Marketing your pharmacy’s services is often overlooked, but is essential to remaining competitive in the marketplace. Join us as we sit down with Bruce Kneeland, longtime expert of independent pharmacy with nearly 50 years in the industry. We discuss with Bruce the important role of social media, marketing strategies, and new patient acquisition.
Scott Vondeylen: 0:02
Helping pharmacists grow themselves, their business and driving outcomes. This is PharmacyNow. Welcome to the PharmacyNow podcast. I’m your host, Scott Vondeylen. We are on episode number eight , really excited today about the guest. But before we get there, a lot going on here in the month of October. First of all, take a step back and thank all of the frontline healthcare workers who continue to do just amazing work around the country and really around the world for that matter and taking care of patients during this global pandemic with COVID-19. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts here at the PharmacyNow podcast. And also, October is American Pharmacists Month , honoring all those men and women out there serving their communities at the– more than 60,000 pharmacies across this great country of ours. So thank you , as well for all of your service and continuing not just to be on the front lines, but , to be in that pharmacy every single day and really being an advocate for your patients. So without further ado , we have a very special guest here. I’m so excited, a great friend of the PharmacyNow podcast and a personal friend of mine over the past eight years , with my involvement in independent pharmacy and excited to welcome Mr. Bruce Kneeland, who believe it or not folks, has almost 50 years of experience in independent pharmacy. I believe he’s worked for almost every single wholesaler in the country. So AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Cardinal. He’s got the triple crown of pharmacy , excited to welcome Bruce Kneeland. Bruce?
Bruce Kneeland: 2:08
Thank you so much for that resounding introduction. It’s not 50 years yet, but it’s getting close.
Scott Vondeylen: 2:16
It’s getting close. Yes, that is very, very exciting. So, Bruce, if you could just share with the listeners , just a little bit about your background. I know you’ve worked at several different organizations throughout the industry, but just give us , in a nutshell kind of, a roadmap of where you’ve been and where you’re at today.
Bruce Kneeland: 2:37
Well , thank you. And thanks to those who are listening, I’m delighted to be here. So I started my career in 1973 as a pharmaceutical sales rep for the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. Quickly migrated out of drug sales and started working for independent pharmacies with the Medicine Shoppe organization, was able to take a corporate leap and move over to Health Mart. In 1984 , worked with Health Mart for a number of years, then went back East to the National Wholesale Druggist Association and ran their retail pharmacy support programs. Was recruited from there to go to Amerisource, ran the Family Pharmacy Program, which now would be recognized as the Good Neighbor Pharmacy program. Lost my job in 2002 with the merger of AmerisourceBergen. And that’s when the fun started. I became an entrepreneur and started doing consulting work and working with a number of companies in the industry. The combined area of interest is they all had something that they thought they could do to help independent pharmacists , uh , do more and be better. And that’s kind of , my tagline is trying to help pharmacies do more and be better. And that brings us up to 2020.
Scott Vondeylen: 4:03
I love it. Great stuff. So it’s amazing to always talk to you and hear your stories. And , because you’ve seen a lot over those years and working for large fortune 500 companies like those three and the way that they run things individually definitely gives you– just a depth of experience that few others have. So I’m excited to dive into some things here, Bruce. One of the things that you and I have talked about quite frequently, and, and I know so many of our listeners have also read some of the articles that you have published over the years and back in 2012, if I remember correctly , or correct me, but you started a road trip where you go out on the road, you visit independent pharmacies and their owners and the communities that they reside. And you come back with this great opportunity with the information that you’ve gathered from these owners and , and getting to even meet their staff and perhaps some of their patients. And then you publish articles talking about the impact that independent pharmacies are having out there. Can you share exactly kind of where that started , where it’s at today, I’d love to just dive in and have a conversation with you about that.
