May 10, 2018
Inside: Don’t miss out on new opportunities for your pharmacy because of poor communication. Learn how to communicate better with these key pharmacy business partners.
Whether you’re a working pharmacist owner or a business pharmacy owner, you communicate frequently.
Every day you counsel patients about their medications and conditions and talk with doctors about refills and treatment options. Or, you manage your staff.
With all this communication, it’s easy to forget the importance of staying in touch with your pharmacy business partners.
Your business partners—bankers, attorneys, wholesalers, POS service providers, and others—provide services that keep your pharmacy running smoothly.
Regular communication with your business partners is the only way to ensure they hear and address your concerns. It might surprise you how accommodating certain companies will be when presented with the chance to expand their businesses—and yours—through more collaborative transactions.
And, when problems need solving, the way you communicate can make the difference between a satisfactory resolution and a severed relationship.
Poor communication with business partners can lead to:
If you overlook critical elements—like what you actually mean or who you are speaking with—your communication efforts can fall flat. When it comes to pharmacy business relationships, you can benefit by becoming a top-notch communicator.
If you don’t stay in touch with your pharmacy’s business partners, then how can you know that they’re working for you?
Maybe you could find a less expensive insurance company. Or, a computer software provider that offers more features. Or, an independent pharmacy buying group that negotiates with multiple wholesalers instead of one.
If you don’t communicate with your pharmacy business partners, you won’t know the other possibilities out there.
Or, your current business partner could help you in ways you didn’t realize.
Your pharmacy’s partners and providers include anyone you do business with in the process of delivering value to your patients.
If your interactions with a company affect what you offer, then you need to think of that company as your business partner. And manage communications accordingly.
Here are some useful tips for communicating with key pharmacy business partners and providers.
Don’t wait until you need something financially to start communicating and building a rapport with your banker.
Base your relationship with your banker on trust and honesty from the beginning.
Demonstrate your integrity by communicating openly with your banker about your business and finances. Send notice when something important occurs regarding your pharmacy—the good and the bad—like new long-term care (LTC) accounts or new competitors.
Whenever possible, your banker will likely reciprocate for your open communication in the form of credit, waived fees, and network referrals.
If your pharmacy is the victim of a crime, accident, or natural disaster, you’ll need adequate insurance coverage already in place to recover your losses.
Recent events, like Hurricane Irma and Harvey, illustrate that businesses need to make sure they’re covered before it’s too late to do anything about it.
Ask your insurance agent to explain your policies in full detail. Spend time working together to come up with proper coverage for all applicable aspects of your business.
Ask how you can lower premiums without reducing coverage, like installing sprinklers, enhancing security, conducting safety training, and offering employee wellness programs.
If you take any such actions, notify your agent in writing. Communicate with other insurers, too. Don’t assume you’re getting the best rates year to year by sticking with your current provider.
If you’re using only the basic services from your accountant, you’re missing out on some insight that could lead to cost-saving opportunities.
When you communicate your business goals to your CPA, you can put years of analytical experience to work for your pharmacy.
For example, consider getting a financial statement review. Your CPA will analyze your financial and operational data and will compare it to industry standards and historical data. The results will reveal current implications on your financial future.
You can also have your statements formatted in ways that enable you to compare your performance with benchmarking statistics in industry journals. From there, you’ll have a clear picture of how much your hard work has improved your net worth over the year.
Make financial planning and analysis a collaborative effort between you and the financial experts you trust.
When armed with the right information, CPAs can answer questions about reducing expenses and maximizing ROIs, like:
Every business encounters situations that need the services of an attorney to prevent liability and litigation. To protect your business, you need to communicate openly with your attorney.
Services you may need from an attorney:
Attorneys also help with contract negotiations. When you have an attorney negotiate your contracts, it usually results in better terms and benefits for your pharmacy.
Third party contracts are no exception. It helps to have attorneys working for you. But paying private attorney fees for PBM contracting is costly. The best solution is to join a pharmacy services administration organization (PSAO) that employs a contract attorney.
Referring to legislators as business partners may seem like a stretch, but lawmakers today have more influence on independent pharmacy than ever.
Think DIR fees. PBM prompt pay. Compounding.
Like it or not, legislators make decisions at the capitol that affect the decisions you make in your practice. You can and should influence legislation by giving input and making sure legislators address your concerns.
Elected officials encourage communication from constituents. Educate your local legislators on the issues affecting your pharmacy.
If you’re not sure how to reach them, go online. Most legislators today have their own websites. You can contact them by phone or email. Or, you could even write a personal letter and send it through the mail.
It’s easy to overlook communicating with vendors like wholesalers, returns providers, and loyalty program operators, because you get on autopilot.
You use their services every day and focus on running your business. But your vendors play an integral part in how you deliver value to your patients.
You need to make sure that your vendors understand their important role in your business, so they can make a better contribution.
Your service and supply partners know what they can contribute better than you do.
By communicating your business plan and where they fit into it, you signal your interest in greater collaboration to the benefit of your business and theirs’.
Share your goals, but remember, they may serve your competition as well. So, have non-disclosure agreements in place up front. (Your attorney can help with those as well).
Provide regular communication updates to reinforce your commitment to increased collaboration.
Now you know how to improve your communication with your pharmacy business partners. (And why it matters.)
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