Three Ways to Improve Your Cash Balance

If we were to ask independent pharmacy owners what makes their pharmacy run, many might say their inventory, their customer service or their rock-solid team who keep the ship afloat. While all of those are true, the undercurrent at the heart of these statements is money. Make no bones about it, your cash balance dictates your ability to pay your team (and by extension, their families) and whether or not you shudder at the thought of paying your wholesaler bill.

A large part of understanding the science behind profitability is knowing how your money moves through your business. Once you understand how it works and what financial statements you need to review then you will know what to do to improve your cash balance. Money in the bank means that you have a safety net to see you through those industry forces that impact your pharmacy today, such as lower reimbursements, DIR fees and GER contracts. 

As a pharmacy owner, you should be confident in your ability to:

  • Pay your wholesaler on time, every time.
  • Sleep at night knowing that your cash balance is on solid ground.
  • Keep the fear of making payroll a thing of the past.
  • Know how your money moves through your business.

If any of these statements hit home, read on for a few tips to get you on the track to financial freedom.

Better Outcomes, Better Profits

If you’re to increase your cash balance, you must understand that profitability follows great patient care. This is not something we tout as a feel-good story. We mean that if you look at your dispensing data to find where there are more effective therapeutic options for your patients which also offer higher reimbursements, this is a win-win for you and your patients.

Real-Life Application: One PDS member pharmacy consulted with their patients and prescribers to help their patients get the most effective drug available with their insurance. Without any changes to the total Rx volume, this pharmacy was able to increase their gross profit by $25,000 – all from one drug!

As you continue to analyze your data, you’ll start to

  • Discover more profitable opportunities
  • Increase your average margin dollars per prescription
  • Earn more profits without filling more prescriptions
  • Mitigate low-yield prescriptions
  • Build trust as a thoughtful, dedicated healthcare advocate

PDS offers our members access to our proprietary platform, RxAnalytics, a tool that can help you revolutionize how you see patient care and profitability. Fill out the form to learn how you can get a pharmacy performance analysis to know whether RxAnalytics is the right place for you to start.

Synchronize Your Way to Money in the Bank

The foundation for a profitable, high-performing pharmacy is a solid medication synchronization program. Many pharmacies don’t implement this program correctly; therefore, don’t see the benefits of improved workflow, reduced expenses, scheduled staffing, improved adherence, and opportunities for healthy patient interventions.

There’s no magic involved. You don’t have to be a “special kind of owner” to achieve results that impact your profitability so you can rest easy knowing your cash balance is on solid ground. Besides the patient, workflow, prescriber, performance, and marketing impact you gain from implementing a successful synchronization program, the direct financial impact is undeniable.

Your synchronization program should be able to:

  • Deliver more prescriptions per patient
  • Lower expenses per prescription
  • Improve inventory management
  • Allow for more effective staffing

You’ll see all of these benefits in your financial statements, and the numbers don’t lie. PDS offers a comprehensive training to equip owners with the tools and knowledge they need to properly implement this program and synchronize their way to better financials.

Get the clarity you need to be sure that medication synchronization, and the PDS exclusive member program SyncRx, is the right place for you to start. Fill out the form to learn how to get started with a pharmacy performance analysis.

Understanding Your Money

In order to move from the unknown to the known, you have to understand the health of your finances. Stop worrying over how much money you have in the bank and start by creating a plan of attack. PDS is offering a pharmacy performance analysis from an experienced independent pharmacy owner. In this analysis, we’ll show you:

  • A snapshot of your pharmacy’s performance in four key areas
  • The eight KPIs you should measure
  • The tools you need to move the needle

Take the next step to secure your financial freedom and leave the stress of making ends meet in the past.

​Ready to Experience Your Best Year Yet?

For over 21 years, PDS has helped Independent Pharmacy Owners ​​thrive. We're a team of experts dedicated to your success and who focus on your entire pharmacy. Click ​below to discover your pharmacy's biggest growth opportunities.

Three Steps to Get Your Team On Board With A Systems Strategy

If you’ve ever rolled out a new program that involved a systems strategy or even a new process in your pharmacy, getting your team’s buy-in and commitment is crucial if the system will succeed.

