“We put everything we are into every patient we service. Growth has occurred due to serving to the extreme our patient/customers. Today’s largest challenge is not quickly dispensing medications---rather dispensing our knowledge. Few pharmacies operate with this philosophy and few pharmacy school graduates enter their first positions with this awareness. Taking risks is almost an impossible consideration for new graduates and entrenched pharmacies with most independent pharmacist owners today due to their prior decisions. Rewards for the risk to be taken are typically not factored into the next opportunity (challenge)?”
These comments by Steven Purvis, RPh has framed the business philosophies leading to the extraordinary success achieved in some fifteen (15) years since graduation from the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy.
Steven is now owner of three different pharmacy operations in Ellijay, Georgia and Blue Ridge, Georgia with a fourth (4th) new operation anticipated later this year. The current “flagship” operation in Ellijay is currently celebrating its sixty-fifth (65th) anniversary this year. Steven became involved as a part-owner just 7 months following graduation from UGA School of Pharmacy. Risk versus reward? Huff’s Pharmacy in Ellijay has moved five (5) times since its inception in 1949 following World War II with the most recent in 2009. This newest store appears as it was built “just yesterday”---an amazing large installation. Steven shared: “When I first got involved with part-ownership of Huff’s Pharmacy in 2000, we were doing one hundred (100) scripts a day. Following a move to a different location in “downtown”, we advanced to three hundred (300) or so by 2007. It was apparent that if I wanted to grow the business, a newer facility better equipped to serve our patients was needed and I chose to become 100% owner of Huff’s Pharmacy so we might build this new facility. Today we fill upwards of seven hundred (700) prescriptions on Mondays and Wednesdays with five hundred (500) or so other days of the week. We are open only a ½ day on Saturday and closed on Sunday.”
The Ellijay primary operation…and a satellite facility in an Ellijay large medical practice…require human resources (in addition to “Spencer the Dispenser---the RxMedic ADS” at the Ellijay Industrial Boulevard address) of ten (10) certified pharmacy technicians and front end customer service individuals. The certified pharmacy technicians and customer service individuals include “MJ”, Jared, Tammie, Taylor, Amanda (2), Ainsley, Monica, Kim and pharmacists Doug, Danny, Justin and Steven to maintain the one (1) pharmacist to three (3) technician ratio currently allowed in Georgia by the Board of Pharmacy. Steven shared an insight as to how he has been able to effectively manage this large group: “The individuals I have working manage…by themselves…the low performers and either help the low performers to gain the culture or allow the low performers to realize this is not their best fit. I’m delighted, while working behind the counter, that they point out to me that I’m not in “sync” with the daily workflow…and they will do that! Teamwork is engrained in workflow culture. Whether its medication therapy management (MTM), medication adherence, medication synchronization, advancing our mobile app usage or improving our star-ratings, my staff makes it happen.”
Approximately three (3) years ago, Steven decided to take on a new challenge (opportunity?) by acquiring a pharmacy…the Blue Ridge Pharmacy in Georgia that had lost its impact on patient service in the area. Blue Ridge, Georgia is some twenty (20) minutes north of Ellijay. At time of acquisition, the pharmacy had volume of only 75-100 prescriptions per day—although great community caring for its owner who had been in business for many years. Today, the pharmacy is filling 300 or more every day and today its prior pharmacist/owner works every Wednesday! With this resurgence in growth, a new location designed to better serve the community (“We put everything we are into every patient we service”) is planned within the next 15-18 months. Currently this pharmacy has a staff of three (3) pharmacists and six (6) certified pharmacy technicians and customer service individuals. While at the Blue Ridge Pharmacy on a Tuesday, a Customer Appreciation Event celebrating the 112th Anniversary was underway. The hotdogs, hamburgers and cake were outstanding… provided by the certified pharmacy technicians… outside in the parking area. The occasional rain did not “dampen” the festivities!
Unrivaled success today in independent pharmacy is dependent upon accurate assessment of the rewards forthcoming as a result of the risks taken…and early awareness that the latest challenge to pharmacy ROI (return on investment) is actually a financial opportunity… if a commitment to patient service is the success vehicle. Steven Purvis, RPh has the working formula for success in today’s environ. Why not call Steven and “get his drift”. You will always value his philosophies and business acumen.