Bruce Kneeland: 5:15
Well, I thank you and I’d love to, the only thing I’d want to talk about more would be my grandkids. So , the road trip stuff I have done has been , quite frankly, the backbone of my experience over the last 10 or 11 years. Did the first one in 2012, it was clearly the most ambitious and clearly one of the most unique things that at least in my career I’ve ever seen anybody do in the pharmacy world. And so when I found myself a freelance consultant contractor, I decided would it be fun to do that? So in 2012, my wife and I stuck my toe in the Atlantic ocean in New Jersey and then three weeks later, we stood on the Golden Gate Bridge and finished the trip. And during that three week period of time, we visited 30 pharmacies stretching from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean and it was a wonderful experience. The project was written up and reported at America’s Pharmacist in three episodes. And it proved to be quite successful. The magazine was extremely pleased with it. They had me do several more since then. Just finished one in the summer of 2019, was my 10th road trip. Altogether, we visited 110 pharmacies all across the country. But then when we finally get, you know, 10, 12 pharmacies that agree to do it, we, we take off and we go and sit down and visit with these guys for two or three hours in their store. And that’s the gem of it is I’m not selling anything. I don’t come in with any preconceived notion. I just say, Hey, what are you doing that seems to be working? And then that’s the gem that I try to re write about and share with others.
Scott Vondeylen: 7:16
I love it. And so the question I wanted to ask Bruce is, you know, you said you visited more than 110 pharmacies during these trips across the country. I’m sure you have endless stories that you could share with the listeners and meeting these great men and women who are proudly serving their communities throughout America. I know I’ve met so many independent pharmacy owners personally myself over the years in attending various trade shows throughout the industry. But if you could share, I know we talked about it a little bit off the air, but if you could share one of your favorite stories , through traveling and meeting all of these great individuals with the listeners, just to kind of give a little bit of a taste, if you will, of what those articles feel like. I think you have one that we talked about that you could share with us.
Bruce Kneeland: 8:05
Yeah. And , and I dug back in and do a little bit more research since we talked, but the guy who’s fascinating for two or three reasons is Kevin DeMoss, the owner of the Apothecary Pharmacy in Salt Lake City, Utah. Remarkable guy, and a remarkable spot and pharmacy. If you try to figure out what the sweet spot is for pharmacy, he would be in two or three of them. So first of all, he owns an apothecary type pharmacy in a hospital in Salt Lake City. He’s in an inner city area of Salt Lake City, but it’s part of a university area as well. So he has a real mix of affluent and poor and quite frankly, destitute patients. And one of his early issues was actually in the late 1990s. He found himself with a number of AIDS patients and he decided that they weren’t going to be a problem, that they were going to be an opportunity and worked with them and helped build a wonderful coalition of groups that helped fund and treat and care for patients and has a wonderful background in that. Then you roll forward, you know , to 1999. And I visit with him and he’s on the cutting edge of working with city civic leaders to create a Naloxone clinic. So, you know, he’s just a lot of public service delivers, fills retail prescriptions and just dedicate a lot of time to the community. And more importantly, and it’s kind of the flavor that fills all of these successful guys. He’s just a pleasant , optimistic guy. It’s just fun to be in a store.
Scott Vondeylen: 10:04
I love that. I have not met him personally , Kevin that is, the owner that you’re referring to, but you know, you and I have met so many of these great individuals that proudly serve their communities and all have their own individual stories, but that’s a great one. Somebody that’s been at it for quite a few decades at this point and has really evolved with the industry, right? You’re talking about the early nineties and–
Bruce Kneeland: 10:31
I’ll jump in on that as well. I guess that really is the key point; he has evolved. He’s, you know, and I hate to put in a plug for PrescribeWellness with this, but he was one of the first people who adopted the prescribed wellness program. When I visited him with him, he takes me back and he shows how he’s monitoring people’s compliance and identifying the people who can be easily moved up and working on improving his Equip scores and recognizing that he needs to use technology to do that. So he really is a cutting edge kind of guy.
Scott Vondeylen: 11:09
Awesome. I love it. So, a transition into a real sweet spot for you, Bruce. And excited to talk about the next topic, which is that of marketing for independent pharmacies. And because marketing is something that is so important, and I’m excited for you to talk to us about it, but just to share my 2 cents, I know there’s a million ideas out there from marketing. And I go to the different trade shows again, throughout the industry, whether it’s McKesson or ideaShare or AmerisourceBergen’s ThoughtSpot, or even Cardinal’s annual trade shows when they’re all packed in there in July. I know I’ve seen you there on the circuit. They all have different ideas. There’s different vendors in this space. But quite frankly, you know, from the stories that I hear from different independent pharmacy owners, a lot of them just don’t know exactly where to turn or what they should be doing on a daily, weekly basis and driving new business on capturing new patients on really getting the most out of their existing patient population. And so I’m really excited to talk to you specifically because of your experience and depth of knowledge on this subject , for our listeners out there, we can’t do a screen share, but Bruce shared with me, I don’t know about a hundred or so slides that he has prepared on this particular subject when you go around the country. And , as you have for many years, Bruce, and spoke to different groups with your CES that you’ve conducted over the years. But marketing for 2020 and beyond for pharmacies, let’s just dive into it , Bruce, where does that start?
