"The Successful Pharmacy Owner is The One Who Discovers New Solutions Before Big Pharma & The Insurance Companies Destroy it." -- The Pharmacy Sage
#1. Market to Your Existing Patients
Keep in touch with your own patients. It is seven times easier and seven times less expensive to get your patients to spend an additional dollar than it is to get new customers to do the same. That’s significant. Determine who are your top 1% of patients are. Those are the 1% who contribute as much as 95% to your profits. Collectively that small number may contribute $50,000-$150,000 additional to your high margin sales if only you will emplace them. Market to them and market more frequently than you do to any other group of patients. These are the people with money and willing to spend that money with you for the benefit of their health and the health of their families.
Be certain to capture the name, address, phone number and especially e-mail address of every person who makes a first time purchase of a specific nutraceutical. Organize them by disease state so that you can mass e-mail or mass mail to them. If you’re not collecting data on every customer who buys something from you, you are missing out on something that may be the biggest opportunity available to you. This database becomes your most valuable asset— one that never appears in your accountant’s reports.
Mail a highly informative and educational newsletter monthly to the database of names that you have collected. Be sure to include other databases obtained from health fairs, seminars, as well as people you can get to sign up for the newsletter who are picking up prescriptions.
Market to this database at least once monthly. Use your newsletter to get them to return more often and purchase more products which are valuable to their health. Use email blasts to segmented groups of database customers based on their disease states or maladies.
Remember to remain HIPAA-compliant, you must have a separate database.
#2. WOW Your Patients
You're setting the stage for a great alignment between your patients and your pharmacy. Show each patient how much you really care. This is your opportunity to display and make evident just how friendly your pharmacy really is. Caring and friendliness are two captivating characteristics that create customers-for-life.
You’re also setting the stage for a word-of-mouth advertising campaign which you will be initiating and one, over which you will have much more control.
It all starts with a simple phone call. A phone call to people making their first purchase of something that is valuable to their health. Perhaps you do this for the benefit of new patients bringing their script to you. But, more importantly, you should be doing this for people who are buying natural meds, especially if you have either marketed to them in the media or recommended the product personally. Call the individual, ask how the product is doing for them and make certain they are adhering to protocol (how they are using it). The product that the customer purchased will sort-of dictate the timing for your follow-up phone call.
For instance, if the product can produce a noticeable response for a patient in a short period of time, then the follow-up phone call will be made at the end of 3-5 days. For other products that do not produce any significant measurable results, but rather protect the health of the individual in the long run, the phone call will be made later in the month. Products such as CO-Q10, or any immune system builder, even your recommended vitamin mineral combination would fall into this category.
For your patients who have had a new compounded prescriptions filled; call these patients in two-to-three days to follow up on how things are going, such as: Any problems or side-effects from the medicine or other questions they might have. Also use this opportunity to make certain that patient is using medication exactly as prescribed.
#3. Guarantee Your Way to Success
This tactic can increase your sales of any natural medicine product by as much as 40% when you teach it to your staff members. It’s all about taking the risk off the shoulders of your patients— especially if it’s something they did not specifically come in to buy. Thus, when you make a suggestion, the patient might hesitate at first.
On the other hand, if at the end of your presentation you mention (and you teach your staff) “take this home and use it with the full understanding that you have my 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not totally satisfied with the results that you get by the end of 30 days, (or 60 days if so desired, for some products) then please do bring back the empty tube/bottle and we’ll cheerfully refund your full purchase price.”
Once your people make this statement, your patient feels much more relaxed, much more willing to make the purchase, because the onus is not on her to bear the burden if she’s not satisfied. You have assumed the risk of her satisfaction. In fact, the entire process is called “risk reversal.”
#4. Creatively Arrange Your Products
Organize nutraceutical displays by disease state. Arrange disease states alphabetically left to right (e.g. allergies, arthritis, asthma, etc.). Also include a book or two as a focal point for each disease state. Have it standing upright on the shelf.
When you make shopping easier for your patients they will spend more money and do so more quickly (studies show 15% increase when you do this).
Your staff members will also find it much easier to sell products because they have all of the products in one place to help customers find solutions to their maladies and discomforts.
Don’t be afraid to duplicate certain items in various displays (e.g. EFA’s, Multivitamins/Minerals, etc.)
#5. Turn Selling Into an Art Form
At the pharmacy bench, turn flora-destroying antibiotics into an opportunity to sell probiotics. Consider it your obligation to inform and educate your patients on both the short-term as well as the long-term side effects of taking antibiotics without replenishing flora. This one tactic can add an additional $800 – $1200 per week, by the end of just six weeks.
Approach statin drug patients in the same fashion with CoQ10 which is utterly essential to prevent other types of heart attacks resulting from the destruction of CoQ10 by the statins. Again, keep in mind, it is your duty and your responsibility to get your statin drug patients to leave the store with CoQ10 to help them maintain their good health.
Provide consistent and knowledgeable counseling for drug/vitamin/mineral/nutrition depletion. Turns prescription patients into more profitable ones. This one tactic can build not only sales and profits but also a tremendous reputation for you. Remember, doctors don’t know the subject and chain store pharmacists neither know nor care. You will be all alone in providing this highly knowledgeable information that is so vital to your patients’ good health.