Your team will be the ones who will put your ideas into practice, taking the policies and procedures that you have created for your business and turning them into a force for growth. Give them the tools they need to succeed by giving them an implementation strategy to get them on-board and aligned.

Give Your Team an Implementation Strategy

If you want to get your pharmacy team on-board with your decision, you should give them a business strategy of their own — a process that they can use to implement those changes without constant oversight. Here are three steps that you can take to motivate your employees:

Step 1: Give Them Instructions

Like many independent pharmacy owners, you work with your pharmacy team to complete the day-to-day tasks that come with running a business. Your employees rely on you for direction, guidance, and support as they fulfill their responsibilities — and that becomes even more apparent when you make a series of comprehensive changes to your pharmacy.

Those changes will have a significant impact on their attitude, performance, and career trajectory, so you must make sure that they have the information that they need to adapt. When you create a policy and procedures manual for your new system, they can follow the instructions that are laid out in your workbook without worrying about the implementation process.

Step 2: Give Them an Incentive

Change doesn’t come easily, and some of your employees will push back when you introduce your new systems strategy. At that point, it will be more important than ever for you to have a series of incentives that will motivate them to change their behavior. We recommend a combination of paid and unpaid rewards — including verbal praise, competitions with prizes, commission and bonus plans, and strategies like the uRock Rewards Program — to get your team to buy into your new vision for your pharmacy.

Step 3 – Give Them Your Time

When you roll out your new systems strategy, you need to make sure that you continue to talk to your employees about your goals for your business, their responsibilities, and the benefits that they will receive when the implementation process is complete. You can use team meetings to discuss their progress as a group, and one-on-one performance review sessions to go over their achievements and opportunities for improvement as they put your systems strategy into practice.

Are You Ready To Create A New Systems Strategy For Your Pharmacy?

Download our free, eBook Surefire Systems for Sustainable Growth, and you’ll have what you need to know why, when, where and how to implement a systems strategy for your pharmacy.

Click here or below to download today!

Telltale Signs You Need A Systems Strategy For Your Pharmacy

As an independent pharmacy owner, you’ve worn many different hats over the course of your career. You’ve filled prescriptions, counseled new patients and balanced the till in your cash register – you’ve done it all. After years of hard work, you can handle anything that comes your way.

But as your business continues to grow, you rack up more responsibilities than you can handle. If you want to build a successful pharmacy, finding an effective way to delegate those responsibilities to your team members so you can concentrate on the big picture is vital for growth. A systems strategy can help you create, test, and implement new procedures for your employees, saving you the time, money, and energy that it would take to do everything on your own.

Let Go of Stress

Stress comes free and aplenty with pharmacy ownership. Yet there are ways to diminish and mitigate the stress by focusing on what is within your control.

Here are three signs that you need a new systems strategy for your pharmacy:

1. You Are Doing Everything Yourself

Like many business owners, the last thing you should have to worry about are routine tasks that you can delegate to your employees. You may be able to “do it all,” but you shouldn’t have to!

Systems are best practices that have been captured, documented, and repeated. When you create an effective systems strategy for your pharmacy, your team members will have the information they need to complete those tasks on their own. That leaves you – as the owner – with more time that you can spend on the people, places, and activities you love.

2. Your Business Has Stopped Growing

When you started your business, you played a critical role in the day-to-day operation. As you gained more patients, you hired employees to help you manage your workload…but your systems – the procedures that you have developed to consistently and effectively complete those tasks – may not have been updated.

If you use your personal involvement as a substitute for an effective systems strategy, you will bottleneck your pharmacy’s growth before it is truly able to thrive.

3. You Want To Become More Profitable

Your systems strategy will have a huge impact on your bottom line! Marketing, client fulfillment, and cash management systems can transform the way that you run your business, and by extension, the way that your patients view your pharmacy. When you create, develop, and implement an effective systems strategy, your services will improve, your patients will respond, and your pharmacy will become more profitable over time.

Are You Ready To Create A New Systems Strategy For Your Pharmacy?

