Last night I saw something truly frightening on TV. It wasn’t a scary movie or even something terrible on the news. It was actually a commercial. A commercial where a drug company was touting their new program allowing patients to fill their prescriptions online, directly through the manufacturer’s website. One more facet of competition for independent pharmacies already fighting to thrive in an environment where they already face competition at every turn.
Of course, I mulled over this different form of competition all evening, wondering if this will become a major trend and pondering how an independent pharmacy can effectively combat drug manufacturers trying to take a bigger piece of the pie. I tried to think about how many people would actually use a service like that, rather than going to their local pharmacy. I suppose only time will tell whether this is a trend that will catch on or whether it will eventually fizzle out but personally, I think that there are a number of things that give independent pharmacies an edge, not only in this situation, but over box stores, chain grocery store pharmacies and many more forms of competition.
The most successful independent pharmacies that I have had the opportunity to work with seem to embody everything that box stores aren’t. Here are the three top things I notice about some of RMS’ most successful customers.
1) Their patients are more than names on a label
Our customers are extremely busy during the day, so when I speak with pharmacies, I’m always conscious that I’m probably interrupting something. So I definitely don’t mind being put on hold for a while or the pharmacist setting the phone down for a few minutes to handle something else. More often than not, the pharmacist, pharmacy manager or technician will ask me to hold on for a moment, simply to greet a patient that’s come in. I hear them greet the patient by their name, ask how the kids are, or how work is. That personal relationship can help to solidify a customer’s loyalty to your pharmacy and it’s something no one is getting from the box store down the street.
2) They consider their patients overall health as their responsibility
Independent pharmacies are more than just a place to pick up prescriptions. It may be what gets a customer through the door the first time, but it isn’t what makes them stay. Successful pharmacies try to engage their customers to work with them on disease state management and be a part of their healthcare team, rather than assembly line prescription filling. Instead of hold music, I often hear custom greetings, inviting patients to take advantage of programs to better their health such as smoking cessation or weight loss.
3) They use technology to its fullest advantage.
There are vast array of different technology solutions out there to allow pharmacies to achieve their goals. Being aware of and comfortable with new technology options for pharmacy systems, point-of-sale systems, robotics, IVR and more makes sure that your pharmacy stays on the cutting edge and helps you project a modern, professional and efficient image to match the above and beyond service that your pharmacy provides. In 15 years working exclusively with independent and institutional pharmacies, we’ve found that the right technology can make the difference and truly help a pharmacy to thrive.
While these 3 qualities are by no means all-encompassing when it comes to what makes a pharmacy successful, they definitely are a key component of that overall success. What do you think? What helps your pharmacy to flourish with every increasing competition?
While upselling is often perceived negatively, it can make a whole world of difference when making your pharmacy extremely profitable. Upselling shouldn’t be seen in the same light as a shady used-car salesperson, it should be perceived as a way of giving customers additional solutions that help them solve for their needs. Yes, upselling is designed to give your pharmacy a boost in sales and, if implemented correctly, it will also help your customers.
The goal should be to always help the customer find a solution to their shopping and pharmacy needs. Here are 7 upselling tips your pharmacy can utilize to help customers and boost your revenue. Continue reading “7 Ways to Upsell Your Pharmacy Customers”
How can your pharmacy stand out? How can you make your place of business somewhere your employees want to come to every day? It’s time to connect the dots and help your independent pharmacy profits grow. It’s time you feel that work-life balance.
To help you get there, here are 3 things every successful pharmacy needs:
You’re a leader, but are you leading? Leadership requires a unique skill of inspiration and making your employees feel safe, secure, and confident about their jobs. Building a relationship of trust is the key. If your employees feel secure, they will want to work hard and go that extra mile to get things done. They won’t be afraid to ask questions and evolve -all while staying loyal to your pharmacy. Your employees are more than a group of people that works for you. You’re on the same team, working toward the same goals – and that requires mutual respect. You don’t want your team to come in and simply put in their time, counting down the hours until the weekend. Creating a culture through your brand will attract the right people and will encourage your employees to share the same dreams and goals. Building a motivated team is half the battle to the top.
