Pharmacies are a vital link between doctors and patients. Consumers choose a pharmacy based on factors such as location, operating hours, quality of service and convenience. To increase business, you need either to improve existing service elements or develop new ways of generating business. Ideas for developing new business include adding clinical services, creating innovative marketing, improving customer interaction and building an online presence.
Talk to your customers. Anyone who has visited numerous pharmacies can attest that pharmacists are predominately focused on correctly filling prescriptions. Don't forget, though, that the patients on the other side of the counter are just like another store shopper. They want good customer service, friendly conversation and the feeling that the pharmacist is paying attention to their needs. Get to know customers. Address them by their first names. Develop relationships with them that go beyond their direct medical needs.
A study published in the "American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy" showed that by allowing pharmacy technicians to "enter drug orders into the computer, check other technicians and dispense certain drugs," overall productivity increased. Alter your training manual and operating methods to include greater responsibilities for the technicians. By increasing productivity, your pharmacy can take on more prescription orders and free valuable time for the pharmacist to talk to patients.
There is a growing need for pharmacists with clinical experience. Pharmacies can now be reimbursed for such services as diabetes management and medication therapy management. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 also allows for reimbursement for certain services provided to Medicare patients. Inform patients of the services available and try to "upsell" them.
Many pharmacies have evolved into fully stocked convenience stores. Develop a marketing campaign that advertises the qualities of the pharmacy. Market special offers such as the availability of flu shots, low-cost generic prescriptions and extended pharmacy hours. Offer incentive programs for loyal customers. Create a unique name for the pharmacy department or for the customer service offerings.
Add your pharmacy information to as many online business listing sites as you can. Many people look for a pharmacy with an Internet search, and you want your company to appear in the local listing results. The major location-based search engines include Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and AOL Local. Search Engine Guide provides a useful, detailed listing of almost all the other business listing sites (see References).
One of the hassles of getting a prescription filled is going to a pharmacy and having to wait to get your medication. Expedite your prescription filling process as much as possible. Add a remote order entry system so pharmacists can assist with order fulfillment during busy periods and after hours. Prioritize orders for customers who are in your pharmacy waiting. Offer phone calls to let patients know when the prescription is ready to be picked up. Develop relationships with doctors so you get approval calls returned quickly.