Take in these top tips for pharmacy front-end management.
Independent pharmacy owners know how important their front end is to their store’s bottom line. But in the crush of day-to-day responsibilities—filling prescriptions, counseling patients, and managing prior authorizations—it’s easy to neglect this crucial aspect of your bustiness. Never fear: Gabe Trahan, former senior director of store operations and marketing at the National Community Pharmacists Association and front-end expert shared 51 of his best high-impact, low-cost tips that store owners can implement immediately to better manage their front-end. Read on for our top 10 tips from Trahan’s presentation.
Don’t let upcoming events and important holidays surprise you. “You’ve been caught saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s going to be Thanksgiving in 2 weeks, or Christmas season is coming up,’ and you start to panic, thinking, ‘I didn’t order my Halloween candy,’” said Trahan. Keeping a planner or calendar handy means that you and your staff can prepare for these special displays at least, Trahan suggested, 6 months in advance.
“It’s the best marketing piece you can buy,” said Trahan of outdoor digital signs. But if you make the investment, make sure it’s working for you: “When some people buy a digital sign, they hardly change it,” he said. “And just like that, it says, ‘Have a Happy Thanksgiving!’ and it’s now July 4th.” Not sure what to display on your sign? Use it to share messages relevant to the community—football scores, well wishes for the high school baseball team, or the weather. Once customers know to look to the sign for information, start including information on available vaccines, diabetes management programs, and more.
According to Trahan, shopping baskets are one of the fastest ways to increase sales. “People don’t juggle,” he explained. “They stop shopping when their hands are full.” Don’t pile them up by the register; place them strategically around the store—near your vitamins and supplements, in the middle of the store, or near bulky items to maximize their use.
During his time as a pharmacy general manager, Trahan would visit stores and find employees displaying stale endcaps and irrelevant register displays. Pharmacies are busy; “they [the employees] really thought it had been 2 weeks—but sometimes it had bene a year,” he explained. Keep masking tape handy to avoid having endcaps and other displays linger long after their expiration date. Take a strip of tape, stick it to the back of the display, and label it with the date the display began.
Grow your business by getting a “bigger ring at the register,” said Trahan. Planned sales—that is, customers who you can reliably count on week after week to come in and pick up their prescriptions or purchase their essentials—can be supplemented by the strategic display of impulse buys, like all-natural, SPF lip balms that sell for $8.
Sign holders are one of the best ways to entice customers to keep shopping. If you use them, though, be strategic, Trahan explained: Do you sell vitamins for haircare? Don’t put a sign advertising these vitamins in the vitamin aisle. Placing it with your haircare products will send customers to another part of the store seeking them out and—hopefully—making a bigger purchase.
Create a storewide sticker policy to prevent price stickers being placed on packaging in inopportune places, such as covering expiration dates, instructions, or important warnings. And, Trahan added, don’t use red or yellow price tags: red tags indicate closeout sales, and yellow tags indicate sales. For higher-quality gift items, invest in string tags. These tags are more delicate and don’t cheapen the look of merchandise by placing a sticker that will need to be scraped off before gifting.
Trahan suggested selecting a product category (like sugar-free products for customers with diabetes) and highlighting the price tags with a specific color to make them easier for customers to identify. If you have 53 sugar free products, create a sign saying just that: “We carry over 50 sugar-free products—just look for the blue tags!”
Leg health isn’t just good for your calves—it’s also good for your heart. Create a dedicated area for grab-and-go compression socks; include signage highlighting the product benefits, and leg mannequins so customers can see and touch the product in real time.
A clean, polished, and put-together store is better for everyone, from customers to your business bottom line. Hire some students from the local high school to come in a few hours a week to clean, organize, or stock shelves. These employees are an invaluable part of your operation and allow other staff to focus on filling prescriptions and counseling patients.
Drug Topics’ coverage of the 2022 NCPA Annual Convention and Expo is sponsored Prescryptive Health.