Mary Lou Newbold, Mayfair Optometric Clinic

Mary Lou Newbold owns Mayfair Optometric Clinic, one of Victoria’s the leading eye care specialists, alongside her partner Dr. Stephen Taylor. As an alumna of Royal Roads University, she makes continued learning a high priority, and has mentored many optometry and optical students as well as learners interested in other areas of business. Mayfair Optometric has been named Business of the Year by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce as well as being featured in the Best of the City Awards.

How is Mayfair Optometric coping during the pandemic?

We have remained true to our values of serving our patients, our community and each other. Dr. Taylor and I are a team both personally and professionally and we have some extraordinary employees and doctors working with us. I have been so honoured to witness our team working together through these past weeks doing whatever was needed to keep us helping our patients.

How has the crisis affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?

Although we closed our doors on March 20, we never stopped being on site; we just had to make some dramatic changes quickly. We will have to adjust our doctor schedules and spread our employees out over differing shifts to maintain safe physical distances — this will have an impact on revenues and cash flow. It also changes how quickly we will be able to get people in to see our doctors.

What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?

One day and one week at a time; if we look too far ahead it is overwhelming. Staying closer to the moment we are in ensures we are taking care of each other and our patients.  Everything takes longer now as we wipe down all touch points, and frames after every patient encounter — we can’t be in a hurry. I am also telling everyone to be creative in what service they can offer within new constraints, for example, men often like to have their wives help them select new frames so now we let the guys take the frames home rather than having an additional person in the office.

What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business? 

The opportunity in the challenge is mastering patience! Opportunity in dedicating more time to each patient interaction and having the time to show our customers what we are really good at and why we should be their eye care provider of choice. The opportunity to answer the loud call of our community to support local, we will not take that for granted and will continue to work hard to pay that loyalty forward.

What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping through crises?

This time in our lives feels eerily like when my mom died. There is grief in the end of how we used to do things. The loss of events so looked forward to — Michelle Obama, 10 to Watch, The Chamber Awards to name a few. Accepting kindness and generosity, like this article and other platforms that have given us a voice and asked for nothing in return. It was hard to accept those gestures when my mom died, and it’s a struggle now, but I am grateful for the kindness of my community business colleagues, and the loyalty of our patients.

What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?

Observing great leaders and how they are communicating and carrying us forward — Dr. Henry so composed, John Wilson remaining optimistic. They inspire me to be a positive clear communicator.

I enjoy a weekly Friday evening virtual cocktail Zoom call with three extraordinary local business women who help me mark the end of the week and set goals for the coming week. And books by Brene Brown and Simon Sinek are never far from reach. We adopted a puppy in February and he brings great joy to my day — everyone should have a puppy during a pandemic!

What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?

When I find myself feeling alone I stop and remember that we are all impacted by this somehow, I am not alone. The stories and narrative around us can be very heavy and it is so important that we all keep moving forward. Dr. Henry says, this isn’t forever, it is just for now — and I do believe the time will come one day when we will be gathered again (hopefully at my beloved Seahawks games). Appreciate that this is hard, have compassion for the anxiety that comes and goes and keep an open mind that others have varying degrees of how they are coping.

Victoria is a very special community and Dr. Taylor and I are lucky to own a business here.  We will all be ok, we just need to be patient and kind – one day at a time for the foreseeable future.