FarmaKology Newsletter - Issue #19
FIVE IMPORTANT TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOUR PHARMACY BUSINESS THRIVE!
1. Create a practical business model and business plan that fits your passion, industry
trends and the local environment. This will be time-consuming but well worth the time and effort. Each facet will have a lasting impact on the business. There are professionals who specialize in pharmacy by creating a professional business plan. 2. Selecting the best available location that provides the right amount of space that fits
your business model. The location should include high visibility and customer convenience. People move every 8-10 years on average while others age out. You must replace 100% in that time frame just to stay even. You must attract new customers all the time. The exterior appearance is the customers’ first impression of what they expect to find inside. Do not skimp on proper outdoor signage. 3. Developing the best layout and design that incorporates good work flow, proper
utilization of space, versatility and departments and services that differentiate your pharmacy from the competition. Your pharmacy should have an attractive and modern appearance. However, it can be a waste of money and counter-productive to create a so-called Taj Mahal appearance. Past experience has proved that most people do not respond in a positive way to an outlandish designed pharmacy. Being unique is far more important than having extraordinary design features that emit the wrong impression. 4. Marketing your business effectively whereby the results can be easily measured. Again, hire an experienced company that understands pharmacy and how best to market your business which is quite different today than just a few years ago. 5. Hiring the best people and properly training them accordingly. The go-getters tend to go beyond their job description when necessary. They will consistently find ways to impress your customers by addressing their needs in a professional manner. Delegation is very apparent in most successful businesses.
Note: Obviously, there are many more important decisions to make as most of the above relate to the physical attributes. Do not try to do it alone and be vigilant with advice from those who expect a financial reward from the decisions you make. Transparency is extremely critical because your success depends highly on selecting experienced professionals whose only objective is to help you reach your goals and achieve the highest return on your investment dollars.
FACTS SELDOM MENTIONED BY OTHERS
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.
BY: ROLAND G. THOMAS, PHARMACY PLANNING CONSULTANT