Pharmacy Development Services is the leading provider of business, leadership, and financial advice for independent pharmacy owners. Click here or below to download our free guide to creating surefire systems for sustainable growth!

Grow Your Business at the Most Relevant Pharmacy Conference of the Year

Every February for the last 15 years, pharmacy owners around the nation get their travel plans in order and prepare to make the pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for the most relevant pharmacy conference of the year.

Attendees travel to the PDS Super-Conference for varying reasons:

  • They want to see their business grow faster.
  • They’re sick and tired of DIR fees and lower reimbursements.
  • They simply don’t know what to do or where to go next.

Whatever their reasons, our attendees come looking for solutions, and over the course of three days in Orlando, they get them, from exhibitors, speakers, and the PDS Team. This is why the PDS Super-Conference has garnered the reputation for providing pharmacy owners with solid, valuable, and often unimaginably successful growth for their pharmacy business.

​Pharmacy Owners With Purpose

​​Don't just take our word for it. Watch the short videos below to see two pharmacy owners speak to the value they receive from attending and the message they give to all thinking of joining us this ​year.

[WATCH] ​​Cliff Holt, Hurricane Family Pharmacy

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[WATCH] Josh Rimany, Dilworth Drug

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​Join Us at the 2020 PDS Super-Conference!

​Grab your seats and join us for ​our next event on February 27-29, 2020. Join us in Orlando, Florida for an immersive 3-days where you’ll get to interact with 1,600+ of the smartest pharmacies in the nation and the best experts in business. This is the event that will change your pharmacy. It is exactly the right content at exactly the right time your pharmacy needs it the most.

Click here​ to register ​and save on early pricing.

PBM Audits 101: Proactively Protect Your Pharmacy

PBM Audits are painful.

If you’re an independent pharmacy owner, it can be one of the most expensive & stressful hurdles for your business.

You risk losing money and jeopardizing your contract if you are not familiar with PBM manuals and how to apply them to your pharmacy.

In short: with a PBM audit, you’re going to have a bad day.

But, there’s good news. There are ways you can reduce your risk and protect yourself when they come knocking at your door.

Read on to learn four strategies you can execute right away to preserve your business. PLUS we provide you with our comprehensive guide that digs even deeper on how to combat PBM Audits.

1. Document Everything!

The main reason audits are so painful for independent pharmacy owners is the lack of proper documentation. It’s virtually impossible to dig through years of data and remember what you did if it is not documented.

Documentation can save your pharmacy precious time because you’ll be able to access the requested information quickly and efficiently.

Pro Tip: We recommend assigning a point person during the day of the audit that can readily access all the information–whether it’s a signature log in the computer or a hard copy.

Whether it’s big or small, document everything on the prescription, especially if it’s out of the ordinary. This goes for supply changes and early refills.  For example, if you get a prescription for a 30-day supply and the first fill is for 30 and the second fill is for 60, you must document the 60-day supply change or else the auditor will see that change and, without documentation, make a recovery. Whether it is on the hard copy or in the computer system, the documentation must be where the auditor will see it. You will be grateful for having written everything down when you’re staring at an audit.

2. High-Cost Drugs + Your Pharmacy

One of the biggest mistakes owners make is treating high-cost drugs the same as traditional chronic therapy drugs.

Think about it, which is more likely for an audit: a $10 prescription or one that costs a $1,000? Therefore, the documentation for high cost drugs needs to be monitored even more closely.

Pro Tip: We recommend that you assign your best people (and no one else) to self-audit your high-cost drugs meticulously to make sure everything is correct. To take this a step further, you can establish your own audit procedures.

For example, you can assign a team member to pull 10 prescriptions from the previous week and audit them.

Provide a checklist and have your team evaluate whether the 10 prescriptions would pass an audit.

This trains your team to know how to recognize problems and prevent them in the future, making an actual audit go much smoother.

3. Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Your Team

What are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)?

By definition, they’re a performance tool that helps ensure a standard level of work is completed, even when you’re not at the store.

