When I first started at RMS, I’ll admit I didn’t really have a clear picture of just how great of a company I’d landed at and how rewarding it would be to work with independent pharmacies. I also didn’t know just how integral a role a pharmacist can play when it comes to managing our health and well-being. And then I got a cold. It was extremely busy at RMS because the FSA demand was in full swing so I took whatever cold medicine I had lying around the house and trudged into the office. I wasn’t feeling so bad, but I was congested and sounded pretty awful. And then something pretty great happened. I was chatting with one of our customers, and he called me out on sounding like I’d seen better days. I laughed as best I could and told him I sounded worse than I felt and that I just couldn’t get rid of my congestion. He simply said “You need a good pharmacist”. He proceeded to give me a good recommendation to help me feel better.
Recently, I was reminded again just how important pharmacists are when my 1 year old broke out in hives over dinner. I had already rushed him to urgent care and they’d told me to grab some Benadryl on my way home. But when I stopped at the grocery store (because it was 9pm and my usual pharmacy was closed) there was no liquid Benadryl on the shelf. Panicked that I’d have to extend my sons misery while I hunted down a store that had what we needed, I realized that their pharmacy was still open. Luckily for me, this store is a family owned, relatively small chain with great staff. The pharmacist listened to what I needed and quickly produced a comparable product, and for a lot less money.
So are you noticing a trend for me yet? While these experiences are part of what makes a loyal customer, it also occured to me that I encountered these issues because I was uneducated about basics I should have around the house, and my medicine cabinet was not at all well stocked. I was too busy to think about it and no one had ever pointed out to me just how many necessities I was missing. And I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation. As a pharmacist, you can help your patients to avoid this pitfall, all while gaining some sales and creating some very grateful and loyal customers. The best part is that all it takes is a little brainstorming, some staff education, some promotional settings in your POS system and a little bit of marketing with an eye catching display. Here’s some inspiration to get you started:
1) Brainstorm: Come up with some different lists of must have items for the well-stocked medicine cabinet. You can start with the basic list of necessities. Band-Aids, anti-bacterial cream, an anti-inflammatory, antacids, multi-vitamins and whatever else you can think of. Use your private label products for higher margins and better prices for your customers. Then think on some creative add-ons. For example, customers with little ones at home should think about adding some Benadryl and a children’s pain reliever and fever reducer. In the fall and winter months add cold medication, in spring think about allergy medications and eye drops and in the summer months add in sunscreen and some aloe.
2) Educate: Talk to your staff about these items. Make sure that they understand why you chose these particular products and that they are comfortable sharing this information with your customers. Have them think about instances where they’ve helped a panicked customer who urgently needed something that they really should have had on hand so they can share that instance with other customers. Train your staff to ask probing questions like, “Do you have a well-stocked first aid kit?” or “Do you have everything at home that you need to keep your family healthy?”
3) Utilize your POS system: Set up bundles and promotions that incentivize customers to stock up on your recommended items. You can give extra incentives to members of your loyalty programs and create a bundled price for all of the items together. Make it crazy easy for your customers to purchase these products and for your pharmacy staff to sell them. Create your own first-aid kit, or infant care package.
4) Market & Display: Pull your recommended products into one central spot in a high traffic area of your store. End caps and free standing displays are a good starting point. Make it colorful and eye-catching and put up some signage to promote any deals you are offering. Be sure to highlight the cost of all of the items sold separately vs. their cost as a package deal. If you are using private label products, point out the savings when compared to the name brand version of the product. Finally, be sure that you leave the regular spaces for these products well stocked so that customers looking for something specific can easily find what they need. You can put a signs up next to these products to point them towards your new display. Try something like “More medicine cabinet essentials located at the front of the store”, or “Check out our medicine cabinet essentials display for a great deal on this item”.
I hope you’ll take the idea of staff recommendations to the next level and give this a try. Remind your customer why its so imporant to have a good pharmacist on their healthcare team. Let me know what kinds of items you bundle and how it works for you!