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Natural Pharmacy

How one pharmacy created a profitable niche business in natural health

Star Ratings

A breakdown of what Star Ratings mean for independent pharmacies

Front End, in Focus Boost your front-end sales with researchbacked ideas from the experts


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The Magazine of PBA Health

STAFF & CONTACTS Editorial Matthew Shamet - Publisher and Editorial Director Kellie Paxton - Graphic Designer Kirsten Hudson - Writer & Editor Kim Van Becelaere - Writer & Editor Interested in advertising? elements@pbahealth.com

Contents Departments 23 spotlight:

5 News:

10 Numbers to Know A look at independent pharmacy businesses by numbers. 6 Trends:

Simplifying Medicare Part D iMedicare is taking the hassle out of Medicare.gov for pharmacists and patients. 8 retail:

Here’s the Plan Strategy expert Mitch Goozé weighs in on creating a pharmacy strategic plan that works. 12 solutions:

Star Ratings How Star Ratings will determine access to Medicare Part D plans and what your pharmacy can do about it.

A Few Minutes with a Community Pharmacist We sit down with Anthony Sartoris, president of Doc’s Drugs, a regional pharmacy chain in Illinois, to talk business. 27 money:

Claims Check The need for an accurate and easy-to-use reconciliation service led Luxemburg Pharmacy to EnsurePay. 30 outlook:

Natural Pharmacy How O’Brien Pharmacy created a profitable niche business in natural health. 34 notes:

Feature: Front End, in Focus


Boost your front-end sales with researchbacked ideas and insights from the experts.

On Display Create an end cap display that grabs customers’ attention with these tips.


Explore exclusive online content to improve your business at www.pbahealth.com.

How to Make Your Pharmacy More Senior Friendly

Get more seniors into your pharmacy, and impress your current older patients, with these easy tips. Find the article on the Marketing section of www.pbahealth.com.

ELEMENTS is published quarterly by PBA Health. Copyright© 2014 PBA Health. All rights reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be reproduced without written permission by PBA Health.


To download order forms, go to pbahealth.com/pba-directory.aspx and select “Berry Plastics”.


Numbers to Know A look at independent pharmacy businesses by numbers

About 23,000 independent pharmacies are in business today. Despite pressure from mail order, third party reimbursements and brick-and-mortar competition, that number hasn’t changed significantly in recent years. What is changing is how independents do business. Take a look at the trends in independent pharmacy today and see how your pharmacy compares.

1 The majority of independent pharmacy owners have one location.


More than half of independent pharmacies are located in small communities with populations of less than 20,000.


Seven out of ten independent pharmacists identify reimbursement and third party pressure as their biggest challenge.


About 40 percent of pharmacies are offering compliance packaging or synchronized refills.



The average independent pharmacy is open six days a week and 55 hours per week.

About 66 percent of pharmacies have a store website and 63 percent of those websites include an option for patients to submit refill requests.



At just above 60 percent, immunizations are one of the most common services offered by independent pharmacies, followed by blood pressure monitoring (57 percent) and diabetes training (39 percent).


Pharmacies receive 30 percent of their prescriptions electronically. This is up from 2012 when about 24 percent of prescriptions were e-prescriptions. Sources: 2013 NCPA Digest; Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, a study by HDMA and Hamacher Resource Group

Independent pharmacies are getting social. About two-thirds (66 percent) use Facebook for their businesses. Only 12 percent use Twitter and 9 percent use Google+.


Average annual sales per pharmacy location were $3,854,158 in 2012.

Get daily news updates on issues that matter to your community pharmacy by following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pbahealth and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pba_health.

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Simplifying Medicare Part D iMedicare is taking the hassle out of Medicare.gov

A visit to Medicare.gov to help patients compare Part D plans can try the patience of even the most tolerant pharmacist. Frustration with the slow, complex and hard-to-navigate site is what inspired a tech-minded pharmacist to partner with a software developer to create iMedicare. iMedicare was designed specifically for independent pharmacists to make Medicare Part D plan comparisons drastically quicker and simpler. It can be used on a tablet, laptop or any device with an Internet connection. “You can do a comparison in less than one minute, as opposed to the 30 or 40 minutes it might take on Medicare.gov,” said Flaviu Simihaian, CEO of iMedicare. “One reason iMedicare can do that, besides the super-fast, easy to use interface, is that we integrate with virtually every computer system out there, so the pharmacy doesn’t have to enter any data,” he said. “They just import their patients’ information and medications right from their computer system.” A better Part D comparison Another big advantage of iMedicare is that it only shows plans that are in-network for the pharmacy using it. “Everything is specific to the pharmacy’s NPI, including reimbursement and plan cost, so you can see which plan is better or worse for the patient, as well as for the pharmacy,” Simihaian said. iMedicare also shows whether the pharmacy is “preferred” for each plan; points out plan restrictions, such as step therapy, prior authorization or quantity limits; and shows if a drug is covered or not. “If the drug isn’t covered on the plan, we show the pharmacy therapeutically-equivalent alternative drugs that are covered,” Simihaian said. “Instead of waiting hours on the phone with insurance companies to get this information, they can see it with one tap in the iMedicare application.” A flexible, year-round tool While the advantages of having iMedicare during open enrollment are obvious, it isn’t a program that


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In addition to showing plan costs for the patient, iMedicare indicates if the pharmacy using it is “preferred” for each plan, points out plan restrictions and shows if a drug is covered or not. hibernates during the rest of the year. Dual-eligible patients, people turning 65, patients who have moved, who have lost coverage, or who are beginning their coverage, frequently need assistance navigating Part D plans throughout the year. And because iMedicare can travel with you on a tablet or laptop, it offers a new way to go to where potential patients are. “It’s especially powerful when you use it outside of the pharmacy counter,” Simihaian said. “You can take it to nursing homes and retirement communities, or you can have a brown-bag lunch event at a community center. It’s a great way to gain new business from your community.”

Ready? More than 1,300 independent pharmacies are already using iMedicare to help their patients compare Part D plans. Getting started is quick and easy! Just go to www.imedicare.com/pbahealth from now through September and you can get special pricing reserved only for Elements readers.


Here’s the Plan

Strategy expert Mitch Goozé weighs in on creating a strategic plan that works for your pharmacy The words “strategic plan” can bring to mind a phone book-sized document full of corporate jargon. But strategic plans don’t have to be dull, and they don’t have to collect dust on a shelf. If approached thoughtfully, they’re excellent tools to grow business. We sat down with Mitch Goozé, an expert in strategic business planning, customer relationships and marketing, to talk strategy for independent pharmacy. He offered some practical advice on how to hammer out a strategic plan, stick to it, and create a pharmacy experience customers will come back for.

