As an independent pharmacist, you can provide the type of pharmacy customer service and personalized care that big box pharmacies can't.
Here's five ways you can make your independent pharmacy a focal point in your community:
1) Get to truly know your customers and patients
You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. You can set yourself far above your competition if you get to know your customers and patients on a personal level. Big box competitors can't hope to develop the kinds of relationships with their patients and customers that you have with yours. Another advantage to this is that word-of-mouth alone can help you grow your business simply because you take such good care of your patients and customers.
2) Make your marketing personal
Focus on your brand and center your marketing within your community. Most of your customers will probably come from your community, but you can also put circulars in your local newspaper.
Make your business sign visible from the street. Business hours should be clearly posted on the sign and on your website as well as on your front door.
Your "brand" should be easy to remember. Choose a slogan, design, and name that customers can recall so that they'll think of you when they need your services.
3) Be a clear resource and asset to your community
Offer community-based events like free health screenings or free blood pressure readings and make sure to post the dates and times for these events on your website, prominently just outside your business, and on your front door. This leads us to our next suggestion…
4) Consider expanding your services to include clinical pharmacy
The Affordable Care Act has given millions more people access to healthcare. However, this expanded population of patients also means that the healthcare system itself has become overburdened.
You can help. As part of your pharmacy customer service, you can expand your own services to incorporate clinical pharmacy. It's a way to provide non-urgent medical care to patients who need it right away with little to no wait (as would likely not be the case if they had to visit their personal physicians or urgent care). Plus, you can provide these services at significantly reduced cost to those patients versus other venues even as you improve your own revenues.
5) Make your pharmacy a social "hotspot"
Old pharmacy favorites are making a comeback – specifically, soda and coffee fountains, which were popular before drive-ins took over. Consider putting them in your pharmacy. Carbonated water still soothes an upset stomach, and you can re-create much of the allure of days gone by when you include them right in your store. While it's true that customers can simply go buy coffee or soda at the grocery store, nothing beats the social experience of gathering around the community pharmacy soda fountain for a chat. It's an experience. It really is true that the soda fountains of the 1950s are making a comeback, and you can get in on this enjoyable trend. Pharmacy customer service never tasted so good.
Hearken back to the "days of old" and make your independent pharmacy the kind of community focal point pharmacists once enjoyed. Provide stellar service to your customers and patients, get to know them, and consider easing their worries – and the healthcare system's burdens – by expanding to clinical pharmacy. Finally, in addition to taking care of your patients' health care needs, you can make your pharmacy a fun "hotspot" by including a coffee and soda fountain as a true social gathering place.