Bruce Kneeland: 12:50
Yeah. And it it’s a big topic, but the classic place to start is at the very beginning. And the core thing I would want pharmacists to understand is conventionally, we use the word marketing and advertising as if they’re synonymous. And I think the pharmacists need to know, no , they are not synonymous. Marketing is the Roman numeral one on how you be successful advertising is insert, insert, B on an outline or whatever. So marketing is that task that one has to go through where they really determine who they are and what they want to offer. And that may sound complicated, but, you know , if you’re going to open up a pharmacy, everybody knows you’re going to fill prescriptions, but what are the hours you’re going to use? Where are you going to locate that pharmacy? You know, are you going to have a dress code or aren’t you going to have a dress code? What services are you going to offer? So marketing is that process by which you decide what you’re going to do then advertising and promotion is how you tell people that you’re doing it. And I hope that makes sense. So marketing is in a business, if you’re going to drop outline, you’ve got operations, marketing, and finance and it’s just a big part of determining who you are. So I hope that makes a little bit of sense to get started. So that’s the definition I have, is marketing is everything that you say or do that will appeal to and serve your customers. So it’s a big, it’s a big deal.
Scott Vondeylen: 14:37
Different jumping points off of that, Bruce that we could dive into. I don’t know if you have one in particular , I’ve got a few here in front of me, but one of the ones I’m really interested in and you tell me if you want to go in a different order is the social media marketing. You hear so much about this one as well out there, you know, the Facebooks, Instagrams, Twitters, et cetera. And I don’t know if I’ve ever talked to anybody that truly has a grasp of how to move forward and move forward effectively when it comes to a social media presence in this particular space with independent pharmacy.
Bruce Kneeland: 15:13
Yeah. I’d love to chat about that. So social media , first of all, I’m not an expert. I’m a 72 year old guy. I’ve got a Facebook page, I use it to keep track of the grandkids and the family. Got a LinkedIn profile and I use it to interact with the industry. I’m not the expert there, but frankly that is the key point is Facebook and social media marketing, Instagram, Facebook, you know, that whole cluster of stuff is critically important. I marvel when I get in the car with my kids and my grandkids, how they’re on their phones all the time, how, when my wife and I are saying, Hey, where should we go to dinner? They’ve already pulled it up on, you know, on one of their profile pages and they know, and have an answer and a suggestion and reviews. And that’s the world that we live in the average age of the independent pharmacy owner now is somewhere between 50 and 55. And they don’t inherently know and understand all of the stuff and all of the innuendo. And I guess the bottom line is social media marketing is indispensable, unavoidable , appropriate and effective, but only if you’re using it the right way. And in my experience, and certainly what I see with the successful pharmacies that I deal with, they have defined that as an actual position in their company, or they hire somebody to help them do that. The beauty of hiring somebody to help you do that is that person also gets to see what other people are doing and measure stuff, because they’ve got sophisticated tools to do that. So my plea is, find somebody to help you. It will cost a little bit of money. The notion of using Facebook to get noticed is nice, but you need to do more than get noticed. You need to drive traffic and drive sales, and that’s harder to do than an amateur can do.
Scott Vondeylen: 17:29
Agreed. Yeah. And I know I’ve talked to numerous , countless independent pharmacy owners who have taken that next step, but, you know, I didn’t know the stat Bruce, 50 to 55. That’s right there, that’s the average age now the independent pharmacy owner, is that right?
Bruce Kneeland: 17:45
That’s the latest that I read in that, you know, it, it’s going to be closer to 55 as I recall. Yeah.
