As a pharmacist, you are in the business of helping people live better, healthier lives. And while the goal of a pharmacist is to improve the health of their patients, they still have a business to maintain.
The patients you see every day are likely a mix. There are the patients you’ve known for years — customers whose prescriptions you’ve been filling since you first opened your doors. And there are the fresh faces walking into your store for the first time, prescription slip in hand.
But which should you focus on more? Bringing new patients into your pharmacy, or doing what you can to develop relationships with existing customers?
Why You Should Focus More Efforts on Patient Retention than Patient Acquisition
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, increasing your customer retention rate by just 5 percent can increase your pharmacy’s profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. Honestly, with a figure like that, we could end the article right there. But there’s more to it than that.
Recurring Patients Create Reliable Revenue
You can’t help people if you’re not open for business. While focusing on acquiring new patients is the common-sense way to increase your store’s revenue, you need a reliable foundation to build upon. Recurring patients create a reliable revenue stream for your pharmacy. As patient retention increases, so does the predictability of your business. When you have a better idea of how much income you will generate in a given period, you can make more accurate financial plans for the future — leading to less stress for all of you small business owners out there.
Patient Retention Leads to Deeper Pharmacist-Patient Relationships
The longer someone is your patient, the better you get to know them — and the reasons they need your pharmacy. The more you learn about them, the better care you can provide for them. On the flip side, the more a patient comes into your pharmacy, the more trust you can build with that patient. They’ll start turning to you for advice. They might even take advantage of the clinical services you offer and choose your store over a trip to their physician’s office. In short, working on patient retention not only keeps more business within your four walls; it also leads to better patient outcomes.
Returning Patients Are More Likely to Utilize Expanded Services
Patients coming to your pharmacy for the first, second, or even third time are likely to pick up their prescription and then go on their way. However, when you’ve made the effort to build a relationship with a patient and keep them coming back beyond their initial prescription, they’re more likely to use the additional services your pharmacy offers. With dispensing medication becoming less profitable every year, pharmacists are turning to other clinical offerings to make up the difference and grow their business. The longer a patient has been coming to your pharmacy, the more likely they will be open to expanding your pharmacy’s role in their care.
Retention Efforts Create Advocates for Your Business
Ask any businessperson: Word-of-mouth is a big deal. It is one of the most credible and impactful forms of advertising, and you don’t have to spend a dime on it. People trust the reviews of their friends and family. Barring that, they trust other customer experiences. In today’s world, reviews on sites like Yelp or Google can make or break your business — far more than any advertisement. And when you’ve got repeat customers, you’ve got advocates for your pharmacy to the rest of the community.
Welcoming new patients into your pharmacy is still important — don’t get us wrong. But so many business owners out there get so focused on acquiring new customers that they forget how valuable their existing customers already are. Don’t fall into that trap.