Gerry Spitzner

5 things to do if you want to be in business 5 years from now

Feeling burned out? Has your current effort been on growing your pharmacy OR dealing with vaccines, sanitizing, and putting out fires? From a business perspective, it’s time to move your focus back to thinking about growing your pharmacy. If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.

The beginning of a new year has the unique characteristic of being like a new beginning. January and February mark “chapter one” in a new book we get to write for ourselves. The early part of a new year represents an opportunity to set new goals, develop new habits and incorporate new ways of thinking into our everyday lives.

Positivity, mindfulness, and a commitment to mental preparation are all factors that play a role in every business success. For me, the pace of change is staggering. The nature of this business is changing so quickly that you need to be nimble and flexible all the time. Particularly right now, in the face of constantly changing scenarios that have never happened before along with different ways of getting things done. Now, just for fun, add in the supply chain challenges and burnt-out staff. The daily and weekly pressure is immense.

How you train your mind and manage your business operations to get ahead of adversity and succeed in the long run will dictate whether you survive by choice or become a victim of circumstance. Whether you’re starting something new or treading water for the moment, the key to surviving big change is to begin with small steps focused on the business basics.

Here are 5 things you can do to set up your business for continued success:

1. Understand your financials.

Given the current business climate of accelerated and unknown change, it’s understandable to make a few mistakes. Having cash on hand will cover a multitude of mistakes. “But I’m profitable,” you say. Most businesses that fail are actually profitable when they close – they just ran out of cash. For any business to be sustainable and grow to meet the changing expectations of customers, you need positive cash flow to reinvest in the things that enable you to create and keep customers. Remember this truism: you can’t spend profit, you can only spend cash. Focus on your weekly cash flow.

2. Keep track of all your customers.

Reaching out to them every month lets them know you care about them and want their business. Most people who change where they do business do so because they think the business no longer cares. Customer loyalty is determined by their most recent experience with your business. Just having a nice store with nice products in a good location isn’t enough anymore. The key to profitability and longevity lies in the ability to consistently deliver a superior consumer experience. Creating positive experiences is a critical part of retail today.

3. Control your inventory.

Conduct regular cycle counts and use your POS system to manage and adjust your inventory. Know what the fastest moving items are and never run out of them. If you need money to keep them in stock, get rid of the slowest moving items at any cost and reinvest the cash. If supply chain issues are affecting your service levels, determine some options like alternative suppliers for maintaining a high in-stock position. Inventory control can have a dramatic effect on your return on investment (ROI). Simply said, the more you can increase the inventory turn, the higher your ROI will be.

4. Educate your staff.

Make sure you maintain an environment in which people feel encouraged to reach for the exceptional. Talk with your employees about how much you value your customers, and clearly define what, in your mind, constitutes superb service. Make a commitment to teach them how to sell your professional services, how to take care of customers, and how to make your business look good by keeping it clean with the front store merchandise ‘faced and fronted’.

5. Look for a niche that others have missed.

Are there currently any unserved or under-serviced segments you could enter? I feel like most pharmacy retailers are smothered in a world of “sameness.” So, I believe the challenge for most is to uncover and unlock a competitive advantage that builds your brand. Look at which segments are aligned with your pharmacy’s current core competencies and are easy to access with minimal cost and time. It could be anything that builds on the core business. Consider collaborating with other healthcare professionals to answer a real need your customers have. If you can perform a current patient service, you’re delivering on even just one additional feature that can become enough to enhance your brand and become a competitive advantage. Become a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generalist.

I hope whatever your plans and dreams are for 2022, you have great success.

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