Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Well, maybe not technically, but it does seem pretty insane to me. I’m always a little shocked at how many retailers seem to be satisfied with the status quo. They work around problems, learn to live with them, make concessions for them, rather than try to make a change that could save them time and money, not to mention a good deal of frustration.
Obviously this is neither an effective or efficient way to run a business. And I think that business owners know that things could be better. But I also think that learning to stop living with the status quo is like trying to break a bad habit, or maybe more aptly, learning to create healthy good habits.
Just like getting into any sort of healthy new habit, defeating the status quo presents a couple of big obstacles. To begin with, you have to be honest with yourself about what the problems are and what’s causing those problems. Looking at your pharmacy and putting a finger on what needs to change can be just as difficult as it is for some to look in the mirror and decide it’s time to lose a few pounds.
Listening to your customers is a good first step for identifying where any problems might be. Most customers don’t have blinders on when it comes to their retail shopping experiences. They have an idea of how transactions and interactions should be handled and they may have a keener eye for regular processes and practices that just don’t make any sense. Paying attention to their feedback is important and will be a good indicator of how smoothly your pharmacy is or isn’t running. Check out this post if you need some helpful pointers on managing customer feedback. You should also solicit employee feedback and encourage employees to share their ideas for improvements. They may have experience with another pharmacy that did things differently, or they may see something in another retail environment that can be applied to your pharmacy. It’s important to create an environment where they’ll feel comfortable sharing their innovations with you.
Some of your inefficiencies may be technology related, others may be process related, but if you’re going to pull your pharmacy out of the rut and make improvements, you’ll also need to address the problems that you’ve identified. So many times, I hear or see problems that really have an easy fix if someone had just asked the question. Many pharmacy owners assume that there isn’t a way to streamline or automate a specific process, or that a single redundant step can’t be eliminated from the workflow, but often times it’s as simple as making a phone call to the appropriate service provider and asking for help. There may be something already available to address your specific need, or there may be another way to address things that you might not have thought of before. This is where working with providers that specialize in pharmacy can be a great advantage. At RMS, we specialize exclusively in pharmacy point-of-sale solutions, which means that our staff has a unique expertise and point-of-view when it comes to meeting the needs of independent and institutional pharmacies.
Just like shedding a few extra pounds, breaking the habit to just live with the status quo won’t necessarily be easy. It might seem simpler to just leave things as they are. After all, things are running okay now aren’t they? But okay just isn’t good enough anymore. Successful independent pharmacies need to strive for excellence in every facet of their business, which means it’s time to ask the hard questions, both of yourself and of your service providers.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customers service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.