Tips for Building a Winning Team
Every successful independent pharmacy owner knows that a community pharmacy is not a solo undertaking; it is a team sport. And among the most important members of the team are staff pharmacists, who can help manage the pharmacy and run the business. They also know that building a well-functioning team isn’t easy.
Two owners who have built successful teams where staff pharmacists play a key role are Armando Bardisa, owner of South Miami Pharmacy, and Scott Campbell, co-owner of Ocean Pharmacy in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Based on their experiences, Armando and Scott offered the following tips for finding, hiring, developing and keeping great staff pharmacists:
- Understand your goals and obstacles. Armando knew he wanted to grow his business and open a second pharmacy, and he realized he couldn’t achieve these goals as long as he was filling all the prescriptions, overseeing the operations, and doing the marketing and finances. He knew that adding great staff pharmacists would free him up to market his practice, generate leads and oversee construction of a second store. He views hiring a staff pharmacist as a good decision and a great investment, which quickly paid for itself. He is now looking for a bookkeeper and an assistant manager to take more tasks off of his plate so he can continue to focus his personal time on driving growth.
- Hire people you know. Both Scott and Armando have had success hiring pharmacists whom they already knew in some way. This might involve meeting pharmacists through local association or networking activities, or better yet, getting to know graduating pharmacy students through internships or rotations. Hiring people they know has worked better than hiring through other means, such as through advertising or using a recruiter. The one pharmacist Armando hired through a recruiter wasn’t a good fit and is no longer with him.
- Get involved with a local pharmacy school. Scott and Armando are both deeply involved with nearby pharmacy schools (the University of Rhode Island and Nova Southeastern University, respectively). Scott has students rotate to his store as part of an entrepreneurial program to learn about independent pharmacy, and Armando has participated in a preceptor program where students work in his pharmacy for 160 hours. This exposure enables Scott and Armando to build trust and develop relationships with students and the university, see these individuals in a real-world work setting, and identify the best students. Having hired a pharmacist who interned through this program, Armando said his participation as a preceptor allowed him to “have the pick of the litter.”
- Convey a set of core values. When Armando brings a new pharmacist aboard he doesn’t have a formal orientation or training program, but he emphasizes to all new hires — particularly his pharmacists — his store’s core values. He expects each person to understand the core values (like “the customer comes first”) and to live them.
- Create an environment where pharmacists want to work. Scott feels that some chain pharmacies place too much emphasis on filling and checking a huge volume of prescriptions, often under unrealistic deadlines. In contrast, he works to create an environment for his pharmacists that is flexible and fun. Members of his team have more realistic workloads, enjoy much more flexibility, and get to interact with customers and participate in running the business, which they enjoy. This environment enables pharmacists to deliver personalized service to customers and helps keep staff pharmacists on the team, evidenced by zero turnover of pharmacists at Scott’s store over the past eight years.
- Develop your people by being a coach and advisor. Having heard how many large companies stress the importance of “developing their people,” Scott decided to make this one of his priorities. He develops his pharmacists by giving them managerial responsibility, which entails having the ability to make some staffing and business decisions. He doesn’t act as a micromanager, but reviews, discusses, coaches and advises.
- Set clear goals and tie bonuses to them. Scott and Armando believe in hiring great people and then giving them the latitude to do their job. They set goals for their people and then hold them accountable for the results. Scott provides his staff pharmacists with a quarterly bonus based on the achievement of certain goals.
The ability to find great pharmacists, develop them and delegate to them has significant personal and business results. For example, having a strong team in place has freed Armando from some aspects of the day-to-day operations to open a second store, and Scott’s strong team gives him the comfort to take a well-needed vacation with no doubt that his store is in good hands.