Six strategies to avoid the No. 1 pharmacy mistake and fend off growing competition.
The pandemic has supercharged the growth of online retailers competing for your pharmacy dollars, and Amazon is leading the charge, says Wendy S. Myers, CVJ, president of Communication Solutions for Veterinarians. In 2020, Amazon grabbed 39% market share of online pet food and supplies, offering home delivery, auto ship and its own pet pharmacy.
The No. 1 pharmacy mistake that veterinarians make is not sending refill reminders. “You can lose thousands of dollars every month,” Myers warns. Protect and grow your pharmacy revenue with these strategies:
1. Identify top-selling drugs. Run a PIMS pharmacy sales report, sort results from highest to lowest dollars, and then sort by type of product and brand. Set refill reminders for your top sellers.
Tip: Focus on the top four. Flea/tick preventatives, heartworm preventatives, NSAIDs and long-term drugs for chronic conditions are the most shopped drug categories, says Myers. Circumvent clients’ urge to shop around by sending refill reminders that make it a snap to reorder from your online store or get curbside pickup at your hospital.
2. Send refill reminders 30 days ahead. Most clients won’t call for refills until they’re completely out. Proactively prompt them to refill 30 days ahead. “This stops emergency refills that put extra stressors on your team,” says Myers.
Tip: Use templates. Set up text and email templates with data fields to customize reminders.
3. Send reminders for lab tests 30 days out, too. “Stop fighting with clients who need refills when their pets are overdue for drug-monitoring tests,” says Myers. “Send lab test reminders so clients can get timely refills.”
Tip: Get bloodwork stickers. Put a brightly colored “bloodwork required before next refill” sticker on the vial or box of medication before a heartworm/tick or drug-monitoring test is needed.
4. Include links to your online store in every reminder. “People want to shop at 11 p.m.,” says Myers. “They want to click it and get it.”
Tip: Add emojis. Use getemoji.com for cute pet emojis you can copy and paste into the subject line of email templates, increasing email open rates, suggests Myers.
5. Set up automated shipments. During appointments, prompt clients to set up their first online orders. “They can do it on their phones with you there to coach them, and they can set up their next refills as auto shipments,” says Myers.
Tip: Use benefit statements. For example, say: “You’ll never run out! You also will be eligible for rebate and rewards programs, which are veterinary-exclusive promotions.”
6. Have a dedicated pharmacy phone. Set up a dedicated phone number for refill calls, and put that phone in your pharmacy hallway, suggests Myers. In case a technician isn’t available to answer the phone, record a voicemail greeting that explains what information to leave. For example: “Please leave your cell number and let us know if we can text you when your refill is ready for pickup.” Check messages every two hours during business hours.
Tip: Promote it. Put your pharmacy phone number on prescription labels and your website.