2014 Front-End Overhaul Tips Archive

December 2014

How to Pack and Sort Leftover Christmas Items

When taking down Christmas items, utilize four methods to pack and sort the items:

  • Save for next year (no discount)

  • Save for next year (product should be discounted)

  • Save for a "Christmas in July" sale or sidewalk sale (deep discount)

  • Donate, never to be seen again.

Take good notes of your sales successes and misses. Make a copy and store them where they can easily be found by more than two people on staff. Things to take note of:

  • Top selling items

  • Do not buy for next year

  • Buy more of...

  • Best end-cap items

  • Best aisle for seasonal traffic was...

  • Box greetings cards sales trends

  • Single greeting card sales trends

  • Candy trends

  • Best stocking stuffer items

  • Busiest day was...

  • Least busy day was...

  • Needed more help on this day...

  • Needed less help on this day...

Front-End Overhaul

Must-Haves for Your Register Counter and End-Caps

As I write this, I am on a plane headed for Nebraska to conduct a store visit at a pharmacy owned by friends and loyal NCPA members Lane and Anna Hawley of Superior Pharmacy. The flight feels like I am headed to Vegas for the annual Seven Dwarfs convention and everybody on my plane happens to be Sneezy. The only two passengers that don't have the sniffles are me and a mildly sedated Chihuahua smuggled in a Gucci purse shoved under seat 7A. My tray table is in the down position and holds bad coffee and three different open bags of lozenges for the taking. Business is brisk. I have an outdated bag of Halls Defense Vitamin C, private label Mentho-Lyptus cough suppressants, and crowd favorite Ricola Mixed Berry with Vitamin C. A couple of passengers actually asked me if I have any sugar-free! It's kind of fun watching people walk up the aisle and help themselves to the drops. Little do they know that the good stuff is stashed in the bottom of my carry-on bag. I have Thera Zinc Elderberry Lozenges that my buddy Barb gave me, travel-size CleanSmart hand sanitizer that I grabbed at the Austin convention, and tissues with aloe. That's how I roll, especially during cold and flu season.

Tip: It's the holiday season: the airports are full of travelers and it's only going to get worse. Create an end-cap and/or checkout display with a sign that reads, "Don't travel without it!" along with plenty of throat lozenges, hand sanitizers, purse-size tissues, and immune boosters. Set it up today and leave it up until after Valentine's Day. Offer an assortment of regular, sugar-free, gluten-free, herbal and all-natural lozenges. Make note of what type sells best so you can stock up for the next spike in lozenge sales.

Happy travels,

P.S. - Dates for in-store and virtual store visits for March 2015 are now open. Learn more and sign up for a visit today.

Front-End Overhaul

A Report Card for the New Year

Start your New Year off on the right foot with your employees by completing a report card action list with them. The store owner/manager should give every employee a copy of the form and ask them to fill it out as best they can. The owner will see what employees think needs to get done in the store, and, with the employees' input, there should be little resistance when tasks are assigned. This is a good way to set expectations with your employees and clearly spell out individual tasks. Perhaps you could make it a New Year's resolution to complete the form twice a year with your staff.

Front-End Overhaul

November 2014

They're Here!

GuideNCPA has created a comprehensive, 14-month planner to help pharmacies of any size boost front-end profits and manage a better business. Your Daily Pharmacy Planning Guide is chock-full of 365+ tips and advice on everything from seasonal end-caps to promotional signs to inventory management recommendations and more. Discover special theme-month marketing opportunities and access reminders to prepare for upcoming holidays. We’ve put together a full-sized sample for you to download and see what one month in the calendar looks like. It's like having expert front-end help in your store every day for the low price of only $34.95! Order today and start your holiday season and the New Year off on a successful foot.

Front-End Overhaul

The 2014 Holiday Season = Busy Fridays

This holiday season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day all land on a Thursday –meaning there is a very good chance that the following Fridays are going to be busy. If you haven’t done it already, today is a great day to create your employee holiday schedule. Read the rest of my holiday season to-do list in the latest One-Pager Tip.

