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What Is an Independent Pharmacy?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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An independent pharmacy is owned and operated by a sole proprietor or group of small-business owners. This type of pharmacy is usually not associated with a retail chain or brand, unless it is a franchise location. The owners and operators are in business for themselves and must design their own marketing and customer service strategies. Some independent pharmacies may belong to a national or local organization that helps them secure discounted prices on supplies and take advantage of a streamlined distribution network.

The primary difference between an independent pharmacy and a pharmacy location that is part of a retail chain is that an individual or small group of individuals manage the business. Rather than receive direction from a corporate office or a guaranteed salary, an independent pharmacist takes on the financial and managerial responsibilities of owning the business. It is similar to owning an independent grocery store, insurance agency, or dog grooming service. In order to make a profit and sustain operations, the pharmacist usually needs to design a business plan that will control expenses and generate adequate revenue.

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The staff of an independent pharmacy is typically hired and managed by the owner. Often, the owner will work longer hours than staff, especially in the early stages of the pharmacy's existence. Owners must decide how many staff the business can afford, as well as their scheduling, pay rate, and employee benefit package. Some operators purchase an existing business from another owner, start their own location, or purchase a franchise location with an established brand name.

Expenses and supply ordering are also usually managed by the owner of an independent pharmacy. For example, all of the necessary equipment, including cash registers and delivery vehicles, is purchased and maintained by the business owner. Some countries have national associations that independent pharmacies can join in order to help them negotiate with insurance companies and prescription drug suppliers. These associations typically maintain a large distribution network that delivers ordered product to independent locations, which can emulate a larger company's internal distribution.

The owner of an independent pharmacy is also in charge of developing promotional and customer service strategies. In terms of service, the owner typically decides how the location will distinguish itself from its retail chain competitors. A higher degree of personalization is a common customer service strategy, as promotional budgets may be tight for a small-business owner. One of the main benefits for the owner is the ability to execute his own ideas and eventually determine his own work schedule.

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