The ability to stand out from the crowd is another crucial component of any successful pharmacy. There’s a reason why you started an independent business: you wanted to implement your own vision and bring innovative ideas to life — ideas that will satisfy the existing customer base, at the same time opening new revenue streams. Filling prescriptions is just one way to help patients fulfill their needs. Providing them with a great service and a motivational environment will build a trusting relationship, which in turn, will ensure customer retention. Your happy customers will soon turn into brand evangelists who will gladly promote your business because of how much it means to them.
Finally, making connections within your community is what makes a business skyrocket. You may not have put a lot of emphasis on networking when you were in pharmacy school or even working for a chain pharmacy. Owning an independent pharmacy is all about building strong connections: you don’t have to run through every bump in the road on your own. Getting together with like-minded individuals will help you gain a different perspective, as well as encourage you to create and implement new ideas.
Knowing that you’re not alone is a good feeling to have. Sharing mutual problems, giving and taking advice will help you strengthen your pharmacy’s strategy and vision. You’ll have the advantage of avoiding mistakes other pharmacy owners have already made. You’ll gain help in the areas that are most vulnerabile. Additionally, you’ll learn industry secrets early. In the pharmacy industry it’s not uncommon for a drug price to go up, or for certain insurance carriers to lose coverage of some drugs. By connecting with others in the same field, you can obtain this information first and use it to be proactive with your pharmacy business.
Your goal should be to stay ahead of the game, always. To live, breathe, and evolve, your pharmacy business you will need to lead, innovate and connect. It’s not just about filling prescriptions and counting profits. It’s about forming relationships with other industry leaders to help you learn and grow. It’s about being at the forefront of new ideas and the first in your community to dive into fresh opportunities.
Ultimately, it’s about creating an environment that your team wants to be a part of, where it can thrive and the desire to do the best type of work all the time just for your pharmacy exists. You may have already been in business for a few years, but your strategy doesn’t stop just because new business has officially started.
There you have it! These three tools will help you evolve your pharmacy to its fullest potential and keep you ready for the future.
Ready to take your business one step further?
Take an opportunity to tap into some of the juiciest markets that are guaranteed to boost your independent pharmacy profits. Register for the FREE Webinar: 5 Niches Chain Pharmacies Are Ignoring [That You Can’t Afford to Be] – March 18th, 6:30 PM.
As a pharmacy owner, chances are good you don’t come from a robust marketing background. That’s why PDS is committed to providing our members the trainings they need to create realistic marketing campaigns with confidence.
One of the ways we turn pharmacy owners into marketing rock stars is through Pharmacy Marketing 360º. This training is comprehensive and will have a positive impact on your pharmacy’s future. Created with care and detail by PDS Chief Marketing Officer Samantha Timmermann, this two-day workshop with follow-up webinars could be the missing puzzle piece your pharmacy has been craving.
With a new session of Pharmacy Marketing 360º starting in June, now is the time to think about registering yourself along with your marketer. Some of you might have questionsabout the training and what better way to address them than by getting the scoop from Samantha herself. In the following interview Samantha discusses what marketing mistake you are likely making, why going after target niches means more business and how Pharmacy Marketing 360 can introduce you to like-minded peers.
PDS Marketing Department: What do you think is the biggest marketing mistake pharmacy owners make?
Samantha Timmermann: They are forgetting to market themselves. They are so busy just in the daily grind. That, or they market with just whoever comes to them. If the newspaper people approach you to do an advertisement, yes, that’s good. But no one is opening their newspaper thinking “I need to find a new pharmacy today.” But what if you switch around your message and talk about your awesome services like a diabetes education class? That might catch their eye.
You cover a lot of information about target audiences during the training. Why do you think that is so important for the pharmacy industry?
