Should You Remodel Your Independent Pharmacy?

pharmacy remodel

Most people know not to judge a book by its cover, but market research shows that people do take into account a retailer’s appearance when deciding where to shop. In fact, 64 percent of people say they have walked out of a store without making a purchase because it had a poor physical appearance. 

To keep from losing potential patients before they ever step foot in your pharmacy, a remodel might be in order. Here’s why a remodel could be a good idea, and how to pull one off with minimal disruption. 

Why remodel your pharmacy?

In the midst of filling prescriptions and providing clinical services to patients, the physical appearance of your pharmacy may not seem important. Here are a few reasons to make a renovation a priority. 

Branding disconnect 

If you have sleek marketing materials with a themed design, patients might be surprised when they visit your store and it doesn’t match the imagery on the marketing. Updating your building can help unify your physical store with your branding. 

As an independent pharmacy, your branding might evoke an old-fashioned feeling, but remember there is a difference between a pharmacy location that looks “retro” and a location that just looks “old.” Even if you want your pharmacy’s image to harken back to a simpler time, you need to be purposeful about the fixtures and design rather than use the same interior you’ve been using for decades. 

Wear and tear 

If your fixtures are starting to show their age, it might be time for a remodel. If your shelves are starting to dip in the middle, your paint is peeling at the edges, or your carpets are fading, consider upgrading. 

These changes can often be made one at a time, which means you don’t have to spend a lot of money all at once to spruce up the place. 

Staying competitive 

Picture this: there’s a big box store across the street with a bright, colorful pharmacy section. Patients may not get the best service, but it’s enticing to the eye. Across the way, your pharmacy has superior service but has a dark and slightly cluttered front end. 

You may provide more comprehensive patient care, but patients may never find out because they’re turned off by a lack of visual appeal. 

Visit your competitors’ locations to find out what works about their pharmacy interiors and how you can do it better. 

Tips for a successful renovation

As you embark on a pharmacy renovation, these suggestions can ensure that everything runs smoothly. 

Bigger isn’t always better 

Gutting your pharmacy and building from the ground up will add flash to your store — but it may not be the best investment. 

A renovation might attract a few new patients to your store and help retain current patients, but it’s not going to bring in an avalanche of new cash. Be realistic about the return on investment you expect from making physical improvements to your pharmacy and sure the renovations you are planning don’t far exceed to potential ROI. 

Minimize closure 

Every day you close your pharmacy to make improvements is a day you lose out on profits. Minimize closure by performing renovations in the evenings or on days you aren’t typically open.  

Renovate section by section so you don’t have to close the entire space, and if you do have to shut down the whole pharmacy, communicate the closure ahead of time so your patients know what to expect. 

Stick to a budget and timeline

Going into your renovations, have a plan and stick to it.

If you make decisions as you go, impulsive spending choices will start to add up. It might feel like a one-off when you splurge on the nicer tile. And then splurge on the extra cushy waiting room chairs. And then the granite pharmacy counter. All of a sudden, you’ll find your renovation way over budget

Instead, make all the choices about fixtures and design before the renovation starts, and if you have to make a replacement, find something at a similar price point. 

Be similarly protective of your time. Establish a timeline for the renovation and don’t let the project drag on, or your simple remodel could turn into a weeks-long slog. 

DIY what you can 

Not all upgrades need to be a professional endeavor. There are many simple improvements you can perform yourself to make your pharmacy location sparkle. These include: 

  • Upgrading light fixtures: A dimly lit front end may send a message that you’re closed when your not, while fluorescent light bulbs are bright, but aren’t flattering. You can make a big change by switching over to LED bulbs. You can add lamps or under-shelf lighting to brighten up the space and change out the bulbs in existing fixtures. 
  • Freshening up the paint: A new coat of paint on the walls is a cheap and easy way to immediately adjust the ambiance in your pharmacy. Use your brand colors in an accent wall to mix things up. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is another way to make your space more dynamic and interesting. 
  • Mixing up the layout: By rearranging your pharmacy shelving, you can make a big change without investing anything but time. Open up your floorplan to prevent your front end from feeling cramped and intimidating to patients. 
  • Installing new flooring: Stained linoleum tiles or torn-up carpets are big detractors from your pharmacy appearance, but plank-style vinyl flooring is easy to install yourself and creates the impression of more expensive hardwoods. 

Find the right contractor 

The DIY approach may not be feasible for bigger remodeling jobs, and in that case, you should hire a contractor to help you complete the work. 

Get estimates from multiple candidates to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and be sure to hire a commercial contractor with experience working in retail spaces. If possible, go visit stores they have remodeled in the past to get a sense of what kind of work they do and ask past clients about their experiences. 

You should also establish a method for tracking how the contractor is spending time and money to ensure that things are being completed within the established budget and timeline. 


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

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