“When I started, I just wanted to make a living…”
– Chris Cornelison
Every year, PDS recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence in all areas of pharmacy – from innovation and financial performance to personal commitment to their business and community. This year’s Pharmacy Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Chris Cornelison – the owner of Iuka Discount Drugs and Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions, who proudly received the award in front of more than 1,000 of his colleagues at the 2015 PDS Conference in Orlando.
What makes Chris Cornelison and Iuka so remarkable?
As a pharmacy owner, for the past 17 years, Chris’s main priority was to do everything possible in order to provide the best service to his customers. His dedication motivated him to develop and launch his own line of supplements called Solutions Rx, which also included a group of nutrient depletion products called Restore. “Drug nutrient depletion is when a prescription medication takes vitamins and minerals out of the body,” he explained. “The depletion of vitamins is what often causes the common side effects of medication. So we created a line focused on offsetting side effects and keeping patients healthy in four main areas – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and birth control/hormones.”
The results were amazing: with currently80 customers in 35 states, and more than 5,000 bottles shipped, the demand for Solutions Rx keeps growing. And now, Chris plans to add 10 new products to his line in order to help even more patients overcome nutrient depletion.
Always Pushing to Do More
Steve Jobs once said, If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time. The success of Iuka Pharmacy didn’t come overnight either. When Chris Cornelison became a PDS member in 2008, he couldn’t dream about what he would achieve. With climbing cost of prescription drugs and declining third-party reimbursements, Chris struggled making his sales figures. His main goal was to increase prescription volume, so he could look ahead into the future with confidence.
With the help of his PDS Business Coach and Implementation Specialist, Chris focused on three fundamental principles: patient adherence, team motivation and customer service. The Iuka team worked very hard on implementing the cutting-edge programs to get the company vision across the finish line, and the results were truly astonishing:
Gained Solid Control over Patient Adherence
Never-ending workload and inefficient operations was a long-time struggle for Chris and his team. Customers with multiple prescriptions often called several times during the month, minimizing the ability of the pharmacy staff to build efficiencies that would free up valuable time to devote to customer service. The need to help patients easily manage their medication prompted Iuka to introduce the SyncRx program to both store locations. SyncRx became especially valuable with an added Dispill component that offered an adherence packaging solution to all of Iuka’s patients. This allowed them to capture and effectively serve more than 1,500 new patients in 2014 alone.
Improved Team Engagement and Motivation
Chris knew that he always had a great team beside him, no matter how busy their schedule would get. However, the need for operational efficiency and leaner communication between team members brought Chris the idea to implement the 4DI Process, so everyone could stay on track with the company goals and standards. In this process, his PDS Business Coach and Implementation Specialist helped revamp his company uRock program by encouraging more sophisticated ways for the team members to praise each other’s work. As a result of this investment, both locations experienced a tremendous increase in employee morale and customer satisfaction. So much so that, Saltillo Pharmacy & Solutions was voted “2014 Best Pharmacy of North Mississippi” by the readers of the North Mississippi Daily Journal.
Focused on Sales and Customer Retention
The team’s motivation for 2014 was “Don’t miss any opportunities to offer solutions that could solve patients’ problems and increase profits.” With declining sales and third-party reimbursements, Chris wanted to do everything possible to increase prescription volume and open up new selling opportunities. So they focused on removing low-profit margins on OTC products that didn’t sell regularly, and replaced them with higher profit opportunities. They also implemented a customer referral program offering coupons to off-site flu clinic patients. As a result of these efforts at the end of 2014, sales were increased by 20% and the net profit from new business went up by $27,000.
Desire to do better and set higher expectations for the team is what makes Chris’s pharmacy so successful. “It’s been fun; it’s great,” he said. “But I’ve got a great team around me, good people who know how to do their job well and who work well together. It’s more than me. We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
We are proud to provide continuing support in making great things happen for Chris Cornelison and his team and look forward to the future success of Iuka Discount Drugs and Saltillo Pharmacy and Solutions.
What were the most impactful strategies your pharmacy implemented that have produced powerful, measurable and tangible results? Let us know in the comments or submit your essay to inspire others.
Have you been thinking about implementing a new program or service in your pharmacy but have no idea where to start? Download our FREE ebook, The Pharmacy Owner’s Guide to an Exceptionally Effective Implementation today.