Without SOPs, you risk having your team members complete tasks differently. Moreover, when a person makes a mistake or does something their own way, you may not know about it until it’s too late. With the proper SOP’s in place each member of your team will be trained to perform key functions the same way every time resulting in fewer errors. Any mistakes that do happen will be caught early.

These discrepancies are what auditors are looking for, so it’s crucial you establish a model that everyone understands to maintain consistency.

Pro Tip: Make sure your team is on board with establishing these operating procedures. This is a good litmus test to see which of your team members are dedicated to your store growth, and which ones will be critical to change.

4. Call the Experts for Help

If you really need to bring in the big guns, don’t be a hero. Save time and energy by asking the experts for help.

We recommend first calling your State Board. Although sometimes they’ll be unable to answer your question, they usually try to do their best to alleviate your fears. Additionally, you can document the conversation to show the PBM you’re taking steps to address any issues your pharmacy might have.

Pro Tip: The next step we recommend is calling Mark and Chris–the founders of Compliance Consulting, LLC and one of our most recommended vendors to our members. (They’ll be at PDS 2019!) Contact them here and mention PDS!

Unlike traditional lawyers, Mark and Chris were both recovery auditors and PBM insiders, so they’re our go-to experts for operational compliance and audits.

When you contact them, they’ll research and share their professional opinion with you on your next steps.

Remember, PBM Audits should not be a cost of doing business.

Be proactive, document everything, pay closer attention to high cost drugs, implement effective SOP’s and call for help when you need it. Following these 4 steps can save you from a nightmare scenario down the line.

[Download the eBook]
PBM Audits 101: What You Need to Know

This is just a taste of what you learn in our latest eBook, PBM Audits 101: What You Need to Know.

Inside, you will learn…

PBM Audits 101: What You Need to Know

  • Types of Audits
  • Audit Triggers
  • What Auditors Look For
  • You Got An Audit, Now What?
  • Interacting With the Auditor

Proactively Protecting Your Business

  • Documentation, Documentation… Documentation!
  • High-Cost Drug Workflows
  • Training Your Team
  • Enlisting Help from the Experts

Buckle up, because this is a comprehensive ride on how to successfully guard against and get through a PBM Audit. Ignore this eBook at your peril.

[Industry Alert] CVS-Aetna Merger is Not a Done Deal 

In a hearing on Monday, US District Court Judge Richard Leon stated that he is considering hitting pause on the $70 billion merger between CVS and Aetna. The deal is currently unopposed, but the public comment period remains open until December 15, 2018.

According to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, final judgments must wait until the public comment period closes.

Judge Leon stated in a hearing on Monday, “I was reviewing your motion, which of course is not opposed, and I kind of got this uneasy feeling that I was being kept in the dark.”

Multiple organizations such as the American Medical Association and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, have objected to the merger citing concerns over “substantial reduction” of competition in the PBM services market and increase prices for consumers.

Fast Facts: PBMs & Independent Pharmacy

  • Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) control nearly 80% of all prescriptions filled in the US.
  • The state of Ohio was charged $225 million over and above the average price for Medicaid prescriptions. Similar investigations are underway in Arkansas and Pennslyvania.
  • Kentucky fined CVS $1.5 million for violations related reimbursement processing, including cases where Caremark gave the state’s Department of Insurance inaccurate information.
  • CVS’ mandatory mail order pharmacy program results in millions of dollars wasted due to damaged, unwanted, or otherwise wasted medications.

What Can You Do?

We are urging all independent pharmacy owners, employees, and patients to take a few minutes to comment and share their input on the invaluable service that independents provide to the communities they serve.

What Do I Say?
Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency (PUTT), a non-profit organization, has shared a version of the letter they are submitting. Download this letter as a framework to personalize and write your own message.

Mail To:

Peter Mucchetti, Chief 
Healthcare and Consumer Products Section, Antitrust Divison
Department of Justice
450 Fifth Street NW, Suite 4100 
Washington, DC 20530 

The Department of Justice will collect and publish comments in early 2019. We encourage everyone to exercise their first amendment rights, share their thoughts, and oppose the merger.

