New Pharmacy Owner’s Advice: Listen to Customers and Evolve

BY SMART RETAILING: JUNE 2, 2015

A series with best practices and lessons learned by new pharmacy owners.

Be open to adapting your pharmacy.

After working as a pharmacist in chain stores for 15 years, Michael Parsi knew it was time to open his own pharmacy. “I was not seeing a bright future at my company or for any pharmacist who worked for someone else,” Parsi said.

In November 2013, he opened Seena Pharmacy in Laguna Hills, California. Parsi decided to start his pharmacy in a strip mall near doctors and patients who knew him, and near an international grocery store that he thought would bring more traffic to his business.

“RxOwnership® helped me a lot,” Parsi said. RxOwnership provided information about working with the state board of pharmacy, filling out applications, finding an attorney and negotiating rent with a landlord.

Marketing from the Grocery Store to Doctors’ Offices

In the first months, Parsi focused on doctor detailing, meeting with physicians in the area, and leaving business cards and flyers. He used resources from the Health Mart® Marketing Hub and arranged for the nearby grocery store to put Seena Pharmacy flyers in customers’ bags. Parsi estimates that Seena Pharmacy distributed about 10,000 flyers.

In late 2014, Seena Pharmacy began offering compounding, which provided not only a new revenue stream but also a fresh opportunity to market the pharmacy. Parsi contacted almost 400 dentists to let them know he could compound topical anesthetics. He also went back to the local physicians to let them know he was offering something new.

“I listened to my customers and heard what they wanted,” Parsi said. In addition to compounding, Seena also expanded their offerings to include local needs such as walkers and canes, and a soft drink machine.

As a pharmacy owner, Parsi said, your ability to communicate with patients is vital. “They need to leave with the impression that you’re here to help them. You need to prove it,” he said. “When you go out of your way to help your customers, they’re going to be your customers for life.”

“You need to prove to both doctors and patients that you’re here to help them,” Parsi said, “or else there is no reason for them to leave CVS or Walgreens.”

Take Time to Study

Eighteen months after opening his own pharmacy, Parsi said he wishes he had previously spent more time studying two particular areas:

  • Pharmacy design. Adding new products and services already has required Parsi to adapt his layout.
  • Wholesalers. Take time to interview each prospective wholesaler and fully understand what they offer, Parsi recommends. Understand details about pricing, rebates and services.

While Parsi still believes his location choice was a good one, he also has learned that proximity to the international grocery store did not provide as much of a boost as he expected.

Finally, he recommends that new pharmacy owners be sure to set aside enough money for inventory and dealing with what may be a tough time with reimbursement rates and insurance contracts.

What advice would you give a pharmacist buying or building a store? Share your experience in the Comments section below.

Visit RxOwnership.com to connect with a regional ownership advisor and explore comprehensive information and resources to help you prepare for the purchase or build of a new pharmacy.

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