You’ve been helping businesses develop strategic plans for many years now. What are the biggest mistakes you see small businesses make, and what should they do instead? The two biggest mistakes they make are not having a goal and not understanding the need for a strategic plan. They either keep it all in their heads and believe they have a plan, or they just don’t have one at all. If it’s only in your head, then nobody can help you. The value in writing it down is that you can then share it.

How does a pharmacy owner go about making a strategic plan for the future? Start out by asking, ‘What’s the goal?’ Then, ‘What’s the strategy to achieve the goal?’ Next, pinpoint the critical success factors necessary and sufficient to execute the strategy and achieve the goal. For most pharmacies, there probably won’t be more than 10 critical success factors. The next step in the process is determining what key activities are required for each critical success factor to happen. The last step is to decide how you will measure and monitor the strategic plan. Because the world changes, and your plan might change with it.

Once a pharmacy has a strategic plan in place, what’s the biggest problem you see in terms of executing it? What most people do is they create a strategic plan that says: Here’s our vision; here’s our mission; here’s our strategy. And they’ll write down a lot of pontifications and use big words, and they never really get to ‘What do we have to do to make sure this happens?’ They impress whoever forced them to create a strategic plan, or themselves, and they put it on a shelf because it really isn’t part of their daily operations. That’s why I recommend completing a strategic


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execution process that focuses on the important question: What are we going to do? Your plan has to tie to what you are going to do, or it won’t make it off the shelf. (See page 10 for step-by-step instructions on the strategic execution process.) When setbacks come up, how do you recommend adapting a strategic plan to keep things moving forward? Quickly and appropriately ask yourself: Is my goal still reasonable? It isn’t just what happens in the outside world that makes it hard for your strategy to work; your goal might actually change. So step back and ask, ‘Is my goal still the right goal for me?’ Then, if you want to achieve that goal, decide if your current strategy will still make that happen. If your strategy is wrong, then you have to redo your strategy. If the strategy is still right but the critical success factors are no longer necessary or sufficient, then adapt at that level. If the critical success factors are still viable but the key activities won’t accomplish them, then you have to adjust those. So you start at the top, and as soon as the answer to any of those questions is ‘no,’ that’s where you have to make the change, and then the changes ripple down from there. Start at the top and work down, don’t start at the bottom and work up. you help retailers see their customers’ point of view. That can be hard to do. Do you have any tips? One of the things that I’ve noticed over the years is that great customer service is very rare. Many people have never experienced great customer service. And so one of the things that I recommend to independent retailers, including independent pharmacies, is to find some place near your town or in your town that has great customer service and take your staff there. Not to observe it, but to experience it. If there’s a restaurant in your town that

does a phenomenal job with service, take your staff out to dinner there. In southern California, people will take their staff to Disneyland®, so they can see how the people who work there make you feel special. As for what the pharmacist or the owner can do, I recommend that he or she walk around competitors’ pharmacies. And then, as often as you can, walk into your pharmacy at a different time of day. Just stop outside the store and look at the windows; look at the parking lot; look at the landscaping. Ask yourself, ‘Does this look like a store people would want to shop in?’ For example, if you have a neon sign, are all of the bulbs working? It makes you look sloppy if your neon bulbs are out. Is your parking lot clean? When you walk in the store is there trash? Pick it up! Teach your people to do that, too. Stop at the front door and then look. What do you see? Don’t be in a hurry to walk back to the pharmacy counter, put your coat on and go to work. Look at your store as if you were a customer and then do that in other stores, not even necessarily in the pharmacy category, and see what they do.

How can a pharmacy differentiate itself from its competition and why is that important? If you’re not going to sell on price, you have to create a valuable difference. Selling on price is a valuable difference, but only one business can be the low-price leader. For independent pharmacies, it’s more about customer experience. What customer experience are you trying to provide? To help figure out what makes your pharmacy different, ask this question: What would happen if my pharmacy closed? Other than your patients would have to find another pharmacy, and their prescriptions would have to be transferred. Forget all of that. What would they give up if they couldn’t buy from you anymore? What would they be missing? That’s how you find your value statement.

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Is there any other advice you’d like to share with pharmacy owners? There are going to be things that are outside of your control, but they’re outside of everybody’s control. What you have to do is go leverage the things that are to your advantage. You can’t get the old days back, so go make the new millennium work for you.

About the Expert Mitch Goozé is the president and founder of Customer Manufacturing Group, a company that helps businesses gain a competitive advantage in their market. He’s a recognized expert in marketing, strategic business planning and customer relationships.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Effective Strategic Plan According to strategic planning expert Mitch Goozé, companies fail to achieve their goals not because their plan is bad, but because of poor (or no) execution. Goozé helps the companies he advises stay out of this trap with a strategic execution process. This process is different from traditional strategic planning methods because it ties the goal laid out in the strategic plan to activities that will help achieve the goal. Here’s the fivestep strategic execution process that he uses.

1. Articulate your pharmacy’s goal There are two things to consider in setting the goal. First, it should be measurable. And second, it should be clear, so that anyone can objectively determine if it has been achieved. Example of a goal: Grow the business by five percent in the next three years.

2. Identify environmental influences Environmental influences are factors that you can monitor and predict, but that you can’t control. To complete this step, identify which of these factors present an opportunity (enablers), and which present an obstacle (barriers). Example of an environmental influence: Physicians in the area predict an increase in diabetic patients in the next five years.


Develop a strategy A successful strategy sets the business on a path that will allow it to take advantage of enablers and overcome obstacles. Keeping your strategy customer-focused will help it to succeed. Example of part of a strategy: Focus on capturing 20 percent of the diabetic patients in our service area.

4. Determine critical success factors Critical success factors are the things that are necessary and sufficient to achieve the goal. When they are all accomplished, the strategy will be executed and the goal will be achieved. Example of a critical success factor: Bring in 15 new diabetic patients to the pharmacy.

5. List key activities and key performance indicators Key activities are those things that need to be done to accomplish the critical success factors. Key performance indicators are the ways you monitor the key activities. Example of a key activity: Reach out to area physicians by writing and mailing a personalized letter detailing pharmacy services for diabetes patients. Follow up with an office visit or lunch meeting. Target = 5 referrals. Example of a key performance indicator: Track the number of patients the physician outreach campaign brings in.


