Now is a great opportunity to update your pharmacy business plan to serve consumer needs during COVID-19 shutdowns and lay the foundation for meeting needs in the evolving new normal. Continuing to operate as an essential business means it’s critical to have a plan in place for pharmacy operations. It’s also important to look ahead and have a strategy in place for getting back to full capacity. Here are four things to keep in mind when updating your pharmacy business plan for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Invest in New Service Offerings
Many pharmacies are finding new ways to serve customers. Customers who are wary of coming into stores or who have heightened health risks are looking for alternatives. Some pharmacies have added a drive-through service, or allowed customers to purchase basic items like over-the-counter medication or household supplies when picking up prescriptions. Others have added curbside pickup, partnered with third-party delivery services or mail order delivery. Adding new ways for customers to shop without coming into the store can keep your business running through anything that lies ahead, while introducing new revenue streams that can help drive profits.
Modify Your Physical Space to Improve Pharmacy Operations
Resuming pharmacy operations may require making improvements to your physical space or installing new features for sanitation and safety. If you have the external space and zoning for a drive through, now may be the time to add that — or extend your current capabilities. Investments such as installing hand sanitizer stations for customers and putting plexiglass dividers between worker stations and at check-out stations can help decrease risks. Many pharmacies are also looking at upgrading their POS systems to allow for self-checkout and contactless pay options. Think about what key investments can bring both your customers and employees peace of mind — and determine whether these improvements are within the scope of your future pharmacy operations.
Focus on Employee Safety and Retention
Keeping your employees safe should be a critical component of your pharmacy business plan efforts. Think about options such as offering sick leave, establishing clear protocols for when employees should remain home if they’re not feeling well or have been exposed, and improving your store layout to support their health. Are you providing them with PPE? Do you have adequate facilities and time in the schedule to allow for frequent hand-washing and other disinfecting steps? What accommodations can you take to make break areas more sanitary and pleasant to use? Each of these critical aspects of pharmacy operations can help your staff feel valued and ensure their long-term loyalty to your business. It can also be helpful to add back-up staff, so that your workforce has the flexibility they need to call out — without leaving you short-staffed — during uncertain times.
Address Cash Flow
With fluctuating sales, unexpected expenses and the need to make in-store changes, cash flow can be a precarious issue for pharmacies. As essential businesses, there are many options available to you to help ensure smooth operations. Pharmacy small business loans can help you obtain funding needed to make capital improvements, scale up the inventory that you have on hand, rent equipment, or pay essential expenses such as payroll. Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $10,000 may be available, while Payroll Protection Program funds can help you meet payroll and other approved expenses. Other small business loans customized to your unique needs may also be worth considering.
As essential businesses, pharmacies have found smart ways to keep operating throughout COVID-19. As businesses reopen and scale up to full capacity, adapting your pharmacy business plan can help you serve customers, retain employees and keep your bottom line healthy.