PDSPDS believes independent pharmacies are the best place for patients to get the care they need, and therefore we believe independents deserve to thrive. This is why PDS is dedicated to equipping pharmacy owners with the skills and strategies they need to be successful and profitable.

Here’s the one thing successful pharmacies have in common. It’s not what you think.

Dr. Lisa FaastDr. Lisa Faast is the VP of Marketing and Pharmacy Expert. She brings tremendous knowledge and insight from starting, owning and operating her own pharmacy in California. Dr. Faast now leads the marketing department and is our resident Profit Guru for our members.

Below, is her urgent message to all pharmacy owners.

After years of observing and talking to hundreds of pharmacy owners, I’ve noticed that the most successful of them have this ONE thing in common…

In fact, ALL the pharmacy owners with six-figure or seven-figure businesses use this simple tactic to drive patients through the door, provide smarter and continuous care to their patients, and most importantly, forging solid growth strategies with patient outcomes in mind.

How do they do it? How do they persuade their patients to partner with them without coming off as pushy or annoying?

I’ll tell you in a moment — but first, I’d like to share a story with you.

A while back, Mark, a close friend of mine, was working for a company that produced natural gas and oil.

He worked in a typical office.

You know, with cubicles, a water cooler, and a boss that’s always telling lame jokes.

One day, his phone vibrates.

It was a text from his wife.

“My water broke.”

Immediately, he starts sweating.

After a while, he looked like he got caught in the rain waiting for the bus outside.

“Where is everyone?!” he screams and he starts running around the office to look for his co-workers.

As he turns the corner, he bumps into Angela, who sat next to him.

Now, Angela wasn’t a bad person, but she wasn’t pleasant to be around either.

She would tease Mark about the weight he’s gained and told him to “put the fork down” whenever he ate lunch.

But, there was no one else in the office.

And it was an emergency.

So, Mark asks Angela, “Hey Angela, I have to leave. Can you finish my work for the day?” He closes his eyes, praying that she’ll say yes.

To his surprise, she agrees.

The following Wednesday, Mark is at home taking care of his newborn when he receives a call from his boss.

He tells Mark that Angela called in sick and if he could cover for her.

He agrees without hesitation.

So, what does this story have to do with you?

Here’s the simple takeaway: If you do something for someone, they’ll be more willing to do something for you.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

As a pharmacy owner, you can do this by providing value to your patient.

Give your patients what they want.

This could be giving away free samples (trust me, don’t underestimate this strategy) or training your staff to be thoroughly knowledgeable on your products, services, and possible drug interactions so that every person they speak with has their best interests in mind.

In short, make your patient’s life better.

This shows that you care about them and aren’t out to take their money. And this is vital to build trust and loyalty.

In fact, this concept is so powerful that my friend Mark was willing to lend Angela a hand despite her history of “bullying” him in the office.

This is the Rule of Reciprocity and it’s one of the principles of persuasion by Robert Cialdini.

Along with guest speakers such as Peyton Manning and Amanda Gore, Dr. Cialdini will be speaking at our annual PDS Super-Conference in February 2019.

At PDS 2019, Dr. Cialdini will show you how to “sell” without selling to exponentially increase your profits.

Bottom line: you NEED to learn all of the subtle persuasion techniques if you want to take your pharmacy business to the next level.

Otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table.

And you’ll continue to do so UNLESS you learn what other successful pharmacy owners are already doing.

At PDS 2019, you’ll have a chance to do just that.

Listen, patients are best served by independents. Therefore, independent pharmacies deserve to thrive. I truly believe that, and it is the core of PDS. This technique will help you thrive, and we’ll show you how to use it ethically and effectively.

And, by the end of the conference, you’ll have a step-by-step blueprint to follow to grow your business right away.

PDS is proud to bring you the Annual Pharmacy Business Super-Conference with three days of actionable content. Independent doesn’t mean alone. Gain the knowledge and strategies shared by 1,600+ thriving pharmacy owners.


How to Create a Leadership Culture in Your Independent Pharmacy

How well you lead determines how well you succeed is not just a motto, but a truth that will dole out hard lessons if not thoughtfully applied in your business. Strong leadership culture is your pharmacy’s most sustainable business advantage. Read on to learn more about how to navigate the Five Levels of Leadership and create the culture you need.

