The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

One business..3 models. Which one works best? And how to relate to Pharmacy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:02 pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012

When you own your own business, you choose how to run it. Run it well and you can make a lot of money, run it poorly and its likely that you won’t be around for long.  There are 3 television shows on currently that showcase a single type of business: the pawn shop.   They demonstrate 3 drastically different examples of business models serving one industry. The first is Hard Core Pawn, the second is Pawn Stars, and the third is Cajun Pawn Stars.  By all appearances they are all successful considering they get their own TV show, but lets decide who runs theirs best.

The first is called Hard Core Pawn.  Set in Detroit MI, the pawn shop is quite large and by all appearances the clientele are poor, angry and desperate. Its a family owned business, lead by a steely eyed father who takes absolutely  no crap. He has  a couple of kids who do battle with each other nearly every episode.  Aside from that, its most interesting to watch their approach towards their customers.  they treat most ( if not all) of them with disdain, and most interactions are adversarial at best, nearly violent at worst.  Shouting matches are common between the family members, and more common between the employees and their customers. Most interactions end badly and the customers leave mad.  Most of the stuff brought in is junk at best in my opinion. After about 5 episodes, I quit watching it because the shouting and the angry interactions caused me anxiety.

The second is called Pawn Stars. Set in Las Vegas NV, its also family owned:  the Old Man, his son Rick and his grandson Corey and Corey’s friend Chumlee. The interactions with each other and their customers are much different than from Hard Core Pawn.  Whereas “angry” is the theme above, ” mocking” comes to mind in Pawn Stars.   The 3 generations ridicule and mock eachother on a daily basis. They treat their customers better than  Hard Core, but I observe that they sometimes carefully and sometimes not so carefully mock their customers and the stuff they bring in.    There is a lot of hand shaking, but not all the customers leave feeling good about their interactions at the store, and I get the feeling that the boys feel they are just a little better/smarter/savvier/ than their customers.

The third ( and last) is called Cajun Pawn Stars. Set in Louisiana, its also family owned: Run by Big Daddy Jimmie DeRamus and his family, its the polar opposite of Hard Core Pawn.  Everybody is treated with polite respect, even Joker, who is the local picker who brings in mostly junk and tries to convince Big Daddy that it is a treasure.  He is stern with his haggling and will never pay more than he really wants to, but if you look at is method, its always respectful and polite and genteel.  Even if he doesn’t buy the item the someone is attempting to sell, the interaction ends well.  He is fair and just and will often reveal that an item is worth MORE than what the person thinks it is…and pays accordingly.

One Business:  3 drastically different business models.  Without hesitation, I would choose to do my business with Big Daddy over the others. Does he give the customers exactly what they want?  NO.  Is he a pushover?  Certainly not.  He as mastered CUSTOMER RELATIONS.  ( heavy on the “relations”)    There IS a relationship involved when we do business with eachother.  The key to success isn’t in getting your own way…its really in building that relationship so that both sides are willing to work in a direction that we both get what we want and need out of a transaction.

We can learn a lot from these 3 business models.  Ive seen too many Hard Core Pharmacists who seem to believe that the only relationship they can have with a customer is an adversarial one.  And while shouting matches rarely break out in a pharmacy, the slow burn flashes occasionally into a fire.  These pharmacists never really like any of their customers and about the only thing they like about their job is the paycheck.

Others are like our Las Vegas family. Slim on relationships, they put up with their customers a little better than Hard Core, but the theme is still ” whats in it for me?”

We should strive to be more like our cajun counterpart.  Heavy on relationships, but running a tight business none the less. I am not above learning something from watching that show.  Big Daddy Jimmie DeRamus is a master in customer relations.  You may bring in a treasure that is merely sentimental junk, but he isn’t going to make you feel bad about it.  I am sure he learned his art after many years in the business.

