Thanks in part to the nationwide staffing shortage, many pharmacies are struggling to serve any new patients that come to the door. In fact, a number of pharmacies we have spoken with aren’t interested in even trying to get new patients – simply because they can’t currently offer them the level of service they would like to. On the flip side, pharmacies continue to struggle to generate enough revenue, and turning patients away has many feeling a bit hopeless. However, there are numerous things that any independent pharmacy can implement to help boost the spending of current patients.
As we review the options below, the key to each of these is to ensure your team are fully on board and trained to help sell each and every one. More often than not, the pharmacy team is the most underutilized sales tool you have at your disposal. Finding a way to get them engaged and actively helping to grow these services will pay dividends down the line. Offering incentives or giving employees ownership over these things will encourage them to find new and creative ways to get patients engaged.
Whether you use a third-party program, such as Repeat Rewards, your dispensing system, such as Pioneer, or a system you have created entirely on your own – loyalty programs are a great way to increase the spending and repeat purchases of current patients. With prices on everything increasing, by offering an incentive for patients to purchase through you, you can ensure they will come back every month to get the items they need.
To give an example on the importance of engaging your team, one client that we work with started promoting their loyalty program in the final quarter of 2021. For 6 months their team only hung-up flyers and put bagstuffers into prescription bags but struggled to get anyone to sign up. About a month ago, they decided to add in an incentive. They set up a competition between pharmacy locations, and the winning team would get lunch and a bonus half day of PTO for each full-time employee or a $40 gift card for part-time employees. Within a month, they had signed up over 200 patients.
Subscription plans are an incredibly simple way to increase repeat purchase from current customers. By implementing programs such as a vitamin club (kids, adult, or prenatal), diabetes club, essential oils, CBD, etc – you can easily get patients coming back each month to get the items they need. All you need to do is to create some simple materials to correlate with whatever makes the most sense for your program. For example, if you implement a vitamin club, you can create member cards where those who sign up get 20% off their vitamins each month. Additionally, we have a client who has combined their compliance packaging with front-end product sales and for a flat fee their patients get their medications packaged with an OTC of their choice which can be packaged in with their monthly medications. For essential oils or CBD, try creating a buy 5 get one free punch card.
Cross selling will require the most training of your team, compared to the other suggestions listed. The point of cross selling is to be able to encourage additional purchases at the time of checkout. The simplest way to implement is to start a nutrient depletion program where patients on certain maintenance medications are encouraged to buy supplements to help replenish those that are lost. All your team needs is a list of which supplements pair with which medications and a short rack card with the details for patients to learn about. One pharmacy that we work with has started implementing a color-coding system, where the pharmacist will put a colored sticker on the prescription bag to correlate with which supplement should be recommended. This serves as a good reminder for either the cashier, or the pharmacist if they are providing a consult, to discuss nutrient depletion with the patient.
Other ways of cross selling include:
Discuss other vaccinations your pharmacy offers when someone comes in for a specific vaccine.
If someone is purchasing cold products, ask if they need Kleenex, hand sanitizer, or other related products
Patients purchasing braces may also want a pain cream
Stocking higher-end products
While not every patient will be willing to pay a premium for a higher end supplement – many will. This is especially true if you and your team do a good job of explaining the benefits of a higher quality supplement. It won’t take much before you start seeing a return.
One pharmacy owner that we work with stopped carrying his standard brands all together and only provided the higher end products. He told his customers that he realized that the ones he provided previously were not up to the quality that he felt comfortable providing his patients, so he switched brands. For those patients who complained about the price, he would still special order the lower cost bottles for them, but everyone else was fine paying a bit more for a better product.
Last, but certainly not least, many pharmacies are starting to implement more lifestyle and clinical services. Whether they are focusing on weight loss, disease state management, pain relief, or hormone balance – pharmacies are helping patients shift their mindset to think about independent pharmacy as a significant health resource. Doing so also allows pharmacies to charge for their time and expertise. Before implementing consultation services, do your research. Find out what need is not being met within your community and find a way to address it. Additionally, put together your goals, a timeline and plan to implement that includes your budget, training your team, and marketing. If you rush this process, you will likely struggle to get patients on board at the levels you hope to achieve.
For additional ideas or to schedule a one-on-one to discuss what would be best for your pharmacy, call GRX Marketing at 515-280-2914 or fill out our contact form to talk with a pharmacy marketing expert.