Commence a similar process at front-end for arthritis and allergy suffers— flu sufferers in season, too. Provide friendly greeting— develop front-end service and add-on sales. Devote each month to a different topic— a different disease state. You can easily commence the first month with arthritis. Therefore your question of the month can well be “Mrs. Jones, tell me is there anyone in your entire family who suffers from arthritis?”
#6. Never Miss An Opportunity to Increase Your Marketing
Use Grass Root Marketing Strategies. That is, marketing that costs you nothing or very little. For example:
Include marketing material in every bag that leaves your store. It could be as simple as a copy of an advertisement you recently ran, a bag clipper, even a special report or newsletter. If you are shipping the product to a neighboring town, include as much information as you can. You increase your marketing and its reach, thereby increasing the possibility of additional sales and profits.
Cross market (coupon) with local stores, especially those in your strip mall or adjacent retail locations, i.e., dry cleaners, burger joints, pizza parlors, diners, etc.— particularly ones that appeal to more upscale audiences. A local delicatessen is a good choice. Get them to offer 20% off natural medicine products, showing that the other business has it’s name on the certificate as the “supposed” donor.
Call host of talk radio show/station to find out what is the biggest malady/affliction each one has. Then send the natural medicines as a free gift to that individual to try. Should produce some very good free publicity to a wide listening audience.
Differentiate yourself by sharing your expertise. More than anything else people seek your expertise in integrative medicine.
#7. Develop Fee-for-Services
This can become one of the most profitable new income streams you could possibly create. In essence, you can add a thousand dollars of pure profit each week and help create more sales of nutraceuticals to more and more patients who will be constantly returning to purchase the nutraceuticals and compounds.
The strategy is to offer a free 15 minute consultation. If you cannot complete the consultation in 15 minutes and make the proper suggestions, then indicate to the patient that she needs a lengthier consultation for which you identify your fee schedule. You should be charging at least $120 an hour for your consultations. If you have already been charging that amount, and are successful, then raise your fees to $150. Remember, you’re worth it.
#8. Drive More People to Your High Profit Products & Services with Educational Seminars
In this case, I recommend that you run educational seminars. When properly conducted you will see increased sales in natural meds, as well as compounding.
First, choose a topic. Your first topic should be HRT— that’s the most popular topic, and usually the one that draws the most attendees. It may also be the topic about which you have the greatest fund of information.
Next, outline your subject material. Plan on having at least 45 minutes to an hour for your presentation, and 15 minutes of questions and answers. Your outline should focus on, or at least include, the benefits as seen from the viewpoint of the patient— for instance, how might patients benefit from bio-identical HRT?
For each seminar, I recommend running two ads. If the event is to be held on a Tuesday, I suggest running the ad on the Thursday and Monday before the event.
#9. Creatively Get Your Vendors to Help Defray the Cost of Your Advertising
The very best concept for advertising support I have discovered is for you to have the manufacturer provide you with FREE product. When you advertise, you have an all-win situation.
#10. Cross Marketing
Use host/referral marketing with another business in your area. Arrange for the other business owner to send his customer base a powerful message about your knowledge and expertise and the many ways in which you help people to build their health and retain that good health. Accomplish this joint venture in exchange for your doing the same, or something else, for this business partner. This is one of the most powerful— and yet seldom used— marketing techniques that exists.
At the very least, leave highly informative and educational brochures—even reports—in the offices of chiropractors, dentists, practitioners of internal medicine. Be certain to customize your brochures for each specialty.
#11. Become the Recognized Authority
Get your local newspaper to publish authoritatively researched and written health-related articles. (You make the arrangements, we write the articles for you.)
Become noted as an authority in your field, especially for those particular areas of interest in which you can provide expertise for prospective patients. Be certain they publish the credits at the end of the article pertaining to your being the authoritative source of that information. Your pharmacy name and phone number can be listed for people to call and obtain additional information.
Once the newspaper publishes one of your articles, it will be easy for you to get them to publish more of the same. Just phone and make arrangements.
#12. Obtain Free Publicity
Get interviewed on radio or television. Tie into a local health related program or health related segment of a television broadcast or talk radio. Make arrangements to present a specific topic periodically that can range anywhere from two minutes (on a news broadcast) to ten minutes on a radio talk show. A few good topics are Arthritis, Allergies, and Osteoporosis.
Once again you will be presenting yourself as the expert. Accordingly, you will commence attracting many new patients. You can also talk on subjects about which you have a substantial fund of knowledge and which will result in having people calling you at your pharmacy.
#13. Extend Your Marketing Reach
Arrange speaking engagements and lectures with local organizations and societies— even presentations in local high schools or college classrooms.
Also, consider those communities adjacent to your own. Are they well covered by your newspaper or do they have their own newspapers? Would extending your advertising into other towns or cities significantly increase the flow of patients for your nutraceuticals and your compounding?
Further extend your outreach by developing a good world-class website with copy that actually sells products— to a nationwide audience.
If you want to have a future, you better plan it now. That’s what entrepreneurs do. Dealing with insurance companies today is a rat race.