As an independent pharmacy owner, you understand the importance of retaining your customers. Losing your customers to chain pharmacies will hurt your bottom line, but most importantly, it makes it difficult to grow your business.
To realize exponential growth, you need to keep a huge percentage of customers that walk into your pharmacy. Below are some tips that will help you retain your customers and achieve a better growth rate.
Exceptional Service: There is no surprise here. You have to go above and beyond in the services you deliver to your customers. There is no excuse here. If you are not offering exceptional service, none of the other tips below will matter because your customers are not coming back.
What is exceptional service? It is simple. Deliver memorable services to your customers that will stick with them. Do you have a long line because of a tech not showing up? Offer to deliver the medications to your local customers rather than having them wait in line. Opportunities always present themselves; try to take advantage of them when your customers least expect it.
Talk to your customers, and learn their needs: Every time a customer comes to your pharmacy is an opportunity to talk and to learn the needs of your customers. This is important for two reasons; first, learning about pain points from your customers gives you opportunity to address them before they becomes a reason for your customers to bolt. Secondly, the time you spend with your customers might lead to more business opportunity. One of the best ways of increasing your sales is by selling more to the customers you already have. Find out what your customers want and try to offer service that will address those needs.
Offer value: Most patients don’t know that prices of their drugs are more costly at the big chain compare to independent pharmacies. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking price cutting will create repeat customers. Instead of focusing on price, focus on delivering value to your customers.
Delivering medication is more valuable to an elderly customer who is immobile than 15% off on front-end merchandise. Think of ways you can add value to your customers without hurting your bottom line because reducing price is a sure way to go out of business.
Accept responsibility: In the pharmacy, you always try to avoid mistakes but when it happens, admit the mistake and take full responsibility. You are more likely going to gain the trust of your customers doing this than trying the “cover-up” approach. Your will gain the confidence of your customers by being honest with them. There is one caveat here though: don’t let this become a routine.
Accept responsibility not only when a mistake is made but also when things are not operating the way it should. Some common scenarios in which you can apply the technique are when items are not in stock, there are long lines at the checkout, customers have been on hold on the phone for a long time, etc.
Engage your customers: Are you just selling drugs? If you are not engaging your customers, then that is what you are doing. The only way to differentiate your pharmacy from other pharmacies is by having engaged customers. It sounds more difficult than it is. The whole idea is to be on the minds of your customers more frequently rather than once a month when it is time for a refill.
If your pharmacy—your exceptional pharmacy—is on the minds of your customers, the customer is more likely to stop by. Have you ever noticed a customer coming to see if you have anything ready for them? It doesn’t happen by chance.
How can you engage your customers? Make it easier to communicate with your customers. With the rise of digital technology, this has become much easier. You can build an email or cell phone list of your customers. This list will allow you to send important messages every few days. Remember, the goal is not for your customers to act on the message that you are sending but to remind them that you exist.
There is a famous quote that says, “Little hinges swing a big door,” so it is important as an independent pharmacy owner to find these small changes, or “little hinges” that will yield huge returns. None of the tips outlined above is expensive, but when followed, they will make your bottom line fat.
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Are you interested in learning how to use mobile/web technology to manage your customers? Check out our new smartphone app PortScript. It is designed to help independent pharmacies create customer engagement in a simple, easy, and cost effective way.
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