2015 Front-End Overhaul Tips Archive

December 2015

Tips on Creating Selling Signs

To create an effective in-store sign to promote a product or service, find a compelling image, then add short statement: "Time to let your legs feel young again." Add a message: "In less than 10 minutes, our expert hosiery fitter will find the perfect size for you." Notice there is no price listed in these messages! Signs shouting the price are warning signs, not selling signs. For example, if you create a sign that reads "Compression Stockings, $39.95 and up," what the sign is really saying is, "You better have at least $40 on you before even looking at these stockings." Sell, don't scare off customers.

Front-End Overhaul

The Times Are Changing

You probably never had to think about the font you were using to create documents and signs until now. I bet most of you just stuck with the default Microsoft Word font and called it a day. Why does it matter what type of font you use? Trust me, it makes a difference on your exterior signs. Read my latest One-Pager Tip to find out which font you should be using and why.

Front-End Overhaul

The Holidays Bring Hugs, Kisses, and Sneezes

"The holidays are a virus-distribution system." – Dr. William Schaffner

The merriness of the holidays seems to go hand-and-cough with hugs, kisses, and sneezes. Compounding this spread of germs is the unavoidable few days before the holiday break, when schoolchildren of every age find themselves unsuspectingly sitting in an incubator for the common cold. Fortunately, independent community pharmacies will be ready and waiting to offer relief. The most prepared pharmacies will have fully stocked shelves of the most popular cough & cold products; will not have relied on next-day delivery; will have ordered long before the product hits its peak demand; and offer remedies and relief in the form of lozenges, day and night relief options, liquids, capsules, and tablets. These stores will have also created end-caps and signage featuring ways to boost the immune system and counter displays offering natural alternatives and homeopathic choices. It will be easy to find facial tissue of all shapes and forms in these stores (sizes for the car, purse, home, and travel). Hand sanitizers will be at every pick-up, drop-off, and register counter (pocket-sized and larger bottles for the home). The most prepared stores are already ready for the holiday sick season or preparing now. Is yours?

Front-End Overhaul

November 2015

How to Introduce Premium Vitamins & Supplements to Your Store Mix

Offering a premium vitamin and supplement line in your store can be a profitable and traffic-boosting venture, but it requires thought, planning, and passion to be truly successful. You must believe 100 percent in the line(s)/brand(s) of supplements that you choose to offer and recommend in your store; otherwise, you will never be able to convince anyone to invest in high-end products. You must also have passion to compel your customers to invest in their health with your recommended line of supplements. My latest One-Pager Tip will tell you how to get started in choosing a line, merchandising it properly on your shelves, developing a pricing strategy, and marketing it effectively to attract customers.

Front-End Overhaul

Updating Your Pain Relief Section Can Be Pain-Free

Make time in your schedule this December to update your store’s pain relief section. Check the size—most stores do not need a department larger than 8 feet long. The ideal size for stores filling approximately 200 scripts a day is a 6-foot section. The pain relief category sells well when placed across from or parallel to the cough & cold department. It can also be placed near the antacid and laxative departments.

Update your pain relief section by first removing six of the slower-moving items, starting with anything that has been discontinued. Now that you have more shelf space, consider bringing in new items to the line. Not enough worthy items to fill the space? Double face a popular private label item. Next, choose four of your best-selling external pain relievers and six of your best-selling internal analgesics and mark the shelf tags in front of the items to signify the need to maintain a minimum quantity of four each—do not run out! Finally, choose two external pain relievers (a cream and a wrap) and among the internal analgesics choose one ibuprofen, one acetaminophen, and one aspirin combination (brand or private label) and sign with them with your "Our Pharmacist Recommends" signs. Watch sales grow!

Front-End Overhaul

Inspiration from a Fig Bar

I'm sitting on a plane as I write this, heading home from visiting three community pharmacies. During my visits, I find that I am asked an oft-repeated question: "Where should I start focusing my marketing efforts? Radio, newspaper, direct mailing, social media or cable?" My answer is none of them. Your marketing efforts do not start with these channels; it starts with a compelling message—one that will actually make people want to become your customer.

