Pharmacy U

Pharmacy Leader profile – Susan Beresford knows how to succeed as an independent


By Susan E. Beresford BSc. Phm.

If indeed independence is based on an individual’s actions, then could we all — employed pharmacists, franchise owners, and independent owners — be classed as independents?

Being the owner of the bottom line may be your definition of independence, but the successful independent is characterized both by an ability to discern opportunities within your team, your retail site and your community and the ability to develop and act on a timely action plan to address those health needs and build your business.

Changing your patients’ perception of you as a healthcare provider (HCP) may be as simple as ensuring pharmacist interaction with the majority of patients who enter your pharmacy or by becoming the health knowledge centre for your community, where patients call or visit for everyday healthcare.

How do you become stronger as an independent?

#1. First understand your SWOT – the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that surround your business every day. As Winston Churchill stated, “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”

Turn those threats around, understand the unique niche that you can fill which others may overlook or choose not to engage in.

#2. Do the vision thing. Have a clearly defined vision you share with all of your employees – your team. Base your goals on your vision; engage and build your team; have or develop the resources to support your team – this is not always about money as often this can be about educational upgrades or opportunities to practise expanded scope.

#3. Be SMART. Pharmacists are professionals; find those who fit your vision, give them goals and hold them accountable to fulfill those goals. Practise open communication within your team; understand the value of accessibility and listening to the creative ideas and feedback of your team. Use the SMART acronym to facilitate planning and gauge your success:

Specific – define service tied to target population (mine your data); tie new service to a revenue stream.

Measurable – # services/overlap, what are the specific costs.

Achievable – stepped per service, start small and build on success.

Realistic – resources & TEAM, what do you have now; what you can access through collaboration within pharmacy, your community and other healthcare providers.

Timeline – DO engage your team and community as you upsell health.  Health education by a HCP should be considered an ethical responsibility, not a moment for looking at the floor and denying your expertise.

A healthy bottom line for independents is supported by their ability to be unique and leaders in healthcare for their communities. Thrive as you react in a timely manner, building your business based on your patients’ and community’s needs!


Susan Beresford, lead pharmacist at Kinburn Pharmsave, was recognized nationally with a Commitment to Care and Service Award for Overall Patient Care in 2008 and the Commitment to Care and Service Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. In November 2014, Susan was awarded a Distinguished ServiceAward from the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.