Deepak and Kiran Bilakhia talk to Pharmacy Business about their pharmacy, Carrington Pharmacy, in Nottingham…
How would you describe your pharmacy?
The response that most customers have on first entering the pharmacy is ‘wow what a beautiful pharmacy!’ Carrington Pharmacy has  a modern stylish  European look and is well designed  with a lot of innovative features which makes it a pleasure to work in.
My pharmacy has a smart contemporary consultation room for diagnostic checks, weight/blood pressure checks, vaccinations and medication advice. There is an elegant treatment room where we provide consultations or treatments for physiotherapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, reflexology and beauty therapy.

What is your advice on being a good pharmacist and running a good pharmacy?
A good pharmacist has got to be up to date with pharmacy matters but alongside this,  an important quality is trust. Honest and genuine communication whether it is patients, staff or other healthcare professionals allows us to be trusted and respected.
Being there for the community and the elderly in providing value added services enhances our profession and our business. A good pharmacy does all the above and more to be financially successful.
Other business skills are also necessary such as foresight, finding your own USP and niche in these  challenging times. If you have the right product or service at the right time and right price for your customer’s needs in a well merchandised and modern environment, your business will be successful.

How much do your sales depend on season and weather?
A fair amount. Whether it is the cold and flu season, the hayfever, holiday season or Christmas, it all affects our businesses and advanced planning and preparation in buying, merchandising and  advertising will reap the benefits.
But because we are a holistic pharmacy stocking products for general well-being as well as natural and organic products, we have customers coming from afar for the advice and specialised merchandise.
We also have a beauty therapist, Aditi, who works full time on the premises and her expert advice and beauty treatments help that side of the business. The presence of two pharmacists means we can give good quality advice without time pressures which helps the business.

What is your view on funding and the role of the PSNC?
Against the backdrop of NHS budget deficit and the need to save £20 billion by 2020, pharmacy funding is going to be a challenge as there are going to be serious attempts for cutbacks. The PSNC’s attempts to negotiate adequate remuneration for pharmacists in the new NHS structure and environment will be difficult, even though they will seek to place pharmacy in a strategically strong position.
I would like to be  more optimistic but foresee problems as the NHS’s role is going to change from  being a provider to a commissioner of services.

What part of the business is most challenging?
Maintaining the same profitability whilst doing more work than before. The business has to be comfortably profitable to re-invest into the business to enable us to compete in the market place.
Also, keeping up the standards of the premises, having up-to-date IT systems and having good well-trained staff to share the workload to maintain service levels. The multiples and supermarkets with their loss-leaders, formidable marketing team, financial strength and their sharp practices do not make it a level playing field.

Do you ever get customers asking for products they have seen on TV that you know nothing about?
Yes. Canesten Pro is the latest example. It has been given exclusive rights by Bayer to be sold by Boots only and that is just one example where a multiple flexes its muscles due to the volume of product they can order.
This happens on an regular basis and the patient has to go to Boots whether it is convenient or not. This is one example of unfair advantage by the bigger players.

If you were to give up pharmacy tomorrow, what would you do?
I would continue caring by doing some charity work and giving something back to the community. I have been very blessed in that my success is due to our customers’ support and how some of their lives have touched me in my work.
This would be a perfect opportunity to say and show how grateful I am. Reading, walking, yoga and travelling are some of my passions, so these should keep the old brain and bones ticking!