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Bridge the gap now

Successful businesses always diversify, invest or improve as soon as the business is plateauing or declining

Don’t simply cut costs in reaction to funding cuts, says Mandeep Mudhar, Numark’s director of marketing. He suggests a business review as the way forward for independents

With potential funding cuts for England,plus consultations on technological solutions like hub and spoke, the time is right to undertake a positive review of your business and look at how you can bridge the funding gap. But, wherever you operate in the UK, there are consistent challenges impacting on funding and income, and therefore this call to action is for every independent contractor.

Sadly, the ill-conceived proposals by the DH to bring efficiencies through things like hub and spoke are neither going to become reality in the short to medium term, nor show any evidence of delivering real nancial savings to independents.

Bluntly, the proposed solutions are just a cover-up to mask the fact that the government wants to take money out of pharmacy. The multiple chains are already mitigating this by cutting costs, but this is definitely not the solution I suggest for the independent sector.

So how do you start taking positive actions to mitigate against the potential downturn?

Undertake a business review

Conducting a thorough SWOT analysis of your business (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is the first step. From this, you will identify potential gaps in your current offering and you can take action to bridge those gaps.

Successful businesses always diversify, invest or improve as soon as the business is plateauing or declining – cutting costs is a knee-jerk reaction and does not address the central issue. You have control over the running of your pharmacy and you can take direct and impactful actions with an immediate return. Cutting costs implies that you know there is a lack of control at the coalface and is usually a very short-term ‘balancing the books’ plan.

Your action plan could be one with a significant and perhaps even costly investment to begin with, or it may be a smaller scale slow-burn plan with a longer- term yield. Whatever it is, organisations like Numark have sufficient expertise and support in their armoury to help you with this.

A friend of mine has decided to take the plunge and relocate his successful pharmacy closer to the health centre. A major investment upfront, lots of risk attached and, no doubt, sleepless nights. But he has evaluated this diligently and, if his plan pays off, it will give him the longer-term security he needs. Early signs are showing he is already more than achieving his prescription growth targets from the relocation.

Make the most of services

Your plan might be to simply ensure you complete your annual quotas of MURs and NMS, or to hoover up any and all locally- commissioned services on offer. In England, an average of just 292 MURs annually are being conducted per pharmacy – that means there is still £3,000 of monies to help bridge the gap. A good plan to deliver local services will always be profitable if you put the right resources and support behind them.

One Numark member I know has decided to diversify and offer a comprehensive travel health service. His stagnant website has had a facelift, he and his staff are trained to offer vaccinations and medicines associated with travel through PGDs, and he has created a local marketing plan. It is early days, but already people from far and wide are coming to use his services. That’s an upfront investment with a longer-term view.

Equally, a well-planned prescription growth tactic will be pro table, providing you commit to it properly and lay the ground rules at the beginning. If this is coming through the acquisition of prescriptions via a new care home, be very clear about what you will and won’t do for the home.

The frustrations and unplanned costs in serving a care home arise because of the pressure you feel to be all things to that home, usually at your own cost.

Agree KPIs – frequency of deliveries, number of emergency call outs you will make, turnaround times and training offered to the home. They are run by commercial pro t-making organisations in the main – why should you make a loss to ensure their profitability? This is the time to be firm, and if the consequences are that the care home cannot work to these KPIs, let them go. 

Buy sensibly

Use your time wisely when buying. Stop chasing those penny profit deals and invest your time sensibly. There are a number of good electronic buying solutions in place, all geared to maximising your profit by pointing your orders to the best possible price.

Trust the system to work for you. You still have control, but let the system do the work. It
is no different to most online businesses, which use similar technologies to point consumers to the best available price.

Now is the time for positive change – take some time away from the business to re ect and
to build your ‘bridging the gap’ plan. Seek help from Numark – it’s definitely in our interests for you to prosper! Use the resources around you. Bridge the gap with positive and affirmative action.




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