Doing the basics well

winner award

Eight tips that have helped keep successful pharmacy owners focused on the fundamentals of their business, by John Thornett 

Humanity has a great ability to complicate things that are not meant to be complicated to begin with. But we over analyse, criticise, dissect, breakdown and do all manner of data analytics to try and get ahead.

In the cut and thrust of a highly competitive business world, us business owners are always looking for an advantage over others. Yet we forget the fundamentals, the foundations that all solid businesses are built on.

One of the reasons I love what I do, is I get to talk to a lot of pharmacy owners and learn about who is doing what well. Those who quietly go about doing their thing, with no “hoo-ha”, and achieve consistent performance year after year, despite what the rest of the industry is doing.

Often these successful owners, the ones I really admire are just good at the fundamentals. They do not do anything overly complicated. The marks they take stick, their kicks are straight and hit their man on the chest overall, they follow the game plan.

From my conversations with some of these owners, below is a list that may help you to refocus on the things you may have neglected.

  1. Product Choice. The right product at the right price. They only stock the products their community want, at a price the community is happy to pay. They don’t stock what Coles or Woolies or another main competitors’ stock. They listen to their customers and give them what they want.
  2. Price, Margin, Volume. They understand high school economic theory. They understand if they put their prices up, how much volume they can afford to lose before gross profit dollars drop. Similarly, if they drop prices, they understand how much more volume they need to gain to make the same gross profit dollars. Don’t forget gross profit dollars pays the bills, not percentages. They have also been in the game long enough to know the elasticity of demand for their key product ranges.
  3. Connection to Community. Being relevant to their community remains the priority. Their focus always remains outward, at what the community needs from them, not what they need they need from their community. The good ones are active in their community, they listen, learn and respond accordingly.
  4. Relationships are of greater value to them then wealth. Their return on investment comes from the joy and satisfaction of helping people. Not in making money. It is such a joy to talk to people who really value relationships and helping people. They don’t lose their professional integrity for the sake of business. The profession of being a community pharmacist remains important to them, and do not sacrifice that in the constant strive for the dollar.
  5. They have a desire to constantly learn and improve themselves, they never stop learning. As a result, they stay relevant, they change and adapt. It is never someone else’s problem. They look internally to see what they personally, or what their businesses needs to be doing better. The day you stop learning is the same you stop being relevant.
  6. They have goals, they have dreams, they have a vision they want to achieve. They don’t get stuck into the same dull routine day after day. Furthermore, they are driven by goals, by a dream that they are emotionally connected to. They are not an employee of their own business, as unfortunately many owners are. Lastly, they are a leader, an entrepreneur and are driven.
  7. They understand their business is only as good as the team that works there. They constantly invest in their team, and their team are aligned to the goals, strategies and vision for the business. The more they invest in their team, the more the team bond, connect and work together to achieve the outcomes the owner desires. They also don’t stand for sub-optimal performance.
  8. Morals and Ethics remain important to them. They understand the world is a very small place, and pharmacy land is even smaller.

So, stop and have a look at where you are in your business life, and where your business is. Try to refocus on one of these basics and do it well.

John Thornett is Director of Peak Strategies, pharmacy specialist accountants


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