Scott Vondeylen: 17:53
So it’s a little bit higher than what I would’ve guessed had you asked me. But that’s an interesting stat. I know when talking to independent pharmacy owners back in the early days when starting, when I say early days, you’re at 49 years in this market space, I’m at seven. So you’ve got a little bit on me there, but you know, there’s always hesitation around the adoption of new technology. You have those early adopters out there who are always ready and willing to basically give anything a try. If they think that it can actually have an impact or positive impact on their business or their patients or outcomes, et cetera. But there is that huge middle portion of the demographics . So in this case, you know, those pharmacy owners that are average 50 to 55 years of age that are sometimes pretty hesitant to adopt new technology. And so it really is interesting though, over the last couple of years to really see that evolve. And I think we’ve kind of crossed the chasm. I know you’ve been around for 49 years. You probably remember the struggle, whenever it took place, where 99% of the independent pharmacies didn’t have an IVR system. And I think it’s well over half now. I don’t know what the statistic is. Probably 60 or 70%. That’s still, you know, that have an IVR system today, but there’s still those stores out there that refuse to get an IVR system, then I’m sure, you know, a few of them. But, a lot of them have now crossed. They’re communicating with patients regularly, they’ve adopted that technology. And so I think, you know, what I hear you saying and others throughout the industry is it’s time to adopt a game plan and implement it and put it in place when it comes to marketing direct marketing or social media , as it would be said , with the stores and connecting with their patients , over that particular platform and increasing their overall footprint.
Bruce Kneeland: 19:42
Well, you know what that makes me want to go back to, and I don’t know whether it’s back one step or two steps, but we talked about what marketing is. I’d like to spend a minute and talk about why it’s important and you’ve just inferred that. You know, I’ve been around 47 years , you just have two years on that. But I’ve been around a while and I’ve seen a lot of change, but I’ve never seen change like we’re experiencing now. So the fact of the matter is, is that you’re not going to feel your way to success in today’s environment. You know the old model was filling more and more prescriptions and figure out how to eat another half a percent off of your buy-side and you would be fine, but now you have to do more than fill prescriptions. And that’s where marketing comes in. So deciding what it is that you’re going to do, what’s your passion, what’s your competency, what’s your debt , what’s your market going to allow you to do that’s beyond dispensing , and then realize that when you start to do that, people aren’t going to know what that is, and they’re not going to come in and ask for it. And so if you’re going to start doing, you know , a drug nutrient depletion program, you’re going to have that uncomfortable experience where you go out and you try to tell them, Mrs. Jones, you’re taking the statin and you’ve got to take CO-Q10 and here’s a bottle of CO-Q10, that costs $40. And your success in doing that is going to be minimal. And quite frankly, you’re going to annoy patients. So you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to make that transition. How are you going to position it, how you’re going to package it, how you’re going to present it. And who’s going to talk to who about what and when. So that’s where this marketing piece becomes essential because you’re moving from a dispensing paradigm to a healthcare provider paradigm. And , you know, that’s where we are now. That’s where you need to go. You know, you’re going to have to have to have some serious thinking about how to do that in quite frankly, again, I would argue get some professional help. Pharmacists have historically had accountants to do tax stuff. They’ve had lawyers to help them with legal stuff. My position is the time has come. You need a professional marketing person. Again, you can hire it or you can buy it.
Scott Vondeylen: 22:12
That’s a great comparison there, right? You don’t just hire anybody or ask your technician or your brother to do your taxes. You know, these guys are running big businesses with a lot of money involved with these pharmacies. And so they need a tax guy, or they need a lawyer. And there’s a reason that a pharmacist has a license , you know, and so to your point, when it comes to marketing , you got to look at perhaps going out and finding somebody that can help you out. And somebody that knows what they’re doing that does this professionally. It’s not just about throwing up a Facebook page and letting it sit there. You gotta take action and put a game plan together and have somebody execute on it for you. So I could not agree with you more.
Bruce Kneeland: 22:57
So I guess back in the day, when people were typing labels with a Royal typewriter and sticking it on the bottle with the scotch tape. And the epitome of a professional pharmacist back then was a person who could type labels with no crossovers. The first pharmacy computers were basically fancy typing machines, so that you didn’t have any crossovers on your prescription labels. You know, look where we’ve come now, where the pharmacy computers are doing, you know , hundreds of tasks. And the point is, is that, you know, the guy who’s trying to market his own business with his shoes, you know , simple knowledge of what it is, is like the guy trying to type a label on an old Royal manual typewriter. It’s just gotten more sophisticated and you need help. And enough said.
Scott Vondeylen: 24:04
It is hard to believe that it wasn’t really that long ago that pharmacists were literally typing up the labels on their vials . So , yeah, it has come a long way, but again, time does not stop moving and , we are going to continue to evolve and change. And as I said, in a previous episode, maybe there will be a day where we’ll have prescriptions being delivered from independent pharmacies using drones. So we’ll just have to wait and see.
