Independent pharmacies are constantly accomplishing amazing feats that usually go without recognition. That’s why we love it when organizations like NCPA’s Innovation Center give pharmacies the opportunity to highlight all the wonderful things they’re doing. This year, NCPA awarded three PioneerRx users NCPA Innovation Center Excellence (NICE) Awards for their outstanding work, and we wanted to discover how they earned these honors.
As pharmacy owners and pharmacists, all of your focus is on your daily duties and demands. If you step back and take a long, hard look at your surroundings, do you like what you see? More importantly, do your patients?
As the saying goes, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” and nothing could be truer about your pharmacy’s interior appearance: aisles, lighting, and overall layout. That’s why Skywalk Pharmacy in New Berlin, WI, seized the chance to remodel their store from an overlooked conference room to the 800-square-foot, eye-catching store it is today.
Skywalk Pharmacy first opened its doors in 2003 as an outpatient pharmacy for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In 2014, Skywalk created a second location in the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin New Berlin Clinic, around 20 minutes from Milwaukee. This new store first debuted in a conference room, which was not an ideal space, according to Kara Boghossian, Skywalk’s Director of Pharmacy. “That wasn’t our best look,” she recounts. “It wasn’t very inviting to our patients.” In 2016, the entire building was renovated, including the pharmacy. Kara and her team moved across the hall from the conference room into a larger space, which gave them an opportunity to design it in a way that would be functional for staff and appealing for customers.
Now, Skywalk is bright, child-friendly, and inviting. Large windows allow for more natural light to enter, and wall decals delight younger patients who visit the pharmacy. Sliding glass doors propel more customers to venture inside, and the wider walk space encourages more browsing and shopping throughout the front-end, which is overseen by a sales associate who has their own designated area. “We definitely have more people who naturally flow into the pharmacy, even if they aren’t picking up a prescription,” Kara observes. “Now that it’s more inviting, they may come in to see what front-end offerings we have, and while they’re in there, they learn this is a pharmacy open to the public. When you see it from the outside, there are gift items, over-the-counter products, and rewards for children if they have a good clinic appointment. That has resulted in more front-end sales and more prescription capture.”
Skywalk Pharmacy consulted with Retailworks Inc, a fellow locally-owned business, to teach them about merchandising and layout. These consultants took the time to show Skywalk how to design a store that entices more walk-ins and boosts sales of retail items. Kara also cites NCPA’s product recommendations and Front-End Overhaul as sources she and her team relied on while arranging the interior of their new location. “In the Front-End Overhaul newsletters, they feature those ‘before and after’ photos of displays and endcaps, and that’s where we really learned how to properly view and photograph our space.”
Photographing the changes for the NICE Awards presented the transformation in a new way to the Skywalk staff. The camera offered a new perspective that highlighted some areas that needed attention. “For us, taking those pictures really improved the look of our pharmacy,” says Kara. “But if you don’t keep it neat and clean, that remodel can get lost in the clutter.” Because Kara and her team thoughtfully planned the internal arrangement and still work hard to maintain it, they have no plans of making any major updates any time soon. “We achieved exactly what we wanted on the first try, versus the conference room where we were continually trying to make it better,” she recalls, “and that was using a lot of our resources because we didn’t have the right tools or people.”
For other pharmacies considering a redesign, Kara advises against delaying the decision. “Just do it!” she exclaims. “Whether it’s a small remodel or a big one, don’t keep putting it off because you may be putting more effort into your current space on a daily basis than what it would require to make the big change.” Overall, Skywalk Pharmacy enjoyed the journey of their internal renovation. Entering the NICE Awards gave them an opportunity to reflect on their success. Project completion should always be celebrated, especially if it has made the pharmacy more efficient and welcoming.