Without municipal water you would have to carry an empty bucket to a well two miles away, take a scoop to fill your bucket and walk it back to your house.
Quickly, you would be searching for ways to make the trip more efficient so you could spend less time transporting water and more time on other essential tasks like hunting, gathering, building shelter, resting and reproducing.
But what if your bucket had a ton of holes?
Our pharmacy dispensaries have many holes, many we don’t realize. Instead of struggling to reinvent the wheel, first plug the holes in the existing workflow. No sense in carrying any water until your bucket is optimized and efficient.
#1. Plug Workflow Holes
First, curate workflow that is proactive instead of reactive. Create systems that turnover without incremental energy from staff. This previous article describes this well and explains why in this fluid flowing dispensary, you become the thinker instead of the do-er described here.
#2. Plug People Holes
Second, build the right team. In this previous article I described why hiring people is pharmacy’s biggest problem yet the most important part of your job and unveiled the interview kit I now use to help me automate the interview, reducing cold calls and lost time. Having the right people on board allow you to do #1 well (plug the workflow holes). For the staff already on board, draft a development step ladder like this one to plan their coaching.
#3. Plug Expenses Holes
Third, find the highly repetitive tasks that drain needless water. Can you use double-sided printing to print 5 different reports used each week? We checked off a duplex box for 1 large report that that we run each Sunday and it will save us $1,000 this year. Easy 1k that we can invest back into the business instead of spilled onto the floor.
Can you create excel logs instead of paper logs? Can you email receipts to customers instead of printing them? Can you stop offering single-use plastic bags? Can you make 1 phone call to 5 of your consumable products vendors (eg, toners, vials, compliance packaging materials), asking to re-evaluate their pricing given your long history as a customer?
Is it time you asked your insurance provider for a re-assessment? I saved $1,500 on switching commercial insurance this year and it only cost me a total of 2 hours of my time. Can you convert from traditional to electronic fax and get rid of the fax line cost?
Remember, you are an essential small business trying to survive in a pandemic. Remind the people who keep raising their prices while offering the same product.
We are constantly fighting to find new customers. We waive fees and bend over backwards to transfer-in patients. Perhaps we already have what we need and need to focus on plugging the holes in our operations before growing more. After all, what is working harder for more customers going to serve us if the bucket is full of holes in the first place?
Plug holes first, then grow.
Develop your hole-plugging plan by using the automation kit to schedule what hole you will plug each month for a year and watch your business reap the rewards. It will handle the current customer load better and I’m willing to bet you grow organically anyway, without intending to. Remember, these improvements are feedback loops (described here in my previous article).