March 15, 2017
When your pharmacy forms partnerships, you probably look to physicians or local community centers. But other—more unusual—partnership opportunities exist in your community that could benefit your pharmacy and your patients.
“I think if pharmacists looked around their community, they would see a tremendous amount of opportunity for unusual partnerships and alliances that help with the holistic care of the patient,” said Dave Wendland, vice president, strategic relations and member of the owners group at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail.
Wendland believes consumers today are looking to stay well (prevent illness), get well (recover from an illness) and live well (learn to live with a chronic condition.)
“If you think about those three states—stay well, get well and live well—it involves more than just pills or lotions as a temporary fix,” he said. “It’s really an environmental question about what you’re putting in your body, on your body and around your body.”
When you consider these environmental factors, innovative partnerships emerge as a way to bring added value.
“Selecting a partner business that has a common goal can be so valuable,” Wendland said. “Your investment is lower and you’re tapping in to another locally-owned business, which helps the whole community rise.”
Wendland said the biggest benefit of an unlikely partnership with another local business is the increased value to the patient. “It gives them confidence because you’ve done the legwork for them and identified other ways they can improve their health and wellbeing,” he said.
When other businesses promote your pharmacy, it broadens your reach. For example, consider the goodwill that would result from your pharmacy partnering with a local florist to send flowers to patients when they’re discharged from the hospital.
Unlikely partnerships also affect patient loyalty. “When customers are taken care of beyond just receiving a prescription over a counter, it shows there’s compassion there and that pharmacist’s loyalty quotient goes up significantly,” he said.
Finding a partnership that makes sense for your independent community pharmacy requires research. “First, pharmacies should look at the need states of their current customers, and identify things beyond what their pharmacy provides that their customers may require,” Wendland said.
He also suggested considering the type of relationship. “It could—and should be—a two-way relationship,” he said.
Pharmacy owners shouldn’t think of the partnership as a legal arrangement, but rather a spirit of alliance. “It’s an informal handshake and business relationship under a common interest,” Wendland said.
New opportunities for partnerships exist all around us, but the key is to take the time to find them. “To remain relevant in any industry, especially a fast-moving, morphing industry like pharmacy, companies need to stretch their horizons,” Wendland said. “My advice to pharmacy is to define where it can bring value to its customers, assess how to achieve that, and once that’s done, fill the voids with alliance partners.”
Dave Wendland, vice president, strategic relations and member of the owners group at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail, recently wrote a blog post for Drug Store News titled “Newfangled Collaboration” that explored unexpected partnerships for pharmacies to consider. We asked him to expand on those ideas and provide additional examples.
1. Paint store
Your pharmacy could refer patients to the local paint store during home remodels to choose color palettes that invoke health, calmness or invigoration. The paint store could refer patients to your pharmacy for products that assist with wellbeing, such as aromatherapy candles, eye masks or exercise aids.
2. Hardware supply store
Your pharmacy could refer patients to the local hardware store for supplies required to complete home modifications, such as adding ramps, after they’ve been discharged from the hospital or after a loved one with certain limitations moves in. The hardware store could refer patients to your pharmacy for additional products they’ll need to treat their condition and readjust to life outside of the hospital.
Your pharmacy could gift flowers to patients recently released from the hospital or refer loved ones to the flower shop. The florist could send customers to your pharmacy for other comfort needs following a patient’s discharge.
4. Travel agency
For patients looking for travel supplies because they’re going on vacation, you could align with a local travel agency. Similarly, the travel agency could refer travelers to your pharmacy to receive vaccinations and to buy travel supplies.
5. Mattress store
Imagine creating a symbiotic relationship to help patients suffering from body aches and pains, bed bug or dust mite problems, or discomfort during pregnancy who may first visit the local mattress store. The mattress store could refer customers experiencing these same problems to your pharmacy for additional solutions.
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