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Star Ratings and What They Mean for Independent Pharmacies How a few stars will determine access to Medicare Part D and commercial drug plans What are star ratings? Since 2006, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have assigned an overall rating of 1 to 5 stars to Medicare Part D plans based on their performance. Similar to hotel ratings, the bestperforming plans receive a higher number of stars.

Medicare beneficiaries use Star Ratings to compare the quality of plans, but the Star Ratings have become more than just a comparison tool. They are beginning to affect pharmacies’ inclusion in Medicare Part D and other drug plans.

How your pharmacy affects Star Ratings Every year CMS revises the quality measures it uses to rate Medicare Part D plans, but one factor has remained consistent: the majority of a plan’s Star Rating (51 percent in 2015) is driven by pharmacies’ performance managing medication adherence and chronic disease.

Breakdown of a plan’s Star Rating: 10%

Member experience with drug plan



Drug pricing and patient safety

Based on member

Includes high-risk medication

satisfaction information.

considerations, diabetes treatment, and medication adherence for diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol.


Drug plan member complaints and Medicare audit findings Includes how often members filed a


complaint about the drug plan and

Drug plan customer service

the plan.

findings from Medicare’s audit of

Includes how well the drug plan handles calls and makes decisions about member appeals.

*Percentage that pharmacists contribute to a plan’s overall Star Rating Source: 2015 Star Ratings Measures via www.cms.gov Continued on page 14


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Plans are benefiting from high Star Ratings: They gain more members. Higher-rated plans are more attractive to prospective enrollees.

low-rated plans can switch to a 5-star rated plan at any time throughout the year.

They receive bonus payments. Medicare Advantage

They earn more marketing opportunities.

plans with high ratings can receive bonus payments from CMS. In 2012, CMS paid $3 billion in bonus payments to Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage plans with 5-star ratings are allowed to market to beneficiaries year round, not just during open enrollment.

They benefit from special enrollment. A standalone Medicare Part D plan with a 5-star rating can enroll members year round. Also, members in

The Problem: Plans are beginning to shut out pharmacies that don’t increase their Star Ratings. If your pharmacy participates in Medicare Part D, then CMS, PBMs and the plans are already looking at claims data about your business. They know how well your pharmacy is performing according to current established measurements. The plans are building networks, preferred networks, of high-performing pharmacies that help them achieve higher Star Ratings. Independent pharmacies’ ability to participate in these networks, and keep their patients, is no longer only about accepting lower reimbursements. It’s about how well they’re performing on these specific measurements. A pharmacy’s performance will soon affect its ability to negotiate favorable contracts with Medicare plans and PBMs. (Commercial plans probably won’t be far behind in implementing this model.) The question is: How can you negotiate favorable contracts if you don’t know your performance numbers?


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Sources: www.medicare.gov, www.cms.gov, www.kff.org

The Solution: Use a service to help you track and improve your pharmacy’s performance. You don’t have to guess at how to improve your pharmacy’s performance. EQuIPP (Electronic Quality Improvement Platform for Plans & Pharmacies) is an online management tool that illustrates how your pharmacy measures up to the medication-related quality metrics used by CMS. EQuIPP compiles data from health plans and pharmacies to serve as a neutral intermediary for quality measurement and benchmarking. Through EQuIPP, you can access the same data that CMS, PBMs and the plans are already looking at. And with access to your pharmacy’s data readily available, improving your Star Ratings becomes much easier. Learn more at www.equipp.org. Bonus: If you’re a customer of TriNet through PBA Health, you’ll soon have access to EQuIPP. Learn more at www.pbahealth.com.

Front End, in Focus Boost your front-end sales with research-backed ideas and insights from the experts By Kimberly Van Becelaere

Most pharmacists have detailed knowledge and quick access to information about their customers’ prescription purchases. Either from memory or with a few clicks, it’s easy to retrieve the month that Mr. Jones switched statins, or the brand of fibromyalgia medication Ms. Andersen prefers. That same kind of detail about customers’ front-end purchases, however, can be harder to track. A lack of reliable data and objective analysis has made the independent front-end shopper particularly hard to pin down. To clear up some of the mystery, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) and Hamacher Resource Group conducted a study on customers shopping independent pharmacy. The study, called Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, analyzes information gathered from surveys of independent pharmacists, point-of-sale (POS) data, and interviews with independent pharmacy shoppers. “This is the first time a study of this nature has been conducted in the independent pharmacy space,” said Dave Wendland, vice president of Hamacher Resource Group. “We wanted to identify who’s really shopping independent pharmacy, what they’re shopping for, and why they favor that community pharmacy experience.” With more detailed information about their front-end shoppers on hand, Wendland sees an opportunity for independent pharmacy owners. “There isn’t a single pharmacist I’ve spoken to in recent years who isn’t working harder and making less,” Wendland said. “I think there are a lot of pharmacists who, perhaps for the first time in a long time, have looked across the counter and said, ‘Wow, I’ve got 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 square feet of space that I’ve been using as a waiting room. I’d like to get back into the retail game.’” Whether you’re ready to get back into the retail game, or you just want to bring a bit more attention to your frontend business, read on for new ideas and insight. We’ve pulled out some of the primary takeaways from the study and asked the experts at Hamacher for practical ways to make them work in any pharmacy.


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3 Surprising Front End Facts A study on independent pharmacy shoppers, called Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, conducted by HDMA and Hamacher Resource Group confirmed some information that pharmacists likely already suspected. (Customers named “service” as the number one reason they shop independent pharmacy, for example.) Some of the other findings, however, are probably less obvious. Here are three front-end findings you may not have realized. 1. It’s not just the elderly shopping independents. A large population of baby boomers and even millennials prefer independent pharmacy. This is especially true for more ethnically diverse areas. “Take a multi-generational Hispanic household for example, where the grandmother and grandfather always went to the local farmacia,” said Dave Wendland, vice president of Hamacher Resource Group. “Now their kids are going there too, and they aren’t just shopping for mom or dad. Often, they’re shopping for themselves and possibly for pediatrics products for their own children.”

