Many national pharmacy organizations, businesses, publications and individuals provide Community Pharmacy Owners many ways to succeed by publishing how-to books, hold forums, seminars and post blogs. However, they rarely mention the critically important physical attributes outside the four walls. Yet, the chains deem them as some of their greatest assets. My observation in no way diminishes those highly important factors inside the four walls, which have been discussed in detail by many in the business.
Does the exterior of your pharmacy matter? Of course it matters a great deal. Chain drug stores have invested millions of dollars for a prime corner lot and building. Is that a wise investment? It must be or they wouldn’t have repeated it thousands of times. Certainly, most independents cannot afford to pay millions but they should attempt to secure a great location that provides convenience. Why? Studies have shown that convenience is the very first thing that a potential customer considers when selecting a retail business and ranks it more important than cost in that price range. Don’t let them pass by your pharmacy to go to a competitor that provides easy ingress and egress.
Private parking is much more appealing than public parking. Knowing that a parking space will be available, although farther away, often influences a customer to be drawn to private parking. Strip shopping centers may be the only choice initially. Once the pharmacy becomes profitable, consider relocating to a free-standing building with easy ingress and egress if at all possible. We have opened several pharmacies in former branch bank buildings over the past three years, another in a vacant fast food store.
Outdoor signage is paramount. Exposure and Visibility are huge factors in today’s fast moving society. It is more important to expose the type of business than the name itself. For example, DRUG STORE or PHARMACY letters should be much larger, in easy to ready block letters, not script, than the name itself.. Sign ordinances will restrict the size of the sign so be wise and let passersby know the type of business you have. The exterior of your pharmacy is the first outdoor impression of what the customer expects to find inside. It is vital that your pharmacy is seen by those who are not looking for a pharmacy. Mental impressions are enormous.
Drive-thru windows are popular just about everywhere now. Certainly, we prefer they come inside and that can follow if they are given reasons to do so. A drive-thru window can increase the Rx business by as much as 25%. A small strip center may be the only choice initially. Attempt to lease an end unit, if at all possible, that will accommodate a drive-thru window. Chain Drug Stores will not open a neighborhood pharmacy that is not free-standing, private parking and a drive-thru window.
Why are the above so important? As noted in my book “Independent Pharmacy Steps to Greater Success”, Americans move on average every 8-10 years, to another state, town or community while others age out. Therefore, you must replace 100% of your existing customers in that time frame just to stay even. Although everything you do inside is extremely important, do not overlook how the exterior will have a direct impact on your business. If potential customers do not readily see you or an inconvenience, they may never know how great you are.