Start planning ahead for 2015 by ordering a copy of Your Daily Pharmacy Planning Guide, a comprehensive, 14-month planner chock-full of daily tips and ideas – more than 365, to be precise – to help you boost profits and manage a better business year-round. Give your pharmacy the gift of profits this season! Order the Guide today.

Front-End Overhaul

Get Ready for the Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout takes place on Thursday, Nov. 20 – a great reason to promote your pharmacy’s selection of smoking session products and show how committed to healthy living your pharmacy is. Create a counter display of nicotine gum and add a sign; don’t forget the sign for any behind-the-counter products. Offer written material and tips that may help individuals quit, along with a list of local support groups; place this information on your website and social media accounts this week. Consider offering a small reward for anyone who quits – this could be a one-time discount on OTC items after the first month of quitting, or a gift certificate from your store.

American Cancer Society and pharmacist-specific resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Front-End Overhaul

100 Unique and Hot-Selling Items

At this year’s NCPA Annual Convention in Austin, I unveiled my list of 100 unique and hot-selling items that will help you attract customers and make your store stand out. This list was compiled from multiple sources. Seventy items were recommended by your peers, community pharmacy owners, who have had demonstrated success selling these products in their own stores. Five were added after vendor input, and 25 were exhibitor booth finds at the convention.

Note: not all of the items on the list are right for everyone. Read through the list and decide what products could work for your store. Good luck!

Front-End Overhaul

October 2014

Boosting Your Vitamin and Supplement Sales

Every fall and winter there is an increase of the number of people turning to vitamins and supplements to get them though the busy holiday season and the change in weather. Boost your inventory and create signs focusing on your recommendations for the following: multivitamin with iron; multivitamin without iron; Omega-3; Vitamin D; Vitamin C, sugar-free C, and time-release C; B complex; Vitamin B12; Echinacea; and zinc lozenges. During this time of year, people are looking for support in dealing with low energy, stress, and the threat of catching a cold. Place your vitamin and supplement inventory order today.

Tip: Make sugar-free and/or gluten-free vitamins and supplements easy to buy. Have shopping baskets, handheld magnifying glasses, and plenty of light in and near your vitamin sections.

Front-End Overhaul

Don't Let Toothpaste Become Your Red Sneakers

Odd as it may seem, the retail of toothpaste in your store maybe harming sales in the Rx, OTC, DME and gift departments. There are two types of products in stores: price-sensitive and blind items. Price-sensitive items can be found in most personal care categories along with health-related items that are taken on a regular basis. If priced much higher than your competition, price-sensitive items and categories could be ruining your entire store’s image, just like red sneakers with a suit and tie. Understanding blind items will put you in a greater position to actually use your OTC as a draw to increase customer traffic.

Learn more about which products fall into these categories and how you can remain competitive in my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

Halloween Sales Are Hiding In Stores of All Sizes

Halloween sales opportunities come in different ways and at different times. There are the obvious, but certainly not for everyone, candy and costume sales. Next, there are the specialty treats sales, such as sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free and regular full-size candy bars. Nearly everyone can offer non-candy alternatives like pens, colored pencils, stickers, and crayons.

Stores that sell cosmetics have an opportunity to unload the slower moving and/or discontinued colors as "Makeup for Monsters & Zombies"; the darker the colors, the better. Encourage makeup instead of a mask for safety reasons. Don't forget to include makeup remover and cotton squares with your display. Placing red and black nail polishes by the register can generate impulse sales. A sign reading "Don't forget the hairspray" near the makeup can lead to a nice add-on sale. (Here's a good chance to sell that one leftover tube of VO5 Hairdressing!)

The safety issue can't be ignored. You can sell some C and D batteries and flashlights without waiting for a storm or a power outage. Finally, there is the reliable spike in cough & cold sales that traditionally follows late night trick-or-treating.

Remember, Halloween safety begins in your own pharmacy. Take time to review your policies on allowing people with masks to enter your store(s). Consider posting a notice that large bags must be left at the register. Check exterior lighting by all doors and parking areas. Consider turning exterior lights on before dusk. At closing, leave the store as a team.

Remember, anyone wearing red high-top sneakers should get double treats.

Happy Halloween!

