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Thoughts and Processes Behind Purchasing an Independent Pharmacy

Written by Craig Wear

What inspired you to purchase your own store?
My first pharmacy experience was in a small town independent pharmacy. What appealed to me most was the way the pharmacist seemed to know everyone in town and how people respected him. After working for a couple chains in college, I was anxious to return to that independent environment. That was the primary motivation for opening our store.

What were your initial goals for your business?
Initially, we underestimated the resistance to change that exists with people. We thought that everyone we knew and those people who had told us they were happy to see us opening a store would all be changing their business to us right away. Needless to say, that was not the case. Our initial goal was to pass $1 million in the first year. Other than that, we just wanted to continue to grow each month.

What were your fears and perceived barriers to success?
We really did not fear that we would not be successful. In our minds it was just a matter of time. We knew that we would make the sacrifices necessary to be successful; we just hoped that it would happen as quickly as possible.

How did you plan to differentiate yourself from larger, established pharmacies to attract business?
Our plan to differentiate ourselves revolved primarily around our service. We were very familiar with our competition and felt that we could exceed the expectations of the potential customer base. The center of our plan was simply educating patients. We felt that taking time to teach people about medications and other health related topics would eventually make us the pharmacy of choice when information was needed. We also offered things such as a drive-thru window, free delivery and mailing, and compounding. These were services that were previously unavailable in the area.

What past experiences have you had that gave you confidence that you could establish and manage your own store?
After graduating, I worked for an independent pharmacy for almost two years before we opened our store. The owner was very hands-off and much of what I learned came from my own personal experiences along the way. I found support in the relationships I built with several pharmacy owners through work and associations such as NCPA. I knew that they would help me if needed. I was confident that no matter what came up, we would be able to manage.