The Community Pharmacist Blog

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The Family Pharmacy Paradox: What's in it for me?

Posted by Benjamin Coakley on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 @ 03:14 PM


Family businesses and, subsequently, family pharmacies are often great at promoting the factfamily pharmacy they are family owned and operated. They are proud of the fact they work as a family team to help fulfill the mission of the family and the business.  We share that passion at Waypoint because we are also a family owned and operated business.

However, there are times when we encounter situations where things don't as smoothly as they should in family pharmacies.  In digging a little further, we discover that some or all of the family members working in the pharmacy are not on the same page. There are many reasons for this and they can range from family members acting according to their own desires to multi-generational differences between family members.  Recently I had a discussion with a pharmacy owner about her having a hard time getting her daughter to understand her expectations and what she feels is important to be successful.  As we talked through the problems, we discovered that self interest played a role.  Also, generational differences played an equal part in not being on the same page.  We came up with a very unique solution for this situation (see below).

When family members begin thinking more about the pharmacy helping them, rather than visa versa, then you, the owner, have run head on into what we like to call the Family Pharmacy Paradox.  The family members are essentially asking themselves "What's in it for me?"  This is a natural occurence in any family business and is not a bad thing.  This question is in everyone's mind when they make the decision to work for the pharmacy (family or not).  When we explain this to owners, they typically will pause for a second and then admit that this makes sense.  The reason for this is, as an owner, you also have also answered the question "What's in it for me?"  You may not have done it consciously, but that question has to be answered before you will dedicate so much of your life energy to the pharmacy.

After getting them to understand that this is not the end of the world, pharmacy owners will inevitably ask us how they can use the "What is in it for me" question to their advantage.  We feel that the first thing you have to do it to try to think about the pharmacy from each family member's perspective, a "walk a mile in their shoes" approach to this issue.  Once you begin to understand things from each family member's perspective, then you can begin to address the issues that concern them the most.  Having a one-on-one meeting discussing the family members individual goals and how they feel the pharmacy will help them achieve them can give you great insight into what they are thinking.  You can then start using this information for the advantage of the pharmacy.

The following are things that can be positively impacted by understanding the "What is in it for me" question for all family members:

  1. Benefits program - this can be improved to match the wants of all the family members (and other employees if desired).  This can truly separate your benefits from other pharmacies and keep your key family members (and employees) from defecting to competitors.
  2. Decision making and management - understanding what motivates the family members and employees can help you manage them better. This can really help improve company morale and ultimately the bottom line.
  3. Time management - if you start focusing on the things each family member in the pharmacy wants, then you should not have to waste much time and money trying to learn what makes each of them tick.  A wise man once said that the most expensive business partner he has ever had is "trial and error."

Understanding things like this can help you better manage and run your family pharmacy. Working in a family pharmacy can be hard for the pharmacy and for the family.  The path to enlightenment begins with understanding.  This means understanding yourself, your patients, your employees and the family members working in your pharmacy.

Click Here to Set Up a Family Vision Meeting

Who is Waypoint Pharmacist Advisors and Why do we do what we do?

Our vision and mission is to help community pharmacy transition through a life of pharmacy into a life of independence.  In order to do this, we have decided to focus on protecting community pharmacies and family pharmacies for future generations.

Our process, The Inspired Independence Process, is designed to help pharmacy owners, no matter where they are in their pharmacy lives, achieve all their goals and dreams, inside, outside and after pharmacy.  This can help community pharmacies survive for many years to come.

Topics: community pharmacy, family pharmacy, family pharmacy owner