Front-End Overhaul

Getting Your Small Store Noticed

Growth comes from two sources: existing customers and new customers. A crucial step in attracting new customers is being seen. When you have a “lean”-sized store, it is a Herculean challenge to be noticed. Remaining independent, enterprising, and daring keeps your store’s legacy strong.

Do potential new customers approaching your store instantly recognize your location as a full-service pharmacy? In today’s retail environment, it takes more than just a sign nailed above the entrance to be noticed. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for ideas on using banners, signs, and delivery vehicles effectively to get your small store noticed.

Front-End Overhaul

September 2014

"But This Town Is Different..."

I have been on the road a lot lately, and too often I've been hearing these lines:

"No one has money in this town."
"This town is different."
"You have no idea what people are like here."
"It's not the way we do things here."
"We tried it once and it didn't work."
"When a new person comes in the store it's only to ask for directions on how to get out of town."
"Oh, no one here goes to the chains. Nobody likes them; rumor is they're closing."

I'm sure after reading these worn-out beliefs you have a pretty good picture of what these stores look like. Once one believes any of these dangerous thoughts, the store's image, looks, and revenue will forever spiral downward. Remember, you get what you fish for. Do not allow yourself to believe for one minute that your store is different, or worse yet, the people in your town are different. Towns might seem different, but people who live in them and people all around the world want and expect the same things: clean, well-stocked, brightly lit stores; to be treated nicely and with respect; and to assume they will not have to pay more than they should. Does your pharmacy meet these criteria?

Front-End Overhaul

Gift Items: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Finding good gift items and finding them at the right time is a big challenge. Here is a suggestion on what to stay away from: frogs dressed as Easter Bunnies and the ever popular, but not profitable, initial and name programs. These alphabet-reliant programs are inventory-heavy and costly. Initial programs have an unequal balance of good and poor selling letters; to add to the confusion, naming trends change every generation. To make any profit from an initial or name program, you first need to sell 50 percent of your stock to break even. Read more about why you should just say no to these programs in my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

Don’t Forget

Being a member of NCPA means you have access to a treasure trove of helpful hints, tips, and resources to make your front end more profitable! Download One-Pager Tips on a variety of topics on the right-hand side of this page and find older tips in the Tips Archive. I typically post a tip once or twice a day on my Twitter account—if you're on Twitter, give me a follow at @NCPAGabe. You can also find tips in my monthly column in America’s Pharmacist. The galleries on the left-hand side of this page— both the Overhaul of Fame and Gabe's Gallery—contain hundreds of photos to inspire you, from effective signs to successful end-caps and everything in between. Finally, you and your staff can access the first of several staff training videos that we'll be rolling out over the coming months. These videos will help you take an objective view of your store, both inside and out!

This wealth of knowledge is due to the fantastic photos, ideas, and suggestions I receive every day from NCPA members like you. Drop me a line at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org with your questions, photos, best advice, and recommendations. What's selling well in your store? Let me know.

Front-End Overhaul

August 2014

Merchandising & Marketing Tips for the 2014-2015 Flu Season

Millions of Americans will catch the flu this year and many more will do their best to avoid it. Do your customers a great service: offer different ways to avoid the flu and to find relief from flu symptoms. Create at least two different kinds of end-caps: one for flu prevention and one for symptom relief. Make sure your end-caps are well-signed! Signs are the most important item that you can display because they promote customer awareness and action. Make sure you stock your checkout counters with hand sanitizers and other impulse buys.

For ideas on items to stock on your flu end-caps, as well as effective sample sign messages, read my latest One-Pager Tip. You can also view ideas for flu shot banners from your peers in the Overhaul of Fame gallery. Make sure you get ready now for this year’s flu season! DON’T WAIT.

Front-End Overhaul

‘Tis the Season for Flu Shot Promotions

August is an ideal time to start heavily promoting the availability of flu shots at your pharmacy. Not only is it National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s also back to school time, when families begin preparing for the fall. Flu shots should be considered part of back to school preparations. Hang large banners on the exterior of your store and/or include short messages on your digital sign reminding customers that flu shots are available at your pharmacy. Hang signs throughout your store and especially at the pharmacy pick-up counter. Direct staff to remind customers during transactions about the flu shot services your pharmacy provides. For sign/banner inspiration, check out the Overhaul of Fame (Signage folder).