Trust for their pharmacist, friendly staff, and wanting to shop locally are the top three reasons the customers interviewed preferred to shop independent pharmacy. The takeaway: Customers trust the expertise of pharmacists for more than prescriptions. A significant portion of shoppers interviewed—69 percent—said they seek information on OTC items from their pharmacist the most often. That’s more than doctors, friends and family, the Internet, advertising and television combined. “One of the things independent pharmacies can do to increase their front-end sales almost immediately is to tend to the customers already coming into the store by offering more OTC recommendations,” Wendland said. “These patients likely have needs for the items that already exist in the front of the store.” That extra level of expertise offered by the pharmacist can help assure customers that they’re choosing the right product for them. And adding just one more item to customers’ baskets can have a big effect on profits. “If one out of 10 customers bought one more thing, the net effect on profitability is nearly double,” said Tom Boyer, director of national accounts for Hamacher. Boyer noted that a good place to start is to link OTC recommendations to the prescription side of the

2. Dollar stores are emerging as competitors to independents. With many people looking to save money on health products, discount retailers have expanded their health and wellness offerings in recent years. Former chain pharmacy executives have also taken the reins at companies like Family Dollar. “Their DNA has changed,” said Wendland. “They could be a destination as a second or third choice to a drug store.” 3. Independent pharmacies as a retail channel aren’t in decline. In fact, 73 percent of the pharmacists surveyed in the study reported their front end as either “growing” or “holding steady.” With margins declining on the prescription side and a rising trend in self-medication, front-end sales could prove to be an important profit area for independents going forward. “It’s vital that pharmacists recognize the business opportunity in caring for the needs of patients making selfmedication choices or relying on home care products,” Wendland said. And while front-end sales may comprise a smaller part of the business, the margins are consistently better. The POS data from the study showed the average gross margin for front end to be 38 percent. The total store average (including the prescription department) was only 23 percent.

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business. “Whether it’s recommending a probiotic with an antibiotic or a CoQ10 with a statin drug, it’s a pretty simple add-on capability that brings value to the customer,” he said. If time or unease interacting with the public is an issue, there are ways to recommend products to customers without saying a word. “Add-on sales can take a lot of different paths,” Wendland said. “One is certainly the direct conversation. Another is an indirect inference that these products work. Putting signs on the shelves that identify products that are good for patients with high blood pressure or heart disease is a great opportunity to communicate silently to the customer.” “If you can’t get out from behind the counter, put together an ‘Our Pharmacist Recommends’ display. It could be an end cap display by the pharmacy or something on the counter. The key is to put your name on the dotted line.” While pharmacists’ recommendations carry a lot of weight with customers, an engaged staff can also be a powerful––and profitable––support to pharmacists’ expertise. Wendland recommends store meetings to empower staff to help customers with their OTC purchases. “Better training and equipping a staff to interact with customers is paramount,” Wendland said. “And it isn’t just about having them walk over and say ‘Did you find everything you needed?’ but rather engaging that shopper in the aisles in a way that is helpful, courteous, and committed to making it a good experience.” “Just walking the aisles with staff is very helpful,” he said. “It gives you the chance to say ‘Show me what you’ve done with this department,’ or to ask what new items they’re excited about. It will make a big difference and it doesn’t cost a penny. Plus it reinforces the importance of the front of the store to the front-end team.”

The takeaway: The more often customers come into your pharmacy, the more front-end merchandise they buy. Frequency of pharmacy visits has a measurable influence on the volume of front-end purchases. But in-store experience can make a big difference in how often, and how long, customers stay. Hamacher helps pharmacies create an in-store experience that keeps customers coming back through its 360-degree store assessment program. “We always start with store experience and ambiance,” Wendland said. “But I even go as far back as the parking lot and


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Sixty-nine percent of shoppers interviewed said they seek information on OTC items from their pharmacist most often. That’s more than doctors, friends and family, the Internet, advertising and television combined.

ask if people recognize the storefront as a pharmacy that’s in business and that looks welcoming.” “I think it boils down to first impressions, both inside and out,” Boyer said. “What’s the first impression of not only your existing customers, but new customers? Is the pharmacy difficult to get around? Is the staff immediately visible and engaged? Is it vibrant; does it have energy?” To gain insight into a customer’s first impression, Wendland recommends a simple exercise. “I like to walk through the front door with the entire staff, including the pharmacist, the front-end staff and the technicians,” he said. “I give them each a blank sheet of paper and I tell them to write down what they see in the first seven seconds of walking in the store.” “At one pharmacy we worked with, the pharmacist was surprised that the first things his staff saw were inflatable toys, stuffed animals and greeting cards,” he said. “None of it said ‘wellness,’ ‘pharmacy’ or ‘health.’” Creating a positive in-store experience for customers isn’t something that pharmacists have to do alone.

By using resources like planograms and in-store merchandising, it’s easier to arrange the pharmacy in a way that customers find approachable. According to the study, the pharmacists who reported front-end growth were more likely to rely almost equally on planograms and in-store merchandisers than those who indicated that their sales were decreasing or holding steady. The implication is that stores committed to front-end growth recognize the importance of carrying the right products, in the right places, with the right pricing and promotion.

The takeaway: Customers are in and out quickly. Make that time count by cutting clutter and focusing customers’ attention on star-performers. Customers typically spend 15 minutes or less inside the pharmacy, the study found. The challenge for pharmacy owners is to make those 15 minutes as productive as possible.

A good place to start is by taking a critical look at what’s on the shelves and deciding if it should be there. “I think retailers sometimes fall into a trap of thinking ‘I need this product’ or ‘I need that category,’” Boyer said. “The better approach is to focus on what merchandise your customers want.” Boyer noted that there are lots of ways to find out what your customers want to buy, including using demographic analysis, sales analysis, looking at what the competition is selling, and simply talking with patients. Another helpful approach is to look at trends in frontend items and changes in the health care marketplace, and use those to your advantage. “The good news about the Affordable Care Act is it’s going to create more patients getting scripts,” Boyer said. “It’s almost certain pharmacists are going to get more traffic in their stores, not only for scripts, but also for other health essentials.” A growing number of patients interested in preventive health is another market force that Boyer recommends pharmacists take advantage of. “In this era of the Affordable Care Act, self-medication and wellness promotion, I think independents need to focus more on being that health care entity that they really are,” he said. Keeping a finger to the pulse of front-end and OTC trends is a good way to anticipate patients’ needs and maximize those 15 minutes they spend in the pharmacy. “One of the fastest growing categories of drugs in general is the sleep aids category,” Wendland said. “Another fast-growing trend right now is probiotics. I’d even add to that natural and homeopathy in general. And the independents can benefit from riding that wave.” The trend towards natural products doesn’t necessarily mean patients have become distrustful of traditional OTC medicines, Wendland said. Rather, they are interested in bringing natural medicine into the fold. Another area Wendland recommends pharmacists pay close attention to is Rx-OTC switches. “Independents should stay very attuned to Rx-OTC switches and not

Rush Hour Knowing when your front end is the busiest makes it easier to plan promotions and staff the pharmacy. Here are the busiest times for front-end sales, on average. October – Highest sales month for front-end items Friday – Day that typically generates the most front-end dollars 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Busiest time of day for front-end sales Source: Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, HDMA, Hamacher Resource Group

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lose that business to some other channel,” Wendland said. “Three recent examples include Oxytrol®, Nasacort® and Nexium®. But there are others that appear to be poised for switch as well.”

