Getting back to basics


What are five key areas you need to focus on in your pharmacy? Business expert John Thornett outlines his top five 

It can be a little overwhelming when you are in business to know what exactly you should be focusing on. There are so many issues floating around every day to deal with that require your attention and energy. It is very easy to lose focus. I have no doubt every business owner at some stage gets lost in the forest of “stuff”. Plus, not every business owner has well documented strategies, goals and action points. Most of us are too busy on “stuff”.

I had this exact same moment not so long ago. There were lots of issues floating around, knee deep in “stuff” and losing sleep over it too. I was watching a webinar and a simple graphic reminded me of what I am doing and why. For me it helped refocus my thoughts.

It is very easy to lose sight on what you should be focusing on. In times like this, its best to focus on the five basic components that features in nearly every business. Five key areas you need to build strategies around and apply to your business situation.

Attract New Customers

Every business must have processes in place to bring in new customers/patients/clients. As a former mentor told me, you need to be a marketing machine with a business built around it. It is difficult to achieve growth without a focused effort on attracting new business. This is all about your marketing strategies. Also, don’t think marketing is just social media, or just sending out catalogues.  It is about communicating and connecting with your target audience, through a variety of different channels. Websites, social media, blogs, events, collaborations, community events, podcasts etc. Don’t always just sell, sometimes people don’t want to be sold to. Educate them and provide them with value.

Manage Existing Customers

There is no point putting a huge amount of effort into bringing in new business if we are not looking after the ones we already have and losing them to the competition. Growth can also be achieved by focusing on your existing customers needs and providing the right products and services that they can connect with. Systems and procedures need to be built around this to identify what your customer needs are and looking after them well.

Optimise Processes

Simply put this is all about the efficiency of process. Structuring your workflow processes to ensure your basic customer focused systems work as efficiently as possible. How do you cut more time out of what you do? As a simple concept, automate the repetitive and have your team focussed on human relationships. This need also evolves as your business evolves. How you used to do things as a smaller business needs to change as you grow.

Develop Teams

Every business must constantly improve the technical skills (being good at your profession) and the soft skills (managing human relationships and interactions) within their team. Training needs to be a continual focus. You need to have systems that develop your teams.

You also need to combine this with identifying and recruiting the right skills set your business needs. As an owner you don’t need to do everything. You will find the talent you recruit will be better at it than you, if you give them the right direction, strategies and KPI’s. As your business evolves, the skill sets needed evolves as well.

As an example, for us came the time when I needed to get better at marketing, but I knew I didn’t have the skill set to do it properly. Hence why I needed to recruit a marketing expert. Enter Sarah Rendell.

Develop Products and Services

By being in tune with your community and target customer base, you become more and more aware of the emerging opportunities. You must always have an eye out for new products, services, opportunities that your customers need. This also requires an element of patience as well. It takes a while for this to filter through to the community, so give it time to develop.

Often there five areas overall lap and interact together. Developing products and services also helps with managing existing customers and attracting new customers. Developing your team enables you to optimise processes and managing existing customers better.

I found this system to be rather effective at focusing my attention on the right things, as well as simplifying where my thoughts when there is a lot going on. For your pharmacy, have a look at these five key areas and identify your strategies in each segment. Now if we are honest with ourselves, all our businesses have strengths and weaknesses. There are things that we are just not good at. Being able to identify our weaknesses and address them will get us to where we want to be.

John Thornett is Director of Peak Strategies, pharmacy specialist accountants

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