It’s a familiar refrain for all of us at this time of year. As John Lennon so eloquently put it: “…and so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun….” .
I guess what he was trying to say is that now is the perfect time to reflect. And what I would encourage you to do is not only to reflect but, equally importantly, make a plan for 2017. The best kind is an action based plan, with objectives and time frames and deadlines that you and your team can really get your teeth so you can achieve some massive goals that will move your business forward.
With the completion of the 6CPA negotiations (remember them?)and the agreement being a known quantity, there’s now the opportunity and time for pharmacists to finally start to feel more confident about the future and move out of the holding pattern that so many understandably have been in.
The Issue At Stake
Community pharmacy is still in a bit of a precarious position though. While there have been some good wins from the 6CPA, among them, the pool of money available for professional services and DAAs and the AHI fee to offset further price disclosures and indexed to CPI, there is the ever present and heightened risk (not helped by the changeover in recent months of prime minister) of location rules being revisited and possibly changed along with the deregulation of pharmacy being touted by many as being on the cards in the next 12-24 months.
Now is the time to act. Have you future proofed your pharmacy business to reduce your vulnerability to these potential attackers to your sales and your profitability?
Given how busy everyone is, for many the answer unfortunately is ‘no’.
For many pharmacists, the biggest problem is being so stuck in the day to day and so plans to grow or to secure your business are shelved because it’s so hard to find the time to execute them.
That is an ongoing challenge, I see it so often.
But when you couple that with the fact that there are some wonderful opportunities, thanks to the 6CPA (and some risks as well) it’s easy to see why so many pharmacists end up in a state of uncertainty about where to start. There’s some excitement and anticipation but also some feelings of overwhelm so it’s natural that many pharmacists just end up focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and putting out spot fires instead of preparing the land to protect it and grow healthy crops of revenue.
Given that’s the reality for so many, I’d love to give you some great tips to help you take control of 20176, if I may. Call it an early Christmas present. These action points could be key to you making the most of your opportunities in the coming year.
Future Proofing Your Pharmacy For 2017
Firstly, please consider (and it’s probably a good idea to jot down your answers too): what were your major wins for 2016 in relation to your business? What were the things you did well? What were the opportunities that you maximized?
Now let’s take a look at the areas in your business that need some care and attention (and action). When you take a bit of time to really think about it, were there some mistakes or omissions that were part of your 2016? Divide them up into those that are within your control to change and those that you think are due to external circumstances.
You probably want to prioritise the internal projects, right? Work out what to tackle first, what actions you’re going to take, who you’re going to enlist to help you and in what time frame. That would be a great start.
Next, you might like to take a really close look at the mistakes or omissions you made that were seemingly outside your control and I challenge you to take a different perspective on them. Would you like to rise above them? What if you could have an impact on them? What if you could work around them? What if you could zig while everyone else is zagging? What kind of a difference would that make to your business in 2016 if you chose to be different, be proactive and stand out from the pack?
Celebrating The Wins
This is a step that not many business owners take but if you do, it could be a real game changer for you. Firstly it opens up and creates new and in some cases, unique opportunities to grow and to differentiate yourself from your competitors (who are still letting themselves be limited by ‘circumstances’). Secondly, this opens up your confidence and creativity so you can not only come up with some solutions to what you previously thought were conundrums but also identify some new, potentially even original, ideas.
One thing that so many of us could do more of is to celebrate the wins and your achievements too. This is important. Not just because it makes you and your team feel good but it gives everyone greater motivation to tackle the challenges too. Ignoring, minimizing or taking achievements for granted sets up a mindset of, at best, survival, and at worst, negativity, defeat and helplessness.
Taking a positive view of as many aspects as possible is the first step to empowering yourself to change other things for the better. You have a frame of reference for success. This is actually the reality. Your unconscious mind can’t tell the difference between a dream and a memory so reminding yourself of actual successes as well as visualizing further achievements, like all the great athletes do, is really useful.
Following on from this thought, there’s a Japanese proverb that says “vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare”.
So, you need to be really clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing. What’s in it for you personally? How does your business benefit your staff? Most importantly, how does your pharmacy benefit your local community and what unique contribution do you or can you provide?
These are the big questions that if you answer them, can provide the impetus for you and your staff to make every post a winner in 2017.
But first there is Christmas. The peak of the Christmas trading period will soon be upon community pharmacies, with resources, staff and patience often stretched to the limit. And it’s fair enough that as the business owner, you want and need to make this period work for you and your bottom line.
Super Easy Sales Tips
Here are some quick tips that are super easy to implement. Even implementing just one can add to your bottom line.
1. Remind and monitor your staff to use “active listening” techniques with customers to help them uncover additional needs, which lead to more sales, a better relationship and more value for the customer.
2. Offer your customers three options at three different price points. Most will choose the middle option. One is just a yes or no and if you offer two, they’ll usually go for the cheaper option unless you….
3. Explain the benefits not the features of a product. The difference being that you highlight how the feature benefits them personally.
I and all the team at Pharmacy Profit Secrets would like to thank you for your enthusiastic feedback this year and wish you a hugely successful Christmas trading period and beyond. Keep helping your customers and patients, stay safe and here’s to a successful 2017. Onwards and upwards!