“Independent pharmacies should be on a managed pricing program,” Boyer said. “Especially with store brand or private label, that’s an area where we really see a missed opportunity. The basic premise of your store brand or private label retail is that it has a relationship to the comparable national brand. Some The takeaway: Customers like choice in pharmacists mark up their store brand or private retailers. Capture more label from cost. That’s a of their purchases no-no. Because they’re with merchandising, really missing a profit for marketing and pricing themselves.” strategies. The problem with marking Customers rarely shop at just up from cost boils down to one retailer. They rely on a customer perception, Boyer variety of outlets for their OTC said. And it’s a case where and personal care purchases, pricing that’s too competitive the survey found. The top two can work against the sale. competitors for independents, “If you have a national according to shoppers, are brand at $4.99, for example, mass merchants and chain and let’s say your store brand drugstores. is $1.99. That’s a pretty wide In order to compete, spread. So the consumer Wendland and Boyer may think, ‘Is that an inferior recommend pharmacists product?’ Really that product draw on some techniques should be priced around used by big box retailers, $3.89 or $3.99. Under a while emphasizing the managed pricing program, competitive advantages of you have a system in place independents. that prices the store brand or “The shopper study private label to the national revealed that there were brand equivalent.” three things that independent Another area where pharmacy patrons preferred independents can take a cue about independent from big retailers is through pharmacies,” Wendland optimization of end cap said. “One was the trust displays. “End caps are the Offering OTC recommendations that link to prescription sales–such as a and respect they had for the probiotic with an antibiotic or a CoQ10 with a statin drug–is an easy way second most-shopped area pharmacist. Second was in a store, and it’s probably to increase front-end sales. the fact that it was in their one of the weakest links in community and the dollars being spent there were staying community pharmacy today,” Wendland said. in the community. And the third was the friendliness.” Boyer suggests focusing end cap displays on areas Finding ways to reinforce these positives to that would be of greatest interest to customers, such as customers can boost loyalty and help pull more of disease state management, women’s health or preventive their business from competitors. There are some care. “Beyond just having the typical cold and allergy or things, however, that big retailers typically do better vitamin display, think of areas where you could create a than independents. Wendland and Boyer offer a few type of store-within-a-store along the lines of disease state suggestions on applying chain-like business strategies management or wellness and health promotion,” he said. to independent pharmacy.


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Pharmacy Shoppers: Profiled A breakdown of five key types of consumers shopping your pharmacy

What types of people are shopping in your pharmacy’s front end? A recent study, Independent Pharmacy Shoppers: Who, What, and Why?, conducted by the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA) and Hamacher Resource Group, identified five categories of shoppers that frequent independent pharmacies. The Efficient Economist Age: 51-64+ Gender: Female: 66%, Male: 34% These practical shoppers want to get their shopping done conveniently and cost-effectively. They don’t splurge on trendy items, but instead choose everyday essentials for health and wellness. These shoppers typically seek out vitamins, nutritionals and home fitness products.

The Conscientious Carer Age: 41-74 Gender: Female: 70%, Male: 30% Often caring for an aging parent or spouse, these shoppers frequent the pharmacy for prescriptions and to seek advice from the pharmacist. They value convenience and tend to pre-plan their shopping trips. They typically look for health care, wound care, nutrition, skin care and OTC products.

The Long-Time Loyalist Age: 65+ Gender: Female: 65%, Male: 35% These shoppers are committed to supporting local businesses. They appreciate excellent service and tend to make deliberate choices about what they buy. An endorsement from this type of shopper can mean gaining new customers.

The Grab-and-Go Getter Age: Under 25-40 Gender: Female: 75%, Male: 25% These infrequent shoppers come into the pharmacy with a specific front-end purchase in mind. What they need changes with each visit. These shoppers are also likely to make an impulse purchase, like a snack or beverage.

The Apathetic Active Age: 26-64 Gender: Female: 70%, Male: 30% These shoppers aren’t in the store to browse. They want to make good health and wellness purchases, but they feel pressured for time and always seem in a hurry. Most of their purchases are planned, but they may consider adding wellness and prevention products and services that catch their attention, such as flu shots.

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source for flu vaccines.

Preparation is a form of prevention…and profit. Don’t lose patients due to an under-stocked inventory. Through our association with the Federation of Pharmacy Networks (FPN), PBA Health is giving your pharmacy the ability to pre-book and receive contracted pricing on the flu vaccinations you need. Our endorsed vaccination partners are: • Novartis • FFF • InSource

Selections include pre-filled syringes, intradermal patches, sprayers, multisource vials and a full range of dosage choices for all your patient’s specific needs and ages. Pre-book your vaccines as soon as possible—orders are shipped on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. A full list of manufacturers, up-tothe-minute pricing information, and forms can be found on the PBA Health website. Don’t wait, order today. Because being prepared is one more way you can be profitable.

Download an order form online today.



A Few Minutes with a Community Pharmacist Anthony Sartoris is president of Doc’s Drugs, a regional chain of independent pharmacies in Illinois. We talked with Anthony about his business, what’s made Doc’s Drugs successful, and what he sees ahead for independent pharmacy.

Tell us about Doc’s Drugs. How did the pharmacy chain get started? My dad––Dave Sartoris––was a Walgreens regional vice president for more than 20 years, but he always wanted to go off on his own. One day the owner of the corner drugstore in Pontiac, Illinois, called Walgreens to ask if they wanted to buy the store. Walgreens sent my dad to take a look at it. It was a downtown location, around 4,000 square feet. He knew it wasn’t right for Walgreens, but it was right for him. So he bought the store and moved his family to Pontiac. We’ve been in business for 35 years now and have 16 pharmacies. With 16 stores you probably have a lot of front-end real estate. Do you have a strategy for your front end? Our strategy is this: be different and be innovative. We’re really selective in what we do. We try to make it so that when customers come in, they always see something different. If you go into a chain drugstore, there’s no personality to the merchandising or to the merchandise. I tell my buy team, ‘If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not pushing the envelope.’ If you’re not getting hits on items, start reducing the price until you find a sweet spot where it sells. And if your sweet spot isn’t giving you much margin, it’s a closeout. Get rid of it; don’t go there again. That’s not a mistake. A mistake is when you don’t do anything about a bad buy.