I feel I have learned much over the years in how to relate to customers.  I have learned how to talk with people, not AT them.  I have learned to  listen…to care…and tho I am far from perfect, I think I have a pretty good understanding of how customers think and should be treated. I have learned WHAT to say to diffuse situations, and what NOT to say to make matters worse.  I have learned when its good to speak directly, and when its time to say nothing. I have learned how to word statements so that they make sense to customers unfamiliar with the workings of a pharmacy.

Its a talent that my new pharmacist is learning.  Its a talent one of my techs will never learn.

I encourage you to watch an episode of each one.  Decide for yourself and see which one would serve you best in your pharmacy. I know which one I need!




Comment by Pharmacy Jim

October 7, 2012 @ 1:53 am

Good analogy. Although I have not watched Cajun Pawn Stars, I just set the DVR to record. As I mature (a nice way to say older than dirt), I hope I have learned that balance. There are times to say you are sorry if you did not give the patient/customer the proper service, and there are times to say no in a firm way without being rude. Thanks for the post, PC.

Comment by TexasPharmacyChica

October 7, 2012 @ 8:13 am

I’ll check ’em out. Being in the South, most people here would not be surprised at learn northerners are rude. That seems to be the general profiling of anyone from states that do not border the gulf.

Gotta go. Got an armadillo digging up my roses.

Comment by Pharmaciststeve

October 7, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

when the phrase “the customer is always right” was coined at a point in time when civility was an entirely different animal.

the typical customer at a pawn shop is either desperate for some money or hopeful that they have found “a treasure”…

Some people don’t understand that something worth $300 is not going to get $300 for it…more like maybe $200.

I think that we RPH’s have done a very poor job overall in training/educating pts in how a little effort on their part… will allow us to provide them much better service.

We have allowed pts to determine what we are capable of doing.. especially in “when will it be ready”

Where I temp in LTC…we use one of the major chains as a backup… often we use different stores within the chain…

when I fax orders to them… I call to confirm the order was received and always ask ” how far behind are you…”

I can get a variety of answers.. from believing that I want it NOW… to others who understand.. I just need a time to relay to the delivery staff as to when it will be ready… to pick the order up.

Some one on one counseling… to educated people that calling in for 10 refills and expecting them in 15 -30 won’t happen most days.

If your Rx is for a larger quantity… I need 72 hrs notice.. it is a 90 days supply.. don’t wait until you take the last dose to call in your refills.

There are going to be some… who can’t be educated… but if you could move 50% over to the “educated column” .. how much easier would your practice be most days..??

Comment by Crazy RxMan

October 9, 2012 @ 1:41 am

I enjoy these observations and for the most part I try to be a caring, informed, respectful, and patient pharmacist. The problem I have is that when the phone is ringing, the tech is gone, lines are forming at the IN and OUT windows and people get completely unreasonable, it’s soooooo hard to keep your cool.sadly , that MOST of the time!

Comment by reformed pill slinger

October 9, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

I have not watched enough of Cajun to really comment and have never seen hard core pawn. But to take this thread on a tangent. Rick on pawn stars seems to really enjoy educating people on their items and the people are eager to learn even when they disagree with him on the price. I have never seen a pharmacist that truly looked like they enjoyed counseling the patient and this vibe spills over to the patient so they don’t enjoy and don’t perceive it as having value. Now there are some bad pharmacists out there, but most are competent and have the skills to educate their patients, so why the fail? I think it is because the pharmacist realizes there are another 40 scripts waiting to be filled, someone at the drive thru window is asking for him /her, all the phone lines are growing crazy and oh the van from the local ALF showed up with 8 people wanting flu shots just pulled up. . The fix I don’t know. But somehow when comes to counseling patients the pharmacist needs to be like Rick.You answered your own question my friend, I am quite sure that Rick doesn’t have 45 other tasks on hand all waiting to be handled at THAT VERY MINUTE. And what we see on TV is the best of the submissions. When the measure of our success is determined by the QUALITY of our work in stead of the QUANTITY, perhaps detailed counselling in stead of bullet-points will be norm.

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