5 Key Takeaways from PDS 2019

PDS Super-Conference

2019 PDS Super-Conference

Every February, the most progressive pharmacy owners from across the country arrive in Orlando to spend an intensive three days working on their business. We like to say that the PDS Super-Conference is where passion meets innovation. Attendees bring the passion for providing patients with exceptional health care, and PDS brings the innovative strategies that empower owners to adapt and overcome the challenges they face in today’s marketplace, so they can best serve their communities.

This year was packed with incredible information that attendees and members are already leveraging to change the trajectory of their year. For those that weren’t able to attend this year, we have summarized the 5 Key Takeaways from PDS 2019 in this blog and in our latest on-demand webinar with VP of Business Development, Dr. Lisa Faast. Want to get ahead of the curve? Register today for PDS 2020.

Key Takeaway #1: Brand Identity for Independent Pharmacies

2019 is the year for independents to own our ‘Why.’ Pharmacy owners need to brand ourselves differently.

Consider the following questions posed by PDS founder, Dan Benamoz at the Super-Conference:

  • Why should people choose us over their other options?
  • What do we provide that is more valuable than convenience?
  • How do we stand above what has become the status quo, public acceptance of mediocre health care?

How patients experience your pharmacy, the recommendations they get from you, and their other healthcare providers all play a significant role in their decision to stay loyal and come back. Independents must find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Most patients don’t understand (or care) about the complex ecosystem of insurance and PBMs. They do understand the importance of an informed pharmacist that provides solutions to their specific healthcare needs without breaking the bank. This is the core of PDS’ Pharmacy Brand Promise; you can download your copy HERE, hang it proudly in your store to let your patients know that you’re here to support their needs. Already a PDS Member? Ask your Performance Specialist about access to the print-ready, customizable ads for you to use in your pharmacy today.

Key Takeaway #2: Professional Selling for Independent Pharmacies

Most of us have a vision of a typical salesperson; someone shamelessly pushing you into purchasing products you don’t want or need. In 2019, PDS is challenging pharmacy owners to change this view. The fact is that independents offer critical services and bring valuable knowledge to the community they serve.

We can only impact the health and wellness of our patients if we can communicate what we offer effectively. The ability to communicate and sell your services is critical to the success of your business and the industry. At the PDS, Super-Conference, we brought in three speakers to highlight different ways for attendees to improve their professional sales skills.

Amanda Gore – The Neuroscience of Sales

Your most effective sales tool is connection. Communication and performance expert, Amanda Gore, presented actionable strategies to build relationships and improve communication with your patients, your pharmacy team, and your family. Learn more about leveraging the science of the heart (yes, your feelings) and emotional intelligence to make an impact in your pharmacy and personal life.

Karl Scheible – Minding the Gap, Creating a Great Initial Conversation

We have to sell to do what we love, help people. Success in sales is a direct result of creating alignment between your attitude, behaviors, and technique. Get rid of your self-limiting beliefs, create new actions that empower you and develop a process that you can practice and scale to achieve results.

Dr. Robert Cialdini – Effective, Ethical Influence 

Widely regarded as the ‘Godfather of Influence,’ Dr. Cialdini covered the specifics of the Six Universal Principles of Persuasion. Learn more about the principles that help your patients to overcome uncertainty, build relationships, and understand why they work. This knowledge empowers pharmacy owners to read situations and identify the best technique to convey your message.

Members-Only Training

In addition to the conference presentations, PDS has created a 2-day boot camp, led by sales expert, author, and keynote speaker, Karl Scheible. Learn how to more effectively communicate with prescribers and practice managers and change the trajectory of your business and the quality of care for your patients. Professional sales skills are incredibly important as the landscape of our industry continues to evolve. Don’t be left behind; you can learn how to ethically and effectively have more influence in your business.

Key Takeaway #3: CBD – Cannabinoids

CBD has been around for a few years now, but questions still linger around the product and the legality. Dr. Alex Capano, Medical Director of Ananda Hemp, presented the facts about the potential impact of this soon to be multi-billion dollar industry. It was an informative session that covered the emerging therapeutic potential of CBD and the multiple ways pharmacy owners can leverage this product to expand healthcare services and increase profits.

Key Takeaway #4: Pharmacy Financials

With the multiple hats pharmacy owners wear, managing your financials on top of everything else can seem daunting. At PDS, we think that understanding the financial status of your business is critical for an owner to manage your assets effectively, make data-driven business decisions, and grow your business. If you don’t know the terms, you can’t understand the game.

PDS is now offering an expert pharmacy accounting service. Receive customized reports, traditional bookkeeping that provide unique insight on how to improve your pharmacy. Enjoy the confidence and clarity you get with PDSfinancials.

