RxSafe features monthly guest posts from pharmacy industry insiders and leaders. This December, we feature independent pharmacy owner, consultant, and speaker Easton Bryant, as he writes about giving back and building patient loyalty.
The story I’m about to tell you is a little silly and maybe even embarrassing, but there’s a serious lesson intertwined.
Back in 2002, right around my 18th birthday, I came home from school and noticed a small box addressed to me. “What the heck is this?” I remember thinking. “Nobody ever sends me anything.” I carefully opened it and, as it turns out, it was a birthday gift. Gillette, a massive company, had somehow found out that little ol’ me was now a man and they took the time out of their schedule to send me a free razor to welcome me to this new frontier. (Side note: I guess their 2002 technology couldn’t enable them to capture a photo of me and see that my baby face hardly had use for a razor.)
Now, you might ask, “So a giant corporation sent you a gift that literally cost them pennies. And?” Let me explain a little further. A few years earlier, Gillette had released their Mach3 razor. You’ve seen it or maybe even used it. There’s the handle and then there are razor heads supplied in packages you purchase separately…and perpetually. After the colored strip indicates your blades are too dull for use, you replace the head… again…and again…and again. Maybe you see where this is going. Yes, I’m still using that original handle that Gillette sent me almost 20 years ago!
What’s stranger: I didn’t even take notice of this until recently. There have been several notable razor companies pop up and capture market share in recent years and I’ve never given serious consideration to any of them. Why would I? I have my handle from 2002 and I can buy new razor heads that work just fine anytime I see fit. I suppose I’ve purchased hundreds of Gillette razor heads over the past two decades all because they spent a few pennies on me.
There. That’s the lesson. Give a little and get a lot. It works for big corporations, and it works for small, independent pharmacies as well. I’ll give you some examples of how it’s worked for my pharmacy.
When we rolled out our private label CBD gummies, our community was excited. We offered a 20% discount and sold several jars in the first couple of weeks. Then sales slowly faded into near non-existence. When we recently featured our CBD for Pets line, we offered a free jar of gummies with each purchase. I mean, they weren’t doing any good just sitting there. Profit margins on this promo weren’t great and that wasn’t the design. The point was to stir up excitement again. To get the product in hands again. And you know what? Sales have picked up again since we ran the generous promo.
When this blasted pandemic first became a thing back in the spring of 2020 and the FDA granted pharmacies permission to compound hand sanitizer, I scrambled for days to secure all the components needed to make it by their standards. It didn’t take long to have $1000 tied up in supplies and you know what we did with our intricately labeled, valuable, and painstakingly made hand sanitizer? We gave it away to anyone and everyone. You didn’t have to be a current patient at our pharmacy. We didn’t need to capture your info so we could market to you in the future. Just drive up and get your bottle. I truly didn’t know it at the time, but the positive attention and eventual business growth our generosity generated certainly couldn’t have been secured with only $1000 in traditional spending.
An easy way to give is by offering - you guessed it - a giveaway. Giveaways on our social media platforms have helped us gain followers, advertise our products, and create community buzz. Trust me, just about everybody loves a good giveaway. And it doesn’t have to be over-the-top. Giving away a product with a retail value of $50 can easily give you a greater return than a $300 newspaper ad.
Our delivery driver logs about 600 miles weekly across five counties and every delivery is free. Sure, when I put pen to paper, I see it’s a costly service to provide. But I also know that we’ve captured a ton of business by offering it for free. What’s better: charging $2 to deliver to 100 patients in your immediate area or delivering for free while earning the repeat business of hundreds more patients?
The service we’re most proud of, our NCPak (compliance packaging) service, is another one that we offer for free. When we explain how the service works, we often hear, “So how much does that cost?” It’s typically followed up with a deer in the headlights look when they realize we’ll do it for them at no additional cost. While it’s an unbeatable service (especially at that cost!), our bottom line thanks these patients. You could say it’s a symbiotic relationship.
Lastly, giving to local causes and organizations is never a bad move. Sure, there will be plenty of times you can’t seem to see the ROI, but it all works out in the end. If you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you’re successful, and none of us become successful on our own. We have all had people give to us generously in various ways without charge. Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) says, “If you want a smile, the best way to get one is to give a smile. If you want a punch in the mouth, the best way to get one is to give a punch in the mouth.” Ultimately, pouring back into the community that sustains you and your family makes your business healthier.
Yep, Gillette knew exactly what they were doing when they sent that gift to baby-faced me all those years ago. But hey, I’m not mad about it. Sometimes, when you give a little, you get a lot back in return. I’ve seen it myself.
About Easton Bryant, PharmD, LDE
Easton Bryant is a graduate of The McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and a Licensed Diabetes Educator. As North Century Pharmacy’s managing partner and pharmacist-in-charge since its opening in 2014, Easton enjoys finding solutions for patients and providers alike. An advocate for community pharmacy, Easton also enjoys playing music, staying active, and spending time in his Kentucky home with his wife and kids. Get in touch with Easton at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his site at eastonbryant.com.