Franchising Offers the Support to Satisfy the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Ms. Roop is a freelance writer based in Tampa, Florida.
After spending more thana decade as clinical pharmacistof the Head andChronic Pain Unit at ChelseaCommunity Hospital in Chelsea,Michigan, where she also served asdirector of pharmaceutical services,Sahar Swidan, PharmD, BCPS, knewthat she had found her calling in painmanagement. ?We were doing suchgreat things on the inpatient side,and I wanted to implement that sameconcept in the community settingsince it was lacking,? said Swidan.
She was troubled by the fragmentationof pharmacy care, particularlyfor patients with chronic diseases orpain. Individuals often need to seemultiple physicians and pharmacyspecialists for pain management,medication therapy management(MTM), compounding, standard prescriptions,and vitamins. ?I wantedto shift that paradigm, because Ithink we can provide great clinicalsolutions in the community,? she said.
The result was Pharmacy Solutions,where physicians, pharmacists,and other clinicians provide a fullspectrum of pharmacy care underone roof, including compounding,MTM, and patient counseling. Theyfill regular prescriptions, too, as wellas offer a line of high-quality vitaminsand supplements and conductclasses on disease state management,medication safety, etc.
Good Neighbor Pharmacy: Not a Typical Franchise
Given the highly specialized nature ofPharmacy Solutions, it may come asa surprise to learn that it also is partof Good Neighbor Pharmacy (GNP),an AmerisourceBergen program andone of the nation?s largest brandedindependent pharmacy networks.
Swidan says that her affiliation withGNP has given her access to tools andsupport that have helped her pharmacythrive without sacrificing herindependence. It allows her to staycompetitive and provide niche carefor patients who need more specializedservices.
?Good Neighbor Pharmacy is morelike a trademark with a certain lookand feel. They nudge, but they leavethe creativity and independence upto me. We offer a ton of innovativeservices that some of the other [franchises]might have hindered due tocorporate policies and rules,? she said.
GNP is a network of nearly 3000independently owned and operatedcommunity pharmacies. Another1700 affiliate stores participate in thecompany?s GNP Provider Network,which provides access to nationaland regional third-party contracts.
GNP franchise pharmacies haveaccess to a variety of programsdesigned to strengthen their coreprescription business, including businessintelligence, specialty programsfor patient education, and a businesscoach who provides recommendationsto improve business practicesto maximize revenues.
?The primary differentiator betweenus and any other franchise program isthat there are really no franchise fees orcosts for participation in the program,?said Jim Grigg, AmerisourceBergengroup vice president of program managementfor retail.
Instead, GNP stores pay a participationfee for the programs and servicesthey use. They also have the option ofbeing a full franchise or an affiliate,depending on the level of relationshipthat best suits their needs.
For example, GNP Premier bundlesservices offered to franchisestores and makes them available toany independent franchise. It is away to give even nonaffiliates accessto GNP programs aimed at increasingpatient safety, improving workflow,and increasing the quality ofservices.
?We do not have a one-size-fitsallchain model franchise answer.What we have is an opportunity foryou to run your local store, yourlocal business, yet we bring to youthe knowledge and expertise that wehave in this industry,? said AnthonyCaffentzis, group vice president forretail solutions.
The pricing benefits and programsthat come with being a GNP affiliateor franchise are important, but thereal value lies in the expertise andtools the company can provide toindependent pharmacies.
?We can help them be successful inthat endeavor. Whether it is an existingstore or new store or someonetrying to start out a new business,they will have the normal challengesof any new business?. But froma business coaching perspective, wecan help them,? said Grigg.
In doing so, GNP can help pharmacistswith an entrepreneurial spiritachieve their dreams of businessownership, with a little extra supportto help them along the way.
?The beauty of our program isthat we are not trying to force fit anynumbers from us onto a customer.We are trying to help our customersgrow in the best way for them, andflexibility should make our programfit them,? said Caffentzis.
Medicine Shoppe International
Medicine Shoppe International(MSI), a full-service franchise systemwith more than 850 Medicine Shoppeand Medicap Pharmacy stores, also isfocused on providing its franchiseeswith the tools and support they needto succeed in today?s highly competitiveenvironment.
MSI provides turnkey programsdesigned to enhance the ability oftheir franchisees to deliver higherpatient care. It also is able to securepreferred vendor agreements andthird-party contracts that are oftenout of the reach of independent pharmaciesand provides franchisees withdiscounts and exclusive programsthat reduce costs on store suppliesand services, while generating newrevenue streams.
?To survive in today?s pharmacyindustry, a franchisee must do morethan dispense medications.A successfulfranchisee must dedicatetime and energyinto other revenue-generatingprograms,and MSI has severalniche programs thatwill assist franchiseesin generating sales,?said Mike Meyer, vice president offranchise development for MSI.?Typically, the strongest franchiseesunderstand and utilize the entire franchisesystem?from the marketingsupport and direction to operationalsystems and guidance to purchasingadvantages and contracting?whilecontinuing to take pride and satisfactionin servicing their customers.?
Some MSI programs are customer-facing, designed to enhance thefranchisees? personalized businessapproach or community presence.Others are back-office support programsto help them operate moreefficiently and effectively.
For example, each franchisee is providedwith a designated franchise businessconsultant, who is responsible forguiding franchisees in their effortsto maintain and grow their business,increase top-line sales, maximize profitability,and control expenses.
?We offer the complete package,whether a franchisee requires assistancewith business issues, such astraining or managing third-partyreimbursements, or they are lookingfor a turnkey clinical program to helpdifferentiate from the competition,?said Meyer. ??Many of our franchiseesare not business people, andthat is why they became a franchisee,to receive the business support sothey can concentrate on taking careof their customers. They want to beknown as the health care expert intheir local communities.?
To that end, MSI is working tostrengthen existing stores by providingniche programs for immunizations,diabetes, and compounding.MSI also is focusing on individualizedstore business plans, combiningmarket-specific opportunities withthe business and personal goals offranchisees.
That type of tailored business supportis something any potential franchiseeshould consider when determiningwhether to purchase a franchise, alongwith their own past work experiencesand financial positions.
?MSI does provide business guidanceand expertise to assist our franchiseesin operating the pharmacy,?said Meyer. ?Therefore, they need lessbusiness experience than if they wereto operate an independent pharmacy.We tell our franchisees that they are?in business for themselves, but notby themselves.??