“If anyone did not find their $10,000 it is their fault for not paying attention. Now we have to turn the ideas into results.”– Gary Bowman Oxford, NC
For those who attended the Independent Pharmacy Business Growth Conference in Orlando – there were so many big ideas shared and worth implementing into real-world pharmacy strategies. While we can’t cover every concept presented at the event, in the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of blog posts to lay out our view of the most actionable independent pharmacy ideas that were turned into real tangible results. This isn’t just hype: last year alone many pharmacy entrepreneurs were able to turn innovative ideas into robust strategies worth at least $10,000 of new profits. We are happy to share their success stories with you.
IF YOU DON’T MEASURE IT, YOU WON’T CHANGE IT
In January 2014, Tom Choquette of Bert’s Pharmacy bought out a business partner of 31 years and addeda second location to his existing pharmacy in rural Nebraska. The area wasn’t growing and his pharmacy had to compete with eight other pharmacies, including a Walgreens and a Walmart. Tom knew he needed to make a change, but wasn’t sure where to begin. He attended the PDS conference and brought home a handful of ideas he wanted to implement in his pharmacy right away. His best hope was to continue to grow, in spite of mail-order services and declining reimbursements. Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit and desire to succeed inspired him to become a PDS member and begin making baby steps toward his dream.
After the initial discovery call, Coach John Marshall and Implementation Specialist Lisa Baker identified 3 main improvement opportunities and deployed a comprehensive plan for getting Bert’s Pharmacy where Tom wanted it to be. They focused their attention on boosting employee engagement, implementing specialty pharmacy niches and revamping marketing. Additionally, John and Lisa emphasized the need to measure the progress in order to improve the results – because there is no change without measuring.
Tom knew he had an exceptional team of employees who were eager to embrace the change and provide support for the new program implementation. They just needed more guidance, so Lisa and John recommended turning what had been monthly birthday parties into “team meetings”, so everybody was able to collaborate on a vision, goals, marketing strategies and other tools needed to run the business more efficiently. As a result, Tom’s team became more productive and he was able to expand by hiring a marketing director and a store manager.
At the PDS conference, Tom heard many successful pharmacy entrepreneurs emphasize the importance of developing a “specialty” area to expand revenue streams. This idea prompted Tom to launch an immunization program at several schools in the area and, as a result, Bert’s Pharmacy went from giving no flu shots in 2011 to giving 1,300 in 2014. In addition to providing quality vaccines, Tom and his team implemented an educational program to keep school staff members up-to-date on all vaccinations they needed, including DPT, Pneumovax and Zostavax.
As a tech-savvy entrepreneur, Tom understood the importance of incorporating technology into his marketing plan. In a short few months, he revamped his website and created a Facebook page to stay in touch with current patients as well as attract new business. He also added a text messaging service that notified customers when their prescriptions were ready, and the Rx-to-go app with Internet refill capabilities.
On top of the new technology, Tom’s team implemented customer service programs for building stronger relationships with the patients. They launched a Thank You program for sending letters to first-time patients welcoming them to the pharmacy and explaining customer benefits. A new customer birthday program has also been implemented as a way to encourage repeat business.
At the end of the first year, Tom was able to measure his pharmacy’s success and discovered that it was even more significant than he had anticipated! As a result of implementing new programs, improving team engagement and boosting marketing efforts, overall pharmacy sales increased by 19% and prescriptions filled were up 7%. In addition to the improved sales and prescription numbers, Bert’s Pharmacy raised enough funds to expand one of its stores into a bigger location.
Tom Choquette agrees that one of the greatest lessons he has learned as a PDS member is that measuring everything is the key to success. He will continue developing specialty programs, marketing, employee engagement and financial data usage; however, setting new goals and tracking the progress of his stores in each of these areas will remain his main focus in 2015.
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.