Everywhere you look these days you’re apt to see another pharmacy giant. But let’s be honest here, while these giants compete against each other for the lion’s share of the pharmaceutical market, the independent and local community pharmacies aren’t doing too shabby. In fact, according to the 2017 NCPA Digest, smaller local pharmacies currently control roughly 40 percent (that’s $80 billion) of the $200 billion pharmacy market. That said, it does bear mentioning that the medical and pharmaceutical markets are quite volatile and always incredibly competitive. So, what can a small, independent, local community pharmacy do to maintain, or improve, its position within all this volatility and competition? The answer could be as easy as: Keep it simple.
The 21st Century Pharmacy Series
Historically, smaller pharmacies have relied on tried-and-true simple approaches to maintain their influence in local communities, including:
- Outstanding customer services
- One-on-one, in-person, customer interactions
- Staying in-tune with local community needs
These traditional customer service-oriented approaches have aided thousands of independent pharmacies in remaining relevant and necessary in the communities they serve.
Technology is also important. Every smart business owner will keep a keen eye on technology, implementing advancements that will best serve their industry position as they arise. However, using technology to gain a competitive edge doesn’t mean that traditional and, most importantly, successful techniques should be shelved. In fact, keeping a good mix between the two could be the key to success.
In our new three-part series, “The 21st Century Pharmacy,” we’ll touch on some basic, easily accessible, and relatively low-cost traditional and technologically inspired approaches independent pharmacies can implement to build a foundation on which they can better market and position their businesses –– allowing them a stronger foothold in their communities and their industry.
If you’re looking for ways to boost or improve your pharmacy’s bottom line, why not take a look at your in-store marketing efforts? By taking a critical look at your business using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, you can step back from the daily grind of a clinical perspective and view your pharmacy through a business or, more precisely, marketing lens.
A SWOT analysis may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, this type of analysis is a simple approach to being able to look at the internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats) factors that could affect your business –– the first step in understanding which marketing goals can better benefit your pharmacy.
A SWOT analysis can help:
- Distinguish your pharmacy from the competition
- Better focus your marketing efforts
- Reveal new areas where you can branch out your marketing efforts
How does your pharmacy outperform others in your community? Do you offer flu vaccines where others do not? Do you offer discounted vaccines to underinsured community members? How about workshops and clinics on specific disease sets like Diabetes or Heart Disease? Anything your pharmacy does that your customers like, and your competitors don’t deliver is a strength. Write them down.
No one likes to look at the hard stuff, so you may struggle to identify weak areas in your pharmacy’s business model, but don’t short change yourself. Where can you improve? What are some of your competitor’s strength’s that your pharmacy doesn’t offer? Can you boost staff? Offer extended staff training? What was the source of the last customer complaint you had? Anything and everything –– from customer feedback to employee training to hours of operation, should be considered when trying to uncover your weaknesses. Write them down.
Get creative! While it’s true that sometimes the very best opportunities to grow your pharmacy come from outside sources, like new medications being released into the market, if you’ve been honest with yourself when mapping out your strengths and weaknesses, you should have a good idea on what opportunities you can jump on to capitalize on those strengths and mitigate those weaknesses. Do you have a website? An App? Are there any medical facilities you can partner with in your community? Think outside the box! And, of course, write them down!
There is a multitude of threats facing independent pharmacies, such as regulatory issues, value based payment models, large-scale pharmacy chains, and new pharmacy competition entering the market. These are substantial hurdles to contend with but they’re not insurmountable. Figure out the biggest threats to your pharmacy and work around them. With a little creativity and focus, you may even be able to find a way to capitalize on the challenges! And, when you reveal these threats, write them down!
It's important to write down all sections of your SWOT analysis side-by-side to gain the most insights and build your most viable strategies to get a leg up on the competition.
People are always going to need medications and there is always going to be risks involved in any business venture –– pharmacies included. When you put your heart and soul into a company, it’s sometimes hard to see where you’re coming up short and, conversely, just as hard to see where you’re owning the competition.
Compiling a SWOT analysis takes very little resources, but will require honesty and creativity. And, in the end, you may just discover something new and wonderful about your pharmacy, or a pathway around a long-standing hurdle that’s been blocking your growth. It’s a small, basic step that can generate huge rewards. Feel like giving it a shot? Download your free, blank SWOT template today! (Insert link to SWOT template).
Has your pharmacy completed a SWOT analysis? Has it helped your pharmacy grow or uncover any hidden gems about your company you had been missing? How has the SWOT analysis impacted –– positively or negatively –– your standing in the community? We’d love to know and may even share those experiences in future blog posts, white papers, and e-books. If you’d like to add your experience, please contact BB Drake.
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