Bruce Kneeland: 24:34
I see that happening. So I mean , again, we talked a little bit about social media marketing. I want to dovetail back again to the stuff that, you know, talk just a little bit about how do you decide what this new service is that you’re going to provide. And, you know, we typically talk about medication synchronization. We talk about , you know, diabetes education , the newest one that I’ve come across. That’s exciting, just preparing a CE program for the summer is actually diabetes prevention programs, where the Center for Disease Control has a program where you can be certified and get paid for teaching people who were pre-diabetic, pre-diabetic not diagnosed yet how to prevent getting diabetes. There’s just a lot of ways that we can go at this point. And the point I want to make is there’s too many of them for you to do. And how do you decide which one or two or three you’re going to do would be a function of analyzing your passion, your talents, your skills, your demographic area, and quite frankly, your guts, you know, what are you willing to take a chance on doing? And , you know, figuring that out is a real challenge. And I think it requires a pharmacy owner to sit back and in the quiet, a room with a pad and pencil, and really muse for a while , and try to figure out where to go and then talk to friends and figure out what they’re doing. What’s worked for them. So , it’s an exciting time to be a pharmacist because you’re emerging from being a pharmacist to being a legitimate healthcare provider. And I think there’s a world of opportunity for the pharmacist who figures out where he can go in that new world.
Scott Vondeylen: 26:44
Something else that you mentioned the other day, Bruce, if you could elaborate on for me just a little bit is kind of your ideas around what you refer to as guerrilla marketing, could you expand on that for us?
Bruce Kneeland: 26:56
So again, that is a 180 degree change. So sophisticated is, new it’s coming. But that doesn’t mean the old has gone away, and guerrilla marketing is something that I believe in wholeheartedly. And the name simply implies, you know, doing something that requires a little bit of time and a little bit of moxie, but not a whole lot of money. And it’s the kind of thing that more pharmacies can do if they will attune themselves to be in a marketer in the healthcare professional rather than a pharmacist. So , you know, the simplest guerrilla marketing technique is to create a formal , incentivized program to get your current customers to recommend you to their neighbors and friends. And , I’m amazed at the number of pharmacies who don’t have a formal program for doing that. How do you invite a person? What do you give that person? What do you ask that person to give or say to their neighbor friend and relative, and what is the reason that a neighbor friend or relative would respond to that invitation is just one of the simplest ways to grow your pharmacy and way, way too overlooked by the average pharmacist.
Scott Vondeylen: 28:24
So, and you just mentioned that. So the other thing that I wanted to jump into here, Bruce, and again, we can dovetail back as you put it at any time to cover any other things related to marketing, but I wanted to get your thoughts on just kind of the state of the union, if you will, with independent pharmacy. There’s a lot of struggles with things like DIR fees and how that affects reimbursements. And as you mentioned, a few minutes ago, things are always evolving. They’re changing. It’s the positive pharmacy owner who is willing to make those changes as opportunistic that’s going to make it through all of these difficult challenges on scale, hopefully. But talk to us a little bit about the challenges today versus, you know, 10 years ago. If you would be so kind to share your thoughts with us.
Bruce Kneeland: 29:20
Yeah. I mean, clearly the low reimbursement , that quite frankly started to be obnoxious five or six years ago is a troublesome issue. And then it’s been exponentially complicated the DIR fees. So the fact of the matter is, you know, gross margins have gone from the high twenties to the low teens over the last five years. And that’s, you know, that’s devastating the industry. It’s apparent that I had a boss one time that said, if you know, nothing, if something can’t possibly go on this way, it won’t. And we’ve reached that point where we can’t possibly go on this way. The margins have gotten so low that we can’t do it. So something has to change. And my attitude is there’s two things a pharmacist needs to do. They need to continue to be involved in their associations, state, and local, and the other to fight the PBM abuses, but then they need to change what they do. And that brings us back to, you know, these enhanced care services and new healthcare programs that we’ve talked about 10 years ago. The, you know, the conversation was about low reimbursement and continuing to dwindle reimbursement, but the attitude then was, how do I buy better? And you always need to buy better. That’s not going to go away, but you know, you could solve that problem by joining the buying group and, you know , doing alternate shopping for generics. And, you know, you could figure out ways to kind of the fight that erosion in gross profit margin. I would say we’ve gotten to the point now where those strategies have to be replaced with something else. And it’s finding new revenue . It’s finding ways to get patients to pay money for what you do. I want to go on too long about that, but I want to talk about getting patients to pay you cash for what you do. And in my CE programs for years now, I’ve been talking about , there are people who pay cash for healthcare services, they pay for massage, they join health gyms. They buy Botox injections. So people have money and they will spend money for things that they want. Pharmacists need to figure out how to get into that game.