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information about merchandising products and end-caps for this year's flu season.

Front-End Overhaul

Are You Putting Your Customers on Display?

There are three things that some store designers forget to do: leave room for shopping baskets; leave room for two people to pass in an aisle; and leave room for a proper and comfortable waiting area.

One of the advantages that community pharmacies enjoy is that they are known to be welcoming and excel at making a customer feel comfortable. Take it to the next step and offer your patients a comfortable and peaceful place to wait for their medication needs to be filled.

Click here for a few tips to improve your waiting area and the customer shopping experience.

Front-End Overhaul

Create a "Dorm First Aid Kit" to Grow Sales

Most college students prepare to leave home for college in the month of August. Many pharmacies will take steps to make sure that college students will not have to transfer their medication needs. But what about their OTC needs? Prepare and hang at least two large signs that read, "Dorm First Aid Kit Available Here." Then prepare business-size cards that read, "Great Item for Dorm First Aid Kit." The signs should be placed in front of items like hand sanitizer, lip balm, hot & cold packs, bandages, lozenges, cold & flu medicine, upset stomach & diarrhea medication, thermometers, vitamins, pain relievers, and deodorant. You can offer these as individual items displayed in their traditional home on the shelf, or as a pre-selected kit on an end-cap (be sure to add a sign!).

Front-End Overhaul

What Every Size Store Needs

No matter the size of your store, there are some departments and necessities that you simply cannot do without if you want to operate a successful business. Examples include clutter-free aisles that are a minimum of four feet wide; sufficient room at your store entrance; plenty of lighting; a comfortable waiting area; and minimum sizes for your health care department fixtures, among others. Read Gabe’s latest One-Pager Tip about the minimum and maximum sizes your store should have for gondolas, health care departments, fixtures, and more. How does your pharmacy measure up?

Front-End Overhaul

July 2014

Change Your Habits

We are all creatures of habit, both good and bad, and it’s all our brain’s doing. The brain promotes habits so it can have more energy to think and do other important things. Forming patterns in our life is one way of engaging our inner autopilot. There’s no doubt that well-rehearsed daily routines save us time, but they can lead to missed opportunities.

For example, store employees who walk each aisle and order OTC products with a hand-held device (like a Telxon) tend to start at the same time of day and at the beginning of the same aisle every time. If time runs short, then the product residing in the last aisle suffers the consequences, especially those items on the bottom shelf. Form a new habit! Choose one day a week and start your order at the opposite end of the store. Get creative on Wednesdays by starting the order from the middle aisle. Force yourself to look at the bottom shelves first and then work your way up. Give yourself extra time to do this. You will be amazed by how much longer this will take; it’s not easy. Your extra effort will be rewarded with a very detailed and more accurate and complete order. Give it a try today – break a few habits and start a few new ones.

Front-End Overhaul

How Do Your End-Caps Rate?

End-caps can be money-makers, but you have to merchandise them correctly or they will end up profit-busters. Every end-cap must have:

  • A compelling sign.

  • A theme that focuses on the customer's needs and which is driven by the calendar (example = summer skin protection).

  • Sufficient inventory, but a limited number of featured SKUs. Too many different products will clutter the end-cap.

  • Higher retailed items placed at eye level.

  • Products merchandised to sell, not simply to display. Do not decorate, wrap, or try to accent your end-cap.

Use my 5-Star Rating for End-Caps to see how your end-caps measure up. Is there room for improvement?

PS—Don't forget to change your end-caps every two weeks. Check out my Overhaul of Fame and Gabe's Gallery for ideas that could work in your store.

Front-End Overhaul

Take a Few Minutes to Guarantee a Great Shopping Experience for Your Customers

You and your pharmacy team are the only thing you have that can’t be found in any other store. This once more confirms that the employees of your store are the most important asset you have. That’s why you need to offer ongoing training, insist on the best customer service, reward your employees with an appropriate salary, and maintain a comfortable working environment.