Anthony Sartoris, president of Doc’s Drugs, has been involved with his family’s pharmacy business since it was founded in 1978.

Are there certain front-end categories that are expanding or products that are selling well? Vitamins are one of our top wellness items that we sell in our pharmacies. My dad was huge on vitamins. We’ve still got people on vitamins that my dad put them on. We have a 1-cent sale twice a year. For our last one, vitamin sales were in excess of $100,000. Also––and this one surprised me––we sell a lot of Melissa & Doug® toys. We bought a competitor’s store and they had some of that product. I told our operations manager to get rid of it. But he thought it was worth trying to sell, so he merchandised it in his store and it did really well. It was a line that I wanted to close out and now it’s a mainstay in our department. What has really driven our front end, more than anything we’ve ever done, is our loyalty program, Doc’s Advantage. We have 35,000 loyalty customers and we send out Doc’s Advantage points once a month for $10 off a $20 purchase. People come in when they get those. That has really driven our front-end numbers. Do you manage that program in-house? We looked at an off-site company, but we found out that our POS system has a way of tracking and printing the rewards. We’re pretty generous with the points. We look at what our cost is and we track every coupon we redeem. It’s a $20 minimum purchase to get $10 off, and our average sale is between $50 and $60.

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What is your pharmacy known for? I think it’s our service. My dad’s mantra was to treat every customer as if they were your own mother. When somebody comes to you with a problem, a lot of times you hear people say ‘We can’t do that.’ But if it were their mom, they’d figure out a way. For certain things, you may have to tell them no. But you don’t have to be indifferent about it. We’re not going to say ‘You’ve got to call your insurance company.’ We’ll call for them. Also, we started with specialty pharmacy in September, and we’ve seen our revenues grow significantly. Independent pharmacies can deliver specialty the way it’s supposed to be delivered. We don’t give training on a YouTube video or a CD. Patients work with the pharmacist face-to-face.

were very internalized. Then about four years ago, I got involved with a local group of independent pharmacy owners. It’s been the best investment I’ve made. I think peer-to-peer interaction, the mutual sharing of ideas and best practices, and talking through problems has been really helpful. I’ve met so many awesome pharmacy owners. We’re in the same business and we all have the same problems. There are people out there who may not have found the solution, but they’ve found a way around it, or they’ve found a way to enhance what they have. I’m getting so much out of what others are doing, and I try to share back. I think that’s important. And that’s made us successful. What else has contributed to your success? My team. We’ve got a great bunch of people working with us. There are so many programs that we offer, and we have individual pharmacists who are running them. We give them time to do that. I’d say over half of our pharmacists are engaged at a corporate level as opposed to just their own store. And it’s voluntary. They come to us and say, ‘We want to do more.’ When we go to conferences now we’re bringing them along. We want to get everyone exposed to what’s new and what’s different.

“You hear how we’re supposed to speak with one voice, but I disagree. I think we need to speak with one message, but I don’t think one voice is loud enough.”

Was it difficult to get into specialty pharmacy? How did you go about doing that? It’s a funny story. I was sitting at my desk reading the specialty pharmacy magazine from Drug Topics. And I was thinking, ‘How are we going to get into this?’ Right then I got a phone call from our attorney and he asked what we were doing to get into specialty pharmacy. I said, ‘Do you have my office bugged or something?’ I told him I was just reading about it, but I had no idea how to get into it. He said he knew someone who could help and that’s how I heard about Rinku Patel, Pharm.D., a consultant on independent specialty pharmacy strategy. I met with her and not only did she have the right concept, I don’t think there’s anyone out there who knows more about specialty pharmacy than she does.

It seems like you have adapted well in a changing environment. What are some of the ways your pharmacy has evolved over the years? We never used to go to tradeshows or conferences. We


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What concerns you about the community pharmacy business today? Not having Any Willing Provider access is the biggest threat that we have. That’s why I got together with other independent pharmacy owners and pharmacists and we formed AccessRx America. And that’s our goal: the restoration of the Any Willing Provider provision. You hear how we’re supposed to speak with one voice, but I disagree. I think we need to speak with one message, but I don’t think one voice is loud enough. We have the same message, just a different voice, and maybe a bit louder in areas that someone else’s voice isn’t reaching.


What makes you optimistic about the community pharmacy business today? Everything rides on a pendulum. The way pharmacy is now, prescriptions are being consolidated into bigger entities. What that’s going to show is that the service is horrible and the outcomes are horrible. And their customers’ health is going to suffer. I think it’s going to get to a point where people are going to realize it isn’t working. I was talking to a friend who said, ‘Well what if that doesn’t work? What if we get our Star Ratings up really high and we’re still blocked out of preferred networks?’ Here was my answer. We can do all this work and we might fail. But if we do nothing, we are guaranteed to fail. Common sense has got to prevail in the end. Because I cannot fathom that the outcomes coming from a Walmart that staples a monograph to a bag and calls it counseling are going to be as good as the outcomes from pharmacies that really work with their patients, that put them on an adherence program, that work with the doctor on alternatives, and that counsel patients face-to-face. Do you have any advice to share with other independent pharmacists or pharmacy owners? Get involved. And that means you’ve got to open your wallet. You can’t just sit back and pay $50 a year and expect something to get done. You need to be engaged financially and politically. Line yourself up with an organization that makes the most sense to you and lend your voice to that organization. Not just your checkbook, your voice and your checkbook. Get involved professionally; go to conferences. There are a lot of things going on out there. Get out from behind the counter and see what’s working for people. Then bring it back and execute it in your pharmacy. What’s your vision for your pharmacy over the next few years? I’d like to see us––through efficiencies, synchronization and refill reminders––free up time for our pharmacists, so they can focus on patient care. If we could take some of the mundane process of transferring pills from one bottle to another away, then our pharmacists and staff will have more time to do cognitive services. I see us not filling as many prescriptions, but taking care of even more patients.

Following his father’s mantra to treat customers like family, Anthony Sartoris has grown Doc’s Drugs into a regional independent pharmacy chain with 16 locations in Illinois.

