A pharmacy is one of the basic foundations of community health for any locale. They provide not only medicines but a whole range of holistic health services that improve living conditions and benefit the community in many ways. At least, in the right ownership anyway.
If you’re considering starting your very own pharmacy it can be a very rewarding choice but it’s also fraught with potential risks and difficulties. It’s not a decision to rush into and you’ll need to plan accordingly if you want to be successful.
Research and Planning
Thorough research and planning is the most important step to starting any business. A pharmacy has similar requirements to all retail businesses in this regard but it also has a few rather unique legal requirements due to the nature of the products that you and your staff will be handling. Many medicines can be quite dangerous or addictive and it is your responsibility to ensure that you create a safe and regulated environment to dispense them in.
The legal requirements for owning and operating a pharmacy vary by state and it’s important to ensure that you understand them fully. Professional legal advice is a wise investment even if you’ve been a pharmacist for years and feel that you know everything you need to. Compared to the cost of government fines, lawsuits, or business failure, the initial legal costs involved in planning for your business’ success pale in comparison.
You will also need to consult a business accountant and financial advisor to help give you a clear understanding of how to manage your finances and how to meet your legal obligations in regards to taxes and other commitments. It is a very expensive endeavor to open a pharmacy and you will need at least $500000 for the initial setup, as well as significant additional funding to keep your business afloat until you can begin to make a profit. Managing this amount of money over a long period can be difficult even for the most diligent people without expert advice and planning.
Having the means to start a business isn’t enough to run a successful business and there’s a lot more that needs to occur before you can open a store, however. The final aspect of your research is also unfortunately the most difficult part: marketing.
The difference between a successful business and a failure is having a comprehensive marketing plan to guide you. While you can’t account for every factor, you should have a good understanding of the location, demographics, and competition before you even consider opening your pharmacy to the community.
The most important aspect of this is determining whether your business is even viable. It doesn’t matter how incredible your business is if there is no interest or too much competition. You need to determine where you can open, what your potential customers want and expect from a pharmacy, and how you can compete against competitors in the area. Starting a pharmacy without a competent answer to these questions is reckless and likely to fail.
Plan the Store and Hire Staff
Pharmacies are more than just a source of medication. A community pharmacy is also a retail business and the planning that goes into your pharmacy will help to make it a profitable business. If you’re not able to sell gifts and general goods effectively, the cash flow from medicines alone likely won’t be enough to keep the lights on unless you run an online pharmacy.
Forging positive relationships with your customers is the key to success and it is your employees that can help to make or break your pharmacy in this regard. Friendly, empathetic staff encourage customers to feel appreciated and return often but they can also serve to drive profits in other ways.
When you hire employees that have experience or specialized skills in sales and merchandising, this is one of the most impactful and effective ways to improve the success of any retail business. Finding good employees takes a lot of time and effort but if you make it a priority they will help to drive the success of your business.
Analyze and Grow
If you can’t track and assess your business goals, you have no way to truly measure whether you’re achieving all that you can. This is why constant and frequent analysis needs to follow the opening of your business.
To continue to grow, set goals that you can easily track. It’s not helpful to just decide that you want to gain more customers. Set a real number, a deadline to meet the goal, and find methods that could be used to do it. Planning to double your numbers of repeat customers within 3 months with a loyalty program and other measures is an example of a goal that has a significantly greater chance of success.
Constantly setting new goals and tracking how your business performs helps to guarantee the future of your pharmacy. Opening a business is hard, but keeping it open for years is an even greater challenge.