By Cynthia Lutz for our 99 Ways to Make a Positive Difference in Your Pharmacy blog series

With the pharmacy landscape becoming more and more challenging and competitive pressures encroaching upon you, establishing a vision for your pharmacy is a vital component of preparing a strategy for long-term success. If you haven’t thought about your pharmacy’s vision, start by answering this question: how do you want your pharmacy to be seen by your community?establish a vision for pharmacy

The way your community views your pharmacy is the key to its survival. The patients you serve need to see you and your pharmacy as an active partner in their healthcare, a necessary resource for their well-being. If they do, they will rely on you now and in the future – helping to keep your business strong.

Once you clarify for yourself what you’d like your business to mean to your community, take strategic steps to achieve that goal. Meet with your accountant or financial institution and take a close look at your business’ finances. Work with them to set realistic financial goals for the future. Then, draft a business plan with your vision and financial goals in mind. SCORE  –  a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals – has many resources available to help you free of charge.  You can even connect with an online mentor or attend an online workshop that can help you understand the financial and strategic next-steps for working towards your vision.

Once you have your vision and plan in place, roll up your sleeves and get to work! Engage with your community to build relationships and strengthen your business. Visibility in the community is vital to your success. Offer your expertise as a volunteer, or sponsor an event. Partner with schools and community programs to participate in fundraising efforts for their causes and get your pharmacy’s name out in public.

In your store, show appreciation for your current patrons and help attract new patients with a customer appreciation day or week. Set out some coffee and donuts, and invite visitors to linger in your store and interact with your staff. Offer sampling or product demonstrations to allow opportunities for your team members to engage front-and-center with patrons. You could also elicit customer suggestions, or assemble a patient advisory board to work with your pharmacy to suggest and help organize in-store and community health events that will strengthen your position and relationship to your community.

There are a lot of external forces creating a challenging environment for independents, but like any business, longevity hinges on planning, effort, and of course, clear vision.

Cynthia is a member of Hamacher's senior management team and is responsible for office administration and human resources. She is also an owner of the company.

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