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Claims Check The need for an accurate and easy-to-use reconciliation service led Luxemburg Pharmacy to EnsurePay Until a few years ago, Luxemburg Pharmacy in Luxemburg, Wisconsin, was reconciling all of its claims manually. However, the time and expense of that process had started to take a toll. “It got to where we could no longer support the staff in terms of the time it was taking to do it by hand,” said Chris Seidl, R.Ph., owner of Luxemburg Pharmacy. “At that point, we went looking for another option.” Seidl turned to PBA Health’s EnsurePay, an automated service that allows pharmacies to quickly and accurately reconcile payments received on third party claims. “I knew they interfaced with our software, and that was a huge plus,” Seidl said. “I had been using PBA Health for contracting so I was comfortable with the people and I trusted them.” Since getting started with EnsurePay, Seidl has cut hours off the time her staff spends reconciling claims. It has also allowed her to bring a new level of accountability and accuracy to the process, which just wasn’t possible with manual reconciling. “It’s nice to know when we have a check missing, or if something wasn’t reimbursed what we thought it would be,” Seidl said. “Now we’ve got people to go to, who can help us solve those problems. The people at EnsurePay are fabulously friendly and helpful. Never have I called and wished I hadn’t, or wished I was speaking with a different person. Everyone there is very helpful.” The EnsurePay advantage Using EnsurePay, pharmacies can reconcile quickly, easily and accurately. It’s a simple process that takes just minutes.

Barb Alsteen, reconciliation specialist at Luxemburg Pharmacy, is able to reconcile third party claims more quickly, easily and accurately using EnsurePay.

First, the pharmacy imports its remittance files from EnsurePay and compares them to incoming payments. Once payment has been confirmed, the file can be reconciled electronically. The pharmacy can also create and print reports and monitor payment discrepancies at a glance. Compared to alternative reconciliation services, EnsurePay offers some distinct advantages. Unlike other options that outsource reconciliation, EnsurePay lets pharmacies manage everything in-house. This means claims data stays securely within the pharmacy’s computer system, not with a separate vendor. And since EnsurePay doesn’t rely on central pay intermediaries, money goes straight to pharmacies. EnsurePay never interferes with reimbursement checks like some services do, so payments don’t get held up.

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A new approach Just starting out with an electronic reconciliation system, ease of use was important for Seidl and for the pharmacy’s reconciliation specialist, Barb Alsteen. EnsurePay was able to offer the kind of powerful remittance tools they needed, without unnecessary complexity. “EnsurePay isn’t complicated at all,” Seidl said. “Everything is very straightforward. Reports are easy to print and it works well with our software.” Having a reliable, easy-to-use interface has freed up time for the whole pharmacy team––and cut down considerably on hassle. “Before EnsurePay, we would spend a lot more time reconciling,” Seidl said. “And there were times where we wouldn’t have the time or the staff to look at everything. We’d just have to file it and hope and pray it was right. Not only does EnsurePay save us time, it actually gets the job done. It’s nice to be able to print a report and identify what payments haven’t been made, or which ones are overdue. It’s so clean-cut and very nice to have that comfort, that peace of mind.” EnsurePay has brought another welcome dimension to Luxemburg Pharmacy’s claims reconciliation: a support team that’s there to help if reimbursements aren’t correct, or if a check goes missing. “It’s happened a couple of different times that a check went missing,” Seidl said. “First of all it was easy to recognize, ‘Hey, we don’t have this check,’ and then even easier to call EnsurePay and say, ‘Can you help us find this?’ They were right on it helping us figure out where it was.”

Is EnsurePay right for your pharmacy? Here are just a few of the reasons customers choose to reconcile with EnsurePay.

Ease of Use EnsurePay is a powerful and accurate claims reconciliation tool that works at the fast pace of pharmacy. Identify partial or missing checks, track payments, and print reports easily, without jumping through hoops. User Control With EnsurePay, your data stays securely within your pharmacy computer system. This allows you to easily track expected payments and reconcile on your own schedule. And since payments are reconciled within your pharmacy system, you’ll always have a clear picture of what is still owed. Software Compusolve, Computer-Rx and Speed Script management systems have EnsurePay built in, making reconciliation a seamless operation. EnsurePay’s online web service also offers compatibility with other leading systems’ platforms. Exceptional Support EnsurePay offers users best-in-class customer support, with friendly and knowledgeable staff always ready to take your call and help resolve any payment issues quickly. Simple Setup Implementing EnsurePay is easy and safe, and PBA Health’s team of specialists handles all aspects of the setup for you.

Get Started Call PBA Health at 800-333-8097 or email ensurepay@pbahealth.com for a free, no obligation 30-day trial.


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Remember learning about inventory management in pharmacy school? Maybe it’s because you were busy learning to be a pharmacist. Managing inventory is easy, if you have the right tools. That’s why there’s ProfitGuard. ProfitGuard automatically tracks your purchasing, so you don’t have to. You’ll see at-a-glance where

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Natural Pharmacy

How O’Brien Pharmacy created a profitable niche business in natural health By Kirsten Hudson

When O’Brien Pharmacy in Mission, Kan., started to focus on compounding and natural health, the move wasn’t to improve the bottom line. It was to help patients. The pharmacy’s success came after that. “I believe success is built out of serving your community,” said Lisa Everett Andersen, R.Ph., CCN, co-owner of O’Brien Pharmacy. “It’s about serving the needs of your particular community and your patient base, and I believe that’s the most successful formula for a profitable business of any kind.” Everett Andersen and her brother and co-owner, Eric Everett, R.Ph., decided to move away from traditional dispensing and stop accepting insurance about 20 years ago after listening to their patients. Many of their patients wanted to know something completely different—how to take fewer or no medications. Offering lifestyle tips through one-on-one consultations and creating specialized medications through high quality compounding provided the answers many of their patients needed to reach their health goals. That didn’t mean the co-owners weren’t nervous to jump off the insurance grid and stop filling traditional scripts. “We were scared,” Everett Andersen said. “We thought everybody would hightail it to the local Walmart. What we found is that many people wouldn’t go.” Today, the pharmacy’s stock of conventional medications can fit on one shelf. Growing from their roots Focusing on patients’ needs led the co-owners to create a niche business that was a perfect fit for them, and for the legacy of their pharmacy. “We were able to go back to doing the counseling and spending the time with patients that set our pharmacy apart years ago,” Everett Andersen said. Their father, Harry Everett, and his business partner, Henry O’Brien, opened the pharmacy in 1962. Like most pharmacies back then, O’Brien Pharmacy did a lot of compounding, and continued to do so after many other pharmacies stopped. When the siblings took over, they wanted to continue that tradition of best serving patients. “We were determined to reclaim our practice as


