Why, and How to Implement a Line Busting Program in Your Pharmacy

Free space is a valuable commodity. One that many businesses don’t have. There’s only so much you can cram into any storefront. Pharmacies often must pick and choose the best way to optimize the space they have available. Performing a calculated balancing act between product, point-of-service, and well, just room to breathe.

In recent months of course, space is at more of a premium than ever. As social distancing requirements continue across the United States, what may have once constituted light foot traffic, is now approaching maximum capacity for your pharmacy.

Compounding this issue, your once upon a time multi register counter may not be capable of serving more than 1 customer at a time while maintaining social distancing standards.

This conundrum can easily be solved with the simple process of line busting. And it doesn’t even have to cost you anything.  Here’s what you need to know.

First, what is line busting anyway?  Have you ever been waiting in a drive-up coffee line and they send out runners to start taking orders before you get to the window? Or been at a bank and someone runs out to ask if anyone has simple transactions, like a deposit? These are both methods of line busting. Simply put, line busting just means that you’re shortening or eliminating your checkout line.  You can either pull customers aside from the line to help them, or just get their transaction staged so that the final checkout process goes much faster.

Either of these options is a win-win. Wait time for customers becomes shorter and it’s easier to keep everyone spaced out.

Now, let’s talk about a couple of ways to run line busting in your pharmacy.  If line busting is a temporary, or occasional need for your pharmacy, the last thing you want to do is spend money on the program. Investments in pharmacy infrastructure are great, but they have to make sense and create ongoing value.

Here’s a simple line busting workflow that won’t cost anything to implement (outside of personnel to run it) as long as you have an additional register that can be used. For example, you may have two registers on a counter, but there isn’t the recommended 6 feet of space between them. Meaning that only one of those two registers can be serving customers at any given time.

  • Assign a team member to run the unused register in a line busting capacity.
  • The clerk will work the main line of customers. Taking their OTC items, finding out if they are picking up prescriptions and if there’s anything else they’ll need during the checkout process. The customer can then depart from the main line while they wait to be called forward to complete their transaction.
  • Returning to the register, the clerk rings the sale through to the point of selecting a method of payment.
  • At this stage, the clerk bags up the order and creates a saved transaction. It’s now prepared to be finalized. Think of the line busting clerk as creating a queue for the main register.
  • When you’re ready to finalize the transaction, just pull up the saved transaction (on any till, and with a simple barcode scan for RMS customers.) and call the customer forward to collect signatures, complete counseling and provide payment.

This simple process requires only staff to run the line busting till and a bit of training for your team on how the workflow functions behind the scenes.

However, if you don’t have that additional register to work with, or if the number of lanes you have is simply not enough on more days than not, you might consider taking line busting a step further.

A tablet based till takes line busting to the next level. Pulling customers with easy, fast transactions from the line and stepping aside to complete their interaction from beginning to end. The advantage here is that with the right point-of-sale tools, you can scan products, capture signatures, tender payments and print or email receipts in one go. We recommend limiting line busting in this manner to card payments or A/R so that employees don’t have to juggle cash or checks while on the floor.

If you think line busting might be right for you, or if you need some advice on getting your program started, the RMS team is here to help.

We’d love to hear from you about if and how you are using line busting in your pharmacy today. Comment below to share your experiences.