The ability to evolve and adapt to change are two common themes of any successful business. The pharmacy industry is no stranger to this ideology. Using this business model, pharmacies are becoming more specialized and pharmacists are playing an even greater role in their patients’ overall healthcare. Pharmacists are called on to provide patient counseling, address patient concerns and offer medication therapy management all while filling prescriptions and meeting strict government regulations.
Even with all the fluctuations and transitions, it’s nice to know that some things haven’t changed. In fact, they’ve remained the same for generations. The ability to provide great customer service while building long-lasting, trusting relationships has never been more important and is nothing new to Rob Albers, R.Ph., owner of Ed’s Rexall Drug in Omaha, NE, and his staff. They pride themselves on providing the best customer service around. “Our premise has not and will never change; great customer service is at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make,” Albers said.
Ed’s Rexall Drug, named for the original owner, was built in 1910. “In the early days, a grocery store, a barbershop and this pharmacy were the cornerstone of town. Today, the pharmacy is all that remains,” Albers explained. A 1976 graduate of Creighton University, Albers bought the store in 1978 after Ed Killeen’s passing. Since the pharmacy was a fixture among the locals, Albers decided not to change the name and has practiced pharmacy for 40 years at the same location.
A QS/1 Customer for 25 years, Ed’s Rexall Drug is the oldest pharmacy in Omaha to operate in its original location. “Through the years, a lot has changed. We are now located in a major intersection in town – separating the old from the new. Success often stems from great placement and location is so important,” he said.
“Over the years, many other businesses have left town. I certainly had the chance to, but chose not to,” Albers said. He thought it was more important to remain at the original location and is proud to serve as an anchor to the neighborhood. “We are truly a big part of the revitalization of this area. Ed’s Rexall Drug is the last remaining piece of history.” The decision to stay paid off for Albers and his staff when a 185-bed skilled nursing home, as well as a 100-bed assisted living facility, opened a few blocks away. “We were in the perfect position to utilize QS/1 to the fullest extent. We needed a more powerful computer system to keep up with our needs. We chose to be aggressive and progressive at the same time and it has truly paid off,” he explained.
Ed’s Rexall Drug recently made the move from NRx® to PrimeCare® in order to accommodate their growing, diverse customer base. “We have successfully adapted to change and remained a vital part of the community simultaneously,” Albers said. Additionally, PrimeCare helps the pharmacy stay on top of changes in the industry, including updates and new requirements to Medicare, cycle billing for nursing homes and electronic medication administration records to name a few.
“QS/1 has always given us all we needed to be successful and more. We have a wonderful partnership, he said.” Over the years, he’s built solid relationships with QS/1 employees and feels comfortable facing the future with QS/1 on his side.
In addition to caring for elderly patients, they also provide what the locals need. Albers described Ed’s Rexall Drug as a “neighborhood apothecary that focuses on retail pharmacy and nursing home service.” He said, “Everything we do, every decision we make always goes back to our customers.” He even likened the relationships that he and members of his staff share with their customers to the popular 1980’s sitcom Cheers. “Once our customers become regulars, we form relationships with them and they become family. We become a part of each other’s lives. We know their medical needs and can call them by name. We know their family members and what’s going on in their lives,” he explained with pride. “We provide everything that our customers need and have managed to keep our prices low. We are competitive with the major chains and offer customer service that is second to none.”
The customer base isn’t the only thing that has grown over the years. Ed’s Rexall Drug has undergone two remodels and has doubled in size from the approximately 500-square-foot structure it once was. The original pharmacy featured one workstation, now there are seven.
Albers and his staff make the best of a small area and have learned how to make use of the space. “We fill the store with what our customers need and have come to expect,” he said. Over the years, Albers has had many opportunities to grow and expand even more. However, this would mean leaving the location he’s so proud to call home. He fears if the store grew too large, customer service would suffer in an attempt to keep up with the growing demands of a large, mainstream pharmacy.
As well as being a visible, involved member of the pharmacy community and a fixture in Omaha, Albers was honored to receive a Creighton University Alumni Merit Award in 2015. This award is presented annually to an outstanding alumni through their respective school’s choosing. He described this as “a very humbling event.”
Albers and the staff at Ed’s Rexall Drug have proven that while it’s necessary to evolve with the industry and embrace change, the most important things never change. Great customer service, personal relationships and community involvement are the keys to success that stand the test of time, and QS/1 is honored to be an integral part of its journey.