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Lisa Everett Andersen, R.Ph., CCN, co-owner of O’Brien Pharmacy, helped focus the pharmacy on providing compounding and natural medicine. pharmacists,” Everett Andersen said. And it has worked for them. Today, O’Brien Pharmacy has earned a reputation as one of the top compounding pharmacies in the nation. It’s also recognized as a national leader in natural health, sterile products and natural hormone replacement. The PCAB-accredited pharmacy features ISO 7 environments, three compounding aseptic isolators and high tech equipment such as an autoclave, a high-speed homogenizer, ointment mills, an electronic mortar and pestle, four analytical balances, four Air Clean powder containment hoods and three in-house incubators. O’Brien Pharmacy is licensed in 36 states and has served patients in other countries with referrals from doctors’ offices, surgical centers, chiropractors, nurse practitioners and more. O’Brien pharmacy has been involved in almost 20 drug studies and is currently


participating in three FDA-approved studies. “If you want to be in a niche business, you have to evolve,” Everett Andersen said. “You have to be willing to change your ideas, change your format and change what you do.” Specializing in natural medicine The co-owners opened the Kansas City Holistic Centre alongside the pharmacy about 20 years ago to provide even more natural health options for patients. The Holistic Centre treats a variety of conditions through homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, nutritional consultation, botanical and herbal medicine and therapy. “It’s about coaching people to change lifestyles and to know how to use specific herbs, nutritional supplements and homeopathic medicine to effect a change,” Everett Andersen said. “People come in with all kinds of chronic illness and disease that are absolutely reversible.” The building that houses O’Brien Pharmacy and the Kansas City Holistic Centre also features a front end filled with natural vitamins, supplements and products. Everett Andersen handpicks each product in

the front end for quality. “I’ve done the homework and the footwork on all of our products,” she said. The front end is also home to a multivitamin and an antioxidant formula that Everett Andersen developed herself to help patients. “I didn’t do it to make money. It actually saves patients money. It’s the least expensive if you compare milligrams to milligrams and quality to quality and grades to grades. And it’s the most effective,” she said.

O’Brien Pharmacy in Mission, Kan., features a front end filled with only natural vitamins, supplements and products. Lisa Everett Andersen, co-owner of O’Brien Pharmacy, handpicks each product for its quality and effectiveness. She also developed a multivitamin and an antioxidant formula from scratch that are both sold in the front end.

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Becoming natural health experts Patients seek out O’Brien Pharmacy (and the Kansas City Holistic Centre) because it has earned a reputation as the place to go for natural health. And because patients see results. “We get patients through word of mouth,” Everett Andersen said. “The mother gets better, so the husband comes in and then his brother and two cousins.” Everett Andersen also lectures regularly to health practitioners at conferences, symposiums, associations, hospitals and universities across the country. Her continuing education programs help spread the word about the pharmacy, and often increase patient referrals. “The Holistic Centre part of the business, the compounding, and all of it grows in part because I’ve lectured for so many years,” she said.

go down to two pharmacists from the four they employed at the time. Instead, they hired two more pharmacists and three technicians. “That year, did we feel like we could afford to hire more pharmacists? No. But every time we hired, those people have more than paid for themselves,” she said. Striving to keep those employees happy has also helped the business remain strong. “Great customer service comes in part from having happy employees who also want to serve their community,” she said. “It’s not just a job for them.” O’Brien Pharmacy tries to make employees’ happiness a top priority through regular team meetings, bonuses, reasonable work hours and a pleasant work environment.

“Make sure you own a pharmacy or are a pharmacist because it’s your passion to do that work every day,” she said. “And make sure what you’re doing serves your community.”

A formula for success Success in business starts with a commitment to your craft, Everett Andersen said. “Make sure you own a pharmacy or are a pharmacist because it’s your passion to do that work every day,” she said. “And make sure what you’re doing serves your community.” She also advises pharmacists to be willing to spend money to make money. “I have found in general that people will open a pharmacy and are underfunded,” she said. “One of the biggest problems I see in compounding pharmacies is that they’re oneman operations. They’re trying to fill prescriptions, compound, do the books. They’re not willing to let go of money to hire the help they need.” “If I could suggest anything to other pharmacy owners or potential owners, it would be to hire enough staff, so you can think and move,” she said. “So you have time to think about what’s important to you and what your patients want.” Hiring enough staff helped O’Brien Pharmacy. When the pharmacy stopped accepting insurance and filling conventional prescriptions, the co-owners were prepared to


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Recognizing future opportunities Everett Andersen’s role in the pharmacy has evolved through the years to include more consulting work. Today, she provides consultations for the toughest cases that come in, such as patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. And she sees the future of the profession moving toward pharmacist consultation. “I see it going in the direction of being paid for what’s in your head and not what you sell,” she said. “When the chain stores came out, people used to fill some prescriptions with them, some prescriptions with us, but they’d always call us with questions. They wanted to call us for the brain stuff and go there for the price. And that’s hardly fair.” She suggests pharmacists make themselves available to patients and charge for the more in-depth consultations they provide. “I think pharmacists are potentially the last accessible healthcare provider for patients,” she said. Pharmacist consultation isn’t the only health trend she sees growing. “I think people are going to move toward natural medicine. I think that’s the way of the future,” she said. “And who’s poised to advise on natural medicine better than a pharmacist?”

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On Display End caps are the second most-shopped areas in a store, and can be areas of unrealized potential for independent pharmacies. Take your pharmacy’s end caps to the next level by following these tips from Hamacher Resource Group, an expert in retail category management, market research and marketing services. Pick your theme. “Heart Health Month” for February, “Summer Skin Protection” for summer (sunscreen, lip balms, bug sprays, first aid) or “New Items” are just a few options. Less is more. Select fewer products and stock them deeper with at least four facings. Grab attention. Use visual design concepts, such as price point or informational signs, to attract customers’ attention. Offer a tester. Allow customers to sample certain products, such as hand lotions or wrapped cough drops, to drive impulse purchases. Refresh often. An end cap is promotional and should be refreshed at least once per month. Group like products. For the biggest merchandising effect, run one product or like products across a full shelf. The more shelves you use for like product types, the greater the effect. Position shelves. Eliminate excess air space between the top of the product and the shelf above to give a well-stocked look. Make the most of your end caps by grouping like products, positioning shelves to eliminate excess air space, and choosing fewer items that are stocked deeper.


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Spread the word. Talk to your customers about items on end caps and train your sales staff to suggest products or endorse ones they’ve tried and liked.

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Elegance at its best, accuracy without compromise.




Profile for Elements magazine

Elements Magazine - Vol.3 Iss.2 June 2014  

Elements Magazine - Vol.3 Iss.2 June 2014  

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