Writing a compelling and interesting message is a fine art. My lunch on the plane today is a fig bar. I don't care for figs, but I'm hungry. I read the package hoping to discover that this wasn't an ordinary cousin to the original Fig Newton. It's not—well, at least the wrapper is not. Whoever wrote the description is a master of persuasion: "At Nature's Bakery, our goal is simple—to give you the fuel you need to help power life's great journeys. Oh, yeah, and to make it—and your journeys—jam-packed with flavor. (Get this...) With Mother Nature's blessing we've created perfect harmony among some of her very best handiwork, holding freshness ever sacred. (This is a fig bar!) Learn more about our on-the-go snacks foods at www.naturesbakery.com."

Hmmm... if that kind of persuasive message works for a fig bar, it can work for your pharmacy: "At [Your Pharmacy], our goal is simple: To give you the very best and informed care that a pharmacist can provide. Staying healthy, knowing how best to take your prescriptions, and completely understanding why you were prescribed that medicine is a powerful way to control your well-being. We are here to help you with that. Come see us at [Your Pharmacy], we're ready to be by your side..."

A marketing tip from a snack bar, go figure.

Front-End Overhaul

October 2015

Lift Your Profits With Lift Chairs

If you had to buy a lift chair for someone you love, would you look for the cheapest one? Most people won't. Stock one of the best chairs a person can buy. You've heard it before: many times, the person paying for the chair is not the one who will be using it. My latest One-Pager Tip tells you what kind of chairs to stock, how to merchandise them to sell, and which marketing messages to use to generate customer interest. Send me your lift chair success stories and photos at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org … questions always welcomed!

Front-End Overhaul

Is Your Digestive Health Section Upsetting Profits?

The digestive health category continues to show steady growth in sales, mostly fueled by Rx-to-OTC transitions. This is a destination category where customers are looking for relief, so ensuring that you never run out of the popular brands and their private label equivalents is imperative. Gabe's latest One-Pager Tip will ensure you are stocking the right products with the right prices—and in the right way on the shelf. Don't let sales lag in this top-performing category!

Front-End Overhaul

Don't Let Halloween Scare You Out of Sales Opportunities

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, meaning trick-or-treaters will be out later and for longer periods of time than if the holiday fell on a school night. Homeowners should consider picking up an extra bag of candy to meet increased demand. This year's most popular Halloween costumes for children are predicted to be princesses and "Batman." Don't sell candy at your store, or competing with a dollar store? You can still find Halloween sales opportunities in cosmetics, hairspray, specialty treats like sugar-free or gluten-free candies, and non-candy alternatives like pens, pencils, stickers, and crayons. Create a "Halloween Safety Headquarters" end-cap stocked with batteries, flashlights, glow sticks/necklaces, and reflective tape.

Front-End Overhaul

September 2015

Refresh Your Cough & Cold Section

For virtually all stores, cough, cold & allergy is the No. 1 selling category. Cold and flu season is just getting started across the country—make sure you are prepared this month to meet your customers’ needs to prevent or cope with sickness throughout the season. From the correct size of the department to pricing and merchandising advice, the latest One-Pager Tip from Gabe gives you inventory tips to keep cough & cold your top-selling department and generate companion sales in the process.

Front-End Overhaul

Re-Energize Your Skin Care Sales

Anti-aging is on the minds of many. The search for the fountain of youth continues on, leading seekers to the gym as well as to your vitamin and skin care departments. These individuals started their trek in their teens looking for ways to get rid of acne, and now return in later years to mask wrinkles and age spots. Fulfill their needs by re-energizing your skin care sales.

