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Acceleration and inspiration at Provision 2018

31/10/2018By Matthew Woodley
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A diverse and inspiring speakers line up powered the 2018 conference for Australia’s largest independent buying group, Provision. MATTHEW WOODLEY was in attendance to catalogue proceedings from a fascinating two days.

More than 440 Provision members attended the national buying group’s biennial conference in September, where they were treated to a mix of business concepts, techniques and strategies to apply at their practices.

The diverse speaking line up featured a range of presenters from various backgrounds, including a six-time Olympic medallist, a former FA-18 fighter pilot, marketing gurus and an Antarctic expedition leader. The theme for the two-day conference, held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, was ‘Accelerate’.

“The aim was to inspire the delegates to identify one major change that they could make to their business and give them a process for implementing that change quickly – hence the ‘Accelerate’ theme,” Provision CEO Mr Steven Johnston said.

“This is the most people we’ve ever had registered … [and] overall the conference rated a 4.71/5, which we think reflects a high quality event.”

Before the event’s speaking program began, Johnston also provided members with an update on a number of key areas within the buying group, as well as what management would be focusing on in the future. According to Johnston, Provision has added 87 practices in the past six years, bringing the total number to 454, while average sales have also increased.

“We’ve delivered a 7.5% compound annual growth rate over the past five years. That far outstrips what’s going on in the independent market and holds us in pretty good stead relative to the overall optometry market in Australia,” he said.

“Over the past four years, we’ve delivered 2.5%, 2.5%, 4.6% and 4% growth [in] like-for-like stores. That’s from a panel of about 220–230 practices. That is a sensational result.”

Johnston also highlighted the development of Prosupply – Provision’s online ordering system – which processed 44,000 frames last year and is tracking towards more than 60,000 in 2018, as well as its marketing arm and online educational portal. Looking forward, he projected the group would continue to review its approach to education, place more emphasis on tapping into the online market and further refine its Proaccounts system.

Following Johnston’s welcome, the eclectic mix of speakers began with retail communications expert Amanda Stevens, who discussed ways of achieving better patient engagement. Stevens was followed by author and executive coach Phill Nosworthy, who delved into finding ‘meaning’ in life and business, while other presentations focused on the importance of branding and tips for attracting modern consumers.

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Highlights of the second day’s presentations included leadership advice from Antarctic expedition chief Rachael Roberston, who managed a team of 18 near strangers through six months of almost total darkness and –20°C temperatures, and former fighter pilot Martin West, who hosted a three hour workshop on closing the ‘execution gap’.

However, the largest reception was reserved for four-time Australian Olympian Anna Meares, whose story of resilience and dedication resulted in a standing ovations and a rating of 4.98/5 from 221 responses.

Much of Meares’ presentation focused on her recovery from a broken neck seventh months out from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she won silver in the sprint, and her gold medal-winning ride at the 2012 London Olympics. At her peak, Meares said she could squat 150kg, deadlift 184kg, power clean 98kg, perform one-legged leg presses of 250kg, and generate 1,800 watts of power per pedal stroke.

She gave the crowd three key pieces of advice: Control the controllables; choose who you surround yourself with; and be aware of how important ‘now’ is.

“I did not know I was capable of breaking my neck and coming back to an Olympic Games seven months later,” Meares said.

“Many of us do not know our full depth of capabilities, what our strengths and weaknesses are, until we’ve hit rock bottom – until our backs are up against the wall and we ask ourselves some pretty hard questions.

“We can learn a lot from our past and we spend a lot of time planning for our future, so often we can overlook the small things today that make an impact on where we go tomorrow … paying attention to the detail of those little things will be what either costs you or not at the end of the day.”

The next Provision Conference will be held in Perth in 2020.

Provision Conference Gallery


Four-time Olympian Anna Meares
Four-time Olympian Anna Meares
The trade show was full of activity
The trade show was full of activity
Provision CEO Steven Johnston
Provision CEO Steven Johnston

Rob Ellis MC’d the gala dinner
Rob Ellis MC’d the gala dinner
Antarctic expedition leader Rachael Robertson
Antarctic expedition leader Rachael Robertson
Phill Nosworthy spoke about finding meaning in business
Phill Nosworthy spoke about finding meaning in business









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