In this article dedicated for practitioners, we provide some tips on running a successful dispensary. Recent trends in medicine have many practitioners turning away from maintaining their own dispensaries and advising their patients to shop online for their own supplements/medicines. While this may seem as a way to simplify operations of a practice and remove the responsibilities that come with running a profitable dispensary, it may not be your best bet. In reality, when outsourcing a dispensary, a practitioner not only gives up a great source of income, but also control over the type and quality of medicines their patients take and how they are being provided their necessary medicines / supplements. In addition, providing a patient with what they need at the time of their visit increases patient satisfaction and compliance.
A Profitable Dispensary in 3 Simple Steps:
- Pricing – Most products will have a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), but when pricing any medicine or supplement, it is also important to take into consideration the overhead that comes with running any business including rent, utilities and payroll. Additional expenses that must be taken into consideration are the shipping fees that may accompany an order. When setting up an account with the distributing company, it is important to find out their shipping policies, and if they offer any discounts (like free shipping) or incentives for orders exceeding specific amounts. If stocking products from several companies, a cheat sheet may come in handy. A cheat sheet would have company information, your account number and any information that may be needed when ordering – this can be placed at the beginning of a file folder where all invoices are kept, or in a Google or Word document.
Another important note about pricing is staying on top of any cost changes. Once or twice a year contact the distributors and check if the prices of products have changed, or if they have implemented any new policies. If so update your prices to reflect these changes.
- Stocking – “First in, First out” (FIFO) is the most important rule of any successful dispensary. Since most medicines do have expiration dates, it is best to pay attention of how new incoming stock is being added. Quite often because of lack of time or the common rush that happens in every office, older stock is pushed back and new items are sold first, leaving older items on the shelf until they expire and must be discarded at a financial loss.
- Keeping the right stock – It may be difficult to plan ahead and know how much product is needed, which is why many offices order products per patient. This way may seem easier for the office to manage the supply needed, but can be very frustrating for a patient and greatly increase accompanying shipping costs from a distributor. A patient coming in to see their doctor hopes to get help right away instead of waiting weeks before their medicines arrive.
Running a successful dispensary doesn’t mean overstocking, it means staying on top and meeting the demand that is created by patients being treated in the practice.
- Quality control – When deciding on the quality of supplements prescribed to patients do some research first. Beginning with the origin of ingredients and the production process of products, to what can be found in the finished product. Better quality products may come with a higher price tag, but that should not be discouraging. Today’s patient understand the value of quality, especially in the light of recent news uncovering low quality herbal supplements sold at big retailers all over U.S.
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