Among all the factors in opening your independent pharmacy, the location of your business is perhaps the most important and consequential.
Depending on what goal you want to achieve with your pharmacy, the kind of location you choose can either hinder your vision or help to see it to its fullest.
Whether you want to have full autonomy of your business or gain a rapidly growing customer base, your location should work towards your goals as a pharmacist as well as a healthcare provider.
You will also need to be mindful of what you can feasibly achieve with the current playing field.
Financial limits, the variety of products and services you provide, and the size of your staff are all factors you need to consider when making your vision into something tangible.
With each of these things in mind, you can start your search for your new pharmacy location.
• Go where your patient base is
• Choose high-traffic areas so you’ll always have customers
• Choose easily accessible areas, particularly residential areas
• Try to find a spot near a store, restaurant, or other high-volume location
• Consider the demographics of your location — does it serve younger or older patients?
• Consider the economic status of the community
• Go closer to your competition, not away
It doesn’t get more independent than this.
A freestanding pharmacy gives you free rein to create and shape your business however you see fit. This kind of location is ideal if you want to put your own stamp on the industry.
A fully-independent pharmacy allows your business to stand out from the rest of the pack, which can be a huge appeal to patients jaded by traditional chains. What’s more, a freestanding location will physically stand out from other retailers and competitors, giving you the chance to establish your place in the community.
However, with all that freedom comes an additional responsibility to realize your vision.
Since a freestanding pharmacy is technically your piece of property, every nook and cranny of the building will be yours to manage, along with utilities, taxes, wages, and other expenditures. Everything will in your hands, for better or worse. As such, a freestanding pharmacy will work for you if you’re willing to take a risk and find yourself motivated by the potential for success.
Another note: the location of your pharmacy will play a sizable role in its success. Consider if there are other surrounding businesses and pharmacies around the proposed area.
Can it be reached conveniently in case of emergencies, or will a longer commute need to be made instead? How many neighborhoods will it be around?
If you prefer to have a bit more structure and reliability than a freestanding pharmacy, a medical building might be the way to go.
Perhaps the biggest convenience of putting your pharmacy in a medical building is you will likely avoid the overly long wait times while trying to get a hold of a provider when you have a question about a prescription.
Not having to deal with the delay in communication will allow staff to focus more on the task at hand instead of falling behind.
Having your pharmacy in a medical building almost guarantees a consistent flow of patients, both new and returning. The ease of access for customers is another key advantage here.
Customers commuting to a completely unknown location becomes a thing of the past. The convenience and reliability of a medical building will allow you to establish a strong customer base as well as develop an identity within the community.
It’s not without its caveats, however.
Though putting your pharmacy in a medical location certainly has its advantages, you will likely have to uphold the rules and whims of that practice. As a result, putting your stamp on the industry will be more difficult compared to the freedom afforded by a freestanding pharmacy.
Still, that means you won’t have to worry as much about property taxes and other factors when opening up a pharmacy on your own.
As a whole, locating your pharmacy in a medical building can be a reliable and relatively safe way to grow your business.
Much like the medical building model, operating a pharmacy in a retail setting like a supermarket or shopping center can provide convenience and a reliable customer flow.
The hustle and bustle of the hectic store environment opens tons of possibilities to boost sales and attract customers.
For one, the layout of a retail environment gives way to an increase in OTC sales. Presenting those items in an easy-to-access way will make customers look at the pharmacy as a hub for all their medical needs, prescription or otherwise.
A potential disadvantage of this model is customers’ increasing reliance and preference to shop online.
As a result, tasks that cashiers or clerks would normally perform are being automated, with cash registers being replaced by self-checkout machines.
Getting goods ordered by tapping a screen and being delivered to the door in a day’s time is a modern convenience that will likely never go away.
Instead of stubbornly following an aging business model, however, pharmacies in a retail setting should see the changing times as an opportunity to innovate. Mail-order deliveries are all the rage, and so too are customers requesting their refills through websites and mobile apps. Investing in those services — particularly our RxLocal mobile app — will help ensure your customers are not transferring their prescriptions to other competitors.
Embracing change in an ever-evolving industry such as pharmacy and retail will put you one step ahead of the competition.
Once you determine what kind of pharmacy you’d like to operate, then you can start thinking about the buying process. As you look around to see where you can achieve your vision, you can refer to these resources to ensure you’re making a well-informed decision:
• Search engines such as Pharmacy Matching
• Local social media groups and local listings
• Local realtors to give you the lay of the land
• PRS Pharmacy Services for location consultations
Opening up an independent pharmacy, no matter the location, is a daunting task.
There are several logistical and legal hoops you need to jump through before opening up shop. Self-reliance and discipline are both names of the game as you figure out what place best suits your vision of delivering quality healthcare to patients.
Whether you are the more cavalier or practical type, it is essential to be honest with yourself and the goals you hope to achieve in the industry.
Once you know what you hope to accomplish, you’ll know what to look for in a pharmacy location in starting the next step in your ownership journey.
For more on what to consider when opening an independent pharmacy, visit How to Open a Pharmacy, an in-depth look at all the things to look out for.