Scott Vondeylen: 32:00
Well said. As things continue to change, but the one thing that caught my year there, I think is so important because I don’t know if there’s always enough emphasis put on it, is talking about making sure that you’re a part of that state pharmacy association and other organizations like NCPA. It’s so important , especially with some of the other owners I’ve talked to that are really in the fight. They’re up there on the Hill , trying to get legislation passed. And obviously we know that that’s a very slow arduous process , when we talk politics up in DC on the Hill, but you know, these guys are out there. These men and women, these owners are helping fight the battle against PBMs. They’re in contact with their local Congressman and Senator, governor, et cetera , to move this thing up the ladder and get some action taken. But it’s so important that pharmacies support that state association, because they really are doing a lot for the pharmacies at that level and keeping things organized and making some noise. So think that’s so darn important, as you mentioned and just wanted to plug that in there.
Bruce Kneeland: 33:16
Well, it’s funny you would say that and if we could take a side trip, so I have just written an editorial that I’ll submit to one of the pharmacy journals. And the point of that is that the time has come in my opinion for us to take this battle, not only to the state and local governments, but to the consumer. And , you know, so often on my social media feeds, I see pharmacists , you know, documenting the fact that they’ve been ripped off by the PBM or they’ve been reimbursed or had to lose a patients to something. And those are battles that we need to fight legislative. We need to fight that battle, but the problem is we keep talking ourselves about those problems, and we’re not talking to consumers, not about the fact that we’re selling something below cost, because I don’t know the consumer cares about that, but we’re not talking to consumers about how their choice as to what medications they can get or what they pay for medicines as being affected by the PBMs. And my point would be that if we can start getting the consumers, screaming to their congressmen about this issue that will get action much quicker than if we just keep screaming about our problems to them. We have to turn this into a consumer issue and get consumers involved. So that would be my political extrapolation for the moment.
Scott Vondeylen: 34:51
Agree. And I think that might be where the tide really starts to turn. Perhaps here in the near future is when the average individual or patients understand really what’s going on, perhaps that’ll create some additional force behind the movement that’s already taking place out there in the industry on behalf of these 23,000 or so independent pharmacies that are fighting this battle.
Bruce Kneeland: 35:18
Can we talk about a couple of other marketing programs that I feel strongly about?
Scott Vondeylen: 35:22
Absolutely. Yes. Floor is yours, Bruce, please.
Bruce Kneeland: 35:25
Well, and I’ll come back under the category of guerilla, what’s the simple, what’s the too often overlooked, and yet the absolutely implementable by virtually any pharmacist that the next one that I would put on my list would be to have a formal process and program for romancing a new customer. And I’m amazed at the number of pharmacies that I visit, who they know how many new prescriptions they fill, and they know how many refill prescriptions they fill, but they’re not actually counting the number of new patients that they get. And they’re not tracking and asking these patients where they came from. But more importantly, they’re not putting together a program for helping to take these people and let them know how smart they are that they visited their pharmacy. So just a couple of typical things would be as when the clerk, the intake person realizes that somebody has not been there before, they need to be trained to say something pleasant to that person. They need to be trained to go get the owner or the pharmacist in charge and invite that person to come over and say hello to that person. And it doesn’t need to be anything fancy just, Oh, I’m so glad to meet you. Thanks for coming in. You need to have a way to have an appropriate conversation, perhaps a little bit later at the delivery of the prescriptions, do you, how did you find this ? And, you know, those kinds of things, you need to have a brochure that you give that person that lets them know who you are, and what’s unique about your pharmacy. And then you need to follow up with a letter and some kind of a bounce-back gift certificate that gets them to come in again to the pharmacy quickly for something other than a prescription, because they’re not likely to need a prescription in the next five or 10 days. So, you know , just have a way to romance new customers, track and count your new customers and keep track of where they’re coming from. And just figure out from that what you might do to get more. So that’s something that just too often overlooked, how do we romance that new customer that make sense.
