Lots of pharmacists aspire to own their own businesses. As much as you want to help people be healthier, a community pharmacy business is still a business. I honestly wish there were things I had been told before I started. But, I had to learn on the job. Allow me to save you years of failure and stress by teaching you the important things you need to know before you start a community/retail pharmacy.
- You will spend more than you planned to: When planning to start a pharmacy you’ll have to think of things you’ll need to spend on just to set it up. Things like, rent, stock, staff, fixtures, licensing, inspection fees, dues, dispensing adjuncts etc. In the end, a lot of people underestimate what they’ll spend, as hidden expenses show up. Be prepared.
- Location, Location, Location: 80% of the success of a retail pharmacy is location (And I feel like I am underestimating here). My research takes me to so many pharmacy outlets. When I get to some I meet the staff there sleeping, because of a lack of clients. It’s hard to sustain a business with low patronage. And seeing that we live in a community where there is a pharmacy just around the corner, you need to be located in a very populated and easily accessible place. Look for high traffic locations. Please take this point seriously.
- Hire well: You staff take care of your patients and your customers. If your company culture and staff are not vibrant and professional, you may find that you attract only one time clients. And these clients would probably bad mouth you to their friends. Ensure your staff are properly trained. Try to avoid high turnover rates. healthcare is a very personal business, people get very open with their care provider, and they form relationships with them. So if you keep changing staff it may break the continuity in care, and some patients may follow that staff to their new location. It happens. So take care of your staff.
- Variety is good for business: Try as much as you can to have a variety of products. People see pharmacies as a place they can get everything they need to live. From drugs, to basic household items. Find out what your community loves. Ensure you have a variety. Customers don’t like being turned away. It’ll just be a matter of time before they see you as unreliable and go somewhere else. Create a restocking system that enables you always have the necessary things to leave your clients satisfied.
- The X factor: In a room where everyone is dressed in black, only the lady in red stands out. There are so many community pharmacies. Your competition is probably within walking distance of you. You need to stand out, you need to find something that distinguishes you from the rest. It could be in the care you give, your follow-up method, the way you incorporate yourself in the community, the rare items you have, the services you provide. But you must stand out. To be the same is to become obsolete.
And remember this, which ever town or state you are in, there is probably one pharmacy or two that stands out as the best. But if you were to check back twenty years ago it was probably someone else. Leaders are overtaken because of their inability to innovate and stay ahead. So, whoever is leading in your town right now, they could be overtaken by you tomorrow.
Article by Pharm Nkechi Oti of Keek’s institute. Keek’s institute delivers CPD training for pharmacists to help improve practice and business prospects. Upcoming courses are in patient counselling and pharmacy management among others. Learn more and book here.