Now is a time of both danger and opportunity.
On one hand, never before has there been so much competition for the customer’s prescription dollar. Never has there seemingly been so much price sensitivity on the part of the customer or a low level of loyalty to a business or the people in that business. You and your customers lead busy lives and it is so easy for you to be disconnected from each other.
For the pharmacies where there is a distinct community feel there are other dangers- staff who talk all day to customers but don’t, can’t or refuse to sell to them. They have a great relationship with the customers but they are an expense to your business instead of an asset that helps build your revenue.
And competition is everywhere.
At this time more than any other, excellence is critical to your pharmacy’s longevity in your community and ultimately your financial success. Excellence will safeguard your standing in your community and your financial security. Do you want to be a shining example to your cohorts as well the community you serve? Do you want to remain a member of one of the most trusted professions? How important is it to you that you provide real value to your customers…and keep your head straight even while all around you are losing theirs?
If you answered yes to these questions, then read on….
The False Assumption
You see I’ve observed many pharmacies who have stumbled in recent years and it’s not simply because of the rise of competition and the impact of price disclosure and other government changes. In reality, the underlying problem is they have dropped (or never had) their focus on excellence.
To be fair, it’s not just pharmacists but pharmacy staff too that have erroneously thought that being nice and being helpful was enough. It’s not. The proof is here now and many pharmacies are wearing the effects and looking for band aid solutions. They are vulnerable and feeling anxious, even a little desperate. Disappointed that pharmacy isn’t what it used to be and uncertain as to the best solutions.
And you see, here lies the opportunity.
Being smart people and wanting to maintain their lifestyle and contribution, in many cases, they’re taking action.
Doing a refit and improving the workflow. It helps a bit.
Improving your product knowledge so you can companion sell. This is somewhat useful.
Cutting unnecessary expenses. A sensible step.
But none of these are evidence of or arise from excellence. What’s more, they’re reactive. Only excellence will secure your business now and in the long term.
So what is excellence and why is it so critical to your success, indeed your survival in the coming years?
Excellence is a deliberate, proactive, consistent and vigorous expectation, actually insistence, on the highest standards of quality and performance in everything you, your staff and your business does.
Excellence is also contagious in the best possible way. Not only does it establish the criteria for planning and the quality of execution but in doing that it provides zest, vitality, enthusiasm, unwavering purpose and respect (and thirst for) achievement.
If you demand excellence from yourself and your staff guess what you’re going to get?
Yes, I know the more cynical among us may say ‘disappointment’ but the point of committing to excellence is that you lead the way and bring your people along in and with this attitude. Those that fight it will, one way or the other, fall by the wayside. 80% of your staff will find that excitement and motivation within themselves and 20% will bitch and moan. Those 20% inevitably recognize that the gravy train is now a steam train, with you, the business owner, actively and strategically keeping the train on the tracks and as they’re not interested in mustering (or don’t have) the energy to create the steam to make the train move, they simply get off the train.
And every pharmacy needs this. For the health of their business and for the health of their community. There’s no room on the train for passengers.
If you don’t demand excellence from yourself, your staff and your business then your customers will drift away, seduced by cheaper prices elsewhere. Not because they’re necessarily that price conscious but simply because that’s how your competitors are differentiating themselves. Either that, or they’re doing what you should be doing- creating and sustaining excellence in their pharmacy business.
Now is a time of great opportunity for Australian pharmacy with pharmacists stepping into the medical space, as they should be. Sorry doctors, you’re overworked as it is and pharmacists are well trained and well placed to officially assist- i.e., get paid- for providing advice and services that they’ve been providing for free up until now.
Our clients in the USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand are equally finding this a time of opportunity as they hone their caring customer service and service to the community.
But how to take advantage of those opportunities? Without an attitude and practice of excellence, you can’t. Simple as that.
Excellence not only will help you capitalize on those opportunities effectively and in a manner that’s good for you, good for others and good for the greater good but excellence also is a compelling differentiator.
Want to be unique in your community? Be excellent.
The ‘Why Bother’ Question
How do you create excellence? Well, first it begins with a commitment from you. Not a ‘yep, that would be great’ but a mindset of ‘that’s the way it has to be’. That starts with you having a big enough ‘why’ or internal motivation. So think about this. Why would you want your business to be excellent? What are the benefits to you specifically. Not just financially but think more broadly too. How will it benefit your family, your lifestyle, your well being, your relationships, your reputation? What’s in it for your community and your staff and how can that impact you positively?
Consider also what won’t happen if you don’t create excellence in your pharmacy? Who will suffer? Who will benefit? What are the repercussions and can you survive them? Do you want to survive them? The overriding question is, is survival enough?
Seriously? Do you want a future filled with anxiety about competition and potential changes in location rules, at the mercy of the government and the mood of your staff to make a decent living or do you want to be the proactive business owner you are or can be and make the maximum difference you can to your community, your staff and your business?
Excellence In Action
As the leader of your pharmacy and as a leader in your community, your tenacious dedication to excellence will be rewarded. You and your staff- and as importantly- your business will continue to grow. In some cases, start growing from having stagnated for a long time. When a culture of excellence is accepted and expected then the learning and growth will continue and practices and opportunities must be continually reviewed and renewed with motivation and enthusiasm.
If you have a vision for your pharmacy underpinned by an expectation of and working towards excellence in all aspects you will inspire your staff.
Excellence is considered to be the result of a creatively conceived and precisely planned effort. In fact it inspires and influences every person and activity taking place in the pharmacy. It’s not easy to establish and it’s even harder to sustain but if you keep your eye on the ball, it can be done. Whether you own one store and are hands on in the shop on a day to day basis or you own several stores and rely on your pharmacist and or retail managers to keep your business running, if you expect, demonstrate and firmly encourage excellence in your staff, you will all become more adaptable, proactive and creative. It makes for a positive atmosphere that permeates all corners of your pharmacy from the front of shop to the dispensary to the team room and the store rooms.
Whilst it’s human nature to initially avoid change and seek a comfort zone, it is equally true to say that most people thrive in a stimulating environment. Those that don’t shouldn’t be working for you. Excellence is the antidote to apathy and inertia.
It is a road map to success. When a climate of excellence exists, all things- staff performance, leadership, sales, marketing, finances, systems and productivity- come easier.
Excellence in a pharmacy isn’t important, it’s critical…..because it is EVERYTHING.