Robert Irvine Shares Secret Ingredients to Pharmacy Success

AUGUST 04, 2014
Aimee Simone, Associate Editor
Celebrity chef and television host Robert Irvine says products, people, and technology are the 3 key ingredients needed to successfully run any business—whether it’s a restaurant or a pharmacy.

In his keynote address at Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s ThoughtSpot 2014 on Friday, August 1, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada, celebrity chef and television host Robert Irvine gave independent community pharmacists a simple recipe for success.
“Products, people, and technology are the 3 key ingredients needed to successfully run any business—whether it’s a restaurant or a pharmacy,” he said.
Those are the components Irvine focuses on while he attempts to turn failing eateries around on his show, Restaurant: Impossible. In a majority of those restaurants, the approach works.
“Why is the show successful?” Irvine asked pharmacists attending the annual tradeshow. “Because people change. But, if you’re stuck in your ways, you’ll never succeed.”
Although pharmacies are vastly different from restaurants, the underlying business philosophy is the same, Irvine explained. As the health care landscape continues to evolve, pharmacy owners need to be open to changes in order to keep up with the progressing industry.
“We need pharmacies … but we need more than prescription medications,” he said. “You have to start to think outside of the box.”
Irvine noted that prescriptions are just one piece of the business equation, because the staff form another critical component. From the front-end cashier, to the pharmacy technicians, to the pharmacists, all staff members have an impact on the pharmacy and contribute to what Irvine considers the most important offering of any business: customer service.
In community pharmacy, that service includes stepping out from behind the counter to make personal connections with patients. In order for pharmacy staff to provide that level of customer service, they need to be given proper training and the tools needed to perform the job, Irvine said.
“You need to constantly train and retrain your staff week by week—sometimes, hour by hour—to ensure that they are growing with the business and providing the best care possible to your patients,” he added.
Independent pharmacists should also hold their staff accountable, Irvine advised. If employees are resistant to changes or are not providing the level of care that they should be, it is up to the pharmacy owner to show them why those changes are necessary.
“You cannot have negativity in your workplace,” Irvine said. “There’s always going to be someone who’s against change, but it’s all about education.”
The third ingredient in Irvine’s recipe is often the most difficult for business owners to adopt: technology. Nevertheless, he encouraged pharmacists to keep up with changing technology and use it to advance their offerings, as well as strengthen their relationships with patients. In addition, pharmacists should be aware of the power that technology provides to their patients and customers.
“Like it or not, we like to tell stories, (so) social media has the power to make or break businesses,” Irvine said, noting he can “walk into your pharmacy and share my experience with the world in 35 seconds.”
Despite their fears of failure, Irvine encouraged pharmacists to embrace change and adapt with the industry. When concerns of change arise, he reminded pharmacists to remember that it will ultimately benefit patients.
“Do great things for your people,” he advised. “Continue to serve your patients in the best possible way.”

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