It’s the customer-service difference that has helped and will help pharmacy and drugstore chain Pharmasave to take on the pressure of increasing drug costs, an aging population, and competition from mass merchandisers.
Started in 1981, Pharmasave is the largest independent pharmacy and drugstore retailer in Canada, with more than 430 locations. Pharmasave focuses on being a community drugstore where pharmacists and store owners see customers as more than someone buying a prescription; instead, customers are fellow community members who seek good health and well-being.
“In the future, we will see more and more 85-year-olds who have multiple medical conditions and can’t just take the paper bag of medications and walk out of the store,” says Pharmasave National CEO Sue Paish. “They will need more counselling and advice. Frontline healthcare advice will ensure better health outcomes for all our customers.”
Although Pharmasave’s national office in British Columbia provides overall support to the brand, from market analysis to government relations, each store is run by a local owner. A collaborative and open culture of communication allows these local owners to be flexible within the Pharmasave banner and cater their store’s services and programs to the needs of their local communities.
“When you are in our organization as a member, you are in business for yourself but not by yourself,” Paish says. “Members have the benefits of entrepreneurship and growing their store in their community, while at the same time benefiting from the experience and intelligence of more than 455 other Pharmasave members.”
To continue its tradition of stellar customer service, Pharmasave always looks for ways to improve its operational efficiencies to support its entrepreneurs. For instance, an e-learning system started in British Columbia put baseline training into the hands of the employees in every store. The initiative was so successful that it’s been rolled out across the country.
“We are not standing still—we are always looking at what’s next and what’s going on in this market,” Paish says. “We stay alive and alert and can’t be complacent for a day.”
Pharmasave employees embrace this forward-thinking culture as the company was named Best Retailer to Work For by BC Business magazine, and ranked number 6 of the Top 100 Companies to work for in the province overall. With 6,000 retail employees and 125 corporate employees, the company’s unique bottom-up management style and creative collaboration have kept employee retention rates above 90 percent across the country.
“We’re trying to improve everything we do all the time,” says Dave Reston, CEO of Pharmasave Drugs’ Pacific region. “We are always improving and fine-tuning. What glues the organization together is culture, ROI, and a sense of belonging.” _a