Start by keeping the department impeccably clean and well-faced—stock the shelves like you mean it! You should have no fewer than two of each item and at least four of the best-sellers on your shelves. To refresh your memory of what the best-sellers are, refer to your skin care planogram and the "never out" list (note: skin care planograms typically come out in July). In addition, ask your wholesaler to provide a list of top sellers by unit sales found in the skin care category.

Next, read the labels of the skin care products. Look for items that offer UVA and/or UVB sunscreen protection. You will discover a number of products that offer SPF protection along with moisturizing agents. Mark shelf tags and add signage to these products that offer the much sought-after SPF benefit.

Now look for products that contain alpha hydroxy acid, a group of natural acids found in some foods. AHA is in some the best-selling products on your shelf. It also comes with a sunburn alert. Here is a prime chance to educate customers about their skin care products and create a companion sale. Year-round, cross-merchandise premium sun protection products in or near to your skin care category. Don't forget the sign!

One final note: Guys are not fond of wrinkles either. Cross-merchandise face wash and wrinkle cream in the men's shaving section along with a good sunscreen. Make room for new entries in natural and/or organic skin moisturizers.

Front-End Overhaul

How to Liquidate Product—One Pharmacy's Experience

After a Front-End Overhaul consultation with Gabe Trahan, Village Pharmacy in Baldwin, Wis. made plans to remodel its front end to make it more profitable. Before the overhaul could begin, the store needed to liquidate its greeting card and gift sections. Click here for a brief Q&A with the front-end manager of Village Pharmacy about their experience. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the overhaul process from an owner’s perspective, this is worth a quick read. Perhaps you can find a nugget of helpful advice in pursuing your own store overhaul or liquidation.

Front-End Overhaul

Protect Profits in the Most Shoplifted Section of Your Front End

The family planning department will yield some of the highest profit margin products in your store – good thing, because this is the area where you will experience the most shoplifting. From condoms to pregnancy tests, they all have a tendency to fly out of your store without stopping at the checkout. Most stores can easily cash in on the sales this department offers with a 3-foot section.

Merchandising Tips: Theft tends to peak during back-to-school season, and stores that position family planning items in an area where they can easily be stolen is news that spreads like wildfire. If your store has a moderate to high shoplifting problem, consider using a high-profile end-cap near the pharmacy area; this may cut back on shoplifting. If theft is not a problem, consider placing family planning near the feminine care section. The condom subcategory has gone from being placed on peg hooks to now being placed on shelves. If you need to peg the three packs, do so directly under the top shelf while running the larger count sizes on the shelf below the pegged items. Men’s vitamins and herbs have shown some cross-merchandising sales opportunities in this department.

Front-End Overhaul

August 2015

Does Your Skin Care Department Look Its Best?

August is a good time to adjust your skin care department, and with the right-sized planogram and inventory, you can maximize profits in this category. Choose your inventory carefully depending on the size the planogram. Stores using a 4' x 54" planogram choose to focus on more therapeutic lines than the typical hand and body skin moisturizers and anti-aging products. Most stores will do well with an 8' by 54" skin care planogram. Read Gabe's latest One-Pager Tip for more skin care merchandising ideas and recommended category sizes for community pharmacies.

Front-End Overhaul

Step Up Your Foot Care Sales

For the most part, foot care is a category that is comprised of "non-price sensitive" items. It is one of the few categories that will offer a mid- to high-end profit margin. Most stores will cover their customers' needs with a three-foot section. However, because most fixtures are made of four-foot sections, a number of stores use a four-foot planogram. Consider using a three-foot planogram in a four-foot section; this will allow you to cross merchandise lines like Pedifex and Spenco. Utilizing a three-foot planogram in a larger fixture space will allow you to merchandise essential items such as toe nail clippers, foot files, callus removers, and pedicure kits.