At PDS 2018, John Maxwell, the New York Times best-selling author of The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential, discussed how to create such a culture in your independent pharmacy. It does not matter whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or an inexperienced owner venturing into the industry. When you step in a leadership role, you become the most critical member of your organization. If your approach to leadership is anything less than earnest and informed your team and business results will be lackluster.

Level 1: Position

Leaders that operate on the first level use their position as a manager, owner, or executive to control their subordinates; without it, they would not have the support or the respect of the people that work for them. Pharmacy employees follow because they have to, not because they trust their judgment or believe in the mission. Moving beyond this level requires the demonstration of key characteristics that add value to the team and the business; achieved only by leveraging the talents and experience of the team.

  • Focus on building relationships with your pharmacy team.
  • Increase effectiveness by sharing knowledge and encouraging collaboration.

One way to know where you stand is by asking yourself, “If I didn’t have the position, would my team still be following me?” If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to creating a leadership culture.

Level 2: Permission

At this level, a leader becomes passionate about building positive relationships with employees. They listen to employee concerns, give constructive feedback, and are willing to do whatever it takes to help their team members succeed. As a result, subordinates follow them because they want to, not because their job depends on it. The formula to excel at the permission level consists of three simple steps: Listen, Learn, Lead.

Take the time to focus on…

  • Building a culture based on trust and candor.
  • Understanding employee performance goals and concerns.

Once a leader has earned the respect of team members, their focus should shift to the organization and its overall profitability.

Level 3: Production

Simply put, in level 3 things get done. In a leadership culture, team members follow because of the things that they have done for their organization, as opposed to personal relationships. Employees will learn how to create, set, and achieve goals that align with the company vision, so leading by example is critical to success in this stage.

  • Work to establish and strengthen credibility.
  • Translate ideas into action and align with the mission of your business.

Employees will hit their targets with encouragement and support, but they won’t benefit from your experience in the long run if they can’t produce results on their own. Investing and training team members will produce sustainable results.

Level 4: People Development

At this stage, people are following because of what the leader has done for them, personally and professionally. A level 4 leader must focus on developing new leaders and influencing success beyond what they can accomplish as an individual. Employees follow because they will learn how to lead, which is one of the most valuable incentives that a leader can offer their subordinates.

  • Find, place, and train employees that want to develop leadership skills.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members.
  • Understand when and where those team members will produce results.

Level 4 leaders have already earned respect, trust, and loyalty of their pharmacy team. If you want to become a Level 5 leader, you should focus on the impact that your business will have on your city, your region, and the world.

Level 5: Pinnacle

Their reputation is what defines a Level 5 leader. They have earned the respect of their community, and they attract team members, customers, and fans who believe in the same values that they do. Their employees follow them because of the values that they represent and the impact that they have on others.

If you want to attain the highest level in leadership, you should take a look at the relationships that you have with your employees, customers, and neighbors. Think about the role that you play in each of their lives. Would they willingly follow you? Could you confidently lead them?

Independent Pharmacy Owners Deserve to Thrive

The PDS Super-Conference is unlike any other pharmacy conference in the industry. Over the course of our 3-day event, you will discover groundbreaking innovations, exclusive exhibitors, and keynote speakers that will empower and inspire the best in you and your team. Click below to learn more and reserve your place among the industry’s elite.

Ethical Influence in Pharmacy: Persuading Prescribers and Patients to Say “Yes”

PDS 2019

What makes people say yes? The science behind persuasion is comprehensive, and researchers have been studying the factors that influence people to say “yes” to the requests of others for over 60 years.

The real question is: what guides human behavior? During the decision-making process, it’s natural to think that people consider all the information available to them to determine their response. In reality, people are guided by certain factors that influence their decisions because we lead such busy, sensory-saturated lives.

Read on to discover what guides people to say “yes!”

An Introduction to Our First Keynote Speaker for PDS 2019!

