If you’re like many of the 20,000+ independent pharmacy owners in the nation, you went to the business school of life… which means that you didn’t go to business school at all. You rely on different sources from networking to online literature (like this blog!), business coaching and everything in between.
Fear not, weary warrior. We’re here to bring you a powerful, yet simple tool you can use with your team to uncover the next big opportunity your pharmacy can leverage.
We’re talking about a SWOT Analysis. If you have heard of this, you know that this is a simple, yet powerful tool. When used thoroughly and thoughtfully, it can help identify your business’ strengths and weaknesses as well as any opportunities and threats that lie in wait to stall your growth. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. As far as general business strategy, this handy little tool can be a starting point to open up major team discussions.
You guessed it, we have the worksheet you can download right here!
Make sure you download and print the file first, then read below with your team to learn how to use the matrix.
Conducting a SWOT Analysis on Your Business
(Do this with your team!)
Do you have your worksheet ready and printed out? Good!
A SWOT matrix is normally a worksheet divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents one element of the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Each quadrant should ask a series of custom questions you can answer to fill in that quadrant. Focus on the questions that are most relevant for your business, community and current situation.
Dig Deep and Ask Relevant Questions
For this section, think about the attributes of yourself, your team and your business that will helpyou achieve your objective. Sample questions to get you started:
- Where are you most profitable in your business?
- What do you do exceptionally well?
- What skills do you have that are unique to you, your team and your location?
- What are your specialties?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
For this section, think about the attributes of yourself, your team and your business that could hurtyour progress in achieving your objective. Sample questions to get you started:
- What areas do you need to improvement?
- What areas do you need more education or experience?
- What parts of your business are not very profitable?
- Do you lack any resources?
- What are the initiatives that cost you time and/or money?
For this section, think about the external conditions that will help you achieve your objective. Sample questions to get you started:
- What are your current business goals?
- Are there untapped target audiences you can reach?
- How can you improve your current customer experience or customer wellness?
- Is there technology that you can apply to improve your business?
- Can you think of any supplemental products and services that provide an opportunity for your business?
For this section, think about the external conditions that could damage your business’s performance. Sample questions to get you started:
- What are your obstacles?
- What is going on in the economy that can potentially affect your business?
- What is going on in the industry that can potentially affect your business?
- What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?
- What are your competitors doing that you’re not?
You’ve Filled it Out! Now What?
This worksheet won’t help you unless you can analyze the data you’ve compiled and put it into action. While going through, you may have already identified some strategies and goals for your business. Your next steps should be:
- Create a plan to expand on the strengths you’ve identified
- Identify ways you can diminish, dispell or defer your weaknesses
- Set achievable goals for each of the opportunities you have identified
- Use your strengths to decrease the threats you identified
Mix It Up.
Now the opportunities should start flying off the page. Explore ways in which you can combine your strengths and opportunities to develop new strategies. Try combining strengths and threats to identify threats you can eliminate and look at your weaknesses and opportunities to create a list of areas ready for improvement.
You should also make a list of areas to avoid that fall under weaknesses and threats. Once you can read your data and understand the recordings, you can find ways to use it strategically. The best part is that you can use this tool over and over again to explore new opportunities, uncover lurking threats, and improve your business year after year.
Join us at the 2018 PDS Super-Conference
If you’re ready to accelerate your success, profitability and team, now is your chance to act. Purchase your seat at #PDS2018 now to get the best pricing.
Flu season is upon us, and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How will you be conveying that message to your patients this flu season?
Here are 22 marketing tactics to position your independent pharmacy as the go-to for their healthcare needs this flus season. The ideas below are all highly effective with little to no-cost investment. Whether you choose to implement one or all of the ideas, they’ll make your job a lot easier and your pharmacy marketing tools much more effective by keeping your brand top of mind.
1. Flu shot gift cards. This is a simple flu shot solution for younger patients with elderly parents, friends or neighbors. Have the gift cards available at your cash register and strategically place some signage throughout the store. Your all-star pharmacy team should also be trained to mention this offer while the patient is receiving their shot. Before you know it, your independent pharmacy can be the go-to healthcare destination in the community.
