Independent pharmacies can provide a personal touch for pet parents filling their prescriptions

Independent pharmacists have long competed with retail giants to fill prescriptions for humans. Many of these pharmacists hope their personal touch will entice patients through the door. This is especially true for veterinary pharmacies, where many veterinarians prescribe pet medications and customers often look for the cheapest option (Chewy, Amazon, or another major brand) to refill their pet medications. .

Small animal veterinarian Kate Boatright, VDM, understands why customers want to turn to Chewy and Amazon to fill prescriptions, especially for preventative medications or prescriptions for chronic conditions that will need to be ordered again and again. “I think for a single treatment it’s more likely they’ll go to an independent pharmacist,” she said.

Gary Koesten, BPharm, president of Vet Pharm Consulting in Boynton Beach, Fla., noted that the purchasing power of large retailers poses a significant challenge because they work directly with the manufacturer. “A typical independent pharmacy will not always be able to carry the drugs, either because they cannot obtain them or because they may be available from a wholesaler in small quantities, but this would require them to charge more than a customer could get. if they bought from a mail order outlet.

It’s not as if these large retailers don’t have veterinary pharmacists on staff; it’s just that you lose something in the personal touch component. This is why it is important for veterinary pharmacists to market their pharmacy as a place where pet owners want to go to help their pets.

Fortunately, pharmacists are one of the most trusted healthcare professions, so pet owners often feel safer discussing medications with a pharmacist.

“At the very least, even if an independent pharmacist cannot or chooses not to bring prescription veterinary items into their store, they can bring over-the-counter animal care items, which therefore becomes a convenience for human owners when they go shopping or fill a prescription for themselves,” Koesten said. “This way you can retain your customers.”

Independent veterinary pharmacists can also provide a compounding service, which can help provide the correct dose prescribed by the veterinarian.

“It’s a way for them to help customers who want to get their pet medications filled at a pharmacy,” Koesten said.

Lauren Forsythe, PharmD, is a veterinary pharmacist and assistant professor of social and administrative pharmacy at the University of Findlay, emphasized that the key to winning business is providing excellent customer service.

“The big companies have this concept that they can ship anywhere and their prices are very competitive, but by being able to provide personalized customer service, knowledgeable pharmacists and ones that veterinarians love to use, they will win business,” she says. “When I talk to vets and mention Chewy, they groan. This is not because of quality or safety issues, but the fact that they will send 10 boxes asking for refills and then tell the customer that the vet is not responding to them, even though the request came the day before. It’s practices like these that veterinarians truly despise.

A good marketing tip for veterinarians is to showcase their superior knowledge and explain to clients why they will do anything they can to help their pets.

“Customers may not be aware that their pharmacist can prescribe veterinary medications,” Forsythe said. “If a pharmacist has put a lot of effort into learning and is able to provide good service, advertising is important. »


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