Dr. Robert Cialdini, a New York Times best-selling author, psychologist, and professor, founded the principles of persuasion. We’re so excited to reveal that he will be at the 2019 PDS Super-Conference as one of our Keynote Speakers! At the show, he is set to wow the crowd with his topic on ethical influence, which will be a hot topic at PDS 2019 because we will focus on prescriber buy-in as well as ethical persuasion for your pharmacy patients. We will lay the foundation down at the conference, address questions and teach you how to effectively get the buy-in you want without sacrificing your integrity.

What we’ll share with you below are the findings of his research… you may be surprised at how you can use his principles effectively and ethically.

The 6 Principles of Persuasion

In Dr. Cialdini’s research, he identified 6 factors that influence people and drive them to say “yes.” He believes that if you understand and employ these principles in an ethical manner, you can also increase your chances of influencing others to the desired outcome.

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Consensus

Dr. Cialdini identified these universal principles by observing real-life situations of persuasion over a number of years. Let’s be clear, these principles must be ethically used to be effective and align with moral practices. Let’s unpack how these principles guide our behaviors.


This principle plays on the need for people to give back what they have received first. Whether it’s a behavior, gift, or service, people feel obliged to give back.

Simply put, if someone does you a favor, you have the social obligation to return the favor you owe. An example for pharmacies would be if one of your team members gives a customer personalized and unexpected service, such as a free sample, the customer will feel obligated to either purchase the product, other products or return to your store.


You may have already inferred what this principle is about. People want what they cannot have. If you announce that a product will be going off the shelves, your customers will be more willing to purchase this product even though nothing has changed about it, neither the quality or the price.

The research is clear — when using the scarcity principle in your pharmacy, you must not only speak of the unique benefits of your product, but also, what they have to lose if they miss out.


Why is it that we tend to hold more stock in people in uniform or degrees on the wall? Attributes such as these indicate a level of authority in their field and for most of the population that passes the mental litmus test of credibility.

The science behind the authority principle shows signaling what makes you credible makes your audience, patients, prescribers, or otherwise, more apt to be influenced by this display of expertise.


This is an interesting principle, and likely not often considered in a business setting. The idea is that your customers tend to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.

What this means is that if you make small asks at the beginning of your relationship or transaction, they will be more willing to see it through. An example of this is a recent study where a health center was able to reduce their missed appointments 18% by asking the patients to fill out appointment details on their own appointment card instead of the staff. This also works if you want to make a bigger ask of the customer down the road, they will be more agreeable to complete the bigger action if they have consistently completed smaller ones.


The driving force behind this principle is simple — people will say yes to those they like.

What makes people like you? Humans will tend to like others with whom they can relate, people who are amiable, and with whom they have a connection. This is why it is so vital that you’re putting the right people on your team in customer-facing positions. Your team on the front lines must be personable, knowledgeable, and provide exemplary customer care.


The consensus principle follows the idea that people will flock to and trust the consensus of others. This is why social proof sites like Yelp, or the rating on your Facebook business page will successfully convert people to follow you. We trust the opinions of our peers.

For your pharmacy, it’s important to deliver quality patient care and excellent customer service, then provide an outlet for people to praise and rank you so you can build that credibility. This, of course, holds you and your team to high standards that you must uphold.

Save Your Seat to the Most Important Pharmacy Conference of Your Career

These 6 principles of persuasion are scientifically proven to increase your ability to influence others. PDS is proud to bring you the Annual Pharmacy Business Super-Conference with three days of actionable content. Independent doesn’t mean alone. Gain the knowledge and strategies shared by 1,600+ thriving pharmacy owners.




Who’s Afraid of an Amazon-PillPack Merger?

These days, everyone’s talking about adherence. Amazon’s pending acquisition of PillPack didn’t start this conversation, but the retail giant has certainly increased its volume… and it’s urgency. 

At RxSafe, we talk to a lot of independent pharmacy owners, and their reaction has been mixed. Here are a few observations we’ve heard, in no particular order.