It’s important for every business but it’s especially important for independent pharmacies. When you ask a pharmacist or owner “Who is your target customer?”, they all say “Anyone and everyone who needs a prescription.” Well, that’s not quite true anymore. If you are just filling maintenance medications, that’s not going to take your pharmacy where you want it to go. If you can laser focus in on a target audience, you can have more fun with it. When you go for specific niches, that’s how you differentiate yourself from other pharmacies. It’s not just about target audiences, it’s about creating products that are truly remarkable.
Tell me about the experience of the training. What can PDS Members expect?
One of the big things we do here at PDS is help connect like-minded individuals who walk the same terrain and offer great emotional and collaborative support. That shows up not only at the conference and the message boards, but it shows up tremendously in the actual trainings. You are going to sit in a room with other pharmacy owners and pharmacy marketers and that is going to inspire you. That’s a really big part of it. On day two of the workshop, you are going to present your pharmacy marketing plan to the group and everyone is going to give you feedback and tell you what has worked and what hasn’t worked. You can talk to people who have already been there.
What do you want to tell a Pharmacy Owner that is considering registering but hasn’t quite decided yet?
This is where you and your marketer will be able to go and remove all of the distractions and focus on a niche idea instead of getting stuck in the whirlwind of filling prescriptions everyday. If you are wondering how to replace some of your customers that you are losing–the key is to identify something you might be passionate about and this is where you will learn how to launch it. Whether it’s a wellness niche or even vaccinations, this is where you can really focus on building a part of your company that you haven’t considered yet. Because when every pharmacy sells the exact same thing to the exact same people, what are you going to do to stick out?
Pharmacy Marketing 360º is Friday and Saturday, June 26-27 in Fort Lauderdale. Learnmore and register here.
Want even more information on pharmacy marketing. Watch Samantha’s latest webinar ‘Attrating Your Most Profitable Customers’ right here!
Read below for 3 ways you can set your pharmacy up for success with an interesting new niche you could establish in your pharmacy!
- Distinguish your pharmacy from chain stores.
Create an inviting space with well-defined areas for specific product types. Couple this with caring staff that seek out opportunities to help the customer. This pairing will help develop relationships and create repeat customers.
Your products are non-negotiable to a successful retail pharmacy. Using effective, high quality and unique products will create product loyalty. Try offering a combination of well-known big sellers and plenty of unique, reputable products.
Share what you know to help others bring their bodies back into a state of health. Train your staff on this as well as both seasonal and common items and trends.
- Establish yourself as a local healthcare expert.
Creating an image ofauthority and trust in the community is invaluable to your sales and retention efforts. Pharmacy tip: Offer webinars or in-store workshops on specific health topics (i.e. addressing high blood pressure or losing weight). Distribute brochures and flyers on providing information on adjunct or alternative therapies and products is a great way to get more people in the door.A great way to showcase your pharmacy as a local healthcare expert is to amp up your blog activity and distribute a weekly or monthly e-newsletter. Invite customers to subscribe to your blog and use that space to offer healthy tips (i.e., introduce natural medicines and therapies).
- Have a plan and share it with your team.
Developing a plan with your team will help them get on board with the company agenda and make them feel that their voice matters. Once you develop a plan, focus on a different sales goal each month. Training your team to be knowledgeable will give them the tools they need to confidently interact with your customers. Product and health care training opportunities should be provided each month. Then, reward your staff for a job well done!
About the Author:
Natural Creations is an exhibitor at the 2014 PDS conference and distributor of alternative medicines. They produce the highest quality products strictly operating according to cGMPs and made in a safe & controlled environment. Their product line is of USP grade & have a purity of 98-102%.
To speak with a representative, stop by booth #59 at the Independent Pharmacy Business Growth Conference to learn about the alternative medicines available to you, or visit Natural Creations online at www.natural-creations.net.
- 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.
Continue reading “4 Ways Independent Pharmacies Can Get More Referrals from Doctors”