In an industry where every business appears to sell the exact same products to the exact same people, how does a pharmacy differentiate from the competition, without lowering prices? And, with shrinking margins and expanding insurance regulations, how can an independent pharmacy make money while still offering a trusted, high-touch healthcare experience? John Hoeschen, R.Ph., owner of St. Paul Corner Drug in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his team believe all it takes is spending one to two extra minutes with the patients. These one to two minutes will transform your patients’ health, your bottom line and quickly brand your pharmacy as the number one health resource in the community. “The biggest issue most pharmacy owners have is that they cannot get over the mindset where they believe their customers won’t pay for higher-quality, more expensive products. If you would have asked me twenty years ago if I could sell a $50 to $80 price point product out of my OTC section, I’d have said you’re crazy. Now, we sell it all day long by simply taking two minutes at the register to explain basic drug-nutrient depletion. We’re no longer in the same business as most retail stores, trying to sell 90-day supplies for $12.”
Increasing Pharmacy Sales Without Increasing Prescriptions
St. Paul Corner Drug is always looking for new ways to help their patients and finding new front-end sales opportunities. They were helping patients with some of their nutrient and supplement needs, but in July of 2016 they decided to put more focus on helping patients with drug-induced nutrient depletion. In early 2016, John and his team were filling 250 prescriptions per day and averaging $3,000 per month in supplement sales. In July 2016, they implemented the free Digital Replete Program. The team started having conversations about drug-induced nutrient depletions and products started flying off the shelves. His team began to see the power of starting a one-minute conversation and supplement sales skyrocketed. Supplement sales were $4,000 in August and hit $10,000 in the month of September.
A Tool to Help Initiate the Conversation
The Digital Replete Program is available via a web portal to any pharmacy and is also fully integrated in to the RMS Point-of-Care System. When John’s team scans a prescription, the RMS system searches for the drug and if there is Replete information, it pops up on the screen and the clerk can print information on paper, prompting the team to discuss the program and how it can alleviate negative side effects. “With an ‘in-the-moment transaction’, that’s when you can get people to commit to something,” John said. “After the fact or two days later, it just doesn’t have the same punch. It’s easier to have the conversation when it’s about a prescription in their hands and they can pay for it immediately.” John shares that this interaction makes his customers comment “Wow, I go to a great pharmacy. They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re giving me great information.” This solidifies the relationships built by the team and cements them to a point where the patients won’t go anywhere else, even for lower costs.
Shifting the Mindset: Selling vs. Helping
But like most independent pharmacy teams, it’s not always easy to confidently step into the space of making recommendations for supplements. No one enjoys selling, as it implies persuading people to make choices that are not in their best interest. By shifting the mindset from selling to helping, you can identify your patients’ needs and educate them on what you can do for them and recommend relevant products, programs and services to support their health. An established process that reminds you to offer nutrient depletion information mitigates the chance of forgetting to discuss repletion, while building the team’s confidence with the information printed in front of them. “A lot of pharmacies have allowed themselves to not learn about it, and that’s unfortunate because there’s enough good information now to educate yourself and to be able to provide that level of quality information to patients,” John said. “Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time learning stuff myself to be able to make recommendations, but then the reward is that the money follows. Your sales increase, profits go up and then your ability to help more people goes up because now you have more resources.”
A Zero-Marketing Budget
With the Ortho Molecular Products line and the Digital Replete Program, John’s team no longer has to constantly chase new patients because his current patients don’t go elsewhere. His customers are spending more money and spreading the word to their friends and family.
“It becomes a wildfire. I can't tell you how many strangers just walk in now, and I literally have a zero-marketing budget,” John said. “They say either their practitioner or neighbor sent them because we carry this product line or because we’ll ask them questions.”
“When they asked if I wanted to integrate a free digital nutrient depletion system, I said absolutely, I’ve been waiting for something like this for 15 years.” St. Paul Corner Drug started initiating conversations about nutrient depletion at their store. The Digital Replete Program enables John and his team to offer nutrient depletion information to their patients on the spot. His patients have started seeing the results and St. Paul Corner Drug’s front-end sales have increased significantly. It is truly a win-win situation.
Listen to John’s story presented at a recent pharmacy conference.