TIP: Make your foot care section a "Diabetic Foot Care Headquarters." Include a sample of therapeutic shoes (ask your shoe supplier to provide you a stand-alone display), socks for diabetics, and diabetic foot cream such as Gold Bond Diabetic Skin Relief Foot Cream. When it comes to insoles, not all private label items have made a measurable sales impression; however, when it comes to foot pads and corn or bunion pads, private label products with good packaging hold their own and offer a nice profit margin. Foot care is typically located near the first aid or shaving sections.

Front-End Overhaul

Brush Up on Your Oral Care Section

Oral hygiene takes up a lot of room in your front end and makes you very little money. The profit on some name brand toothpastes can be as low as 7 percent (!). That said, as long as the majority of your customers have teeth, you will need to offer at least 4 feet of oral care products. Read the newest One-Pager Tip from Gabe Trahan to find out which products you should offer and why.

Front-End Overhaul

July 2015

15 Messaging Ideas for Your Outdoor Digital Sign(s)

It's important to change the messages on your outdoor digital signs regularly as well as include the time and temperature to train your customers to look at your sign. Sometimes coming up with brief, creative messages all the time can be more time-consuming and challenging than actually changing the message. Here are 15 ideas to get you started. (Read the old "Tips on Digital Signs" for even more ideas.)

  1. "Pinpoint accuracy—Less wait time—Cost-effective"

  2. "Our pharmacist takes time to listen and explain."

  3. "Bring your questions about medication to us."

  4. "Over 200 sugar-free items."

  5. "We deliver to your home...for free!"

  6. "It's raining! Use our drive-thru."

  7. "Don't wait to be waited on."

  8. "Drive carefully, you are needed at home."

  9. "10 steps through the door and you're at the pharmacy."

  10. "Medication should never be confusing. Come in, let's talk."

  11. "Medication taste yucky? We can fix that."

  12. "Go Fighting Goats!" (insert local high school team)

  13. "Take all medication as prescribed. We can help!"

  14. "We have your health in mind."

  15. "Stop in and let our pharmacist be your partner in your good health."


Front-End Overhaul

Your Wound Care Section Needs More Than Just Band-Aids

Next to the premium supplement section, first aid products with wound care is the most important OTC category you can offer. Like vitamins, the size of the category will depend upon your understanding, passion, and comfort level in making recommendations. First aid/wound care is one of the least price sensitive categories in a pharmacy and can offer a profit margin of over 40 percent. Being able to assist the customer in making the right choices in this department will provide you an important advantage over the chains. Read the latest tip from Gabe Trahan to discover what size first aid/wound care department your pharmacy should have, how to develop a wound care supply niche, and when you should stock up on certain products.

Front-End Overhaul

Does Your Sales Circular Thank Customers for Coming In or Invite Them to Your Store?

Circulars that are not circulated and are kept in the store for customers to pick up when shopping serve more as a reward for visiting ("Thanks for coming in, here are some savings for you"). Circulars/fliers that are mailed to homes or inserted in newspapers serve as invitations to visit your store, offering an incentive of savings. In-store or distributed circular programs both serve a purpose; however, if you are looking for a growth in new customers, then mail your circulars to homes or insert them in the newspaper.

Now take a close look at your newspaper ad. Does it say "Look how great we are!" or does it say "You will feel great when you become our customer and here is why …"? People are not as concerned with how great you think you are. They are more concerned to know how great it will be if and when they become your customer. Instead of saying "We are the best in customer service!" (the phrase is worn out and is barely believed at this point), give customers examples of your great customer service. You just might see new faces in your store.

Note: There are two types of potential customers: first-time patients looking for a pharmacy and customers looking to switch pharmacies. Do your ads offer compelling and clear reasons why they should choose your store? Take a look today.

Front-End Overhaul

Review Your Hair Care Section With a Fine-Tooth Comb

With a small exception of medicated hair care products, the rest of the hair care segment houses some of the most price-sensitive items in your store, only beaten by your oral care and feminine hygiene departments. Brand loyalty is a big factor in selling hair care products, and that’s why private label shampoos and conditioners will always take a back seat in this department. Read Gabe’s latest One-Pager Tip to untangle the secrets to maintaining a successful hair care department in your community pharmacy.

