In the last few years, you’ve probably seen stores sprouting up in strange places: think supermarkets in small towns, brick-and-mortars buried in between other buildings, and retail stores sitting right next to their competitors.
As stores grow and space shrinks, small businesses are stuck in less than ideal places. And, at the end of the day, it’s their customers who really suffer.
This situation isn’t unfamiliar. You can probably think of a time you’ve tried to route yourself to a new place. If it isn’t immediately easy to reach, you’ve probably asked yourself, with a frustrated face and a furrowed brow, “Why on earth would they put a store here?” Maybe you’ve trekked on, but other times, maybe you’ve decided to give up and go somewhere new. That’s the power of location.
Location isn’t only important in supermarkets and retail centers — but also in your independent pharmacy.
If you want to attract new customers and keep old customers coming back, you need to make sure your pharmacy is in the right spot. If you’re opening a new pharmacy, though, a good location isn’t easy to find. In today’s market, buys are hit with fewer options, higher prices, and more competition than ever before.
In the midst of this kind of market, how can you find a location that ticks off all of your boxes and keeps your patients coming back?
4 Steps to Choose the Right Location
1. Find Your Patient Base
Audience is everything. When you’re picking a location for your pharmacy, it’s important that you know your audience — and that you keep them at the forefront of your mind when making buying decisions. In the case of pharmacy, everyone benefits from prescription medications and other services, but it’s also true that certain demographics (like older, higher-income individuals) tend to use these services more.
When you’re picking a location, try to target an area where your primary patient base is. If you’re not sure who you serve, run a report using your pharmacy software system and find out what your average customer looks like. Then, adapt your location so that you stay close to your target demographic.
As a general rule of thumb, though, experts recommend picking a location adjacent to an upscale residential area. This will make your pharmacy more accessible and bring in higher profit margins.
2. Pick the Right Structure
Buying a new location isn’t as easy as pointing out an empty building across the street and signing papers. In fact, it may be hard to find an empty building at all. Instead, your pharmacy might take shape in a few different structures. These might include:
- A stand-alone building
- A shop in a strip mall
- An office in a medical or professional setting
Different structures have different advantages and disadvantages. In terms of price, stand-alone buildings tend to be on the higher end of things, and offices tend to lean the lower end (sold often as a lease). On the other hand, though, stand-alone buildings offer more space. This is especially important for pharmacies that specialize in clinical services. When you’re shopping around, consider your needs and make your decisions accordingly.
If you’re looking for the right way to pay for your new building, look to our blog, How to Finance Your New Pharmacy.
3. Choose High Traffic + Easy Access Areas
No matter what type of building you buy, though, you want to make sure that it fits two important criteria: 1. it’s easy to see, and 2. it’s easy to reach.
While you can use a number of marketing strategies — from social media to signage — to get the word out about your business, a lot of your traffic will come from people passing by. As such, you want to make sure that you’re situated in a popular area that people can get to without too much of a hassle.
In general, you should opt for a residential area that has multiple routes around it. If you’re near a major roadway, that’s a bonus; but if you’re situated on the side of the interstate, that might be a red flag. Try to avoid hidden corners, obstructed views, and areas with heavy construction. Instead, look for open spaces and high traffic areas.
With more people around, you can make more patients.
4. Edge Out Your Competition
Birds of a feather flock together. You’ve probably noticed, for example, that any time there’s a CVS in a shopping mall, there’s usually a Walgreens right across the road.
It may seem strange to pick a location so close to a competitor, but experts actually agree that it can be a powerful business move. If a patient has a bad experience at another pharmacy, they can quickly and easily switch to yours to get what they need. In addition, being near a competitor can provide you with extra options for networking, marketing, and give you new opportunities to innovate.
When you’re weighing your options, then, don’t be afraid to open up shop next to a never pharmacy. Especially if you’re neighbors with a chain store, you can prove your unique advantage and commitment to personalized care.
What could be a better way to kick your business off?
Where to Find Pharmacies for Sale
Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, you can move into the process of actually purchasing a new brick-and-mortar. Not sure where to look?
- Try online search engines, like NCPA’s Pharmacy Matching service
- Recruit pharmacy consulting services, like PRS Pharmacy Services
- Post to local listings and respond to groups on social media
- Contact a local realtor to help scope out commercial properties
- Talk to older pharmacists in your area, who may be looking to retire and sell their practice. Chances are, you can get the building at a lower rate, too
One Less Stop to Open Up Shop
With the right considerations in mind — and the right resources by your side — you can find the pharmacy location you’ve been looking for. In this endeavor, the most important thing to do is to go where your patients go, and stay where your patients stay. Make yourself accessible to your patient base, and you’ll always have a customer coming through your door.