1. CREATE A PERSONALIZED BUSINESS MODEL AND BUSINESS PLAN
that fits your passion, industry trends and the local environment. This will be a time-consuming task but well worth the effort. Each facet will have a lasting impact on your business. Your business model will include all the departments and services you plan to provide and be helpful in selecting the right amount of square footage required. Lenders will definitely require a comprehensive business plan.
2. SELECTING THE BEST AVAILABLE LOCATION
that provides adequate space, offers convenience and high visibility are significant in today’s fast moving society. Americans move on average every 8-10 years while others age out. You must replace 100% of your existing customers in that time frame just to stay even. Attracting new customers is crucial in increasing your business. The exterior appearance of your pharmacy symbolizes what the prospective customer expects to find inside. Do not skimp on proper outdoor identification and first let the passersby know that it is a pharmacy or drug store. Convenience has ranked higher in than price in past studies. A free-standing building offers higher visibility than a strip center. A drive-thru window can increase your Rx business by as much as 25%. I understand the advantages of having customers come inside but the drive thru can be a first step. By stuffing a pamphlet inside each pick-up outlining all the services you offer will encourage them to come inside when they return. If a strip center is the only choice, select an end unit if possible that may provide a drive-thru along with greater exposure. Mental impressions are huge.
3. DEVELOPING THE BEST LAYOUT AND DESIGN
that incorporates good work flow, proper utilization of the space, versatility, security along with departments and services that differentiate your pharmacy from the competition will attract new customers all along. I suggest a non-sterile compounding lab that is visible, a private patient services area offering a long list of services not provided by others and other departments and services not provided by your competition. Once the layout is finalized, the pharmacy should have an attractive and modern appearance. By the same token, it can be a waste of money and counter-productive to create a Taj Mahal appearance. Past experiences have proved that most people do not respond well to an outlandish designed pharmacy. Not only does it cost more, it can confuse the customer and become extremely difficult to make changes when required. Being unique is far more important than having extraordinary design features.
4. MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY
whereby the results can be easily measured. I suggest that you utilize an experienced company that understands how best to market your business which is very different today than just a few years ago. Word of mouth is very effective and comes without a cost.
5. HIRING THE BEST PEOPLE
and properly training them accordingly is paramount in drawing customers away from your competitors. The go-getters will consistently find ways to impress your customers by addressing their needs in a professional manner. Delegation is very apparent in most successful businesses.Obviously, the above tips do not cover a plethora of important administrative decisions such as permitting, pricing, star ratings, which computer to use, compliance issues and many other attributes that are available via Pharmacy Associations, Wholesalers, local building officials and others that have a high level of expertise in those areas. One needs to be more cautious when the source expects to benefit financially from the decisions you make.
ROLAND G. THOMAS, PHARMACY PLANNING CONSULTANT