But what about the summer help, and/or the “fill-in” help? Take a few minutes today to meet with any summer help you may have brought in to handle vacations, seasonal spikes in customer traffic, or to get caught up on front-end projects. Ask them to walk around and get familiar with every inch of the store. Make it clear what the dress code and cell phone policy is and how to count change back to a customer. Require that all customers be greeted and thanked for coming into the store. Impress on the employee how crucial it is to be on time for work. Most importantly, insist that they offer the same high level of customer service for which the rest of the staff is known. One bad experience from an untrained, uninformed employee can chase a customer away in a New York minute. Have a one-on-one meeting with all of your summer help today.

Front-End Overhaul

Store Hours on the 4th of July

If your pharmacy will be closed on Friday, July 4 or operating with shortened hours, make sure you communicate that in a positive way to your customers. Instead of posting a sign that simply reads, "We are closed Friday, July 4," write something uplifting:

"So everyone can enjoy the 4th of July holiday, our store hours will be..."
"Plan ahead for your Independence Day holiday: we will be closed July 4 but will see you on the 5th"
"We will be enjoying (the town parade/the town fireworks/BBQs with our families) on July 4 but will be open on the 5th"

Don't make the word "closed" the biggest word on your sign. Be sure to place these reminder signs throughout your store, especially around the cash registers and drop-off and pick-up windows. Add your pharmacy's emergency after-hours phone number to the sign. Happy Independence Day!

Front-End Overhaul

June 2014

A Quick Tip About Websites
I have visited a number of store websites lately and found that this tip bears repeating: if your pharmacy has a website (and I really hope it does), be sure to include your store address, hours, and phone number on EVERY page of your website, not just the homepage. Once you have your customers’ attention, don’t force them to click around to find that basic information—they most likely won’t.

If your pharmacy doesn’t have a website, or you'd like to boost traffic to your current one, check out the Digital Pharmacist Solution powered by RxWiki—a FREE member benefit exclusively for NCPA members. RxWiki also offers, at discount pricing, new website solutions to further streamline the patient education and refill experiences across all of your pharmacy's digital platforms. Visit www.digitalpharmacist.com for more information or to sign up.

Front-End Overhaul

How to Properly Merchandise Items on a Shelf
There are two basic rules of merchandising that can be applied to every category of product: do not slant product at an angle on a shelf, and do not place pegged items under a lower-positioned shelf. Slanting the product may look good from a distance, but in fact this style of placing merchandise on a shelf harms sales by restricting the view of the front of product, limiting inventory space to no more than two of each (most of the time, one of each), and causing the shelf to look cluttered as soon as one item is sold.

A shelf positioned over pegged items will always cast a shadow on the product beneath it. Pegboard hooks will place items further back up against the peg of a fixture, and for that reason, a noticeable shadow from the shelf will be cast on the product. Along with the dark setting, the biggest deterrents to creating a sale will be the difficultly to see and reach the merchandise.

Read my latest One-Pager Tip to learn how to fix these mistakes and properly display your merchandise. Watch your sales grow!

Front-End Overhaul

The 80/20 Rule
Items found in a 4-foot pain relief planogram will all be found in an 8-foot planogram 100 percent of the time. The product selection in the 8-foot pain relief planogram only differs by offering more line extensions of the items found in a 4-foot section plus a few more not-so-popular but most likely needed items.

This 4- to 8- to 12-foot theory can be applied to every department, not just pain relief. Your job is to decide how large of a department is needed to serve your customers’ needs. Ask yourself: who chose the size of your departments?

Read more about the 80/20 Rule and why you should review the size of your categories departments in my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

Creating a Sun Care End-Cap
End-caps of sun care protection first must have a sign informing customers of the importance of protecting their skin from the sun. The end-cap should include a wide variety of sunscreen products, burn relief, aloe, depilatories, lip balm, wide-brim hats, children's sunglasses, and sunless tanning choices. Sunscreen products you sell in your pharmacy should offer anti-aging, natural, children's, baby, sports cream, and spray-on choices. Your inventory should include of more of the higher number SPF products than the lower, single-digit SPFs. Insect repellents should be merchandised as a companion sale item. Can't find enough product to make your end-cap look full? Order floor displays and tear them apart to take up space.

