Could You Succeed as an Independent Pharmacist?
Heather Stringer | Monster Contributing Writer
Finding personalized service is increasingly difficult today, but independent pharmacists are among the few remaining business owners determined to greet customers by name. If you enjoy people, creativity and pharmaceutical science and have a knack for running a business, you’ve got the potential to become a successful independent community pharmacist.
The nation’s more than 24,000 independent pharmacies, which include some franchises and chains, represent an $84 billion marketplace, dispensing 42 percent of the nation’s retail prescription medicines, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
More on Pharmacists
Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist
If you’re trying to decide whether to open your own pharmacy or buy out a retiring pharmacist, consider these insights from successful industry veterans:
Know Your Customers
“The main thing you have to do to be successful as an independent pharmacist is that you have to like people,” says Marlin Weekley, RPh, president of the Illinois Pharmacists Association. “If that is your attitude, you will succeed, and you will enjoy it. Every time customers walk in the store, I make friends with them. I give them outstanding service, and I take a very personal interest in them.”
Weekley, who owns four pharmacies in rural Illinois, tries to give his customers an in-depth understanding of their health issues. While they’re waiting for prescriptions, he may suggest having their blood sugar or blood pressure tested. Such tests have helped some customers discover for the first time that they had diabetes. This kind of personalized service is one reason his drugstores have not struggled even as chains opened nearby, Weekley says.
Seize the Opportunity
Weekly also attributes his success to the creative approach he takes to the pharmacy business. Earlier in his career, for example, he started providing equipment and training caregivers when he noticed that many of his customers with lung disease needed oxygen at home.
More recently, Weekley has been tapping into the business opportunities associated with diabetes care. His pharmacy is in the process of becoming a certified diabetic training facility, which will allow him to teach diabetics how to use needles and medication.