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

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Doing a Budget Makes you More Money

Doing a Budget Makes you More Money
Now that we all have computers in our pockets its hard to remember a time when we needed a roadmap. Some of my fondest memories are sitting in the front seat with the map unfolded and helping my Dad navigate our family trips. Even now we rely on our GPS to tell us where we are going and to get us safely to our destination.

That is what a budget does for your business.

As the famous philosopher, the Chesire Cat once said, "If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there". Without a well thought out budget we can not know where our business is headed and we are destined to allow distractions and bumps in the road to keep us from our goals. We would not think of starting out on a long journey with no directions and likewise we should not conduct our business without a clear vision of expectations.

The staff at Independent Rx Consulting will be glad to work with you to create an effective budget and keep you on track.

By the way, my family only got lost a time or two :)
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Who is your Biggest Customer?

As independent pharmacists we all know our best customers. Perhaps it is Mary who is on ten maintenance meds, or Joe who takes several high dollar medications, or Doc who brings donuts to the staff every Thursday. But who is responsible for depositing the most money into your account, who is your "best" customer? Unfortunately it is not Mary, or Joe, or Doc.

It's the PBMs.

Just as you take great pride in getting to understand Mary, Joe, and Doc you also have an obligation to understand your biggest payers. Who are your top five payers? What has been the trends of Rx filled, revenue, and margin? Has there been a change to the contract or enrollment? The Independent Rx Consulting Dashboard can have these answers at your fingertips along with every other metric that is vital to your business. Mary, Joe, and Doc will always be the heart of independepent pharmacy but knowing your numbers will allow you to continue to provide them with the service that can only come from an independent. By the way, tell Doc I prefer the jelly filled.
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Thoughts on Notifying the Staff when Buying a Pharmacy

You have done all your due diligence, you have built your business plan, you have signed the purchase agreement, and you are ready to assume ownership of the pharmacy. Now comes a very important step in the process. How do you inform the staff of the sale?

The best way to inform the staff is to have a meeting the evening before or the morning of the transition date. If the owner has not already informed the staff he should be the one to do so at the meeting. He should let them know that he has appreciated their help throughout the years and wanted to be sure to sell the store to someone who could carry on what he has built. By passing up chain store offers the store can continue to operate. He can tell them that that he understands things won’t be exactly the same but he has taken great care to be sure the store is in good hands. Then he should introduce you.

The first thing you should do is thank the owner for the opportunity and let him know you will do everything you can to take care of his “baby”. Let the staff know that pharmacy is a relationship business and there is no way the owner could have been successful without a great staff. And there is no way you will be successful without the great relationships that the staff has with the patients. That is why it is important that everyone will be given an opportunity to continue in their roles. Emphasize, you need great relationships to be successful not only with the patients but also with you.

However it is also important that you do not box yourself in with false promises. Everyone wants you to say “Don’t worry nothing will change” for no one likes change except a wet baby. You want to be reassuring but you must be honest. It is better to say “I won’t stand here today and say that nothing will change because I want our relationship to be built on honesty and I simply cannot make that promise”. Let them know change may or may not come after you spend the next few weeks learning the business and what and who makes it successful. Tell them you want to meet with each of them individually over the next few days and you will ask them what they like about their jobs and what things would they change if they were the owner. Say “I may or may not agree with you but I promise you I will always listen”.

Finally, reassure them that they are an important part of the business and you need their trust and their help. Try to answer broad questions but stay away from individual issues such as what will me schedule be, are you offering the same benefits, etc. Let them know you will address those issues when you meet with them individually.
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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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