Front-End Overhaul

Does Your Sales Circular Thank Customers for Coming In or Invite Them to Your Store?

Circulars that are not circulated and are kept in the store for customers to pick up when shopping serve more as a reward for visiting (“Thanks for coming in, here are some savings for you”). Circulars/fliers that are mailed to homes or inserted in newspapers serve as invitations to visit your store, offering an incentive of savings. In-store or distributed circular programs both serve a purpose; however, if you are looking for a growth in new customers, then mail your circulars to homes or insert them in the newspaper.

Now take a close look at your newspaper ad. Does it say “Look how great we are!” or does it say “You will feel great when you become our customer and here is why …”? People are not as concerned with how great you think you are. They are more concerned to know how great it will be if and when they become your customer. Instead of saying “We are the best in customer service!” (the phrase is worn out and is barely believed at this point), give customers examples of your great customer service. You just might see new faces in your store.

Note: There are two types of potential customers: first-time patients looking for a pharmacy and customers looking to switch pharmacies. Do your ads offer compelling and clear reasons why they should choose your store? Take a look today.

Front-End Overhaul

Time to Do Your Homework for Back-to-School Time

The back-to-school season started as early as July 5 last year. Are you ready for this year? Do a quick check of your school supplies on hand and determine what you may need to order (a good place to start is by asking your local elementary schools for a list of their recommended school supplies and carry those products). Aside from school supplies, are you ready to answer questions about vitamins, cough and cold medications, head lice treatments, and ankle/wrist bands/wraps? The time to start planning is now.

Front-End Overhaul

June 2015

Three Minutes and Two Rules

Take a look at the top photo below. Notice how there appears to be holes on the shelf and/or items are missing? Now take a look at the photo below it. This is the same amount of product. Which photo looks better?

Rule #1: When it comes to filling space on the shelf, multiple facings is the answer. It is more pleasing to the eye to have three facing of each item, two items deep than two facing of each item, three items deep.

Rule #2: When it comes to shelf label positioning, the label should be placed to the left edge of the first item (see red arrow), whether it is a single or multiple-faced item. This way, if there was a hole or missing item on the shelf, you would know to order from the tag to the left of the hole. Grocery stores have been doing this for years. Give it a try and see how much easier your ordering process has become!

Front-End Overhaul

Inventory Your Backroom

Be honest...how often do you inventory and clean your backroom? In most cases, backroom areas are where items go to never be seen again. Items in a storage room are easily forgotten and many times the product never makes it to the front of the store. How much money do you think is just sitting in your backroom?

Every inch of your store should help you pay rent or make you and your patients feel comfortable. What is your backroom doing for you? Backrooms hardly ever pay rent. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for a list of action items you and your staff can complete this week to organize, declutter, and clean your backroom. Make it a weekly or monthly habit. You (and your bottom line) will be glad you did.

Front-End Overhaul

Create Habits to Prevent Employee Theft

It's in our DNA to trust our employees, but unfortunately there are some bad apples out there. It's okay to trust people, but you also need to verify. Create habits now so you are routinely checking for employee theft:

  • Set policies on when the back door is to be used and who is allowed to use it—and stick to those rules.

  • Go through the trash on a regular basis. Most internal theft of merchandise goes into a trash bin, only to be taken out after closing.

  • Don't leave the key in the register so that it can be opened and ring in a no sale.

  • Do not allow purses, handbags, backpacks, or any other personal belongings anywhere near the cash register or in the pharmacy.

  • Pay for your stuff! That includes the bottle of water out of the cooler or the cold medicine you need to take home. Set an example for your employees: "Nothing goes out of this building unless it's paid for."

