In today’s competitive business environment Marcus Vasconcelos knew he needed more than name recognition to manage a successful community pharmacy.
By Talbot Boggs
Photos by Dale Schappert
He was born in Brandon, MB, his father was a prominent psychiatrist there and other family members have worked in the community for years. “People see the name and recognize it, but it takes more than that these days to have a successful pharmacy business,” he says. “You need to have an excellent location and offer the products and services people in the community want and need.”
Vasconcelos was hired by Rubicon/Pharmasave to help start and run a pharmacy in a new medical clinic in the city. The 2,500 sq. ft. store is attached to the Western Medical Clinic, located on one of the city’s main arterial routes, and houses 12 doctors and one internist. The store is near a middle-class neighbourhood of small families and retirees, Brandon University and a large high school. “The location is truly exceptional,” says the pharmacy manager. “We have had a lot of people who actually transfer prescriptions to us from other pharmacies just because of our location.”
Vasconcelos targeted the pharmacy’s mix of services and products to its constituency base. Not being near a big box retailer like Walmart or Costco, the pharmacy offers a generous 30 linear feet of confectionery items such as chips, candies and chocolates, newspapers and magazines and two coolers with a selection of brand-name waters, pops, juices and energy drinks – a particularly popular offering for the many high school students who frequent a Subway sandwich shop in the building for something to eat and then come to the pharmacy for a beverage.
The pharmacy features natural health products and an extensive range of Weber, Jamieson and Pharmasave Swiss vitamins displayed along 20 feet of linear shelving with illuminated signs and category headings. It has a robust home healthcare category of braces, walkers, and mobility aids, adult incontinent and other products displayed in two 16 foot islands with end caps. The pharmacy offers a kiosk where patients can use an electronic card to record their blood pressure and immediately send the readings to their doctors in the clinic.
The Brandon Pharmasave also boasts a basic compounding practice, expanded prescribing, compliance packaging, vaccinations, travel medicine, medication reviews, disease management clinics, smoking cessation services, and Rubicon’s SIMPL medication adherence program. The pharmacy has a toll-free number for patients in rural communities and provides free in-town shipping. Vasconcelos plans to add a compression stocking fitting service shortly to meet demand from his patients.
The pharmacy is linked in to the clinic’s information management system, which allows staff to communicate directly with the doctors to ask questions, get information and receive orders and prescriptions. “The communication between us and the clinic is very tight and efficient, which really makes our job a lot easier and provides a higher level of service and care to our patients,” Vasconcelos says.
The pharmacy has aggressively promoted its services and capabilities by running advertisements in local newspapers and the university and by sponsoring community events such as a walk for multiple sclerosis. It has had a phenomenal rate of growth since opening in October last year. Vasconcelos estimates it receives on average 10 to 15 new prescriptions a day from customers who have switched from other pharmacies, reaching its initial sales target three months ahead of schedule. And he expects to double his volume in the next six months.
“We want to be the best full-service pharmacy in the area,” Vasconcelos says. “Our approach seems to be working very well.”
Opening date: Oct. 19, 2015
Store size: 2,500 sq. ft.
Services: compounding, smoking cessation, compliance packaging, vaccinations, travel medicine, medication reviews, disease management clinics, smart card blood pressure monitoring, Rubicon’s SIMPL medication adherence program, out-of-town toll-free dialing and free in-town shipping.
Employees: 2 pharmacists, 2 cashiers, 1 licensed technician; 1 front shop manager/shipper/receiver
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.
Equipment: Parata high-speed pill counter/balancer; state-of-the art refrigerator that is connected to the monitored security system to ensure vaccines, insulins and other medications always are kept at the proper temperatures.