Scott Vondeylen: 37:49
It does make sense. And I’ll tell you, you had me at romance. So , no, I love it. And it is so important. You know, to every single business, right? Not just pharmacy, but beyond that. The capturing and retention of any new patient or customer. And to your point, what are the efforts being put forth to ensure that that’s happening? Because somebody told me a stat a few years ago, I don’t remember where I heard it or read it. But if you can get a patient, the most important visit for a pharmacy with a new patient is the second visit. Cause not that the first isn’t important, but if you can get that patient to return the second time the retention long-term goes through the roof. I don’t remember the exact stat, perhaps you have one, but getting them back in the second time is so important.
Bruce Kneeland: 38:41
And that’s a function of how you treat them the first time and what you do to follow up. I was, you know, back in my Health Mart days, we started a program that was as simple as an antibiotic, a phone call follow up . And the general idea was, if Mrs. Jones brings her six year old kid in with an ear infection, you send the kid home with the Amoxycillin prescription. And then back then the technology was a sticky note. You wrote a little sticky note that said on Thursday, call Mrs. Jones and see how Sally is doing. The ability to create customer loyalty and the ability to give the customer something to say about your pharmacy for word of mouth advertising is all coupled around that notion. So, you know , you pick up the phone and you say, Mrs. Jones, this is Fred over at Fred’s Pharmacy. Just wanted to see how Sally was doing. She’s been on the antibiotic for three days now, you know, the pain should have gone away. Is that the case? And you know, if it is the case, that’s wonderful, but now remember Mrs. Jones, you’re going to have to remember to give that kid the antibiotic for the next seven days. Otherwise it’s likely to come back with an even worse infection that kind of personal attention is guerilla marketing. Now , you know, the technology has evolved as you well to do some of these phone calls digitally and that’s fine. And that’s necessary. Prescription volumes have increased from, you know, back in the seventies and eighties, a hundred scripts a day was a successful pharmacy, but, the personal touch still needs to be done. You can do it with technology, you can do it with other things, but do it. Find ways to reach out to that person. So the new person who’s come into your pharmacy, you know, send them a letter, send them a gift certificate, invite them to come back quicker than the next time they need a prescription. You want to get them back in the store for something, whether it’s a free vitamin or a pain, you know, a bottle of aspirin or a box of chocolates, if you happen to have it. So something that’ll get them back in the pharmacy.
Scott Vondeylen: 41:08
Absolutely. I love it. I wish they would give out a box of chocolates. That would drive me back in for sure. Or some chocolate chip cookies perhaps.
Bruce Kneeland: 41:20
I know some pharmacies who do a wonderful job with fudge, so that’s a great way to that.
Scott Vondeylen: 41:27
That sounds delicious.
Bruce Kneeland: 41:29
We gotta be running up close to time, but I want to finish with really an impassioned plea. The fact of the matter is there’s never been a better time to be in the healthcare business. And if a pharmacy can figure out how to make that transition from being a person who waits in the pharmacy for somebody to walk in and hand them a prescription, and then treat that person with dignity and respect and fill the prescription fast and accurate, which has been the success model for years, if they can make the transition to where they can actually become a partner with that person in improving their health, and then providing that person with choices and opportunities and programs and services that will improve their health. We’ll find people, we’ll find insurance companies and companies that will pay for that. And consumers will pay for that. There’s a golden opportunity for pharmacies going forward. I believe that to my soul, I not only believe it , I see people who are doing it. They’re finding ways to do that. Kevin DeMoss in Salt Lake is doing that. The pharmacist are doing it. It’s no longer theory, it’s proven and it can be done, but it requires a switch and thinking from being a pill dispenser to being a healthcare partner. And I just can’t say that strongly enough that it can happen and it needs to happen.
Scott Vondeylen: 43:15
Yeah, again, well said, Bruce. It really is about a not pill centric, but a patient-centric practice that needs to be, to be run and making that transition to patient-centric and allowing these great men and women to practice at the top of their license. Because it is not just about dispensing medication any longer, nor should it be. And so, you know, these amazing pharmacists that serve their communities are driving outcomes and are the ones making the difference within the lives of those patients that they proudly serve out there. So well said, Bruce, it has been an absolute journey with you here today going back and forth and hearing your great stories and your insight as a veteran of 47 years in this space. It has been an honor to talk to you today here, Bruce. Thank you so very much for being on the show. So that is going to end this episode of the PharmacyNow podcast. So excited to have been joined by Bruce again today. Thank the amazing staff here, Gary, for putting this production together, we will see you next time on the PharmacyNow podcast.