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What Do Pharmacy Contingency Plans and Tulips Have in Common?

Posted by Benjamin Coakley on Wed, Nov 06, 2013 @ 10:44 AM

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Being raised in the southern part of the United States for your entire life, you begin to take for granted the beautiful flowers for the majority of the year. Our mild temperatures for nine months of the year create an ideal environment for plants with blooms to thrive.

In taking this wonderful gift from nature for granted, it is easy to begin linking all flowers together as, simply, flowers.  However, when you begin to explore further, you see distinct differences between the varieties of flowers. Not only their shape, size, color, etc., but also how they react and interact with the environment in which they grow.

Beautiful flowers, such as tulips, have adapted to survive in the environment they live. One of the ways they have adapted is by using a process called nyctinasty to help them evade predators and protect themselves from cold night frosts. This is the process of closing their blooms at night and opening them again during the day. Closing up allows them to protect the vital parts of the flowers, which in turn help them survive. This is their contingency plan for when predators stop by or the temparatures getting colder.

Pharmacy contingency plans are very similar. Like the tulip closing at night, a contingency plan protects your pharmacy from events that otherwise could cause a massive disruption (i.e. you dying or missing a significant amount of time). Ideally, tulips would remain open all the time to maximize their pollination, but they close just in case there is a contingency. Ideally, there will never be an event that causes a disruption at the pharmacy. However, we all know that this is not realistic.

Reality is there will be things that happen (outside of your control) that affect the pharmacy. Reality is best illustrated in the story of a pharmacy down the road from me. The advisors at Waypoint had approached this pharmacy owner numerous times about establishing a contingency plan. He kept putting it off time and time again. After the last time we approached him he said to contact him the following year. Well, a year went by, and we hadn't seen him around at some of the trade shows we attend. I picked up the phone and called his wholesaler. I was informed that he had a massive stroke and would never work again.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. His staff continued to work in the pharmacy, but they were now asked to do a many more things without being compensated for the extra work. They were not adequately prepared for this. Over time, this resulted in anger and frustration until the spouse of the disabled owner asked one of the employees to stay late to help with something. The frustration came to a head at that moment. The employee went off like a hand grenade. She said the entire staff felt unappreciated and they all were thinking about quitting.  The owner's spouse told me she was shocked and was, in her words, speechless for the first times in her life.

The gravity of the situation was discovered the next day. When the owner's spouse arrived at the pharmacy, the parking lot looked eerily empty. She went inside and only two of the employees had showed up for work. She then realized the employee from the night before was not bluffing about the staff quitting. She called all the employees who had not showed up and they all told her they had quite to find other employment opportunities.  

We often wonder if this would have been the outcome if the owner would have decided to work with us on the contingency plan.

A written pharmacy contingency plan that is shared with, and understood by the staff can help calm fears and help the employees understand  there is a plan for the pharmacy if something happens to the owner. There is no guaranty all the employees are going to stick it out if something happens to you. However, the chances of them staying increase if they know there is a plan.

So, what is your pharmacy contingency plan? Have you thought about these issues but never put them on paper? Have you ever communicated your plans to your employees? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself to prepare your pharmacy for an unexpected contingency and keep your pharmacy blooming!

Download the Contingency Planner

Where does this wisdom come from?

The content of this blog is inspired and verified by our experience helping independent community pharmacists enjoy financial independence during and after their life in pharmacy.

When a pharmacist reaches out to us for information and help, we endeavor to give them as much free value as is possible. In addition to providing educational, self-assessment and strategic planning tools (like The Community Pharmacist Lifecycle), we invite qualified pharmacists into our formal discovery process.

The first step of the process is completing The Inspired Goals Workshop. This 90-minute session enables us to deliver a detailed and personal Inspired Independence Blueprint. The blueprint provides a personalized roadmap for achieving your goals and enables you to fully understand the value of joining The Inspired Independence Program.

If you wish to learn more about any aspect of our work, the free value we offer, or to be considered for The Inspired Goals Workshop, visit our web site at or call 843.873.4420 and ask for Ben or Matt Coakley.

At Waypoint Pharmacy Advisors, we take care of you!





Topics: community pharmacy contingency plan, contingency planning for the pharmacy, pharmacist contingency plan