March 7, 2019
Inside: Are you getting the most from your current patients? Discover strategies to maximize revenue from those who already frequent your pharmacy.
Getting new patients into your independent community pharmacy is an important part of running your business. But getting more business from your current satisfied patients is a solid, easier, and more reliable source of revenue.
Reducing your patient defection rate—when they leave to go to a competitor—by just 5 percent can increase your profitability by 25 to 125 percent, according to the book “Leading on the Edge of Chaos” by Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy.
Here are 10 strategies to get current patients to reach into their pockets (for things they need) and to keep their cash at your pharmacy.
Look at your pharmacy’s data from the past few months and the last year. Where have you been the most profitable? Are you selling out of the new vitamin products you stocked? Are your clinical services thriving?
Figuring out the hard data is a simple way to pinpoint your patients’ wants and needs. Analyzing your pharmacy’s most profitable over-the-counter sales can help you determine what your patients purchase from you the most.
Once you’ve identified your best sellers, you can increase your profits by focusing promotions and marketing on the products and services your patients use most.
Besides mining your current data, get new data straight from your patients by simply asking them what they’d like you to stock. Would they get vaccines at your pharmacy if you offered them? Are they looking for natural products?
Identify new revenue-generating opportunities by polling your patients through an online or paper survey. The data you collect from the survey can help you determine what services and products your patients would like to see from you in the future.
Many patients struggle with adherence. And when they aren’t adherent, your pharmacy misses out on refills and therefore revenue.
Here’s how you can help patients stay adherent to boost revenue:
If you provide medication consultations with your adherence services, make sure patients fill all of their prescriptions with your pharmacy. When patients use multiple pharmacies, you miss out on those scripts. And it jeopardizes patients’ health.
Some of your patients have likely been with you for years. It’s important to nurture those relationships and establish yourself as a trusted advisor and friend. Simple ways to do this include sending birthday cards, offering special deals for longtime patients, and using a loyalty rewards program. You could also send patients who haven’t been to your pharmacy in a while a “come back” offer.
Social media and email marketing are great ways to encourage current patients to visit your store more often. Connecting with your patients online will keep your pharmacy top-of-mind and spark patients’ interest in making new purchases at your store.
Gear your social media and email toward current patients by promoting new and unique products and updating them on any big news you have to share. Incentivize patients to follow you on social media by offering promotions, such as weekly discounts or special buys on OTC products.
Leverage your good standing with current patients to get more revenue from them indirectly. Encourage patients to make referrals to their friends and family. In addition to driving new patients to your pharmacy, referrals help patients feel more engaged with your pharmacy and strengthen your ongoing relationship.
Create incentives for your patients to refer their friends or family to your pharmacy by offering discounts on OTC products or a free clinical service, such as a complimentary blood pressure check, for recommending someone to your business.
When you solve problems for your current patients, they’ll want to buy from you rather than competitors. And your solutions will likely generate additional revenue, whether it’s an OTC product or a clinical service.
Here are examples of how pharmacists can be problem solvers for their patients:
Consultations allow you to identify patients who could benefit from an additional product or service. For example, a patient who is filling a prescription for a blood thinner might benefit from learning about the benefits of compression hosiery.
Taking the time to understand your patients’ needs will not only keep patients satisfied with your customer service, but they may also be willing to make a purchase they wouldn’t have without your guidance.
Every abandoned prescription equals abandoned pharmacy dollars. And abandoned prescriptions waste your time and energy as you count pills you’ll eventually have to return to the shelf. This can lead to overstocking, which means wasted dollars on the shelves.
Reducing the number of abandoned prescriptions requires addressing the different reasons patients fail to pick up their medicines.
They can’t afford their medications
Look for ways to save your patients money. Sometimes a simple switch from the brand name drug to a generic will help. While brand name drugs have an abandonment rate of 21.3 percent, according to the Association for Accessible Medicines, their less expensive generic counterparts have an abandonment rate of 8.1 percent. When generics aren’t appropriate, manufacturer discounts can sometimes drastically reduce out-of-pocket costs. A quick look around a particular drug’s website will reveal what kinds of discount programs are available.
They just forgot
A robust reminder system can get more people in the door to pick up their prescriptions. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that text message reminders reduced the time it took for patients to pick up their prescriptions by twelve hours.
If you already have a text messaging program in place, look for ways to get more patients enrolled. Offer a front-end discount to patients who opt in to text message alerts or ask patients to sign up when they drop off their prescriptions.
They can’t seem to get to the pharmacy
Even with plenty of reminders, some patients won’t find time to pick up their prescriptions. Your delivery service could make all the difference. If you notice patients routinely let their prescriptions languish for a few days, or hear them talking about how hard it is to get to the pharmacy, tell them about your delivery service and offer to get them signed up.
If you don’t have a medication when a patient needs it, they have little choice but to go to your competitors. Many of those patients will never come back, but even your most loyal customers will spend less than they intended on that trip. You’re sending profits right out the door.
Most independent pharmacists pride themselves on a superior customer experience, but it’s important to evaluate your own performance routinely to make sure you’re still knocking it out of the park. Your level of customer service correlates with your level of sales.
For example, are you hitting the right balance between friendly and overbearing? Eighty percent of shoppers never return to businesses when the staff acts indifferent. Yet a 2018 survey found that 95 percent of shoppers want to be left alone while shopping, unless they need a store associate’s help.
Train your employees on how to make recommendations, educate patients, and make them feel comfortable shopping at your pharmacy.
Here are some other customer service aspects to examine:
To get the most out of your patients, you need an airtight merchandizing strategy for your front end. Effective merchandising maximizes front-end sales by convincing shoppers to buy more from you every time they enter your pharmacy.
Use these strategies to get the most from your front-end patients:
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their businesses. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified 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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