August 3, 2021
When you take the time to learn about your rivals’ strengths and weaknesses, you gain a competitive advantage. You should not only be able to identify them by name, but also know how they market their business and what they do differently from your pharmacy.
If you don’t know where to get started on your information gathering mission, don’t worry. Here are seven ways to successfully research your independent community pharmacy’s competition.
Google is more than just a search engine — the site offers powerful tools for businesses that can help you get an edge on your competitors.
One new tools is Google Trends, which allows you to see how often users search for specific words or subjects. Google Trends can give you insight on industry news and see how your pharmacy stacks up against competitors in searches.
Search for a term like “pharmacy denver colorado” on Google Trends to discover the amount of user interest in the search term, where it’s most popular, and the related searches. If you type in the name of your pharmacy (or a competitor’s pharmacy), you can see what people searching for the pharmacy are interested in and how that interest has changed over time.
You can also keep an eye on your competitors by subscribing to their Google Alerts. The tool sends an email alert to you when new information like web pages, news articles, or blogs are posted about a specific subject.
With an alert set up, you won’t be blindsided if a competitor introduces a new service or opens a new location and can take appropriate measures to stay competitive.
You might have visited your competitors’ websites, but you can learn a lot more when you click past the home page and do a deep dive.
See how your rivals’ sites compare to your own. You might notice they have something on their site that yours is missing. For example, if your competitor allows patients to refill their prescriptions online but you don’t, that could be one reason patients have chosen them over you.
Pay attention to what content they have on their site and how it’s written. Maybe you both have web pages advertising your Medication Therapy Management programs, but your rival’s page is written in a way that’s easier to understand. Those small differences could be a deciding factor for patients who haven’t yet decided on a pharmacy.
Inspecting your opponents’ social media is a must. Go beyond following them and really dig into all their pages.
If they have posts that regularly garner lots of interaction from followers, try and pin down what exactly makes their presence so compelling. Pay attention to how they interact with followers for clues. Do they only respond when someone complains, or do they have a regular back and forth with all followers? What’s their tone during these interactions?
The reviews patients leave on social pages like Facebook and Yelp can also be a goldmine. Nearly all people — 97 percent — say they use online media to research products and businesses, and they are a great way to get a sense of what people think of your rivals.
A company’s reviews can essentially serve as an instruction manual for how to compete against them. If you discover that your competition has several negative reviews about long lines, that’s a signal that your pharmacy should focus on getting patients in and out quickly.
After you’ve checked out your competitors online, it’s time to become a detective.
Visit local independents, national chain pharmacies, and big box pharmacies in person to get a sense of how they do business.
Pay attention to everything. When you walk in, take note of your first impressions. The ambiance, the displays, what products they carry and how they are shelved. From big to small, everything you notice while you are at a rivals’ store can help spark new ideas for your own pharmacy.
While you’re there, ask the employees a question about the services they offer. You’ll get to know the store beyond what they have on the shelves; you’ll also get a good impression of their customer service.
This secret operation will not only give you ideas for your pharmacy but also help you put your strengths in the spotlight. If you know from experience that your competitor has subpar customer service, you can swoop in to present yourself as an alternative with your marketing efforts.
Have you lost business to another pharmacy? Find out why.
If you use a CRM system to keep track of your patients, you can use that software to identify patients who have stopped visiting your pharmacy. Reach out to those patients and send them a survey to find out why they switched to somewhere new.
Ask questions like, “What made you change stores?” or “What does your new pharmacy offer that we don’t?”
You can also turn to your loyal patients to find out what’s on their mind — and if they’re thinking about switching, too. Ask what their impressions are of your rival and if there are any changes you could make around the pharmacy to make them more satisfied.
Events are both a great way to network and to learn more about your pharmacy’s competitors.
When you participate in community events, like health fairs, you can learn what your rivals are up to, as they provide an opportunity for local businesses to exhibit. You can also talk to people in your community about what they like about their pharmacy — even if they’ve never been your patients.
You can also use professional events like conferences and continuing education to get the scoop on your competitors. There, you’ll find out about emerging trends in the pharmacy industry so you can be the first to offer in-demand new services and products. You also may hear directly from your competitors about their business, if they attend the same events.
Another research tactic is getting on the mailing list of a competing pharmacy.
Subscribe to their mailing list or e-newsletter to help you learn what new developments the pharmacy is working on.
Pay attention to what kind of promotions they email about, their tone, calls-to-action, and email frequency. Take notes about what you like — and don’t like — and use that information to improve your own mailings or email newsletters.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The member-owned company serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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