Purpose: The not so secret superpower fueling progress
What is the real purpose of your Pharmacy business?
By purpose I don’t mean making money; that’s just a result of a well-run retail Pharmacy business. The real purpose of a business is to create, engage and keep a customer. As Peter Drucker, the management guru; once so brilliantly observed, the purpose of a business is not to make a sale but rather to create a customer.
Any business that successfully creates and keeps a customer in a cost-effective way; will make a profit. If for any reason, a business fails to attract new and sustain a certain number of customers, it will experience losses. And too many losses will eventually lead to business failure. It should go without saying that an important part of your Pharmacy’s business strategy is to make money; but making money shouldn’t be the sole purpose of your business.
Purpose trumps profit every time
The sustainability of your Pharmacy business comes from profit; and in every business profit is always in the repeat business; it’s not in the first or one-time transaction. Repeat business means you’re retaining customers/patients; and that’s great. However, in the new business reality; a retail Pharmacy that continuously relies on only current customers for its economic success isn’t going to grow enough to be sustainable in the long term. And to Pharmacy retailers; continuous customer traffic growth is crucial to competitive advantage and long-term sustainability.
Why you do what you do is just as important as making money. The purpose half of the formula for success involves aligning your Pharmacy’s business values with personal values. The applied benefits of your patient service is for a cause greater than the Pharmacy itself; and includes inspiring innovation and positive change, providing employees with a sense of meaning and fulfillment, creating value for the customer, and making a positive impact on the community.
Focus on demand vs supply
To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others and means it’s important to be customer focused (demand) vs transactional (supply). Focusing on customer demand results in a competitive advantage, brings new customers, and enables a Pharmacy to discover improved patient services to meet the needs of today’s health care consumer.
Being customer focused rather than what your Pharmacy supplies, will shift your Pharmacy’s purpose squarely where it needs to be in today’s marketplace; to the wants and needs of your patients. Doing so, will position your patient service in the hearts and minds of your Pharmacy team as inspiration rather than sounding like a manipulation to purchase.
Companies with a strong sense of purpose are able to transform and innovate better
In a 2015 survey published by Harvard Business review titled “The Business Case for Purpose” agrees, declaring that companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage in strategy, operations, business development, talent management and branding.  Reference; The Business Case for Purpose – Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/ey/19392HBRReportEY.pdf
The survey defined organizational purpose as “an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization and its partners and stakeholders and provides benefit to local and global society.”
Create an internal purpose statement
Purpose doesn’t need to involve calculations or numbers. Purpose is human, not economic. Purpose is about the quality of life for your patients. Having a clear articulated and lived purpose is the best way to scale both stakeholder and social value. It’s that quality that cannot be described or named easily that not only drives an organization but is also a strategic starting point, a product or service differentiator and an attractor of loyal talent and customers.
Purpose statements are fundamentally different from vision and mission statements. A vision statement is a declaration of what a Pharmacy would like to become, something that will never be attained but continually strived for. Mission statements describe how a Pharmacy will accomplish its vison, usually including a summary of core competencies and competitive differentiation. Purpose statements explain why a Pharmacy (or patient service) exists, the problem it is solving and why it’s important in today’s world.
What is the main idea behind what you are doing for your customers?
Your business purpose is your why; it’s the reason for being, the reason for doing what you’re doing. Everything you do, from designing your patient service to hiring staff to your customer’s experience, will be aligned with this purpose. It’s your north star; and it guides you when you’re lost and points you in the right direction when competing ideas are spreading you too thin. As Simon Sinek, the famed marketing consultant and TED Talk speaker, frequently notes, customers and employees are not loyal because of what a company does, but because of why it does it.
Develop your purpose statement from a WHY perspective using the Simon Sinek style. It’s one sentence that captures your unique contribution and impact.
Your contribution is the real actionable part of your Why. The impact is the condition you wish to leave the people and world around you and it’s your Pharmacy’s purpose. The impact it has on your patients lives. The applied benefit they seek.
For example, consider a purpose statement for a Pharmacy offering a pain management patient service; ‘We help our patients to optimize their medication so that they can focus on living their life free of the constraints of pain.’
Where to focus your efforts
Several change management experts suggest that employees are the most important audience for messages around purpose. It’s more important that the purpose resonates with the employees than with the customers. If it doesn’t happen there, then the customers will catch on very quickly. And then any patient service could suspiciously sound like a manipulation rather than inspiration.
It must matter to the provider of services first, and eventually to the community it serves.
I help Pharmacists and healthcare practitioners to develop winning business management strategies for their practice so they can focus on patient-centered care. Gerry Spitzner is the principal business consultant of pharmacySOS.ca, a Vancouver-based retail Pharmacy management consultancy. For more information: http://pharmacysos.ca/