Ditch the motherhood statements

Pharmacies are being ill-served by generic mission statements written up by their banner group head office, says Glenn Guilfoyle

Too often when I ask an owner to have a look at their mission/vision statement, if they have one, it will often be a hand-me-down from their brand or group head office. Straight away, it is by definition going to be generic. 

Secondly, it will often be replete with “Mum and Motherhood” statements about providing great service… ‘the customer is the most important person’…. ‘we act with honour and integrity’…. and on and on. Blah Blah Blah.   

I nearly always have the sinking feeling that I could take this document from one pharmacy and pass to another, and no one would know any difference.

The terms vision and/or mission statements often carry negative connotations for the very reason exemplified above. 

Alternatively a set of well crafted service standards, produced by the whole team, can be an enormously powerful “contract” between all team members – and a commitment or promise to the customers. 

The starting point

Start with the health section of your business. Think about each and every customer “touch point” in relation to a single visit.

These could include the script-in counter interaction, the OTC counter interaction, the interaction with the customer browsing the health product gondolas, the interaction with the customer sitting at the waiting chairs, standing at a queue at script out and so on. 

Think about how you will marshall your team and deploy your rosters so that every one of these touchpoints will have adequate staff coverage to provide the desired customer experience …. at EVERY touch point.

It is as old as Noah coming off the Ark, but by crikey, it is a ripper and grossly under-utilised still…………the acronym “SMART”. 

When you convene your team to brainstorm these customer touchpoints and how you want to give your customer the differentiated “wow” experience, whichever touchpoints they will experience on any visit to your pharmacy, use this model to ensure that your collaborative team write up avoids bland “Mum and Motherhood” statements.

Five key points

Here’s list of key points to remember:

  • Specific – we will greet the customer within 30 seconds of arrival at any service counter
  • Measurable – have your team members at cash and wrap to ask random customers during quiet times at cash and wrap whether they were served by a white coat and run a count for measurement (if, say you hold a service standard that a white coat is going to serve customers at script out x% of occasions)  
  • Achievable – don’t set a specific and measurable service standard that is pie-in-the-sky.  Better to start off conservative and progressively sharpen from there
  • Results oriented – sticking with the health customer example, think about what is really important for them in terms of a more complete solution offer. A service standard to recruit them to your loyalty program might be results oriented for you and may well be laudable – but not at the expense of or as a priority over a chance for a consultation with a white coat (however brief) EVERY visit
  • Time framed – ie. the more you can couch each service standard in terms of duration, eg “within 1 minute” or frequency, eg “90% of times” the better

Such an endeavour will not be easy. That in itself is a good indicator of its merit.

Once you’ve drafted it, run it as an internal credo amongst the team for a month or two. Adjust and refine, and then gazette and communicate it to your customers.  

Tell them you are not perfect and that these service standards are what you are aspiring to. The customers will love you for it.

Glenn Guilfoyle is principal of The Next Level. Contact him here or by calling 0418 519 755 


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  1. pagophilus

    Staff don’t care about mission statements. They go to work to do their job the best they can. Customers also don’t care about them. They are simply a part of corporate 101 – how to run a textbook business, even though a textbook business doesn’t exist – each one is different. Some of the things businesses “must” do need to be reviewed. Next – staff appraisals…

    • Paul Sapardanis

      How someone working in an office who has never been into your store can have so much influence in its running still baffles me . How owners allow it baffles me further.


      Little known piece of advice for owners: don’t pay these overpriced consultants unless you are completely inept at doing your job.
      I’ve had several reports that (in the end) all they do is gather valuable data from your stores and give little in return to boost turnover & profitability. Staff certainly don’t respect them and in some cases these consultants actually LEARN MORE FROM YOUR STORE than they teach!
      Certainly if you are already running a well oiled store then overpriced consultants are simply not worth it to add little to no value.
      In fact, they should be PAYING THE PHARMACY for the valuable metadata that they gather from each site to add to their databases.
      Paul Sapardanis is correct – I’ve laughed at some really stupid suggestions from these consultants – to the point where staff at one site were offended & ended up having zero confidence in him! The owner paid literally thousands of dollars over several months for ZERO result all in despite of the sensible (and already high-performing) pharmacist manager’s best advice to cease.
      I’ve run multi-million dollar turnover businesses and taught others how to do so properly (for no charge other than my own time). Every single one I’ve managed to improve within 6-12 months – you really just require plain commonsense to be successful!

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