Key Takeaway #5: Go-To Plays of Successful Leaders

Leadership is learned and earned. Our final keynote speaker, Peyton Manning spoke about creating a positive culture in your pharmacy and developing leadership skills. What got you here won’t get you success at the next level; this is true in sports and in running an independent pharmacy business. Manning shared personal insights from both on and off the football field that resonated with anyone looking to grow as a leader.


Learn what 1,600 thriving independent pharmacies already know; get the impactful insights and scalable strategies to win in 2019. Attending the PDS Super-Conference is a critical component to the success of our industry; for 15 years we have unveiled innovative programs and ideas that have changed the way independents run their business. The above 5 Takeaways are a small piece of what attendees get from the conference. Don’t miss out on another year – register today and start seeing the impact PDS can make on your independent pharmacy.

Click HERE to watch our on-demand webinar with Dr. Lisa Faast as she covers more information about the 5 Key Takeaways from PDS 2019. 

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.

4 Essential Business Skills for Independent Pharmacy Success

business skillsOperating a successful pharmacy takes more than the mastery of a single clinical or business skill. The complexity and evolution of the industry have made it so extended hours or higher prescription volume are not enough to drive impactful pharmacy growth. Between declining reimbursements, ambiguous DIR fees, and a competitive pricing environment owners are faced with unique roadblocks not found in other industries. The surest approach to staying competitive is to hone skills that make you and your business better. So, where do you start? Which business skills are the most relevant to successful pharmacy ownership? We’ve got that answer!  

Below are the four business skills we frequently see in the most successful independent pharmacy owners.   

Business Skill #1 – Facing Failure

Pharmacy Owners: Learn to Fail

Failure may not seem like an indicator of success or a business skill but accepting unexpected outcomes with grace forges resilience. What matters the most is your reaction and next steps when the disappointment from a loss still stings. Do you throw your hands up and move on or do you analyze what went wrong and try to figure out how to improve the situation? Experiencing failure makes you a more resourceful, flexible and empathetic leader. The most successful pharmacy leaders respond with an open mind; choosing to see the moment as an opportunity for growth.  

Business Skill #2 – Grit

Build a Thriving Pharmacy Business in the Face of Adversity 

Regardless of industry; the top performers have grit. Though often intangible, it is an easy trait to recognize when someone possesses it. Passion, determination, and motivation to achieve is a unique and undeniable combination. With the state of the industry and the challenges pharmacy entrepreneurs face, grit is a requisite for creating sustainable growth in your pharmacy. Unfortunately, over time and in the face of industry roadblocks — it can fade. Surrounding yourself with passionate and like-minded colleagues while building an empowered and mission-aligned pharmacy team can make all the difference when the going gets tough. 

Business Skill #3 – Develop Meaningful Mentorships

Pharmacy Mentors: Independent Doesn’t Mean Alone

Experience is a pricey and critical asset when it comes to running a pharmacy. Clinical skills aside, becoming an entrepreneur requires a business education that most pharmacy schools don’t have in their curriculum. Forward-thinking pharmacy owners must be proactive about gaining this knowledge.  

With the pharmacy industry in constant flux, the concept of mentorship is ever more critical for success.  

At PDS, we believe that when independents share insight into what works and what doesn’t with a trusted network — our collective strength to influence change and affect the future of our industry increases exponentially. Learning to grow and leverage a trusted network is a business skill that cannot be overlooked.

The Value of Mentor Relationships

New pharmacy owners benefit from the wealth of knowledge that only comes with years of running a business. Long-time owners benefit from new information and different perspective of a younger generation. Mentorship a two-way street and both parties need to keep a few things in mind to create a mutually beneficial dynamic.   

  • Be Clear. Define and refine your goals, whether you’re writing a call agenda or setting quarterly objectives. 
  • Give As Much AYou Get. Bring enthusiasm and energy to your sessions. 
  • Stay Mindful. The advice you give will be taken to heart. If you’re venturing into unknown territory; don’t pretend to be an expert.  
  • Drop the B.S. Embrace candor within your mentorship. Honest feedback leads to real improvement. 

Business Skill #4 – Maintain an Innovator’s Mindset 

Meet Challenges with Innovation

Identifying areas to innovate should be a regular part of your business strategy. These opportunities can manifest in many ways. The employee that oversees your medication synchronization program may have ideas on how to add more patients to the program. A vendor you work closely with can introduce you to a new technology that changes everything. Keeping an “innovators mindset” is a critical business skill.We are all familiar with the saying,  

“If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”  

As a business leader, you must see and nurture the value that your network brings to the table. Including your pharmacy team and trusted colleagues in this process will amplify your success.  


We can’t buy Aetna; we can’t merge with Target. But if we unite on a few key fronts, you are going to see an entirely different industry, ripe with opportunities. Read our latest white paper that outlines a Strategy for Independent Pharmacy to save itself. For 20 years, Pharmacy Development Services (PDS) has been helping thousands of owners across the country shift their business into high gear. We know firsthand what it takes to keep you operating at the top of your license.