Why do we interview a pharmacy?
Aren’t all pharmacies the same? They sell medicines, nutritional supplements, and remedies to alleviate the symptoms of a disease. But what if we actually managed to find a pharmacy in which patients are really helped sustainably through consultation and coordination?
A pharmacy whose goal is “healthy people”, even if they may be “bad customers”.
Doris Schmidt has founded such a pharmacy together with her husband and stands out from the usual image. After years of practice, they decided to buy a pharmacy and make a lot more out of it.
They get to the bottom of diseases and minor problems, are trained coaches and also organise workshops on current topics in therapy, prevention, and sports. Always with the goal to show people a way to a healthy lifestyle.
Why they do it, how they did it and what they want to do with it, you will learn in this Green Business Interview.
Have fun & excitement reading!
How and when did you come up with the idea to start your own business?
So, I’ve been working as a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years now. Just over 12 years ago, I had the plan to buy my own pharmacy to have the freedom to put my ideas into practice. I have long been offering alternative solutions with matching self-made products. The holistic ideas I represented were difficult to implement in an employee relationship. That’s why I decided, together with my husband, to buy our own pharmacy to advise and look after our patients medically and holistically according to our own model.
What was your motivation and vision back then?
As already mentioned, my motivation was on the one hand, to have the freedom to implement my ideas and not just sell drugs and to point out interactions. Rather, clients should get real advice based on a good medical history. Only by doing this is it possible to get to the root cause of the problem. This requires coordinated health services. We call the model “Primärberatungszentrum” so Primary Counselling Centre. It makes sense to first come to us and then to be looked after integratively by a team of therapists and doctors.
In addition, it is important to me to train and involve my employees in a sustainable way. Everyone should have a vision not just to make money, to get to work in the morning, and to go back in the afternoon. It must be within the training plan that the employees realise the lasting benefits they have when they work for us.
My vision has not changed since the beginning, but has only been strengthened. I see that self-dependent customers simply need more care, because it is difficult to orient themselves in the entire medical supply. In addition, several hospitals, doctors, and therapists work on one client, and nobody coordinates this work. This leads to duplications with interactions, contradictions, and other well-known errors. Here, people talk too little to each other, it simply lacks the overall coordination, for which there is no professional group in Austria. And the “all-round”-doctors are neither trained nor have the necessary capacities, resources, etc.
It’s not only my motivation, but the need for this has definitely become stronger.
Was there a challenge to overcome at the beginning?
Of course! Unfortunately, our customers were used to giving their prescription into the pharmacy, getting a few packages, and answering the question “Do you need a bag?” With yes or no and then leaving again. When someone asks, “Aha, you have a headache? How long do you have this already? Do you want to get rid of it? Should we find a solution?“, It was something new at the beginning and many did not know how to handle it. However, 20% gladly accepted the offer and in all cases we found a solution
To date, we have successfully taken care of over 4000 patients!
What does a typical day in your life look like today?
When I work in the pharmacy, I get up at 06:00 and drive to work at 07:30. Once I get there, I prepare everything that is necessary for the daily business. In day-to-day business, patients come to us with their problems, prescriptions, etc., and we supplement our supplies, both medicines and our own products, with our employees at least four times a day. In our customer calendar, you can sign up for a consultation in which we take their medical history and see what problems there are, how we can coordinate this and to what extent we can contribute to the solution ourselves or which doctors, therapists, etc. we should contact.
When I’m not in the pharmacy, I’m always on the go collecting herbs for our own products and workshops.
For dinner, we are always at home, and we cook fresh. If we go out to eat, then we go to restaurants that are healthy and sustainably run. Sometimes we even make tastings with them, for example, the new liqueurs of the year from wild herbs and organic products.
What are the key skills and qualities to succeed in your industry?
- Empathy! If you do not like people, you will not get much progress in my industry. If that’s the case, you’re better suited to doing research or working in the office.
- Listen, recognise problems and networked thinking! How can I best help a person, what can I do for him / her?
- Broad knowledge! So not only having a university degree, but a lifelong education. Simply because you are always experiencing new things, getting to know people, learning new skills, and new things that you can integrate.
- Stamina! It’s not all in one day, you also have setbacks and it always goes up and down. But if you continue, your vision will eventually be implemented. As in many developments applies here: First, one laughs, then boycotted and at some point, it is then completely normal …
What’s the secret behind your success?
(Laughs) Haha, that’s sitting next to me! My man!
So, it’s true that you can do a lot on your own as well, but if we were both not in that constellation, it would not be so positive.
You just have family support here. We can always talk to each other. Although we are always in each other’s company, whether we’re on vacation, doing leisure activities, or here in the pharmacy, but you can reflect, exchange ideas, and check a little bit whether an idea has a chance or not. If something doesn’t succeed, we can discuss how it could succeed or be better.
This team of two: on the one hand economics, psychology and law, and on the other hand me with my pharmacy expertise and knowledge of alternative therapies is certainly our guarantee of success!
How do you / how does your business make money?
On the one hand through product sales, which is relatively wide, so from medicines to the individual cosmetics and the production of our own products, food supplements etc …
On the other hand, through the fees for services as a primary advisory centre.
Is in your industry anything in need of improvement?
There are many problems, it is just a very broad political and economic field. We approach patients, clients, and customers directly so that we can immediately improve and help them. But I think it’s best to have better health coordination, in which the people should be in the focus. They should be promoted in their development to self-responsibility from toddler age to the end of life. Of course, in all areas of life but especially in the field of health, we see tremendous potential here.
If you could start again, would you do something different?
Buy a pharmacy whose location you can better develop and leverage synergies. At our present location we cannot move spatially. From what I do, I’m actually pretty much exactly where I always wanted to be.
Could you give any advice to others for their lives and careers?
That one remains true to oneself and can live with what one does.
Furthermore – as I always advised my children – you should know your vision and implement it. I once said to my son, “Try, and if you really fail, you will always have a bed and something to eat with us.”
It’s not the same as it used to be, because they always said to me, “Well just try it, but if it goes wrong, do not cry!”. I find this sentence very bad, because if people dare to do nothing, nothing can ever turn out for the better.
Perhaps one should encourage a mentoring system that creates courage, confidence, and competent guidance. I think it’s very important that you give the young person these things so that their generation, who actually has to fix everything that we’ve screwed up, also has the courage to hit the table and say, “It does not work that way anymore! We have to protect our environment, live responsibly and sustainably – and we are now implementing that!