Front-End Overhaul

May 2014

Do You Know What Your Customers Want?
One of the easiest ways to grow sales is simply to ask customers what they want! For many years, basic retail practice was to keep a “want book” at every register. The memo pad was used to make note of any and all requests that customers made. This practice is still a good idea. Now in 2014, a digital screen displaying questions to your customers has become a mainstay in boosting retail sales. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for more information about starting a digital want screen in your pharmacy.

Front-End Overhaul

April 2014

Do You Recommend It? Sign It.
Here's a simple task you or your store manager can do today in little time. Create simple 4 x 2 ½ inch signs (business card-size) that read "Our Pharmacist Recommends" and hang them around various OTC products. These signs can help you easily sell four to ten times more product. If you are confident in the items' integrity and effectiveness, then sign it with your endorsement. (Remember to keep the item(s) well stocked—don't leave one of each item on the shelves!)

Front-End Overhaul

Stress Relief = Sales
April is Stress Awareness Month and a good opportunity to generate front-end sales. Create an end-cap of stress relief items available in your pharmacy, such as aromatherapy, candles, stress balls, bath salts, shower gels, teas, massage oils, vitamins, etc. Make sure your display is well-signed and well-stocked. You can also find ideas, resources, and downloadable signs/flyers on the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration's website.

Front-End Overhaul

How to Scout a Store Location
I am often asked by prospective pharmacy owners what factors they should look for when scouting locations for a pharmacy. There are numerous elements to consider when searching for a spot. Is it easy to get in and out of the parking lot? (Is there even a parking lot?) What is the potential location nearby (types of businesses, schools, residences, etc.)? What are your options for erecting road and building signs? Is there another pharmacy nearby (and if so, what kind)? To help you carefully weigh these and other factors, I've created a worksheet to help prospective owners rank each factor and make an informed decision.

Do you have ideas of other factors to include in this list based on your personal experiences? Email me your suggestions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Front-End Overhaul

March 2014

Go from Dark and Dreary to Bright and Cheery

When was the last time you took a good look at your store lighting? Look around—does your store appear too dark? If the answer is "yes," it’s time to get to work:

  • Examine your fixtures—are they blocking light panels because they are too tall?
  • How far apart are your light panels? Lights should be spaced no more than every three panels on your ceiling and should start one panel away from the edge.
  • LOOK UP! Ensure that every light in the ceiling works. Replace defective light ballast and burnt-out or nearly burnt-out bulbs.
  • Clean the fluorescent tube lighting, diffusers, and lens covers. If this is too daunting to complete in one day, try cleaning one row a week until the entire store has been done; start in the pharmacy area.

Front-End Overhaul

Tips for Sun Care and Tanning Products 2014

It may be hard to start thinking about sunshine and summer during this cold and snowy winter, but now is the time to prepare your sun care and tanning products section. Spring break is in full swing at schools across the country, and the high season for Caribbean cruises runs until about April 15.

Advanced sun care products are on the rise; when ordering products, look for items that go beyond sun protection to those that care for various skin types or offer unique features, such as instant dry sprays, just-for-the-face lotions, and lotions infused with Vitamins A and E and aloe. Choose floor displays that provide product counts by popularity. Also, don’t feel like you need to use the display—consider using just the header and the product from a display to create a compelling end-cap. Cross-merchandise and sign your sun care section well.

For more information about what's trending this season and how to merchandise your "Sun Care Headquarters," read my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

How Much Does Your Competition Charge for Tylenol?

Have you shopped your competition lately? Pick 5-10 items in your store, note what you charge for each, and then head over to your competition to see what they charge. Being very expensive on your front end can be damaging to profits and affect your whole store. Watch your zone pricing level and be sure to shop your competition regularly.

Front-End Overhaul

A Simple Task to Boost Sales

Here's a simple task you can do today to help boost your front-end sales: make your checkout counter a profit area! The number one area for impulse sales is your checkout counter. Keep it clutter free (this is a MUST—clean it out daily) and judiciously choose what is displayed on the counter. Rotate new items every two weeks to keep your stock looking fresh and exciting.

