It’s that time of year again – the World Series! Thirty Major League Baseball teams play 162 games during the course of the season which starts in April, but only 10 make the playoffs come October. The winners of the League Championship Series advance to the World Series – the best team in the American League versus the best team in the National League.
So, what can we in the pharmacy world learn from the teams that have survived to play each other in October? Are they the teams that spend the most on payroll? Or, is it something else?
1. Be prepared for adversity.
It’s a long season. Players get hurt. Sometimes right at the beginning of the year. The teams that survive have selected players that provide plenty of backup if a starting player gets injured. They can replace that left fielder who got hurt with a good fielding replacement – not someone who has never played the position. Baseball is a team game. One star player will not lead you to success. Think about your team. Staff go on vacation. They get sick or their children are ill and they can’t come in. They move on or move up. Training is the key. Make sure your staff is prepared for an unexpected (or expected) absence. Someone must be able to step up when one of your leads is unable to work and create the OTC order, or run reports, etc.
2. Be innovative.
The teams that survive to October didn’t get there by doing things “the way they have always been done.” For example, many teams have assigned roles for their relief pitchers – Pitcher A comes into the game in the 8th inning and Pitcher B always closes the game in the 9th. The best teams, especially in the playoffs and World Series, eschew that advice and may use the 9th inning closer in the 7th inning when the game could actually be decided. What about in the pharmacy world? Your prescription margins are shrinking. Chain stores have decimated your traditional front end. What to do? Find the service gaps that others are not taking advantage of. Offer flu shots. Stock DME products. Offer something new that differentiates your service from what other pharmacies are offering, like increasing attachment sales to your prescriptions.
3. Use technology and information
Baseball is a very traditional sport, and many teams and players are loathe to change. But even baseball has been revolutionized by the introduction of technology (think analytics) as in Moneyball. Teams now routinely shift their defenses based on where a batter is most likely to hit the ball. Relief pitchers are brought in to face a batter that they have had success against. A whole lineup may be altered depending on who the other team is pitching (a left hander or a right hander).
What about in pharmacy? You have access to information in your POS system about your customers’ buying habits. Use your POS system to identify products that are selling well and increase their shelf space. Eliminate stock that is not moving, and replace it with items that may appeal to the changing demographics of your area. Your POS system can also tell you your busiest times so that you can make sure that you have enough staff to handle the volume during the day.
Sure, good luck and fortune often play a role in which teams are around at the end. But good luck is often the result of the preparation and planning that go into how you run your team or your pharmacy. A good POS system will help your team perform optimally and efficiently so that you can provide the winning service that your customers will love you for.