The worst and best of times
Finally, who would have thought the day would arrive! I have now officially managed to take over the pharmacy that I've been trying to buy for more than a year! However the first day was far from fun and to be honest I'm only now starting to get things to settle a little.
On the first day - try to picture what it's usually like the first day back after a bank holiday weekend, then remember it was a double-bank holiday weekend.
With people coming in to put in urgent repeats, put in and collect prescriptions etc, I had no PMR as an engineer was installing new PMR software; ePos guys were changing the software on the till, so no till transactions; three different wholesaler representatives arriving in the morning discussing packages and account information and trying to set up ordering on a PMR which was still being installed.
Stock counters were patrolling the shelves, previous vendors de-branding the pharmacy and taking away their credit card terminals etc, the alarm company sorting out transfer, my bank's credit-card terminal guys installing new lines, somebody trying to sort out a new fascia as well as being a staff member down – I felt like I was in a sitcom with a hundred people trying to speak to you at once without knowing where to begin.
I had booked a locum to come in till 1pm having NO clue that this would continue all day and create a huge back-log. Lesson learned. I won't bore you with details but you get the idea of how the most exciting day of my career was also the worst.
I was left without broadband for the first week, as I could only apply for a new provider once I took over and the current one was cancelled. So I had my PMR linked with a modem for dial-up ordering but it didn't seem to like sending any orders more than four lines, which meant I had to print and fax all the orders. Since this would obviously be near the end of the day, orders would not be processed and received until on some occasions up to 2 days time, as the wholesalers would have to manually input the lines.
This caused upset with patients who were used to coming in and regularly having their owings ready the same/next day. It may not have looked good given their medicine would now have a new pharmacy name/label stuck on on the day they received this trouble.
My main concern is still being careful with cash flow, as the PPA told me that I won't get a penny for 2 months after take over, and I'll get 80 per cent of my May's payment (based on a national average item value, not true calculation) on July 1st.
That's why I need to join a buying group ASAP, as the last thing I had time for was comparing and selecting certain generics based on price, especially with no broadband connection. I had no idea how much generics can vary in price, causing a huge variation in margin. The Drug Tariff has now become a bedtime read!
I have also made the decision to still work at Harrods one day a week, so as to have a break from normal routine but more importantly to ensure my pharmacy does not need me there 100 per cent to run correctly.
If I didn't do it from now I don't think I'd start later and any 'holidays' I take in the future, I don't think I'd ever actually relax unknowing how it's running. Luckily, my regular locum Ronak Patel, who definitely deserves a thank you, is willing to accept late payment for his work in May to aid cash flow.
It's been a hectic three weeks and with PCT letters informing me (both between now and take over) of a new 100-hour pharmacy contract opening and a pharmacy moving into one of the local surgeries, I had better pull my socks up as I have a lot of work ahead.
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