It’s NICE to Win – Awards for Community Pharmacies

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2020 NCPA Nice Awards

Everybody likes to win, but when it comes to running a business, there may be more incentive than a good feeling. The NCPA Innovation Center is now taking submissions for its annual NICE Awards, which recognize the best of community pharmacy branding and marketing. QS/1 is excited to sponsor these awards. Why should you consider applying?  

Going for it
Credibility, morale, and competitive advantage – these benefits of winning an award may seem pretty obvious. An award can help you gain and retain patients. Because people often make decisions based on other people’s choices, an award serves as a stamp of approval that “other people” made that choice – customers feel like they’re getting in on something good. For a small business, the impact can be even greater; simply entering competitions can create awareness of your pharmacy among the influencers who are often involved in sponsoring or judging awards.

Along with this is the morale boost for your staff. Working toward an award can’t help but generate pride and an urge to share the news. Having the approval of an unbiased source makes self-promotion easier, including promoting yourself to potential new employees.

Putting your best foot forward
If you choose to participate in an awards process, it can help to think of it as a contest in how well you follow directions. Incomplete, late, or typo-laden entries give judges an easy way to cut the nominee list. You’ll want to thoroughly complete all asked-for information, in the manner it’s requested, and to re-read more than once before submitting (even better, have someone else proofread it).

It’s also smart to label everything carefully so judges browsing through multiple entries don’t have to work for your information. Try to find out how the judges will view your material (print? computer? individually? in a group?) so you can tailor for that. Make sure your entry addresses the big questions about your efforts – like a news story answering the classic who, what, when, where, how, and why.

Finding inspiration
Of course, all this talk about winning awards is based on the work you’re doing to be recognized. For example, for the NICE Awards, innovation is the key to recognition. Thankfully, we all can and do innovate, and it usually starts with asking questions.

  • What’s an assumption I make every day that I should rethink? We all have things we do on auto-pilot, and that’s not a bad thing for efficiency and consistency. But it can keep us from recognizing better options. Identify some things you do around the pharmacy without thinking – then think about them.
  • What would my team suggest? Get the staff involved – maybe put up a white board for suggestions with the encouragement that there’s no wrong way to be creative.
  • What could I “ban” that might force a creative (and superior) workaround? Like the point above about assumptions, forcing yourself to avoid certain overused resources or routines can spark creativity.

Let’s imagine some more questions like this and use last year’s NICE Award winners as examples of ways to respond:

What’s your biggest problem? For years one pharmacy contracted out its delivery services but realized having their own vehicle could be cheaper. They bought a used, diesel-running VW and now, along with lower fuel costs, their customers feel more secure seeing a car with the pharmacy’s logo. Another pharmacy, located on a busy town square with traffic flow similar to a roundabout, created a stand-out store sign to solve for customer complaints that it was hard to find when navigating.

How can I ease a daily bottleneck? A Tennessee pharmacy remodeled with workflows for compounding and adherence in mind. Rearranging gave them a dedicated space for those activities so employees can better focus. They also improved patient consultation and waiting spaces.

How can I solve for limited resources? Maybe there’s help available from other sources. Through a partnership with the city of Philadelphia and a local non-profit, one pharmacy undertook a storefront remodel. An Oklahoma pharmacy used a graphic designer to help with brand guidelines for logos, fonts, sizing, and colors. 

What’s going on right now that I can take advantage of? An Ohio pharmacy chose to focus on Small Business Saturday. They sent out thousands of flyers, boosted Facebook posts, promoted on their website, and talked it up with store visitors. They hired a professional Santa and stocked merchandise from a recommended new source, all to great success.

What’s the best new idea I’ve seen all week? The front-end manager of a Palmyra, VA pharmacy travels to the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market regularly for inspiration that helps him avoid the need to recycle old displays. He gets ideas there and figures out how to implement them back home.

Who can I talk to who’s tried something new? One Georgia pharmacy owner, realizing that most of his patients were over 50, sought advice on developing a base of younger customers. He talked to another store that had opened up a section for expecting mothers, and the new focus has become a distinct selling point for his store, as well.

Running with it
If you receive an award or other recognition, how do you make the most of it for your pharmacy? First, take advantage of the free advertising. Anything the contest organizers publish, such as winner announcements and photos, can be linked from your website and social media accounts. Include mention of the award in any materials you print – brochures, letterhead, even signage. And contact your local paper; reporters are often looking for an easy, business-friendly story.

If an honest assessment tells you an upcoming awards deadline isn’t realistic, just remember another benefit of awards competitions – the chance to make improvements. Having to present yourself can highlight areas for improvement, so tackle those, document your efforts, and show up better prepared than ever.

QS/1 would love to see our pharmacists represented in the NICE Awards. Think about applying! The entry form is here. Deadline is December 1.

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