When you think about walking into the large, sterile-looking pharmacies run by the various big-box chain stores, the word "fun" doesn’t really come to mind – but then, creating fun times doesn’t seem to be one of the functional goals of those establishments. At their most basic level, typical pharmacies are designed to do three things:
- Efficiently and accurately fill prescriptions
- Provide quality care for patients
- Maintain a pharmacy workflow and store environment where clients are happy and employees have a high level of job satisfaction
If wait times for getting a prescription filled are excessively long or pharmacists don’t have sufficient free time to provide adequate medication therapy management (MTM) consultations to their clients, back-end pharmacy workflow should be addressed to seek ways to improve customer service. An efficient operation behind the pharmacy counter should allow technicians to handle most of the nuts-and-bolts activities of prescription fills, each trained to fulfill their specific roles in the process, while leaving the pharmacist free to provide personalized MTM services to their patients. This is both highly desirable from an employee satisfaction standpoint and good for business.
Putting the "Fun" Into Functional
While the back end of the pharmacy is humming along, there are plenty of ways that things in the front end can provide interest, education, and even entertainment to those clients who may have come in simply for a prescription but will hopefully leave with some add-on purchases too. Providing a comfortable, homey environment for customers can pay off in some big ways. The personal touches that set your pharmacy apart from the competition are the exact things that will keep customers coming back to your place again and again.
Your happy customers will also spread the word to friends and family, and soon that word-of-mouth advertising will be worth more than any paid-for promotions you may be tempted to spend your advertising dollars on. That said, paid-for promotions and attractive, colorful displays that capture a customer’s eye will help add to the interesting environment you’re trying to create.
Going Back a Few Generations
Back in the "old days," the neighborhood pharmacy was often a central meeting place, and folks came in for reasons other than just to buy medicine. Often, there was a soda fountain with stools at the counter and chairs and tables for people to sit and visit with their neighbors and, by the way, make additional purchases off the retail shelves too. The idea of adding a coffee bar in your store can also provide a big draw. And you needn’t charge four or five bucks for a cup of coffee like the national coffee chains do in order to make this enterprise successful. Even if sales here simply cover the cost of the operation, the purpose of providing a fun but functional gathering place for customers to sit and relax will be well worth the time and effort spent. Remember, the longer folks spend in your store, the higher the likelihood that they’ll buy more and go away happier.
Fun for the Family
It may not often be considered, but an efficient and effective pharmacy workflow, especially in the back end, can provide additional free hours that can be used any way you want. To keep your best employees happy and engaged in doing the best job possible, free time can be doled out judiciously as a reward for a job well done. Three day weekends to allow for more family time are always appreciated. Rewards like these increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover, thereby conserving resources.