Pharmacy 101: Don't turn off the patients

April 15, 2011

Tats and studs and rap and hip-hop can turn off patients and send them on a search for the real pharmacist. You're a medical professional. You need to look and sound the part.

The woman forced a thin smile, mumbled, and headed for the checkout at the front of the store. Satisfied that the woman was happy, the pharmacist headed back to the pharmacy.

I thought to myself, "If you don't know what you done wrong, you ain't gonna be around very long."

I followed her to the checkout stand. On the way, she slowed down at the huge display of chips. She dropped the package of OTC cough medicine at the base of the display among the Tostitos, Cheetos, and big bags of fried pork rinds, which told me exactly how impressed she was by MC Ar Pee Aitch.

Early in my career there was a period when I did not follow the advice I am going to give here. I am thinking of 1970 in Pacheco, California, a 45-minute drive from Golden Gate Park and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Back in the day, Pacheco was an unincorporated area in Contra Costa County. Most of the streets were packed dirt. The tiny 3-store strip mall had a hitching post out front. Customers occasionally came on horseback to pick up their prescriptions. The little drugstore I managed kept its competitive advantage by putting out a 5-gallon laundry tub filled with fresh water every morning. The owner in L.A. stayed away, as long as the profits flowed.