2. On-site flu shots to local businesses. The flu takes a real toll on workplace productivity. Reach out to local business leaders and organizations offering them the solution they didn’t know they needed. Send a letter or make a personal phone call offering to administer on-site vaccinations. Take the stress off their plate allowing them to focus on running their business while you build yours.
3. Send out a voice broadcast to your past flu shot customers. If they received a vaccination in the past, they’re likely to continue. Consider sending a voice broadcast to elderly and diabetic patients. Remember these best practices while you’re planning the campaign:
- Create a short script that runs no longer than 30 seconds.
- Avoid scheduling the call too early in the morning, too late at night or during typical dinner times.
- Think about what type of voice would be pleasing to the ear.
- Don’t forget to give the customer the ability to opt-out from receiving future calls.
4. Record helpful and educational videos. Engage and education existing and potential customers. Videos can be posted to your website, shared on social media, played in the store or linked in an email campaign. Here are a few video suggestions to get you started:
- Demonstrate how flu shots are pain-free and easy to administer by using a live patient (make sure you get their consent first!).
- Create a fun, candid video
- Tap into the knowledge of a staff pharmacist or the pharmacy owner and ask them to record an educational video. Sample topics: The Top 5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season (tie-in products they can buy in the store) or How to Wash Your Hands Effectively
- PRO TIP: Ask a child to join you in the video – their mom will surely show it to 20 people.
5. Record a new on-hold message. Sometimes putting patients on hold is unavoidable. Make the most of this (hopefully) brief hold and remind them about the importance of getting a flu vaccination. Keep the message short and to the point and when your done conducting the business that they called about, ask them if they’d like to schedule their flu shot appointment
6. Place a sign by the road that reads, Flu Shots Here. Simple, cost-effective, and most importantly, it works.
7. Pass out “I got my flu shot, did you?” stickers to each flu shot customer. This patient will be a one-day walking advertisement and testimonial for your pharmacy.
PRO TIP: Take pictures of customers wearing their stickers and post a collage of these on your social sites. Make sure to ask for their consent first! These customers will share the image on it. Influencer marketing at its best!
8. Have FAQ and Fact Sheets, both in English and Spanish (or any other language prevalent in your location), available in the pharmacy waiting area.
9. Hang flyers around your pharmacy and on community bulletin boards.
10. Send customized letters to families with children, diabetic patients, your elderly customers, pregnant women, etc.
11. Educate your staff on the benefits of getting a flu shot and train them so they can effectively “sell” to your patients.
12. Send a text message reminder to your customers that have opted-in to receive messages from your pharmacy.
- The flu claims an avg of 36,000 lives and hospitalizes more than 200,000 people every year. Schedule a flu shot by calling xxx-xxxx.
- Flu season is just around the corner, protect yourself by getting a flu shot at ____________.
- Stay healthy this winter, get a flu shot. Call ___________ to set up an appointment.
13. Offer a $10 coupon to the store with every flu shot. Restrict the coupons to OTC items only and only on a $20 sale or more.
14. Set up a synchronization alert to automatically remind this year’s flu shot patients when it’s time to come back next year. This strategy works well for any appointment or event in your pharmacy — diabetic shoe reminders, cholesterol testing days, etc. Do you have a medsync program in place? If not, you’re missing out! Here’s a great place to start.
15. Offer free Vitamin C to the community. Position your efforts as a way to keep the community healthy during the season. Not only will it put your pharmacy in a good light, it will also get people to spread the news about your efforts and get people to walk into your store.
16. Add a widget to your blog or website. Go to the CDC website and download one of the many data and statistics widgets they offer for health-related websites and blogs.
17. Inform your Facebook and Twitter communities by uploading your ads, videos, reminders, and exclusive promotions.
18. Set up an after-hours flu shot clinic for professionals that are stuck in the office during your pharmacy’s hours.
19. Write blog posts about the flu season and how to stay healthy. Suggestions: The Truth About Flu Shots, How to Stay Healthy During Flu Season, and What to Do if You Catch the Flu.
20. Staple bag stuffers to each bag leaving the pharmacy with flu flyers.
21. Update your monthly pharmacy newsletter with an ad, educational article, or information hotline number geared about the flu season.
