Samford Chemmart Pharmacy, Queensland is one of the finalists in this year’s Guild Pharmacy of the Year Award.
Knowing its customers and the community in which it operates has been key to Samford Chemmart Pharmacy continuing to grow and evolve in an environment which has fazed many other businesses.
Owner Karen Brown says the pharmacy is well known for its community engagement and in particular its Samford Health Expo, which gives allied health professionals the chance to connect with each other and interact with local residents.
“In 2015 about 1000 people attended the expo and it grew to include all kinds of businesses relating to mental and physical wellbeing,” she says.
“Thanks to the expo, allied health professionals from the Samford area now hold monthly meetings.
“We are more in touch with the health of the community on all levels through these new relationships and often have patients referred to us directly.”
The expo is just one example of the community engagement initiatives the pharmacy is renowned for.
“We run a community fund, giving customers the opportunity to vote for one of two community groups,” says Brown. ‘At the end of each month, we donate $250 to the group with the most votes and $100 to the runner-up.
“And we also sponsor local sporting groups and organisations, raise funds during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and speak about health at the local retirement village, kindergarten, Men’s Shed and playgroup.
“I could go on for hours about what we do and the reason we have time to do it is because Chemmart does such a great job for us behind the scenes.”
She says Chemmart is passionate about forward dispensing and its Masterclass program has helped the Samford pharmacists understand the importance of engaging with patients.
“By embracing forward dispensing, offering exclusive health services and getting out into the community, people get to know you on a more personal level. They start thinking, ‘I can’t just pop into any pharmacy, I have to go and see Karen’,” she says.
“What makes our pharmacy really unique is the culture we have created – within our team, in store with our customers and outside in the community.”
Brown says she is an optimist, “so for me it’s all about being innovative. I would rather focus our energies on being one step ahead of the game.
“As a result we have been continually evolving, so things like price disclosure and increased competition haven’t affected us greatly.
“My motto is, ‘It’s about the profession not the product’.”
Brown says one innovation at the pharmacy is to have offerings exclusive to Samford so people do not have to drive 20 minutes to the nearest shopping centre.
And in response to customer feedback, it expanded its range of health services, hired a clinic nurse and up-skilled its dispensary manager (Jacqui Hagidimitriou) to specialise in natural medicines. It also offered sports nutrition and incontinence categories.
“We have expanded our professional service offerings too, but we focus on the services exclusive to Chemmart because they’re a big point of difference for us,” Brown says.
“The Impromy weight loss program, Spotcheck skin cancer screening service and MyDNA testing service in particular, all attract people to our pharmacy. People will drive distances for these services – sometimes over half an hour and past a number of other pharmacies.”