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Secrets to Success for Independent Pharmacies Revealed

Written by Nicolette Mathey, PharmD

On March 6, 2020

Carve out your niche as a community pharmacy

Now that we’re a few months into 2020, you should probably have a good idea of how you’re doing with your New Year’s resolutions. The reality is that February is often the month where we falter in trying to stop smoking, lose weight or get more sleep because we haven’t set the proper expectations for how hard we’ll actually have to work. If you think about it, running a business is similar in a lot of ways.

Losing weight might include adherence to a certain type of diet like one featuring low carbs or the Paleolithic diet, along with regular exercise. In short, there is no magic bullet that thins and shreds your body. The same principle applies to independent pharmacists who open a business and expect to find immediate success. The best-run independent pharmacies are those that have carved out a niche in the industry and in the community — and we’re going to share a few quick secrets on precisely how to do that.

Find a specialization where you can be the go-to pharmacy

There’s nothing wrong with offering product that serves a variety of needs, but have you ever considered finding one particular area of medicine where you could make the biggest impact? To do this, put yourself in the shoes of the providers and think about what type of pharmaceutical needs they may have.

Take surgeons, for example. The body parts they work on may vary, but surgeons of all types — orthopedic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, eye surgeons and the like — have many commonalities. Propose to the surgeons that you create a surgical kit for their patients to receive prior to going under the knife. This can include soaps and vitamins that are essential for surgery prep, as well as antibiotics and scar creams to be used post-op. Need another example? A kit for ENTs and allergists can include symptomatic meds for patients who don’t have the time to wait on slow-acting allergy shots.

Stay in front of prescribers

There’s a longstanding rule in marketing that states most customers need exposure to an advertisement at least seven times before buying a product. Use this same approach with your physician relations efforts, and consistently stay in front of the prescribers you’re targeting. Alert them about any mutual patients you have and keep them apprised of any relevant updates on medications that those patients are using.

In all service-related things for your business, you should be gracious — but this is especially important with prescribers. Thank them for their time, business and referrals. By nature, we tend to work more frequently with partners we like, so developing a friendly rapport with prescribers is key.

Offer customer-friendly advantages that other pharmacies aren’t

In a crowded marketplace, differentiation is often an indication of success. If every pharmacy on every corner is doing the same thing, what’s going to make a customer walk through your doors? An independent pharmacist can accomplish this by offering uncommon customer-friendly perks. This doesn’t mean your pharmacy has to have a wacky layout or strange processes, but perhaps you become an expert on alternative medicines and stock more than the average supply of homeopathic remedies.

Another option to mull over is providing customers with the option of selecting the type of packaging they receive. Blister packaging is a unique way to distribute pills, and it’s usually well-received because the patient will always know if they’ve taken that day’s medication. You can also purchase the machines that manufacture blister packaging and install them in your pharmacy so that you handle everything in-house.

Do you still have questions about how to carve out your niche as a community pharmacy? Atrium24 has helped many independent pharmacies find their niche en route to a successful practice. Contact us today to learn more or to talk about Atrium24’s ongoing partnership with Mockingbird Pharma.

Nicolette Mathey, PharmD leads Atrium24, a firm that provides consultative services for independent pharmacies including turnkey clinical program guides, marketing materials, and training resources. Dr. Mathey has worked in pharmacy for 19 years. She was a pharmacist for CVS for 11 years, provided business consulting for five years and now owns Palm Harbor Pharmacy in Florida.

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