22. Update your pharmacy voice mail message. Include a quick recap of benefits and how they can make an appointment.
Not sure where to start? Voice broadcast scripts, bag stuffers, flyers, FAQ sheets in English and Spanish, etc. can be found in the PDS Advantage Library by searching the keyword “flu.” These documents were designed as basic templates; feel free to edit the information to fit the needs of your pharmacy. Don’t have a PDS Advantage account? If you are a valid pharmacy professional, you can set one up for free here! Begin testing out a few of these ideas this week, and let us know what else you would recommend, or what has worked for your pharmacy in the comments below.
Community pharmacies play an important role and bring a unique value to the areas they serve. This role is particularly important when it comes to natural disasters. The threat of natural disasters isn’t new, but in light of recent times, there is an increased sense of awareness and need for preparedness if the next one is ‘The Big One.’
Under the HIPAA Security Rule and the Medicare Quality Standard, your pharmacy must have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place to implement. It’s a good idea to read up on your plan, research if it is still compliant, and go over this with your team, so there are no additional surprises beyond the stress of the natural disaster itself. Once you have your contingency plan in place, you are better able to serve your community and step in when the situation arises.
Increased awareness surrounding recent and impending natural disasters has driven states and organizations to establish and reassess protocols for disaster recovery plans. These vary state to state so independent pharmacies should confirm that they are up to speed on expectations. This isn’t the type of contribution that we are talking about though, we’re talking about a different list of things that you can do as your communities healthcare destination in support of first responders and federal help.
It all comes down to one overarching idea — Think Locally.
Your Role in Light of Disaster
As a local provider, nobody knows your community, their health care needs, and ailments the way you do. In the case of an extreme disaster, it is possible that responders may take days to get on the ground in your area. In the meantime, serve the community by acting as a liaison for communication, health questions, and readiness support until the Federal assistance arrives.
- If you have working phone lines, allow those who are displaced the opportunity to contact their loved ones and let them know they are safe.
- Remind your patients before an oncoming disaster to fill their prescriptions so they are prepared in case of service disruption after the event. Many patients require life-saving medications and do not think of refilling their medication in the chaos of preparing their homes.
- Provide disaster preparation checklists to your patients that include information on proper medication storage, water safety, shelter, and resource information.
- Reach out to local health officials and offer your services as a community resource center in the event of a disaster.
- Make connections with pharmacies in other areas that may provide services that you do not cover. If one distribution center is depleted, you should always have a backup plan for necessary medication and supplies.
- Be willing to jump in and open your store up to provide life-saving products, equipment and shelter to those in need after the disaster passes. Sometimes people just need a working outlet to charge their phones to reach loved ones.
The key is to have a plan and build the connections before the disaster hits. Practice and test your plan frequently enough so that when something happens, you are prepared to serve your community in what may be their darkest time of need.
PDS Stands With Those Affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
PDS believes in the strength of communities and supports businesses across the nation and abroad. Our hearts are with those displaced and affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. If you wish to donate, to hurricane relief, please find a list of charities below:
This is just a short list of groups dedicated to provide relief to those affected. Please take the time to donate and keep the victims and communities in your hearts.
Independent pharmacy owners have multiple items on their to-do lists, with the most important being properly dispensing medications to ensure their patients recieve the right dose to get well. Running your operations and implementing new programs, all while keeping up with employee morale, can often get pushed to the side. These details may seem minor, but they often what take a back seat and in doing so, negatively impact your business.
Don’t Just Survive. Thrive.
Pharmacies have many opportunities to add additional revenue utilizing their existing prescription customers. You just have to take a deeper look into what you’re already doing. Below are our top 3 ideas to increase revenue without expending too much effort.
- Idea 1: Take a visible end cap on a heavy traffic pattern isle and fill it with seasonal items that are already on your shelves.
- Idea 2: Place a tester for a hand or pain relief cream on your wrapping counter. It’s all about the laws of percentage!
- Idea 3: Recognize which shelving in the store has the most visibility to your customers while they are waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. Find the sections that could be communicating “buy me” while a patient is standing or sittiing down waiting. Make sure to have the right mix of impulse, trendy, cute and useful items.
Cost-Saving Tips to Keep in Mind
- While snacks and candy seem like quick and easy sales, the reality is that their profit margin is too low and take up too much valuable real estate.
- Some specialty candies down low will do the trick especially as “distraction” candy for kids.
