NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

Consumer Reports sings your praises. You should, too.

by NCPA | Feb 08, 2019

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

Tom Brady's Patriots win the Super Bowl again. Clemson and Alabama in the College Football Playoff again. Even Meryl Streep at the Oscars – yes, again.

Sometimes a thing can become so predictable, so expected, so normative, that when it happens again, we're inclined to ... well, to yawn.

But ask the individuals or teams above if winning ever gets old. It doesn't.

As a community pharmacy owner, one thing that should never make you yawn is Consumer Reports' annual retail pharmacy ratings, the most recent version of which was published online Jan. 31 and appears in the March 2019 print edition.

Once again, independent pharmacies are rated highly. "Personalized care ... seems to be what people value in a drugstore – and where independent pharmacies often seem to excel," writes author Lisa Gill in the piece, adding, "Mom-and-pop stores earned high marks on such measures as courtesy, helpfulness, and speed of checkout and filling prescriptions, as well as pharmacists' knowledge and accuracy."

The article spotlights three NCPA members for their innovative services and ability to compete, including Hashim Zaibak, owner of Hayat Pharmacy in Milwaukee; Chris Antypas, owner of Asti's South Hills Pharmacy in Pittsburgh; and Ben McNabb, owner of Love Oak Pharmacy in Eastland, Texas.

I couldn't be prouder of this recognition (again!) of the kind of excellent service community pharmacies are providing patients across America.

I also couldn't be less surprised – and that lack of surprise makes me pause.

It's great to be recognized for quality and value, but it's not worth much if our patients – or prospective patients – aren't aware of that value.

Which is why you not only shouldn't take Consumer Reports' positive ratings and comments for granted, but you also should not take for granted those very competitive advantages the CR story illustrates – the services you offer, have long offered, but may not be marketing as well as you could.

I'm talking about same-day, in-person home delivery. Adherence packaging. Comprehensive medication review. Immunizations. Blood pressure screening. Counseling patients in choosing a Part D plan. Even the overall problem-solving you do for patients who don't fit into the assembly-line models of the big box pharmacies.

Thinking your core services are so normal, so expected, so predictable that everyone knows you do them may not be the case. Maybe you think touting your pharmacy's services feels too much like bragging. But an "aw-shucks" approach to promoting your business may be resulting in unaware patients switching to pharmacies that do a better job promoting services that you already provide! See big box drugstores promoting their mail-order prescription delivery services for a case in point.

Home delivery may be an ingrained, essential part of your service model, but if even your best customers don't know you offer it, what's the point? We shared some great tips on how to tell your customers about your value in last October's issue of America's Pharmacist®. That article is worth another look.

Which is all to say: Don't take it for granted that consumers in your area know your pharmacy is great. Showing them is good, but you also have to tell them. Start with getting a copy (or two or three) of the March issue of Consumer Reports and sharing it with your employees and everyone walking through your doors.

Consumer Reports is singing your praises. You need to sing about your services, too. Or, in the words of W.S. Gilbert:

If you wish in this world to advance,
your merits you're bound to enhance;
You must stir it and stump it,
and blow your own trumpet, or trust me,
you haven't a chance.

Best,
Doug Hoey