Retail Pharmacy is changing rapidly as a result of our changing health-care system. Greater opportunities are presented on a regular basis by those in the business. We have to change our way of thinking in order to achieve maximum results. Relying on future profitability from traditional prescriptions should be on the back burner because it has become more difficult to increase the net profit from dispensing alone. Independent pharmacies have relied on increasing the number of prescriptions year after year just to maintain the same level of net profit. It has become more difficult to attain due to many external factors, some that seem uncontrollable. Therefore, the independent pharmacy’s future must include something else.
There have been those who promote more non-prescription products that may offset the decreasing profit behind the counter. However, it may be difficult once you look at how many competitors may be selling the same category and often at a lower price. There are very practical departments that can be profitable but it takes time and effort. A good example is natural products, supplements and nutritional products that your competitors may not display and if they do, they may not be well versed on the negative and positive effects, especially with the individual’s prescription regimen. One pharmacy in particular did so well with these products in her pharmacy, she could not turn down an offer to buy the pharmacy but continued with the supplement business at another location. I know of one store that encompassed about 1,500 sq. ft. that had built a huge business and during my one visit one individual came to the checkout and paid more than $350 for a basket of vitamins and nutritional products. The owner indicated that the average profit margin on those products were as high as 50%.
It is also very difficult to sell non-health merchandise not only in a small pharmacy but one that has several thousand square feet. The typical front-end business has been lost to the much larger stores that display larger quantities. Dollar stores are just about everywhere. Both are perceived to have lower prices. Therefore, to be successful, you must concentrate on something significant that they do not have and that takes time and motivation. Differentiating your pharmacy from your competition will be a feather in your cap.
Another even better opportunity in Pharmacy Design in 2019 and years to follow is providing Patient Services that entails much more than checking blood pressure and even MTM’s. Your customers are seeking your help in improving their health. It has been reported that in the U.S. alone, there is a shortage of more than 100,000 General Practitioners. This opens up dozens of opportunities for the progressive pharmacist to garner business that may well become the future of Independent Pharmacy. One new pharmacy is opening this summer that is combined with a small clinic and non-sterile compounding labs. One in three Americans are obese and no one is better suited to help their customers feel and look better than the highly trusted pharmacist. Diabetes is at an all-time high and considered an epidemic. Arthritis and many related maladies affect millions of Americans looking for solutions at a reasonable price and from a trusted source. Copays are increasing along with longer wait times. All kinds of new technical devices are being created constantly. You may feel that the chains will be taking that business too! Chains have never been able to compete with independent pharmacies in the “service” category because their business model is too complex. Survey after survey has placed the independent pharmacy far ahead when it comes to personalized service.
One pharmacy in the planning stage is incorporating three patient services rooms for carrying out some of the aforementioned services.