Franchisees mull ideas to boost Health Mart

LAS VEGAS – What can McKesson do for me that will help drive my success and assure my continued viability in a fast-changing and competitive healthcare market?

That question was on the minds of many independent pharmacy owners attending Tuesday’s business and educational forums at ideaShare 2012.

Health Mart franchisees have had plenty to say about the future of the enterprise, what they want from McKesson in terms of support and how they want to go to market. Hundreds of franchisees participated in a well-organized set of breakout sessions after the general business session of the Health Mart Annual Meeting Tuesday, brainstorming on a slew of topics.

McKesson officials organized the discussions to solicit input from the owner-operators on the frontlines of U.S. community pharmacy about the future direction of Health Mart as it takes its place among the nation’s premier drug store organizations. With a little prompting from the moderators who moved the discussions along in each meeting room, those franchisees mulled each of six long-term goals set by Health Mart’s leaders for the franchise.

They proposed a wide-ranging list of ideas and potential solutions to address those long-term priorities, which include:

  • Promoting the value of the Health Mart pharmacist;
  • Gaining greater access to pharmacy provider contracts offering different payment methods;
  • Building value for the Health Mart brand;
  • Improving clinical care capabilities among Health Mart franchisees;
  • Achieving operational excellence; and
  • Building more effective teamwork among and between Health Mart operators and McKesson. Said Brian Tyler, president of McKesson’s U.S. pharmaceutical division, “We need to coalesce as 3,000 stores around this vision.”

The franchisees participating in the discussions agreed. But they’re looking to McKesson to help them compete versus the big chains by applying more of its marketing muscle in the form of advertising dollars and brand-building tools.

One participant reminded his peers of the enormous power and name recognition of drug store brands like Walgreens and CVS, and said that for Americans who move to a new community and are unfamiliar with local independent pharmacy offerings, “it’s an easy default” for those consumers to simply move their business immediately to one of the big chains with the universally recognized logos. “We need something to compete with that,” he implored McKesson.

Added another franchisee, “we need to drive the Health Mart logo deep into America’s consciousness.”

Nevertheless, several Health Mart members expressed appreciation for the chance to interact that the conference provides, and for the strengths that McKesson and its store-support prowess have brought to their businesses. Said one attendee at the Health Mart opening session, “there are probably some people in this room who wouldn’t still be in business if it wasn’t for Health Mart."