So you’ve decided you’re starting a pharmacy. Congratulations! Owning an independent pharmacy is one of the most rewarding small businesses you could endeavor and one of the best options for a pharmacist. However, opening a pharmacy does come with its fair share of challenges.
To help you in opening a pharmacy, a how to guide will walk you through the main considerations you should make in getting your independent pharmacy up and running.
Ask Other Pharmacists or Experts
One of the best places to start when opening a pharmacy is to look for guidance from other pharmacists and industry experts. Independent pharmacists in neighboring areas that do not present a conflict of interest can give you some great insights on how communities like yours engage with their local pharmacy. They can also tell you particular problems they had when first starting out. Most importantly, they can recommend good lawyers, consultants, and suppliers to get you started and warn you of which ones should be avoided.
Your business plan is the blueprint of your pharmacy. Take your time in crafting this document and look to help from consultants or experts if necessary. Some of the most important aspects of your pharmacy business plan include:
- Market Research: Thoroughly research the market you are entering to predict where the industry is heading, how much you can be expected to earn, and what strategies will work best.
- Finances: How will you fund your independent pharmacy? Bank loans? Private investors? Personal savings? Make sure you understand how much money you are putting in and when you expect to see a return.
- Growth Plan: Expect a significant amount of time before your pharmacy begins to turn a profit. Map out your growth plan through your unprofitable years and into the years where you can begin to look into expanding your pharmacy.
Location is a major factor for any independent pharmacy. Before opening a pharmacy in a specific community, be sure to do research around that community. Look at the demographics of the residents, number of doctor’s offices and other complementary businesses, and information on any existing or former pharmacies. If an independent pharmacy in that area closed down, try to find out why.
Once you have decided on the perfect town or community, your store’s physical location is your next big consideration. Having easy access and good placement on a main road can make sure your pharmacy is seen and is convenient for your customers.
Your supplier relationships will determine your pharmacy margins on pharmaceuticals, which can make or break your business. The best arrangement is usually to choose one main wholesale supplier and then supplement your inventory with overstock and short-dated Rx suppliers.
Choosing a wholesale vendor for your independent pharmacy should be a major decision as their contracts can often lock you into deals for long periods of time. Short-dated Rx like SaveBigRx are more flexible and can help you find deals to reduce your pharmacy margins in specific areas.
As you bring on help for your pharmacy, make sure all employees understand your goals as a business and are willing to work to help those goals. The main roles every pharmacy will need to fill are:
- Pharmacy Technician
- Stock workers
It’s likely that you’ll wear many of these hats when you’re first starting out. It is still important to define each role and responsibilities so you can grow successfully.
If you’re interested in pharmacy marketing ideas you can use year round, check out our guide “The 7-Step Blueprint To Get Customers To Switch To Your Independent Pharmacy.”