Raising awareness

Reena Barai uses Ask Your Pharmacist support material available from the NPA to raise awareness of her pharmacy and services.

Marketing her pharmacy to the local community feels important to Reena Barai but, somehow, she never gets around to it. So when the NPA’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week rolls around, she takes the opportunity to do as much as possible to promote her independent pharmacy, SG Barai, in Sutton.

This time, she delivered a presentation to Sutton Seniors’ Forum, a group of over-60s, about local pharmacy and the services on offer. Of particular interest to the group was the free medication available to them on the Local Enhanced Service for minor ailments.

‘The minor ailment scheme was a real eye opener for many of them because they are “old school” and, if they feel unwell, they go to the doctor,’ says Reena.

Staff also used the business-to-business resource to promote availability of flu jabs to local businesses. As a result, an extra 15 people came in for jabs and there was an increased uptake of the minor ailment scheme.

Reena says it is of particular value to promote the pharmacy to local businesses because of their close proximity. ‘They all have staff and our pharmacy is conveniently located for them. People who work there also tend to live locally and have families who can benefit from pharmacy support. Our profile has definitely been raised because of the flu jab service. People are so excited that they can get vaccinated at the pharmacy because it’s easy and convenient for them,’ she says.

As well as having a successful flu jab campaign for this year, Reena hopes her promotional work will have a knock-on effect for future years, encouraging locals to return for other services as winter takes hold.

When SG Barai pharmacy took part in Ask Your Pharmacist Week in 2012, the focus was on men’s health. They created flyers for the local pub and garage, suggesting that customers pop into the pharmacy for a health MOT.

The campaign worked and about 20 mini health checks were carried out in the one week, in which blood pressure, healthy living, and alcohol awareness were covered. Promoting independent pharmacy in the community is important, says Reena. She believes that many people are unaware of what a pharmacy does. ‘We’ve been around for 34 years, but it’s amazing how many people don’t realise that we are a pharmacy.

Even loyal customers have a limited understanding of our services, says Reena. ‘Some of my regulars will say that they didn’t know we provide certain services, even though they are listed in the window. ‘It is important to engage. Competition is out there for all of us and even one activity a year can raise your profile.’