RxPatrol has put together a helpful pharmacy security checklist to review other aspects of store security, such as alarms, locking devices, internal controls, and preventing and responding to robberies, burglaries, and fraud. RxPatrol also offers daily tips through their Twitter account—give them a follow (and me!).

Front-End Overhaul

The Magic of Selling Father's Day Cards

Think you can't successfully sell your stock of Father's Day cards? Think again. The key to a successful greeting card department is...keep the cards straightened and in the proper category, and have the appropriate envelope with every card. That's it. Doesn’t sound like magic? It is, and it's rare. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for advice on maximizing your greeting card profit this Father's Day.

Front-End Overhaul

Everything You Wanted to Know About Fixtures

Ordering fixtures can make your head spin. My latest One-Pager Tip offers some tips to help take the guess work out of what types of fixtures to order and how to install them properly. The key is to order the right size for your store and budget accordingly. Don't buy any new shelving or fixtures until you read this tip!

Front-End Overhaul

May 2015

Summer Healin' End-Cap Idea

More time outdoors in the summer brings more chances for insect bites, poison ivy/oak/sumac rashes, and bruises. Build a "Bumps, Bites & Bruises Headquarters" end-cap in time for Memorial Day weekend (the unofficial kick-off to summer) featuring private label itch relief items, bug sprays, tick repellents, tick removers, poison ivy relief, hydrocortisone, and bandages. Add a sign! Idea: "Better to have and not need than need and not have."

Front-End Overhaul

Mother's Day Greeting Card Sales Are Evolving

It's time to take the reorder process for Mother's Day cards off autopilot! It is important to do your homework after every major selling holiday, like Mother's Day. Take notes about which items sold well in your store and which ones did not (greeting cards, gifts, chocolates, etc.). Even though Mother's Day is the third bestselling holiday for greeting cards, the market is evolving, and selling the same old cards isn't going to cut it anymore. My latest One-Pager Tip will walk you through the steps you and your staff should be taking this week to ensure you order the right type of greeting cards and the right amount of cards for next year.

Front-End Overhaul

Checklist of Summer Must-Haves

Do you have these items on hand in your front end? If not, it's time to place an order:

Lip balm with UV protection located near drop-off, pick-up, and checkout counters.
Sunglasses rack full, cleaned, and signed: "Protect your eyes and look good."
Display of children's sunglasses. Add a sign: "Protect those young eyes!"
High SPF sun protection for children, adults, and specifically ones for the face.
Natural relief options for sunburns: cold packs, witch hazel, Aveeno bath treatment, and aloe.
Sunburn relief: Solarcaine.
Poison ivy relief: Tecnu, Zanfel, and Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap.
If located on the East Coast: tick remover for people and animals.
No fewer than six on hand of an itch relief product (example: Benadryl Spray Extra Strength). Add a sign: "One for home and one for travel."
No fewer than six on hand of a triple antibiotic ointment or cream product (example: Neosporin).

Front-End Overhaul

Gabe Q&A on Merchandising Incontinence Products

Where is the best place in your store to merchandise the incontinence category? According to a representative from Kimberly-Clark, the manufacturer of Depends, the best place to merchandise incontinence products is… near the feminine hygiene section. The vast majority of customers who purchase this type of product, brand or generic, are women. Find out what features are important and how to profitably merchandise this section of your front end in my latest One-Pager Tip.

Front-End Overhaul

April 2015

Allergy Season is Here

April showers bring May flowers...and May flowers bring allergies. Create a spring allergy relief end-cap that offers both natural and homeopathy allergy relief options (antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants) as well as facial tissues, eye care products, and immune boosters. Check that your retails on Flonase and Nasacort Allergy 24HR OTC are competitive and not set at MSRP. Check your region's pollen count and allergy conditions at www.aaaai.org. Don't forget to SIGN IT! Send me pictures of your best-looking allergy end-caps for the Overhaul of Fame (email gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org).

