As an independent pharmacy, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to compete with the large, big-box drug stores price-wise, but that doesn't mean you can't compete with them in other ways that customers may find even more important than price. Besides the fact that your store is in a community that your customers may find more convenient to visit than the chain store pharmacy down the road, many of them may also have a preference to do their shopping where they know the money they spend will stay in their own town or neighborhood.
#1 Pharmacy Strategy for Growth
The greatest asset you have in growing your business is your staff. Pharmacies, once seen primarily as product-based dispensing businesses, have developed into what could be accurately called service-dispensing businesses – at least when done with that specific idea in mind. Excellent service will trump slightly lower prices in almost every instance. Exemplary service, however, can only be provided by those who are properly trained, motivated, and empowered to perform up to their highest potentials within their assigned roles.
Best utilization of your staff members will depend on assigning specific roles to each, providing training to perform effectively in those roles, and encouraging continual momentum in your pharmacy's back end workflow to improve operations toward greater efficiency. This should decrease prescription filling wait times which, in itself, is an important pharmacy strategy for increased growth. Decreased wait times mean happier, more satisfied clients.
Ways to Improve Growth
One of the most beneficial forces with a potential to add to the growth of your business comes from your existing customers. Obtaining referral business is probably the most cost-effective way of spreading your store's name throughout the community, and it all starts with creating an environment within your pharmacy that demonstrates to your patients that yours is a business that truly cares about their well-being. This ties back to the idea of being a service provider rather than a mere product provider. An example of this could be recommending that patients using certain prescription medications consider buying over-the-counter supplements to replace what their medications are depleting, such as:
- Beta blockers and statins deplete coenzyme Q10
- Diuretics deplete a variety of vitamins/minerals, such as vitamins C and B-6, zinc, calcium, potassium, and magnesium
- Diabetes medications deplete folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and vitamin B-12
Recommending supplements such as these, a technique called cross-selling, is just one example of ways to improve your pharmacy's health-conscious image, your service profile, and your bottom line. Many cross-selling opportunities exist in your store, especially in the front end merchandising area, such as antibiotic ointment being offered to someone buying Band-Aids, liniment to those purchasing a wrap or splint for a wrist or ankle sprain, or analgesics for someone needing a sunburn relief product. Front end sales associates should all be trained to pursue these various cross-selling opportunities. Think of the local burger joint where, when ordering a hamburger, you'll hear the tagline, "Do you want fries with that?"
Supersize Those Orders
In addition to growing your customer base through word-of-mouth referrals from loyal clients, here are three things you can do to get your business booming even better:
- Increase the number of transactions each customer makes per visit
- Increase the amount of each of those transactions
- Increase the frequency of visits each customer makes to your place of business
It comes down to making each customer's experience so good that they become loyal to your brand and willing to tell the world. This is the best pharmacy strategy you could possibly employ.