What the Cynic Says 
Amazon overpaid. Jeff Bezos made this purchase mostly to anger his chief rival, Walmart. Once Bezos finds out how difficult the pharmacy business is, he’ll quickly lose interest and PillPack will be sold off a few years down the road at a big loss. But who cares, when your trillion-dollar company can simply write it off? Yawn.

What the Worrywart Says
This is just another nail in the coffin for independent pharmacy. We can’t compete with Amazon’s scale, ad budget and cost-cutting abilities. They’ll drive us out of business because nobody values personal relationships anymore. Consumers just want their stuff as quickly and cheaply as possible. Woe is me!

What the Opportunist Says
Hey Amazon, thanks for the free advertising! When my customers see all the hype about PillPack they’re going to come through my doors and ask me if I can give them a nice little box with a 30-day supply of neatly sorted meds, just like they saw on TV. I’ll launch my own strip packaging business, which will go through the roof. My market share will grow, my star rating will increase, and reimbursements will improve. The best is yet to come!

So, Who is Right About the Amazon-Pillpack Merger?
Only time will tell.

To add fuel to the fire, here’s some news: according to a survey released this week, 85 percent of Amazon Prime members said they are open to purchasing drugs directly from That’s a big number, and perhaps not surprising, but it does give one pause. Another thing we’ve heard from multiple pharmacies is that PillPack is targeting new business by going through patients’ insurance companies to transfer individuals to their adherence platform.

As we’ve stated before: be aware. If you get a call to transfer a prescription, always call the patient to confirm that the request came from them.

Below is some specific advice for our friends.

To readers who are on the cynical side: let’s not write off Amazon just yet. After all, the company has a history of starting small, testing the market and fine-tuning its service, before launching a full-fledged commercial operation. If they’re serious about pharmacy, they’ll take great pains to learn the business, they’ll make adjustments to leverage their size and reach, and they could potentially have a huge impact.

For those who might be worrywarts: don’t panic. Remember, even though Amazon reportedly paid $1 billion for PillPack, the company’s revenues this year are just shy of $100 million. In terms of market share, that’s only about 25 hundredths of 1 percent of the $400 billion pharmacy market. Stated another way, if you considered the market size to be a mile long, PillPack has gone about 1 foot. Conclusion: Amazon/PillPack isn’t going to put you out of business tomorrow.

Finally, for the opportunists out there: We admire your pluck. And, we think you’ve got the right idea and the right attitude. However, don’t fall in love with the first “shiny object” that you see. There are major differences between adherence solutions and automation options, not to mention your own unique needs and customer base. Shop around! This is most certainly not a “one-size fits all” endeavor.

None of us has all the answers. But if you’re considering an adherence solution, here are some questions we strongly recommend you ask:

1. Would my patients be better served by blister cards or strip packaging? What are the pros and cons of each approach?

2. What are the economics of purchasing or leasing an automation solution?
     a. Cost of acquisition (do you need to buy cassettes or additional inventory?)
     b. Vision inspection (built-in, automated, manual?)
     c. Consumables costs (paper, ink, variable pouch length?)
     d. Maintenance costs (whole system or each part?)
     e. Fill labor (tech production and pharmacist verification)
     f. Speed of production (completed jobs per hour, on-demand?)
     g. Rework necessary (how much, how often?)

3. Can I easily integrate OTC into my adherence program?

4. How am I positioned to market an adherence program? Can my vendor help?
     a. Increasing awareness and demand in my market
     b. Branding, package design
     c. Google/Facebook ads
     d. Website, video, audio, email marketing
     e. Posters, bag stuffers, door hangers etc.

As you can see, there’s a lot to research, plan and prepare. Amazon is set to finalize its purchase of PillPack by the end of this year. Are you ready?

For more information about RxSafe, you can head to their website at and you can see them in person along with all of their great technology solutions at the biggest independent only pharmacy conference every year – the PDS Super-Conference. When you attend the PDS Super-Conference not only do you get 3 days of proven, actionable programs from the stage, you get to interact up close with world-class exhibitors. The exhibitors at the PDS pharmacy conference have been vetted and are guaranteed to help your pharmacy operations. We even have some that only come to the PDS Super-Conference! For more information on the most impactful pharmacy conference head to