- Make sure to stock items that are fun versions of old standbys, such as:
- Neon or animal print nail clippers
- Cell phones paraphernalia (Only EVERY customer over 8 has got one!)
- Pain relief products, or sleep aids
- Unique pill holders (this one is a fast seller!)
There is no playbook or blueprint that guarantees what you should be offering in these highly visible and high-traffic locations – all it takes is trial and error. Your traditional wholesaler carries general drugstore merchandise that you can find in every chain drug, grocery and dollar store. Become the destination for products other than the predictable OTC drug necessities!
Finding the Best Resource for Specialty Items
We live in a society that is constantly consuming. Whether your customer needs a modest gift to give or wants the latest gadget or gizmo, keep something on shelves they’ll be willing to buy. With desire, modest effort and a reliable resource, you can start to fill your registers with much needed augmentation for the low reimbursements you’re receiving on prescriptions.
About the Author:
Langermania is the leader in providing specialty products for independent pharmacies to grow their revenue. Many of our products are not found in the chain stores, eliminating the worry of competition and keeping up with the latest products. We work diligently to source the latest trends to be able to offer over 7,000 stores unique items. Visit our website to see more of what we offer and how we can help grow your independent pharmacy.
If you asked a room full of independent pharmacy business owners if they would prefer to increase the number of customers filling $10 prescriptions, or increase the dollar value of existing scripts, chances are they’d all choose the latter. But many believe it’s easier to find more customers and admit to focusing on marketing tactics to attract new business instead of working to optimize current prescription profit margins.
While increasing the patients you have coming in the door can certainly make your business busier, one of the easiest ways to improve your bottom line is to focus on increasing the profit per script of your existing patients.
Sounds great, right? But how is it done?
PDS Members are spending at least one hour per day mining their database and utilizing the PDS Profit Chart They are identifying profit-driven opportunities where, for example, a doctor-approved switch from one low-profit drug to one in the same drug class, but with a higher margin, can increase your profits every month that patient is on the prescription, and often lead to fewer side effects. A $10 prescription can quickly generate a $100 profit (when filled monthly) almost instantaneously.
For example, Mike, owner of a Utah-based pharmacy and a PDS Member since 2013, credits using the Profit Chart to having the best few months in the history of his business. Mike and his team have tripled their profits per script in his most recent month of reporting – a difference that amounts to a $40,000 boost to his bottom line!
Data Mining – the Profit Chart’s Best Friend
One of the most effective ways to increase $10 scripts to $100 profits is by utilizing the Profit Chart to identify key switch opportunities, implement successfully, and replicating that success across as many scripts as possible.
To do that, pharmacy business owners should leverage data mining – the practice of reviewing your pharmacy data when it comes to patient prescriptions, highest/lowest paying drugs, highest/lowing paying insurances, and more.
Once you identify an excellent opportunity for a profit increase, identify other candidates that have been prescribed the first medication and see if you can benefit from suggesting the switch to them as well.
PDS Member Vic, owner of North Carolina-based pharmacy, did just that by implementing the Pain Protocol. Seeing how well the pain medication switch for several patients fared – $90,000 in one month to be exact – Vic realized that if he thought broadly, he could replace several medications, following the profit and improving comfort and care for a huge percentage of his pain patients.
The Profit Chart Paradigm Shift: Pharmacy Businesses Are Allowed to Make Money!
The “profit-driven” mindset and practice of utilizing data mining can be a bit of a paradigm shift for many independent pharmacy business owners.
PDS Members John and Sue, owners of a Kansas-based pharmacy, recall that at first, they felt like they were “gaming the system.” They shared that it felt wrong to be seeking the greatest profit from their patients when they had chosen the pharmacy industry with patient-care and not profits in mind.
Amy, an Oklahoma-based PDS Member, felt very similar but shared that ultimately the PDS Founder, Dan Benamoz, put it best when he explained that leveraging data mining is one of the best ways to move the needle and keep her in business.
These are stores where communities and patients have built heartfelt relationships – stores the patrons want to continue to frequent.
Utilizing the Profit Chart and data mining doesn’t hurt the patient at all – in fact in many cases, the switch either doesn’t impact the patient or improves their standard of care through a higher-quality drug.
Turning Ideas into Action!
