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Owning your pharmacy: Pinpointing your location and optimizing your services using demographics

This is part 2 of a 6-part series focused on how to get started opening a new pharmacy.

Before opening a business, an owner wants to understand who their customers are and knoweverything about them—including their demographics and needs. This certainly applies topharmacy and will help an owner determine where to locate and what to offer.

Gather the Right Data

A wealth of valuable information is available, if you know where to look.

• Start with the census. Census data tells you the number of people in an area as wellas people’s ages, average household income and other important data that can helpyou develop a profile of the people in the area. This data can help you identify whattypes of health care services people are most likely to need.

A suburban pharmacy will have different customers than a lower-income urban or ruralarea. Different patient populations will require different types of pharmacy services. Youneed to determine ability and willingness to pay out of pocket for services. You alsoneed to determine if English is spoken by most patients or if other languages arespoken by a sizable portion of the community. If so, you’ll need to take that intoaccount for staffing, signage, labeling and more.

• Befriend the local business community.

Chambers of Commerce, downtownbusiness associations and other community and business groups may have annualreports or recent surveys that tell you about the composition of the community. Theyalso have leaders who are keyed into the local community, know how it is evolving andknow the needs in the community. They can share insights about plans to build a newapartment complex, a school or a business park, which can be early indicators thathundreds of new potential patients will soon be arriving.

While local knowledge of the market is important, so is understanding a pharmacy’sspecific needs. If you are working with a banker or a commercial real estate agent, forexample, make sure they have expertise in both areas.

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