Pharmacy ownership is rewarding and if done correctly, can be a profitable endeavor: you’ll be able to impact the lives of your customers and become a pillar in the local community while earning a nice living. By working hard on your own business, you learn how to grow and succeed as an entrepreneur. And like all successful entrepreneurs, one day you may decide to open a brand new location in addition to a well-established store that you already own.
Owning multiple pharmacies takes a tremendous amount of work, and transitions you from a pharmacist and a manager, to the visionary leader. When planning multiple pharmacy locations, consider the following factors. They will help you navigate the waters of owning two or more pharmacies and put you on the path to long-term success.
Location & Buy or Build
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want to purchase an existing pharmacy or build a new one from the ground up. There are pros and cons to each option: some deal with inheriting an existing customer base vs. having full design control over the new structure and putting the store in the location you want. The location is always a huge determining factor when it comes to a pharmacy’s success. There are many factors to consider when searching for a prime location. You may want to open your pharmacies in nice areas with a high household income, but operating in these areas tends to come with higher taxes.
Another factor to consider is pharmacy saturation. Is there a pharmacy on every corner within a 5-mile radius? If so, you may want to consider a location with fewer pharmacies.
Ability to effectively manage multiple locations at the same time also plays a big role in determining where to establish your new stores. While high-speed internet and powerful software platforms makes it possible to manage stores remotely, many pharmacy owners prefer operating on-site for maximum efficiency.
Using Management Software
Finding financial management software that ties together your pharmacies is a foundation for multi-store success. Managing the financials for two or three stores can be done with simple bookkeeping programs, but when you add more locations, you’ll need a more powerful financial tracking solution. Most people working in your pharmacies are not trained in business or financial accounting. So, when expanding to multiple stores it might be a good idea to hire an accounting person that has more in-depth financial software experience. This person and the software will help your locations set monthly budgets, profit and loss reports, revenue forecasting, and growth categories. That’s why using a single platform for all your locations will help you and your staff stay on the same page.
Surrounding Yourself with the Right People
It will be difficult to run and manage multiple pharmacy locations on your own, without the trusted support of your team. Working on your businesses as a visionary leader, rather than in them day in and day out, will allow you to oversee multiple stores and strategically plan operations. There’s a finite number of hours in a day and your time will be spent more effectively if you accept a more visionary/leadership type role. At this stage, finding the right talent to build a strong support system is vitally important for the growth of your pharmacy brand.
Pharmacy owners agree: when adding a new location, hiring the right people to help you grow your business is more important than choosing the new location itself. Where do you find a talented manager to spearhead the operations of your newly opened business? Look inside your team first:often enough, you’ll be able to grow and nurture your current employees to become store operators or even new business partners. A team member that started out as a stocking clerk, then grew into a sales assistant, then a pharmacy technician, and finally a manager, is worth their weight in gold. Team members that demonstrate ambition and dedication make perfect candidates for helping you grow your business. They are loyal, they know how you like to run things, and they feel empowered by the increasing amount of responsibility.
Changing Roles of an Owner
When you go from operating one pharmacy to becoming a multi-store owner, your duties are going to change dramatically. As a single-store manager, you likely wear many hats: you might have to wake up early to be at the counter by 5am, paint the building on the weekends, and set up new computer systems at night. When you grow to own multiple locations, you simply aren’t going to have the time to perform all these tasks by yourself. You will need to learn to delegate and transform your role from a hands-on manager to a leader with immense organizational skills. Later, this will change again.
When your collection of pharmacies reaches a higher number, you’re going to find that simply overseeing and managing people will become inefficient and you’ll need to adapt and become a more visionary leader. Still, you will want to “get your hands dirty” by working short stints behind the counter and engaging with customers. You will still be willing to participate in the daily operations of your pharmacy because it’s a part of who you are and because you deeply care about your team and your customers. So, in a way, the owner’s role almost comes full-circle.
At this stage, you’ll also want to put systems in place that improve overall company efficiency. Give the pharmacy manager more authority to run the store on their own. Tasks like hiring, human resources, marketing, and purchasing can be done by them, but you’ll still have to set up the framework to allow this to happen. Once you do, each pharmacy should almost run itself. These efficiency processes take you out of the day-to-day tasks, allowing you more time for growth strategies.
As your pharmacy business grows, your roles and responsibilities will change, but if you establish a strong support system, your business will succeed. The Pharmacy Owners Guide to an Exceptionally Effective Implementation ebook is a free resource that will help with growing your business and put you on the path to success.