Herne Bay Pharmacy 2010

A long history of building relationships

Herne Bay Pharmacy has a long standing history within the local community. There has been a pharmacy in the building since 1912 and the reputation for community care is well established; the late 1930s saw the pharmacy having the first telephone line in the area and pharmacy staff would take calls for everyone on the block. Often people would phone in with orders for the butcher, and these would be taken down to the butchery by pharmacy staff.

Geraldine Phillips purchased Herne Bay Pharmacy in 2002 after having worked there for the previous 10 years. With seven team members, both full and part time, Geraldine believes that team morale is important, and staff retention levels remain high. “Personal relationships are our main priority,” says Geraldine.

With customers ranging from young families with babies and preschoolers to elderly and patients from the nearby medical centre, maintaining good and close contact with customers is what separates Herne Bay Pharmacy from others in the Auckland region. Geraldine’s main satisfaction is the real interaction between customers and staff, being helpful and friendly and not just pushing retail. “For many of our elderly customers, coming to the pharmacy is their only human contact. Our team members really go the extra mile, and customers become friends.”

Having a reputation for distinctive and novel gifts, in particular children’s birthday gifts, customers come from all around the greater Herne Bay area to view the range available. With team members attending Gift Shows, and sales reps knowing of the pharmacy’s love of novel gifts, there is always something new in store for customers.

Herne Bay Pharmacy’s relationship with Markhams arose after Geraldine heard Geoff Hatten speak at a pharmacy seminar. They already had a personal relationship as Geoff had been a customer for a number of years. Finding him approachable, knowledgeable and easy to talk to, Geraldine decided to make the switch from her previous accounting firm.

“Geoff has his finger on the button, and knows exactly what is happening within the industry,” says Geraldine. “Retail is certainly challenging, add to that Government and Pharmacs regulations and changes, and the impact can be very costly to pharmacy businesses.”

Monthly monitoring of figures, watching retail margins and keeping an eye on trends are some of the ways Geoff makes a difference to Herne Bay Pharmacy. “Geoff’s expertise is extremely beneficial for us, as financial aspects of running a pharmacy business are not covered in Pharmacy School,” Geraldine adds.

Considering a possible rest of the pharmacy in 2008 – the last decor change was 1970s – Geraldine and Geoff explored the idea together. This involved identifying what stock lines to increase, and dropping the unprofitable ones. Geoff helped identify ‘hot spots’ of traffic flow within the pharmacy and product was placed strategically to increase sales.

Customers were surveyed and subsequently more cosmetic, organic and baby products were introduced. Geraldine reports that results have been better than expected, “based on the calculated projected figures the investment has been worthwhile.”

Not only does Geoff provide specialist business and financial advice for the pharmacy, he is available to help staff with any issues they may have. “Geoff is always at the end of the phone to answer questions. Ours is a relationship that I value.”

Published Spring 2010.

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