August 23, 2019
Inside: More pharmacy locations can lead to more profits, but also to more difficult management situations. Learn the most important factors in managing multiple pharmacy locations successfully.
As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Does that also mean that two pharmacies are better than one? If you are currently managing a single thriving independent pharmacy, opening another could seem to offer some tantalizing benefits. If you currently operate more than one pharmacy, you’re already experiencing the benefits and drawbacks of managing multiple locations.
Although expansion provides increased revenue, it also brings unique challenges you won’t encounter with a single location. From branding to logistics to personnel, every part of your business gets more complicated when you add additional pharmacies to your stable. Keep these key factors in mind to successfully manage multiple pharmacy locations.
By expanding to a different part of town, or a new town entirely, you’re also expanding your base of potential patients. With this new market at your fingertips, your pharmacy will have plenty of opportunities to grow beyond just a new location. These patients may have different wants and needs than those at your original location, which means you can experiment with new products and services.
In addition to more revenue, owning more than one pharmacy location means you will be purchasing a higher volume of prescriptions, which means that you’ll have more leverage to negotiate better pricing deals. This, in turn, means you will have larger profit margins that you can reinvest in your business, allowing you to grow even more
Before you get visions of your local pharmacy empire dancing in your head, slow down and decide if you are ready to expand. Growing too quickly can put your pharmacy in danger.
Opening a second business location requires significant investment, and if you plan poorly you could upset your cash flow and end up in bankruptcy because the first pharmacy isn’t bringing in enough to cover the bills of the fledgling location.
Because scaling your business is full of unexpected pitfalls, answer these questions about your current pharmacy location before committing to open another one.
When you manage multiple pharmacy locations, you can’t be on the ground and tuned in to everything that’s happening at every location
To make sure all team members work in harmony and the workflow hums, it’s crucial to establish the same standard operating procedures for both locations. Clearly outlining consistent processes ensures everyone will follow the same workflow regardless of which pharmacy they’re stationed at.
Another way you can establish consistent efficiency and productivity across locations is to manage your scheduling efficiently. At one location, your schedules may have been on the fly, letting people take off and others fill in with only verbal discussions. When you have multiple locations in the mix, this process should be more formalized. Use scheduling software to empower employees when they need to swap shifts, and schedule far enough in advance that problems can be ironed out with time to spare.
Managers also need to present a united front between multiple locations. You can’t have one manager that plays things fast and loose while another is completely inflexible. Not only does that spell out problems for productivity, it also creates resentment between team members from different locations. Bring your leadership together on a regular basis to work through any issues and decide on the best course of action as a team.
And remember, just because you can’t physically be in both locations at once doesn’t mean you should check out as a manager. It’s important to make an effort to be seen at both pharmacies, so make an effort to split your time between them. Even when you’re not physically present, make sure employees feel comfortable reaching out if there are problems, whether that means giving out your cell phone number, making a commitment to answer your email in a timely manner, or holding open office hours.
When managing multiple locations, it’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends and try to get everything done all on your own. But running your business like that is a recipe for burnout, so resist the urge to micromanage every little problem that arises.
Your pharmacy is like your child, and because of that it can be hard to let go of control. But for the sake of your patients and your employees, you need to learn to trust others with the details.
Micromanaging can damage your relationship with employees because it makes them feel like you don’t trust them. They’ll start to resent you and you’ll experience high turnover that makes it difficult to run your pharmacy locations smoothly.
Managing multiple pharmacy locations should instead push you to become an expert delegator. Use these rules to ease your workplace burdens.
Getting your employees on the same page across all locations is a challenge, but an even bigger challenge might be synchronizing your pharmacy logistics. With multiple locations, the supply chain is more convoluted.
Don’t just try to use the same processes you had at your single pharmacy on a larger scale—confusion is bound to occur and you’ll miss out on profitable efficiencies.
Technology can help you stay on top of your increased business. One smart move would be to keep all your inventory data on the cloud instead of on a local server. This means you won’t have to mess around with VPNs to access your data from any location.
If you’re able, you should also set your inventory up to automatically replenish instead of doing it manually. You’ll save time across all locations, and you’ll never find yourself out of a medication that a patient really needs.
Depending on your financial situation and the number of pharmacies you operate, you might consider hiring a full-time logistics manager to oversee your supply chain. This takes the stress off you and gives you more time to work with patients.
To learn more about finding the right balance when managing multiple pharmacy locations, stay tuned for Elements’ upcoming series on the topic. It will cover everything from how to build a great brand, what you can learn from successful national franchises, and how decide where and when you should expand your pharmacy’s business.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. 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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