If you’re ready to stop focusing on things out of your control – like low-paying insurance providers – download our newest eBook – The Pharmacy Business Blueprint for Massive ROI – now! Or, to see how PDS can help you turn $10 prescriptions into a $100 profit, chat with one of our Business Growth Advisors
Here at PDS, we take pride in highlighting some of our incredible solutions partners. We know these companies have the potential to revolutionize pharmacies just like yours through their products and services. We’re excited to introduce Ideal Protein; read on for their sponsored blog post about an exciting new revenue stream that is focused on wellness & better patient outcomes.
Are you ignoring a high-value, high-impact opportunity for your pharmacy? It may seem overwhelming to consider adding a new service to your existing business when reviewing your current day-to-day operations. But, have you really thought about the sustainability of your current business model? As drug reimbursements decline and become harder to realize through cost-containment techniques of PBMs, highly trained pharmacists and their teams should be focusing on the most cost-effective and impactful services for their business.
Pharmacies are often the most accessible health care hub for patients in their communities; not seen only as a medication center, but an advice center. Oftentimes, patients with chronic conditions rely on their pharmacist for advice on how to manage their ailments.
As a healthcare provider, you know that excess weight is a contributing factor towards many chronic conditions.
Are you providing your patients with the solutions and tools they need to heal and prevent these ailments?
Diet plays a critical role in many diseases, and in a marketplace saturated with “fads” and “quick fixes,” who does a patient turn to for advice? In order to achieve patient wellness, the first step for a healthcare provider is to advise their patient towards weight loss and good eating habits as key in easing chronic conditions. The second and vital step is to offer that patient a structured solution, overseen by a healthcare professional, that provides effective results and focuses on long-term sustainable weight management. Over 3,800 clinics have done just this with Ideal Protein.
What is Ideal Protein and How Can it Help Pharmacy Growth & Patient Wellness?
Ideal Protein aids in significant and sustainable weight loss, resulting in improvements toward patient outcomes who are using the system. We have provided healthcare professionals a complete turnkey suite of assets to offer to their patients. As value-based reimbursements become the standard, pharmacies are stepping up to provide effective solutions that improve the health of their patients and result in greater store profitability with a low operational footprint. It is about becoming the retail healthcare hub in their community.
With a unique business model, pharmacies who implement Ideal Protein can expect to:
- Deploy existing staff to deliver a unique, sustainable weight loss and weight management service that improves patient outcomes.
- Drive weekly in-store customer foot traffic and new customer acquisition.
- Benefit from a new high-margin, cash-based revenue stream.
- Develop long-lasting customer retention and trust.
All of the education, training, and weekly visit materials are provided to the staff to ensure that each patient receives consistent one-on-one support. As patients lose weight, they often need medication re-modulization for which pharmacists are available to make their recommendations to the physician.
Because the system is effective, patient referrals are one of the leading sources of new customer acquisition. In addition, patients receive daily support through the IdealSmartTM mobile app, continually focusing on long-term behavior change. As an Ideal Protein authorized clinic, we provide your pharmacy access to all of the material needed to implement and grow your business.
With Game of Thrones season in full swing, we noticed some key strategic lessons in the series that apply to life and business. Indulge us for a moment as we bring you through some hard lessons in business, life, and pharmacy from our favorite Game of Thrones characters. This is relevant, we promise!
Lesson 1: Never Underestimate the Importance of Perseverance.
Sure, no one likes Cersei Lannister, but look at the lesson she imparts to us; unbridled determination and perseverance is a cornerstone of success.Those who don’t believe it should look at how independent pharmacies are still thriving despite PBMs, DIR fees, and mega chains. With the right knowledge, unwavering determination, and confidence in your convictions, a thriving, successful business is within your reach.
As a pharmacy owner, you can find out how to get that knowledge and develop the confidence in your decisions here.
Lesson 2: Don’t Let the Past Determine Your Future
Throughout his life, Jon Snow believed what people told him; there were limits in his life, and the faster he accepted it, the better. Well, look who’s King of the North now! Okay, okay, but our point is that in business (pharmacy or the business of ruling) you have to know when to disregard limitations, self-imposed or otherwise.
