Pharmacy practice can be frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. It can be challenging keeping the spark of idealism that got you into the field alive, especially when your ideals collide head-on with the realities of low margins, high competition, and ever-shifting expectations. So how do you keep your pharmacy competitive without compromising either your ideals or your bottom line?
Shift Your Perspective
It’s all too easy to fall into a rut because we’re committed to doing what we’ve always done, for no other reason than the fact it’s the way we’ve always done it. Succeeding in any business requires us to think beyond the usual, and to think outside ourselves and the four walls of our own business. What is your competition doing? What are you doing better than them? And what’s your strategy to strengthen your weaknesses while capitalizing on your strengths?
Build and Maintain Strong Relationships
Remember where you came from, and where you are. Besides building relationships with providers — both your vendors, and your patients’ primary care providers, where appropriate — there’s another set of relationships you need to consider as well. You and your pharmacy exist in, and are sustained by, a larger community. Get involved and give back; it gives your work enhanced meaning, and your customers will feel more comfortable supporting a business that’s always looking for ways to meaningfully impact their neighbors.
Remember That Your Business is More Than a Dispensary
It’s an unavoidable fact of life that some people will shop almost exclusively on price. However, pharmacies that set themselves apart by a variety of means — product mix, services offered, and especially personalized care — can attract new business while better retaining loyal customers. That may require rethinking your approach to your pharmacy shelving, store layout, or visual merchandising, but the end result can pay significant dividends.
Remember That You Are More Than a Pharmacist
Just as your pharmacy provides a core set of products and services that extends beyond dispensing medication, it’s helpful to rethink your role as a pharmacist — and to encourage your team to likewise expand their thinking. Part of the relationships we build within our communities extends to how we approach each individual patient. Offering counseling, education, and a more expansive model of care reconnects us to our calling and community alike.
Thinking about our values can be a valuable reminder of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. But there’s a potential pitfall there as well; sometimes we mistake the wrong things as being important to our values. Having a sentimental attachment to a particular layout or workflow, to paper records, or work done by hand isn’t what best defines or sustains your values. As we’ve seen, it’s the way in which we serve those who rely on our services.
Embracing innovation, whether it’s electronic record keeping, pharmacy automation, or a new layout that allows you to provide services you couldn’t provide before, reinforces what makes us unique while allowing us to remain competitive. Even embracing social media can raise your profile while still helping you communicate what’s most important to you and your patients.
We realize we’ve raised nearly as many questions as answers. There’s a reason for that: those answers need to come from you, and from the things that make your experience, your community, and your business unique. In truth, these questions are only the start of a much longer conversation that can be taken to a greater depth as part of a consultation that helps you identify what you’re doing well, and could be doing better. Shelving Design Systems offers pharmacy design and pharmacy consulting services that can give you new insight into your business, coupled with solutions that help you meet your tactical and strategic business objectives. Call us today to get started.