Front-End Overhaul

Sun Care is the New Cough & Cold

It is time to brush up on your skin protection lines because tanning questions have now evolved into sun protection questions, and there will be plenty of questions coming your way. Take time to do some research. Find a brand of sun protection that you feel comfortable recommending for a young child, fair skin, dark skin, spray-on, sport, low SPF, and high SPF, as well as a gluten-free and sweat- and water-resistant brand. For tips on merchandising your sun care section effectively, read my latest One-Pager Tip, and don't forget to send me pictures of your profitable sun care headquarters at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org.

Front-End Overhaul

New Options Available for Sun Care—Are You Ready?

Sun care product choices are changing each day. Just a short time ago, the choices were tan or protect. Sun care is now skin protection, and customers are being subjected to a multitude of choices: with or without argan oil, sprays, sticks, foams, SPFs 15 through 50, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide...the list is seemingly endless. Take a minute today and brush up on the choices and benefits of the different formulas that are now available to the consumer. (Start by visiting www.webmd.com and search "sunscreen.") Just as customers are looking for your expertise in cough & cold remedy suggestions, soon they will be asking for your recommendations for skin protection. Be ready!

Front-End Overhaul

Must-Haves for Your Store Website

In this day and age, not having a store website can be damaging to your business and your image. But having a website that is not up-to-date and easy to navigate can be just as damaging. I have viewed hundreds of store websites and compiled a list of essential features that your store website must have. Take a look at your store's website and see if there's room for improvement. Don't be afraid to let the world know how well you take care of your customers!

Front-End Overhaul

March 2015

Check Your Parking Lot

Take a quick walk around your parking lot. Is there ample parking available for customers? Make sure employees are not parking in the spots closest to the store entrance. Next, restripe the ADA parking area. Clean the "handicapped parking only" sign and make sure it is not bent or rusty. Finally, check the lighting in your parking area. For security and safety reasons, eliminate all dark areas outside of your store and parking lot.

Front-End Overhaul

Buying at a Lower Cost

Buying at a lower cost rarely has anything to do with a retail price. The savings earned from finding and negotiating a great buy does not immediately point to a lower retail. This is especially true for private label OTC. Retails on private label are based on a percentage of savings from the brand’s everyday retail price, not by applying a margin to the cost of the private label. The deal is for you. Read my latest One-Pager Tip to learn more about setting retails and how to buy smart and sell smart.

Front-End Overhaul

Change Up Your Eye and Ear Care Categories

The eye and ear care category is normally updated in February and March. For better shelf spacing and an improved display of pegged items, consider using a smaller planogram size. Using the same space, replace a four-foot plan with a three-foot plan. With a little bit of product adjusting, you will be able to space out the shelves for better viewing. You’ll also be able to eliminate the top shelf that is casting a shadow over the pegged items. You can use this technique with the shaving department as well.

Front-End Overhaul

The Two Different Types of Sale Circular Programs

There are two types of sale circular programs. One is an in-store event where circulars are placed throughout the store and supported by window signage and in-store signs. In-store sale events are not designed or expected to draw new customers, but instead delight loyal customers with the surprise of extra savings on different types of merchandise.

The other sale circular program is a publicity event, where circulars are not only placed throughout the store and supported by signage, but are distributed throughout the local community and among the store's customer base through paid advertising via direct mail, shared mail, or newspaper inserts. The purpose of out-of-store distribution programs is to attract new customers and entice loyal customers to make an additional visit to the store.

What the two programs have in common: both should be treated as a sales event inviting customers to shop your store. Read my latest One-Pager Tip for ideas and advice on maximizing your sale circular program to generate traffic and profits.

Front-End Overhaul

February 2015

Do You Have Unique Pricing?

Over the years, many stores have unwittingly crafted a number of unique OTC retail prices. These prices can originate from multiple sources, such as employees changing retails at registers, POS software changes, or data from a previous owner/manager that never was updated. A recent visit to a store uncovered a list of nearly 700 unique prices, most of them outdated and causing lost revenue. In many cases, unique prices will override your zone pricing. Today, make an important phone call to your primary wholesaler and ask for a report listing all of the OTC items in your store that have a unique price. Review the list and make the changes that are needed.

