration. It starts with our staff, continues with our state-of-the-art equipment, followed by comprehensive eye care and is completed with a personal styling with our exclusive collection of unique frames from around the world.
We don't have an optical – we have a frame gallery. We don't have a reception area – we have a patient lounge. We try to complement our design by engaging the senses – with great lighting, playing the latest music and the smell of coffee brewing, it's all about experience. We believe that if we combine the patient experience with top-notch eyecare, people will come back and gladly tell their friends about us.