Driven by a clear vision, Snow is focused on getting the right tools, in this case, Dragon Glass to accomplish his mission. Others in his company lack perspective, leaving him to take the first steps into the unknown. An inspired vision for your pharmacy business isn’t enough; you need the right tools and team. Improvement and growth require thoughtful execution, so seek out the best in your industry and take a calculated risk; the benefits are worth it.
Lesson 3: An Educated Mind is Sharper than a Sword
Tyrion Lannister was not born equipped for success in the traditional Westerosi way, but he has ascended the figurative ladder considerably through on-going education. Continuously sharpening your mind, expanding your skills, and adding to your area of expertise ensures that you and your team never become obsolete.
Tyrion teaches us a powerful lesson about upward mobility through on-going development both personal and professional. Education doesn’t only apply to the leader. Training your team is key to achieving an efficient, results-driven culture. How do you know when to educate your team? These are the questions you should ask yourself as a leader who has a team in need of training.
Lesson 4: There is No Template for Success
Daenerys Targaryen started out as a character on the fringes, beholden to no one. At best, success was unlikely. At worst, if she failed, she’d be a footnote. Independent pharmacy owners, like Danaerys, have been pushed to the edges and all but forgotten in light of challenges such as chain stores and problematic PBMs.
Far from being marginalized, exceptional pharmacy owners, much like Daenerys have managed to maintain an unbreakable edge after enduring waves of inequity by finding strength in numbers. The most progressive pharmacy owners have started to discover their tribe and demonstrate the power to impact a brighter future.
Just like Khaleesi herself, independents across the nation have discovered a new way of thinking. Join the top 20% of them in February at the 2018 PDS Super-Conference. Grab your dragons and join your tribe in Orlando! Okay maybe leave your dragons at home (fire hazards and all). Find more info here.
Lesson 5: Start Where You are and Use What You GoT (we couldn’t help it).
As a lesser known, but pivotal, character, Lord Varys signifies the power of resilience and resourcefulness. He uses his little birds to make informed decisions on data points to advance in the game. It seems Varys has a thousand hands and ears, all able to measure, track and assess the current pulse of the environment and act accordingly.
Just like Lord Varys, PDS members use a vast and comprehensive system that analyzes existing data to discover a way to dramatically increase their profit per prescription. The PDS member exclusive system is called RxAnalytics. Curious? Find out more here.
Lesson 6: Watch, Observe, Act
In a time where most people shoot first and aim later, Littlefinger understands that there is power in patience. There are three elements to his formula for success; observe, assess, and then make an informed decision. Sustainability is built on timely and informed decisions. We can all take a cue from Littlefinger on playing the long game. His patience and leveraging of the right relationships keep him moving forward. Applying these characteristics to your business will do the same.
PDS has more than 1,000 member pharmacies, and many of them make up the top 20% in the industry. Coincidence? Not at all. These owners know that patience, key resources, and the right relationships will drive your success. Join the most successful pharmacy owners in the nation, ready to welcome you to the team. The PDS Super-Conference is where they’ll be. Will you join?
Lesson 7: You Can Be aVictim, or You Can Win
It’s fitting that we end with a character who has been beaten and down-trodden, which perfectly analogizes independent pharmacies against the unfair pharmacy environment.
Arya Stark chose to rise above the treatment she has endured to become the deadliest wolf in sheep’s clothing. Her lesson is simple and one we reiterate to our members: You have the choice on how you react to your circumstances. You can be part of the owners that succumb to the inequities in our industry or you can gain new skills and choose to be a fighter and triumph over your adversities.
You can be a victim, or you can be a victor. Which will you choose?
Join us to see what we’re all about at the 2018 PDS Super-Conference in Orlando Florida on February 22-24, 2018 at the Orlando Convention Center. If you are a pharmacy owner, manager, key employee or anyone in the industry concerned with the state of pharmacy, you must join us to discover the solution that the top 20% of the industry have already discovered. Own your future and don’t let the game beat you down. Click here or below to find out more.
Here at PDS, we take pride in highlighting some of our incredible solutions partners. We know these companies have the potential to revolutionize pharmacies just like yours through their products and services. We’re excited to introduce GRX Marketing; read on for their sponsored blog post about leveraging public relations to market your independent pharmacy.
