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3 Simple Steps To Cultivate & Engage Your Clientele

Jan 01, 2016

Being a pharmacist, have you ever been in a job where you did not “love” your customers?

Over the past two decades I have seen time and time again, pharmacy staff express their “issues” with customers a number of ways: avoiding a certain person having someone else to wait on them, rolling eyes, and even ‘venting’ after they leave. If you have ever worked conventional retail pharmacy, I am guessing you know what I am talking about.

Do you love what you do? Do you love the time you spend in your practice every day?

Regardless of my work situation over the years, I have found ways to love being at work, in practice, and I have realized this is due to the power we have to cultivate our clientele.

If you were to go out and ask any pharmacist at a big box or corner clone chain, or even an independent who solely practices the lick, stick and pour model of pharmacy, if they love their job, I am guessing you would get a resounding no- and a lot of this has to do with the people and customers they work with every day.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll of all professions and jobs shown that 72% of people are indifferent with their job; they are either not passionate about it, or outright negative, and this negativity is a virus which can spread throughout your pharmacy. And for those folks who tend to seek such drama, they catch it as well. What this is saying that only about 1/4 of the work force enjoys what they do, and if you think this does not affect customers opinion, you are mistaken.

In cases of independent pharmacists, (and even some chains), who have decided to think and practice outside the box, adding more clinical programs, expanding away from the lick, stick, and pour only model, job satisfaction shows to be much higher.

You can cultivate your clientele, as much as you can cultivate your employee’s, and I believe you should’ for the good of your happiness, the good of your business, and the good of your family and communities.

3 Steps To Cultivating & Engage Your Clientele

1) You have to like people, and care about adding value to their life

Whether you are in a retail pharmacy or are creating a consulting practice, the fact of the matter is, you have to like people, and you have to care about adding value to their life. If this is not you, there is a hospital pharmacy or mail order job waiting for you somewhere.

I am naturally a people person, and one of the things which I love most is providing someone the information or tools they need to get healthier, or on the other side of my business- to help them grow their practice. When I hear back from someone feeling better when they never thought they could, or excited on how their practices is growing- this thrills me more than any paycheck or material object ever could. Its a special kind of job satisfaction which I find is critical in cultivating clientele.

2) What you focus on will expand

I know this sounds kind of Tony Robbins like, or self-helpy, but personally I have never seen this more apparent than in pharmacy.

Let me give you a couple of quick examples in my history…think about examples of your own.

  1. When I ran the pharmacy and worked out in Jackson Hole, we had ‘hip’ customers. Now, what I mean by ‘hip’ is people who really took advantage of the Jackson Hole lifestyle, outdoor enthusiasts, regardless of their states of health. I would see these folks on hiking trails, the ski slopes, and even the restaurants at night. And sure, you might say, “its Jackson Hole, everyone is that way“- although not the case. And we did also have wonderful non-outdoorsey people, although still held values such as beauty, nature, expansiveness, wildness, unique attitudes, etc, very highly.

    All of us behind the pharmacy were avid outdoor enthusiasts, from hiking, to skiing, snowboarding, skateboarders, mountain climbing, you name it- and this became part of the relationships we developed with our customers. In fact, many of the US Ski team docs practice in Jackson, and most of them were outdoor enthusiasts as well, we all shared the same passions, and we were the pharmacy they forwarded their patients to. The owner of the Boardroom (my favorite skateboard and snowboard shop), would always send people to us for vitamins and prescriptions if needed. It was examples and relationships such as this that made us the busiest pharmacy in the valley.
  2. When I owned my own practice here in Michigan, my clientele was a group of people with a set of values of empowerment of health, self-responsibility for health, first, second, and third choice was to avoid chemicals, were for organics, against GMO’s, and $ was not why they shopped at our store, and the fact that we did not accept their insurance did not get in the way either. None of this had anything to do with how much money they made either, I have shared many times how some of my best customers were not the most wealthy- its more about the values they hold dear to them- willingness trumps ability, as culture trumps strategy.
  3. Fast forward a few years, I begin working at an independent pharmacy in this same town, a few days a week. No compounding, but wants to enhance wellness. The other pharmacist, I call her the enabler. This pharmacy has a number of customers who tend to like their pain killers, go to the docs who are easy to write, and for some reason, maybe a past emotional issue, this pharmacist caters to this crowd. I don’t. I am not being non-empathetic, I understand there are some real issues at hand, whether physical, and/or emotional- but I feel sometimes when we try to help…we are only hurting if we are enabling what I like to call “the identity of illness.”

    I cater to the same crowd I mentioned in my own pharmacy. And this pharmacy has seen itself climb into profits just on the wellness vibe alone, because what I have focused on, spread through marketing, and taught them to do the same has expanded.

    This has brought wonderful, upbeat conversations to the pharmacy, people talking about how well they feel, not how bad they feel, not people asking if they can get their pain meds early, or saying how they fell in the toilet- the technicians have been amazed.

3) Speak to their Values

This is the culture eats strategy for lunch comment I made above. A few months ago I did a video for you on the values of the cultural creatives- values such as: natural minded, like whole foods, independent thinkers, wants whats best and unique, looks for VALUE which is not always BEST PRICE, self-actualizers, looks at practitioners as advisers, but not so much end all experts.

I like these values, and I identify with these values. One of my wife’s and my hobbies is eating at restaurants which have great food, and a great environment. We have our own list of values of a Barfoodie, and that is basically what we for, so when we find a restaurant that express and practices these values- we’re hooked.

When you market, talk about, converse, post of facebook, ANYTHING about your business- speak to the values of the consumers you want more of. If it is similar to the values I just shared with you in the cultural creatives, a post of “200 different medications for just $9.99 will not grab them”- you are only offering them a commodity at a bargain basement price- they see no value in this.

But if you post your recent blog post of “Do Probiotics Really Work…And How Do I Find The Good Ones?”- and educate them on what to look for…then your speaking to their values- this is why culture eats strategy for lunch, and why you constantly see the big chains copying off of each others failures.