Making partnerships in your community is a great way of increasing your community presence and growing your business.
The reality when looking for pharmacy partners, is that striking up relationships with any business in your community is possible. Whilst partnering with the local GP surgery goes without saying, there are other partnerships with natural two-way referrals that often go unexplored.
1. Gyms & Leisure Centres
We’ll start with perhaps the most obvious pharmacy partners of the bunch, the place where people either live or avoid…the gym.
The exact nature of the partnership may depend on what your pharmacy offers, and what type of facility you’re partnering with. For example, a relaxed spa-type leisure centre may prove a better partner for a Health Food Pharmacy or an Aesthetics specialist. More of your iron-pumping, gut-crunching, throwing tyres at punching bags gyms may refer more naturally to a pharmacy with a good range of supplements.
2. Travel Agents
Errr…do I really need to explain this one?
The unusual thing about this partnership is that it shouldn’t be unusual. Travel Agents make excellent pharmacy partners. But many pharmacists don’t bother building relationships with Travel Agents.
Sure, there’s very little chance of you being able to refer them business, but perhaps offering a discounted rate for their referrals gives them an extra value proposition to their clients.
High street travel agents might be less likely to partner (though you don’t ask, you don’t get) but self-employed Independent Travel Agents are increasingly common.
You’ll often find them on Instagram, so reach out to them and ask! Even if you get blanked, what has it cost? And what do you stand to gain? The risk/reward is so disproportionate, the only reason I can think of that more pharmacies don’t do this is that they’ve not thought of it.
So, you’re welcome.
3. Furniture Shops
This is definitely a bit more left field, but there’s definitely scope for back and forth between a pharmacy dealing with people with posture and mobility issues and furniture shops which provide specialist furniture to support these issues.
Whether it’s a patient complaining about back pain despite being given the right treatment, or a customer purchasing a bed or a chair who complains about chronic or debilitating pain, there’s room for both parties to refer to each other for additional support.
The large furniture retailers are probably harder to contact, but if you focus on smaller, local businesses, firing them an email is again a very small output of time for the potential of a partnership.
4. Personal Trainers/Yoga Instructors
Both personal trainers and Yoga Instructors work very closely with people actively taking measures to improve their health.
They also tend to have good ongoing relationships with their clients, and are trusted sources of advice.
Reaching out to these people for a referral exchange? Recommend them to patients looking to get more active, and they recommend patients to you for things like joint supports, supplements, etc. It’s an unusual partnership with a very normal business relationship.
5. Sports Clubs
Sports clubs are pillars in their communities, and great for bringing people together. They also help keep communities active and healthy, aligning with your goals as a pharmacy (pun intended.)
There’s a range of clubs in most communities, all of which make excellent partners for community pharmacies:
- Tennis Clubs
- Football Clubs
- Athletics Clubs (including Running & Cycling Groups)
- Rugby Clubs
- Golf Clubs
- Crown Green Bowls
Every one of those sports routinely sees minor injuries which don’t need a doctor or a hospital – but often need treatment. And more often than not, they go without treatment, because there is no obvious solution.
Making your local sports clubs aware of your offering and how you can provide a service to their members’ problems is simply a matter of having a conversation and, as with most partnerships, putting up some posters & leaflets around the club.
How can you refer people to sports clubs?
Perhaps you can’t refer people to the sports clubs. Unless you have a fantastic relationship with them and are encouraging more rigorous exercise, it’s likely not a natural course of conversation. But there are multiple ways of reciprocating value:
- Supplying First Aid Kits
- Sponsoring Their Kits
- Offering free assessments for any sports injuries
- Featuring their posters on your noticeboard.
There’s another set of clubs you can target, namely societies at Universities. But that is such a big opportunity, it deserves its own section.
6. Universities, Societies & Student Unions
There’s a wide range of opportunities for partnerships between pharmacies and universities. It’s a partnership with a lot of potential both ways.
Firstly, in the UK at least, the wait for a university doctor is extensive. Pharmacies offering initial health consultations as an alternative could see a wave of demand from young people with disposable income.
But here are some of the other ways you could provide a value proposition to both the university and its students:
- Sexual Health Awareness Days
- Women’s Health Clinics
- Travel Clinics for Gap Years, Placements & International Students
- Sports societies for all the same reasons as Sports Clubs
- Alternative to University Doctor
Driving students into your pharmacy comes with great cross-selling opportunities. Hangover remedies, noise-cancelling earplugs for sleeping, contraception…the list goes on, especially once you’ve talked to the person and understood what their particular needs and circumstances are.
Partnerships shape businesses
One major partnership can revolutionise businesses. Where previously it made no sense to stock certain products, with the right partnerships, they could be your best sellers. It’s worth considering what you’re open to offering, as well as what you do offer when you head into these discussions with potential partners.
Finding Pharmacy Partners is easier online
Whilst meeting face-to-face is always better for building relationships, you understandably won’t have time to schedule meetings all over town.
This is where emails or social media are your friends. Especially a great social media presence.
What’s the first thing you’d do when assessing whether or not a business held any sway with its community?
Pretty much the only thing you can do to assess it. You’d check out how many followers they had, and what kind of engagement they get on their posts.
Of course, that isn’t strictly necessary. If you don’t have a great social media presence, don’t let that stop you from reaching out.