Front-End Overhaul

February 2014

Is Your Store Entrance Making a Good First Impression?

First impressions are often lasting ones. Spend some time scrutinizing your store entrance and make sure it's leaving a good impression on your customers. Does it have a light and a sign outside? Remember, unlit signs will always be hard to see during cloudy days, early dawn, and at dusk. If DME is a big part of your pharmacy business, can customers get into your store easily? If your door is too difficult to open for someone using a walker or cane, consider installing automatic doors to aid customers, or at least regularly tune up the doors you now have. And speaking of doors, what's actually on yours? All you should have on the entrance door are your store hours (written in white lettering) and that's it. Take down any signs or posters—your entrance door should not look like your refrigerator door.

Now, step inside and take a look at the entrance area. What are you selling near the main door? People usually take seven to nine steps before looking around when they first enter a store. Items that rely on impulse sales should not be positioned inside those first seven to nine steps. Clean shopping baskets should be located near the entrance and in the center and rear of the store.

Front-End Overhaul

How to Compete Against a Dollar Store

Chances are there is a dollar store in your community or one nearby that threatens to take away some of your front-end business. While it may be difficult to compete price-wise with the dollar store on certain products, there are numerous ways you can position your pharmacy as a destination for savings and top-notch service. First, do your homework and understand the dollar store’s category strength. Second, offer special deals that will attract and retain customers. Third, make sure you have signage throughout your store promoting your dollar section. Finally, be sure your employees are offering the best customer service possible to everyone who walks in your front door. No one shops a dollar store for the customer service; this is your opportunity to shine!

For more detailed tips on beating the dollar stores, read my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

February is American Heart Month

Use this theme as an opportunity to market your heart health products to customers. Create an end-cap of heart-healthy products, such as omegas, fish oil, coenzymes, red yeast rice, and other vitamins (revisit "Six Steps to Sell Vitamins" for more tips). Place a red heart on the shelf next to any heart-healthy item in your store (for example: CoQ10, aspirin, etc.). Create signs that read, "Look for the red heart and give the gift of health!" and place them throughout your store during the month of February.

Front-End Overhaul

January 2014

January is National Bath Safety Month

Did you know that January is National Bath Safety Month? If you carry bath safety products, this is a good opportunity to draw attention to your product selection. Remember, people need to know you carry bath safety products before they can buy them from you. Create an end-cap near the pharmacy featuring your product selection and be sure to include a sign with your display. (Here’s an interesting fact for a sign: "There are nearly 200,000 bathroom accidents every year, many of which are preventable if the bathroom was equipped with safety features.") For more tips on selling your durable medical equipment, revisit my Bath Safety One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

2014 Valentine's Day Tips

Is your store prepared for Valentine's Day? This year, the holiday falls on a Friday...also known to many as payday! This is the best day for retail sales. Saturdays give last-minute shoppers more time to drive to the mall to purchase their gifts. Friday is much more small-business friendly.

For successful Valentine's Day retail sales, it is critical that you place signs throughout your store reminding customers when Valentine's Day is this year. Create a countdown calendar to instill a sense of urgency in people looking to buy for their valentines. Merchandise to catch the male eye—men do most of the shopping for Valentine's Day (66%, compared to 34% by women).

Remember to take careful notes about your successes and failures this season. And most importantly, DO NOT discount any candy or gifts before February 15th—otherwise, you are training your customers to sit back and wait for a sale.

Read more tips for a profitable 2014 Valentine's Day season here.

Front-End Overhaul

What Makes a Good Manager?

To run a successful business, the qualities you should seek in an effective, competent store manager are more than just knowing how to oversee store operations. From leading by example to being able to embrace change, review my checklist of 32 qualities that make a great manager. Great managers = successful businesses. How does your current store manager compare? Is there room for improvement?

Front-End Overhaul

How Prepared Are You for Winter Storms?

'Tis the season for nor'easters and major snow and ice storms. Stock up on storm supplies for your store and assign someone to shovel, spread ice melt, sand, or salt regularly, and keep the floor dry. Don't forget to take good notes of how cold snaps and storms affected your monthly sales. You will find those notes handy for next year and for future storms.

Front-End Overhaul