My wife hates it, but whenever we travel, I drop in on any independent pharmacies that I happen to notice. For me, it is a fun way to meet new people and discover new ideas.
I wish I could say that most of what I see is impressive, but it‘s not. Too many independent pharmacy owners fail to give the exterior and interior look of their pharmacy the attention it deserves. This is unfortunate for, as pharmacy migrates into providing new, more, and better professional services, they need to upgrade and improve the look and feel of their pharmacy, inside and out.
Why you ask? Because, looks matter and neatness counts. The look, feel, and layout for a pharmacy striving to provide more profitable services must be different — indeed, better — than that of a traditional community pharmacy.
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Between 1995 and 1997, it was my privilege to help lead a major industry project called ‘The Concept Pharmacy’. The project was supported by APhA and the National Wholesale Druggists’ Association. Our task was to search out and interview cutting edge pharmacists and then document and share how they had profitably implemented enhanced care services.
Not surprisingly, one key element of success each of these innovative pharmacists mentioned was the decision to upgrade the physical layout of the pharmacy so that it provided an environment conducive to the new services they were offering. Most pharmacists mentioned adding private or semiprivate counseling areas, but some also stressed the importance of rearranging the layout and product assortment of the front end. In addition, some pharmacists even suggested displaying high-end supplements and other items that directly tie in with the new services you’re looking to provide.
As I reflect on the things I see successful pharmacy owners doing to improve the look and feel of the pharmacy, I think of the analogy of producing a play. For a play to be successful you need actors, a script, and props. For your new services to be well received, you need people that can provide the service, a carefully prepared way to tell patients what you are doing, and you need to make sure the look and feel of your pharmacy “sets the stage” for the services you plan to provide.
Andrew Finney, RPh owner of Perkins Drugs recently built a brand-new building in which he opened a second pharmacy in Gallatin, TN. The new pharmacy was built with a private counseling area and with a store layout that supports his professional services. It looks great, inside and out!
In looking at the pictures of his new pharmacy I was impressed that he upgraded the will-call bin area by installing a scripClip — an LED light-supported prescription retrieval system. When a patient picks up their medication the clerk types their name or phone number into the point of sale, which causes the bag handle containing that person’s prescription to light-up. The clerk can quickly spot the patients’ bag, retrieve it, scan it and check the patient out. Finney adds that with all the technology in his pharmacy it is nice to have something that is visible to his customers and supports his professional image.
As as you strive to find new, better, and more profitable ways to serve the people of your community, give some thought to improving the exterior and modernizing the interior. Upgrading your physical facility just may be the most important thing you do to prepare for the future. For, as my 10thgrade English teacher said when I turned in my book report, looks matter and neatness counts.