Business Coaching program works to enable patient care


Above: Paul Satterfield, Business Coach – Retail for AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., led two continuing education sessions at Good Neighbor Pharmacy ThoughtSpot 2016: “A Brave New World – of Profit: Turning your Front End from a Convenience Center into a Profit Center,” which he taught alongside fellow Business Coach Danny Nelson, and “Embrace Your Full Potential as a Pharmacy Staff Member: YOU are the Cornerstone of the Patient Experience!”

The challenges facing independent pharmacy are increasing as its role in providing healthy patient outcomes is growing, as owners must juggle payroll and planograms while making sure the pharmacy delivers necessary patient care. Now in its eighth year, AmerisourceBergen’s Business Coaching program through Good Neighbor Pharmacy, which has grown to encompass the whole pharmacy and a pharmacy ownership program, looks to help independent pharmacies operate well so they can meet their patients’ needs.

“The business coaches are really there to be a second set of eyes,” AmerisourceBergen Vice President, Business Coaching and Pharmacy Ownership, Jennifer Zilka told Drug Store News. “We're there to help them focus in on their business so they can spend more time focusing on their patients.”

The process begins with a meeting where business coaches learn how the pharmacy’s operations work. They then holistically evaluate the pharmacy and benchmark it against other independent pharmacies, eventually presenting the pharmacy with its suggestions for opportunities that it can capitalize on. If a pharmacy chooses to address these opportunities, business coaches develop an action plan, and meet with the pharmacy owner quarterly to discuss progress and new opportunities as they arise.

“It forces you to look at [the pharmacy] again with an external view, rather than being immersed in it,” John Bellitti, owner of 2016 Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year Award-winning HB Pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “Having a discussion with someone who goes and sees many other stores, but can confidentially talk to you about your stores, your numbers, your metrics, can help you make great business decisions.”

The Business Coaching program has recently expanded to include front-end strategies, where margins on products are higher. Business coaches provide planogram assistance and can use data to help pharmacists focus on top-selling products. The program’s front-end initiatives also emphasize to owners the key role that team members play in driving front-end growth.

“The most important part of the front-end that’s easily forgotten is that you can put the products on the shelves, but if you don't have your staff selling the product, it's not going to move,” Zilka said. “We've already started that employee development conversation, so when you go out into the front end, it's a very logical next step to assign tasks to the people on their team that they can trust.”

As the Business Coaching program helps independent pharmacies grow their businesses, the Pharmacy Ownership program works to ease the pharmacy’s transition from one owner to another when a pharmacy owner decides to exit the business. The program connects pharmacy owners looking to divest their business with a potential owner who will keep the pharmacy’s legacy and place in its community intact. The process, which Zilka recommends owners begin five years before they want to exit, is motivated by a desire to help independent pharmacies stay independent.

“By keeping [pharmacies] in the community, keeping the jobs in the community, continuing a legacy and maximizing the value of the business, we really get behind the counter and become one of them,” Zilka said. “Our sole goal is to help them be successful and to keep them independent, and to give them the tools they need in the incredibly challenging environment they’re working their way through every single day.”

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