Our latest thoughts and inspirations on buying a pharmacy, starting a pharmacy, and ongoing pharmacy operations

The Most Important Position in the Pharmacy

I was talking with a client recently and we hit upon a very frequent topic, personnel management.  We were going over each person and position and when we got to the clerk who waited on the customers he told me "she used to be a tech but she was recently demoted to clerk".  I said to him don't you mean that she was promoted?

I think we can all agree the most important thing in our pharmacies is our relationships with our patients.  Yet we continually trust that interaction with the least experienced member of our staff.  Think about the last time you had a new hire.  What was the first thing they were taught?  It's usually how to run the register.

Most technicians feel the data entry and dispensing positions are the top positions in the store.  We feed into that by placing our most experienced people in those spots.  But since patient relationships are so important wouldn't it be great to make the rule that all staff members have to "earn" the right to talk to customers?  Think of the value of having someone at the front counter who can get to know each person, solve problems, and be the face of your pharmacy.  What if everyone would understand that waiting on the patient is really the most prestigious position?

Obviously everyone in the store should strive to have great relationships with the patients, but you will only develop that culture if you consistently walk the walk not just talk the talk.
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Improving Operating Efficiencies: The Pharmacy Back Office

Check out our CE with NCPA on pharmacy operations.

http://www.ncpanet.org/innovation-center/education-opportunities/ce-webinar
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Operating a Pharmacy is All about 3 Things!

Revenue, Inventory and Payroll.  

We hear regularly from clients, prospects and other owners that it is so hard to run a pharmacy, it is so hard to make money, it is so hard to know what to do, etc.  But in our opinion it is pretty simple, its just 3 things Revenue, Inventory and Payroll.  

In a pharmacy three areas impact profitability, how much revenue the pharmacy has, Inventory (both how much you pay and how much you have on the shelf) and how much payroll you have to support that revenue.  You have to have enough revenue to make money and inventory and payroll make up 90% of your expenses.  

So if you wake up every day, think what can I do to increase revenue, what can I do to lower my cost for inventory and find ways to control the amount of payroll needed you will have a good pharmacy.

Are we over simplifying it, maybe but if you do not have these 3 things figured out you will not have a foundation to improve in any other area, you won't have enough cash to pay staff to implement other improvements, you won't have time to make new decisions, etc.  It all begins with having processes to improve revenue, lower cost of goods and keep payroll controlled.


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Is Starting or Buying a Pharmacy Risky?

I am often asked this question.   My response is always the same.  It depends on you the individual.  Everyone looks at risk differently and everyone has a different definition of what risk is. 

I personally ask myself one question, is working for someone else safe?  Some say yes, you receive a bi-weekly check from a big company that will not fail in my lifetime and if you do a good job they will probably continue to employ you.  However to me the large company is less secure, they can make mistakes, be drastically affected by economy, go out of business or be sold and you lose your job or they have to lay you off to meet stockholder expectations.

On the other hand if you own your own business (especially a pharmacy) you can sell the business and you may be out of a job (you may not as you could work for the company that purchased your business) but at least you receive a reward in the form of money for the sale plus no one can let you go other than your customers.  In addition when you own your own business you can always advance your career, make more money and have more time and this cannot always be controlled while working for someone else.

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy and is not for everyone.  It may however come with the same amount of risk as working for someone else just different kind of risk.
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Buying or Starting Your Second Pharmacy

You own a pharmacy and want to expand to multiple locations.  You think to yourself getting financing will be easy as I have one successful business and already received funding for the first one.  Know this, it isn’t that easy.

Regularly we have owners who have already found their second pharmacy to purchase or have a great start up opportunity but cannot get the project funded.  I am sure you are thinking, they must not have a very good first business.  Wrong!  They have great businesses but either have poor financials that do not reflect how good their businesses are or they have “hidden” cash for taxes purposes.

When expanding your business whether through additional locations or simply getting capital to add a compounding lab the bank looks at your global cash flow inclusive of the new debt.    We see regularly owners maxing their 401k’s, buying robots, giving bonuses, etc and then their cash from year to year looks lower than what it really is and the bank cannot fund the new project.

So remember if your plans include expanding your operation and you will require capital, find a good accountant, get proper financials and when making decisions think about your free cash flow as it is represented on your tax return.
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