One of the most common questions we get asked by our clients is, “How can I market my pharmacy without spending a lot of money?” There are multiple ways to get started, but one easy and effective method is through Public Relations (PR). A strong PR strategy consists of tactics designed to build good relations with your pharmacy’s various audiences.
- Prospective customers
- Community leaders, etc.
This medium can be used to promote products, services, staff, ideas, events and more. It does not necessarily have to be new to your pharmacy, you can promote something anytime if the general public is not aware of it, even if you added a new service six months ago, for example. PR can have a strong impact on public awareness at a much lower cost than advertising. When using Public Relations tactics, the pharmacy owner does not pay for the space or time in the media, so it is often considered more credible to the public. It’s important to note that since you are not paying for it, the media staff does have discretion on what they publish.
Writing Your Press Release
Use these tips to craft an effective and engaging piece.
- Get a strong headline. If it doesn’t catch the reporter’s eye it won’t get published. Try to keep it at 15-20 words.
- Avoid using “selling or fluff” words. Copy should be objective and informational, not promotional.
- Be concise by keeping the entire piece around 300 – 500 words.
- Include as many facts as possible and remember to keep it newsworthy.
- Using real quotes will add insight and personality to your piece.
The goal of Public Relations is to educate your audience. While you do not want to inundate the media with Press Releases, there is no harm in sending one quarterly. A good rule of thumb is to have a staff or family member read it beforehand, did they find it interesting? If they answered, “YES,” it’s a good story to send.
Power of the Internet
In the “old days,” a business owner would have to fax a Press Release to the media, hoping it would get picked up. Today, the internet has become a vital channel. Your story may not get picked up for print, but if posted to the web, it can be shared through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), thus reaching and engaging an even larger audience. Anytime you send a Press Release, remember to alert your staff in case they are asked about the story. Additionally, you can increase your audience again by asking your team to share the story on their social media channels.
Establish Your Pharmacy as a Thought Leader
Another benefit of using public relations to market your pharmacy is that it helps build positive relationships with the local media and can help to establish your pharmacy as a health-care thought leader. A reporter may reach out to you first if a pharmacy or health-related story comes up, further increasing your exposure and positioning yourself as anexpert in the community. Any articles you are a part of can also be posted on your website and/or placed in your pharmacy for customers to read.
Be proud of your pharmacy and what you have to offer! Share it with your community, by incorporating public relations into your 2017 marketing plan.
When it comes to offering your patients the latest options in their health, wellness, and medical care, size matters. Chain pharmacies are logical places patients expect to be introduced to the latest in their personal health options because they are equipped with their expanded footprints, buying power, and national brand recognition. Though, much like mighty ships require expansive space to maneuver, so do national chain pharmacies.
Independent pharmacy owners are at a unique advantage in their ability to adapt and maneuver when they need according to where the market leads. These owners who recognize their opportunity to create for niche offerings and leverage them, elevate their pharmacies above national recognized brands.
Not sure which niches first deserve your attention? We’ve pulled together five of the juiciest underserved niches in pharmacy today, now it’s your turn to learn about and pick that low-hanging fruit.
- NICHE: Pharmacy Genomics
Pharmacogenomics, also known aspersonalized medicine, is exploding within the pharmacy industry. The ability to tailor drug therapies to a patient’s specific metabolic and DNA blue print is a hot-button innovation. Pharmacy owners are staying ahead of the curve by investing in both themselves and their staff through current research and training. Be the first pharmacy in your community to offer personalized medicine.
- NICHE: Travel Vaccines
Between packing, securing their passports, making arrangements at work, hiring pet sitters, and financial planning, most travelers put getting up-to-date on their travel vaccines on the very end of their to-do lists — if they remember them at all. This is your opportunity to promote pharmacy services that provide the most common (and even uncommon) vaccines travelers need before their big cruise, backpacking trip through Europe, or visit to their family. You’ll not only earn their business by offering them this service, but make their lives easier. They’ll appreciate not having to make an appointment with their general physician.
- NICHE: Fertility
More and more women are taking charge and control of their fertility, more specifically those who have recently been diagnosed with infertility. As these women face the emotional, physical, and mental struggle of receiving, facing, accepting, and treating their diagnosis, create a safe place in your pharmacy they can utilize as a resource. Providing the medications, supplies, and support they need as they navigate their fertility journey will make your pharmacy more than just a convenient stop on their way home – you’ll create a relationship that will last through their journey and into their pregnancies.