Front-End Overhaul

Become a Gift Merchandiser Maverick

One of the keys to creating a profitable gift department is to channel merchandising skills that will add perceived value to the item. When a customer looks at a gift item, he or she will hopefully first be impressed with the product and then will start to think of the retail. If the placement, supporting signage, and overall appearance of the item are done properly, the customer is apt to guess the price as being higher than what the marked retail actually is.

Read my latest One-Pager Tip to learn the key elements to adding perceived value to a gift item and how to tell if you’ve been merchandising properly all along.

Front-End Overhaul

The Only Way to Make Merchandising Easier

The only way you can make merchandising easier is by having the right supplies on hand and knowing where they are located. Recently, I visited a store and offered to remerchandise a 20-foot section. It should not have taken more than an hour. Instead, it took three hours and two additional people to help. The problem was not merchandising but finding the right supplies! I needed four 16-inch shelves, but we only found two. I settled for 13-inch shelves, but I needed eight 13-inch shelves in all. We only found six. However, we did find a few 13-inch shelves in another section that could be swapped with a 10-inch shelf. No one knew where the 10-inch shelves were; they knew they had them, they just weren’t sure where. When we finally did find them, they were bent and filthy.

Each year, invest some time in making merchandising easier. Enlist a high school student to come in and straighten out your storage area, inventory, and shelves. Another good idea is to make sure the shelves get a good cleaning while they are there. Sort out the pegboard hooks so the 10-inch hooks are not covering the treasured six-inch hooks. After you have a clear idea of what you have, spend $300 to purchase the shelves you may need and some new hooks. While you’re at it, purchase some four-foot shelf fencing as well as shelf fencing to fit your end-caps (usually those are 30 to 36 inches long). Having the right shelves and accessories on hand makes merchandising easy and saves labor in the long run!

Front-End Overhaul

What Great Stores Have in Common

Every community pharmacy is unique in its own way, but the successful ones share similar characteristics that make them profitable and long-standing businesses. From exterior store fronts that look alive, to open and welcoming store interiors with well-managed health and beauty departments and a reputation that goes beyond good customer service, these qualities will keep your customers coming back year after year. How does your store measure up? Review my checklist and see if there is room for improvement.

Drop me a note at gabe.trahan@ncpanet.org if you think something is missing on this list.

Front-End Overhaul

If You Sell Vitamins, Then You sell the Best Valentine’s Gifts

Not all stores offer greeting cards, boxed chocolates, and Valentine’s-related gifts. But nearly all pharmacies carry vitamins and nutritional products. The right supplements can be the best gift for the heart. Choose supplements that you feel comfortable recommending to patients and prepare a "Valentine's Gift to the Heart" display. Some possibilities include your favorite multivitamin, a CoQ10, fish oil with Omega-3, vitamin D, or even some green tea or red yeast rice extract and/or low-dose aspirin. Reading material to go along with the supplements and a sign encouraging healthy eating habits and exercise would be a nice addition to your display. With a red ribbon, tie three bottles of the same supplement together (roughly 90 days' worth). Promote the items as "90 Days of Heart Health." Unlike chocolates in heart-shaped boxes and little goofy stuffed bears with red ribbon, your gifts will not have to be marked down to 50 percent off the day after Valentine's Day. The only thing that comes off is the ribbon.

Front-End Overhaul

January 2015

In the Eye of the Beholder

Take a look at my latest One-Pager Tip and think about which photo is the better of the two. There is no exact science to setting up a gift department, but I have always found that neat and orderly is the best option for displaying items, and the most expensive products should always be placed at eye level.

Now take a look at your own gift department. What changes could you make to improve sales based on what you saw in those two photos?

Front-End Overhaul

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