HOW TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE PHARMACY CHAIN EVEN IF RIGHT NOW YOU ARE CONFUSED
PREMISE: The first thing to avoid today is to be perceived as a “GENERALIST”. Do you own a pharmacy chain? Most people will perceive your business (or the one you work for) as a chain of “generalist” stores! Until recently, it wasn’t considered a bad thing, but today it could lead to your pharmacies becoming extinct.
Pharmacies (both independent and chain stores) have been the same for years, but everyone was fine with it. Pharmacies shared the market, customers, the territory, schedules, holidays. Everyone was friends with one another, happy and satisfied. People are becoming less satisfied. They want more and more ……. It is called evolution of the species and there are no cures.
Despite Darwin, for years customers have continued to consider pharmacies as the first response to a health need, to find medicine and treatments.
THINK ABOUT IT: WHOEVER STEPS INTO A PHARMACY TODAY, DOES SO ONLY BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO
To give your pharmacy chain (the company you work for) a future and avoid gradually losing customers (it’s inevitable if you don’t change your attitude), you have to focus your energy on creating the right environment for those who care about their health. The good news is that are many people who care about their health and they are increasing.
Information is traveling faster and faster and convincing people that they can feel better, eat healthier, live better and longer. The internet is full of information on these topics, as well as articles about health problems … but if you’ve seen them, you’ll realize that few of them offer actual solutions.
Giving solutions is not an easy task. It means that you know the person, that you’ve identified the problem and its cause …. Remember, the internet can’t do this yet, but PHARMACISTS CAN. It’s something THEY DO EVERY DAY.
It’s true, Doctor Google knows everything, much more than pharmacists, but where are the solutions? Are the ones that I’m reading online correct? …. It’s a matter of trust.
We look for answers online, but we know that we can’t trust them completely. We’re talking about your health and that of your loved ones!!
In case you haven’t noticed, when customers walk into your pharmacy and ask for advice, they usually say, “I saw it online and I wanted the pharmacist’s opinion” and you think to yourself … ..So people still need pharmacies… ..! Yes, my friend, they still need pharmacies, but in a different way.
Vertical communication has become extinct. There used to be people who gave information and those who LISTENED, because they knew that the person (the pharmacist) was someone who knew a lot more than him or her.
Today, thanks to the internet, communication has become HORIZONTAL: “super-informed” people want to share information and are NO LONGER WILLING TO LISTEN PASSIVELY.
The idea of a “professor” sitting behind a medicine counter no longer works. We know that there is no such thing as a “professor” who knows everything. What works today is “forming a team with customers”, “communication” and “dialogue”. Today, this is the only way to build customer loyalty. It is only by adopting this approach that customers will continue choose your pharmacy chain tomorrow.
HOW PEOPLE VIEW PHARMACIES
We all ask ourselves what we need to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy, how to improve the quality of our lives, but the internet mostly talks about the dangers, rarely mentioning the solutions… what if the solution were once again a PHARMACY? What if it were YOUR pharmacy chain?
Today Mrs. X, a mother of 2 children, who works full time, as does her husband, would say,
“The pharmacy next-door? What’s so special about it? It’s just one of the may chain stores. They’re all the same. I go there when I have a problem. There are often long lines, rude pharmacists who pay little attention to you. The pharmacy’s products and design have stayed the same since it opened!! “
“A pharmacy is not the solution to my well-being. My dentist specifically told me to buy 0.35 mm brushpicks and they didn’t have them yesterday. My husband’s physical therapist told me that if they didn’t have the products he mentioned, it was time to change pharmacies. I asked the saleswoman for something for my throat since I was losing my voice and she suggested natural lozenges. I wasted my money and it didn’t even taste good. Next time I’ll ask Dr. Google for help and will buy everything online”.
In case you’ve lost sight of what your goal really is, I’d like to remind you that the goal of your pharmacy chain is to sell Mrs. X a specific product or service that will help improve her life and happiness with her loved ones. Right?
THE NEW DIRECTION OF PHARMACY CHAIN ARE HEADED IN
- Customers are changing
- The market is changing
- The competition is changing
The world keeps on changing!
So how should your pharmacy chain change?
It must become SPECIALIZED. Customers must perceive their pharmacists and chain stores as SPECIALISTS.
Why should you be SPECIALIZED in a specific field?
- To keep up with competitors and hold a strong position in the market
- To gain credibility
- To give value to your company and BRAND, more than just a license
- To expand your customer base
- To form strong alliances and achieve a common mission
- To market your business effectively and be in control (right now you aren’t, you are just another retailer who is strengthening multinational corporation brands, not yours!)
What does it mean to be SPECIALIZED?
It means convincing a target audience that your pharmacy chain is the best solution for their specific problem and that if they really want to solve it, they should come to you.
Are you ready for the challenge? THIS IS THE FIRST CRUCIAL STEP.
It’s time to think of a new strategy, DIFFERENTIATE your product POSITIONING and FOCUS on a single area (which does not mean abandoning all of your other services and products!).
The more your chain stands out and is different from the rest, focusing on what you offer compared to your competitors, the more your chances of survival and development increase. The more you are similar to your competitors, claiming to offer “higher quality, customer-oriented and courteous services “, the more you risk being wiped off the face of the planet. Well actually, you’re not risking … it’s just a matter of time.
How do I go about positioning by business? What should I SPECIALIZE in?
You can achieve extraordinary results by using successful ideas from other industries and applying them to your pharmacy in innovative ways.
Think outside the box, and start taking control of your professional life. No more excuses. Successful ideas are out there, you just have to find them and look at them with an open mind ….
I’d like to give you some practical suggestions to help you find your specialization and begin your mission immediately:
1 – Analyze the competition carefully, as well as the areas it hasn’t managed effectively. Among these, establish a field in which you can specialize. It’s called “competitor orientation”. It’s the best way to establish your specialization, the one that you’ll base your future strategy on.
2 – Ask yourself a few questions
- In what way are you different from your competitors? What have you done over the past month to highlight that difference? What about the last week? Today?
- What do you do to constantly and effectively communicate that special feature that makes you unique?
- Which products or services are identical to those of your competitors and need to be ELIMINATED from your range of offers and communication plan?
- What do you plan to work on (starting today) to make your special feature stand out in the market amidst your competitors?
- Is there something special that your customers purchase from your store that your competitors don’t offer?
- Does that product or service have specific features that your competitors don’t have and that are important?
- Do you have results that make you stand out from the other competitors?
– Number of years in the market
– Number of customers served
– Number of products sold
– Number of degrees and / or specializations
– Awards received
– Special achievements
– Durability of the service / product
– Does your pharmacy have a unique feature that is appealing?
– Is there a special way in which you present or deliver your product or service?
– Is your packaging different?
3 – What are the first steps you need to take?
- Analyze your competitors carefully
- Create a message that is different from that of your competitors (logo and “battle cry”)
- Communicate your positioning to customers
- Explain to your customers how your services are different than those of your competitors
4 – Inform your customers that there are 3 different scenarios, based on their decision:
- What happens if you choose our services and products
- What happens if you choose the competition
- What happens if you don’t choose either and do nothing about your problem
I never said it was easy, but I can assure you that there IS NO THIRD OPTION.
Luca Sartoretto Verna
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