- NICHE: Hospital Discharges
Whether your patients are leaving the hospital with a brand new member of their family, or going home to recover from major surgery – the last thing on their mind is having to stop at their community pharmacy to pick up their new medications. Establish new relationships with patients, right when they need you the most by offering Bedside Delivery. They won’t soon forget the exceptional service they received and who provided it to them.
- NICHE: Wellness Testing
Health and wellness is no longer a trend, but a lifestyle many people are committing to. With incentives from their insurance, physicians, and even employers, your patients are health conscious and it means that you should be, too. Providing testing gives your patients access to services they could previously only obtain through their physician. Save them the additional cost of a doctor’s office copay and give them the freedom to take charge of their health.
Now you can watch the on-demand webinar 5 Niches Chain Pharmacies are Neglecting, where Dr. Lisa Faast will go deeper in why you need to implement these niches and the benefits they’ll bring to your pharmacy and community. Click below to watch.
Bedside delivery is a profitable service you can implement that will connect your independent pharmacy with new and existing patients in an effort to provide the best care possible.
Are you ready to take your Bedside Delivery program to the next level? Here are the 5 steps for successful Bedside Delivery implementation that will help get you started.
1. Research Your Hospital
Before jumping headlong into a Bedside Delivery project, you have to do your homework! As yourself questions like:
- How many beds are your local hospital?
- What specialties does it service?
- Does it have an outpatient pharmacy or does it already provide any Bedside Delivery (spoiler alert: even if they do, there is still an opportunity for you!)?
- How far away is the hospital from your pharmacy?
- What are current penalties for readmissions and where are they hurting?
2. Request a Discovery Meeting
Once you know more about your hospital and its pain points, you can set up a meeting to present to the administration about the benefits of developing a strategic relationship. They will want to see a detailed plan for your pilot phase, implementation, staff training, clearance, expansion, follow-up, and the entire workflow. You must be confident on what your pharmacy can provide and how you can help the hospital reach its readmission goals.
3. Follow-up and Persistence is Key
If your hospital is anything like the norm, you’ll have to practice your patience, be persistent, and follow-up at regular intervals to push the project forward. Most hospitals have many layers to maneuver before getting the green light, so persistence should be your main skill here. Do not become discouraged! Typical Bedside Delivery initiatives take anywhere between 1 to 2 years to get fully rolling hospital-wide, but when you’re seeing 15-20 new patients a day from an average 300 bed hospital, you’ll be glad you took Step 3 to heart.
4. Sign the Contract, Jump the Hoops
Once you wow the hospital with your presentation and persistence, you can reveal your Bedside Delivery contract. Agree on a contract detailing the services you provide and the support and access the hospital will provide. Then you can finally set your start date! Next, will come the various screenings, clearances, BAA and vendor details, and HR requirements you’ll need to execute before the hospital gives you a badge and lets you step your foot in their door to peek in the charts. Again, be persistent.
5. Begin the Pilot
It’s go time!! You’ve laid your foundation, you’ve trained your team, you’ve met with the nursing staff on the pilot unit, you’re ready! Your persistence is not done yet. Doctors and hospitals will need to be exposed to your services on a daily basis. They will become increasingly more comfortable as they realize you’re doing all the heavy lifting. Patients will appreciate you helping them transition home and your follow-up. Do a great job, and you’ll retain them, their families as well as hospital employees and their families.
Bedside Delivery is an enormous opportunity whether you have a 10 bed, 100 bed, 300 bed, or 1,000+ bed facility. You just have to know how to get started!
PDS has created a Bedside Delivery workshop that will make you the expert and teach every aspect of selling and delivering a Bedside Delivery Service in your local hospital. The next course is May 19-20, 2017, so register today! From researching profitable hospital units, to navigating how to penetrate the hospital administration — this course will ultimately let the attendee become the subject matter expert on transitions of care.
Want more information? Watch this short video from our course facilitator, Dr. Nicolette Mathey on why you shoud consider a Bedside Delivery program.
Watch Dr. Nicolette Mathey Below:
Need even more information? Download our free Bedside Delivery Guide. The next training starts soon! Visit the Bedside Delivery training page to register for the next session today!