- Increase the number of transactions
- Increase the frequency of transactions
- Increase the amount per transaction
The easiest way to increase profitablity is by tapping into your existing customer base, and increasing your customers’ frequency or amount per transaction. However, it’s always nice to attract new customers. One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to attain a new customer in your independent pharmacy is referrals.
Here are four simple ways independent pharmacies can get more referrals and market to doctors and local health professionals in your area:
1. Welcome New Health Professionals with Open Ears. Did a new Geriatrician or Nurse Practitioner recently join the local health community? Introduce yourself as the local go-to pharmacy by sending them a personalized note or setting up a one-on-one lunch. Take the opportunity to see what they need and how you can help them meet their goals.
2. Constantly Build Relationships with the ENTIRE Staff. They key to getting the doctor’s staff to automatically recommend your pharmacy is to constantly stay on top of their mind. You can do this by engaging the doctor’s entire team. That includes the technicians, nurses, receptionists — everyone!
- Send a handwritten note, flowers, or tasty goodies out of gratitude on the appropriate health care appreciation day. Upcoming holidays: Assisted Living Week begins September 12th and Physician Assistants Week begins October 6.
- Stop by the clinic on a regular basis to chat with the nurses. Be sure you’re armed with pharmacy news, coupons, samples of new products and services, or even five dollar gift cards to local businesses.
- Invite the local health professional community to your pharmacy for a quarterly, after-hours networking event. The goal is to get them into the pharmacy to see and meet your staff and learn about the services you provide. Make the event fun by wrapping the refreshments around a holiday or theme (February – chocolate; May – margaritas, etc.). You’ll have the health community looking forward to your fun events and going to your pharmacy in no time!
3. Train Your Salesperson. Compounding pharmacies frequently ask us if they should hire a salesperson. The answer to the question depends on whether or not YOU know exactly what you want them to sell. You need to know precisely what you want your “salesperson” to go out and nail. Tailor their calls specifically to target the audience they are addressing. Would you want them trying to sell a rheumatologist something for gastrointestinal distress? A pediatrician about geriatric needs?
A list cross-referencing the different medical fields and your compounding services will enable you to target specific subscribers with specific items catering to their specialty area to practice. Narrow the list down to one or two items for your salesperson to present and discuss. Give them ammunition such as coupons for free samples, etc. By training your salesperson, you’ve now created accountability and have a method for determining their effectiveness.
4. Brand Your Pharmacy. Educate. Provide Insight. As much as the national chains aspire to giving excellent service, the chain business model does not align with great personal independent pharmacy customer service. The customer experience provided by independent pharmacies gives you an almost unfair competitive advantage over the the chains. Take the opportunity to educate and inform the physician’s offices about the services, programs, community ties, and philosophies on which you’ve built your independent pharmacy…especially those that are free to your customers. To get you started, here are a few talking points:
- Free calcium, kids vitamins (Pediatricians), pre-natal vitamins (OB-GYN) and diabetic medications
- Weekly blood pressure screenings (Cardiologist)
- Accutane survival backpacks (Dermatologists)
- Compounding services
- Diabetes education and cooking classes
- Sports injury products (Chiropractor)
- Shingles and pneumonia vaccinations (Geriatrician)
Start taking some of these steps today, and let us know what else you would recommend, or what else has worked for your pharmacy.