I love this time of year. The madness of Christmas trading has settled back to a steady hum for most pharmacies and pharmacy owners are now taking (or will take) a break and return feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, looking forward to the coming year and making plans for new success.
For those who are not in that position but remain anxious, overworked and ill equipped to plan and take control of their business, believe me when I tell you: you are not alone.
For every pharmacist feeling inspired and ready to tackle 2017, there are two or three other pharmacists who are feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start. This is normal and it’s not your fault. Christmas trading often forces planning to the background and the “mop up” afterwards can feel like a great party where there’s been some mess left behind that- lucky you- you get to clean up.
So. First, clean up the mess. Get your staff back on track with not just their normal tasks but letting them know that something exciting is coming and then get to work on that.
What is it?
Your Grand Plan For 2017.
If this is THE year for you and your pharmacy business then setting goals will be critical for your success. It’s much easier to reverse engineer from a goal than it is to hit a moving target. The vital areas to consider are marketing, sales, gross profit, expenses and net profitability. The first two provide the revenue and the second two ensure that the flow of revenue leads to a strong flow of net income for you as the owner. After all, whilst you’re serving your community, it’s fair enough that you make a decent living too, right?
A Recipe For Success
And there is a recipe for success and it’s this: The best way to get on track is to set your 12 month goals for your total turnover, your gross margin as a percentage, your reduction in expenses expressed as a dollar figure or as a percentage.
Then decide what marketing strategies you’re going to use to bring in the right type and volume of customers and identify exactly what products and services they want and need. If you do your research well, your buying will be optimised. You’ll have better stock turn, less dead stock, can choose products that meet customer needs and maintain or increase your gross profit margin.
Review your marketing, sales, operational and purchasing processes. How can they be improved? In other words, can they be streamlined and/or made more efficient? Calculate the time, labour and dollar savings. What do you need to do to implement these changes which in turn will reduce your expenses and meet that expense reduction goal?
If you do your planning properly you’ll improve your gross margin and decrease your expenses as well a building a robust marketing funnel to bring in a steady stream of regular, loyal customers who spend more and take your professional advice.
Maximising Your Sales
Once you have these aspects in place, the final important step is to MAXIMISE your turnover and sales. Your staff are key here. Planning how best to incentivize them (hint: monetary reward isn’t a motivator for everyone) is valuable as well as checking on their selling skills. It is possible for them to sell gracefully and with integrity. Do they know how to do that? Do they want to?
We all know how critical it is for the pharmacy team to be engaged, motivated and inspired but it can be tricky for any business owner to find the right formula to keep the team excited and cohesively working towards a common goal. Communicating that big goal openly, getting them involved in setting the targets along the way, setting KPIs to measure success and communicating the KPIs and progress towards them goes a long way. Knowing the personalities of your team (or your key managers knowing) and leading and incentivizing them on that basis should take you most of the rest of the way.
The last frontier though, and the deal breaker for some, is engaging your staff in the activity of selling.
Jan Vs Nicola
The most common scenario I see among my clients is that they have pharmacy assistants like “Jan” (name changed for confidentiality reasons). Jan is a lovely person, in her late 40s and has worked in pharmacy for 15 years. She is well meaning, kind hearted and connects really well with customers. They love her and often come in for a chat but Jan has mistaken good customer service for selling skills and she flatly refuse to outrightly “sell” because she – incorrectly- thinks selling requires her to be underhanded and focus on making profits instead of the customer’s needs.
Contrast Jan with “Nicola” (again, names have been changed to protect confidentiality). Nicola is enthusiastic and truly believes in what she does, just like Jan. She too genuinely cares for customers but where she’s different to Jan is in her appreciation that to really make a difference to her customers’ health she needs to ask questions and probe a little beyond “how are you today Mrs Jones?” in order to uncover what she can really do to help. Nicola is believes in what she’s doing and so she is authentic and totally congruent with asking the questions, identifying the customer’s needs and then providing solutions, even overcoming objections if they occur because she knows how much the product will help Mrs Jones, her customer.
What she isn’t necessarily consciously aware of that her boss, the pharmacy owner is, is that the “Nicolas” in his store are trusted by his customers, so they come in more often, not for an idle chat, but to get advice and buy more products. This increases turnover and sales.
Your Golden Opportunity
Combine a motivated sales oriented team with clear goals, optimised productivity, marketing systems and lean expenses and you’re set for an awesome 2017.
The golden opportunity is here and now is the time to grab it. Are you prepared and ready to give it your best shot? Your customers need you to be successful as a business so you can service their needs and contribute to their health….it’s over to you now…..