In 2013, Donna Avant decided to open an independent pharmacy in her small town of Ehrhardt, South Carolina, after spending many years working for a chain pharmacy. Her rural community was 12 miles away from the nearest doctor, and the closest emergency room was a 30-minute drive. She knew this underserved area needed a healthcare resource right next door and she was proud to be the one to fill the gap.
From the beginning, Ehrhardt Pharmacy excelled at delivering personal, hands-on patient care beyond simply filling prescriptions and selling wellness products. Donna was focused on providing her community with the help they needed most, like counseling on hypertension and diabetes prevention, and a volunteer-led reading program for children. However, after working all day in the pharmacy, Donna struggled to find the time to analyze the performance of her business.
There just isn’t much time left at the end of the day to sit down and start thinking about the business aspect of it. I needed help pinpointing different areas and picking out where we really needed to concentrate our attention.
Donna enrolled in the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Business Coaching program in 2017 to help identify the areas of her business where the most effective improvements could be made. Her coach began meeting with her on a regular basis to go over reports and discuss the top two or three items she should work on until their next meeting. By breaking down the business into more manageable pieces, Donna could narrow her focus and make significant progress. One area of focus was labor and productivity. After reviewing the pharmacy’s prescription volume and patient counts throughout the day, Donna’s coach identified a major opportunity in the pharmacy’s hours of operation.
You could twiddle your thumbs for hours looking for things, but our business coach takes her report and her knowledge and pulls it all together so quickly. For example, she suggested we could save money by cutting our hours on Saturday, so we did that and it saved us a tremendous amount on payroll. It surprised me how big of a difference just a few hours made, and it freed us up to devote more time to other tasks.
Donna Avant, Ehrhardt Pharmacy
Donna and her business coach discovered that most of Ehrhardt Pharmacy’s Saturday foot traffic came in the morning. Changing their closing time from 6:00 pm to 2:00 pm would have minimal impact on both the patient community and the number of transactions being made that day. The impact on the business’s bottom line, on the other hand, would be much greater. Ehrhardt Pharmacy saved $68,620 on payroll expenses in one year by implementing this simple change. The additional cash flow allowed Donna to reinvest in her staff and provide health insurance to her full-time employees.
I’ve been able to invest back into my associates by providing them with health insurance. They have taken more ownership and more pride in their work, and you can see it in the way they treat our patients.
Donna continues to work with her business coach on an ongoing basis as her business grows, optimizing her pharmacy operations one step at a time.