It’s the season of red roses, romance, and celebrating those who mean the most.

For you, February 14 may mean a night out with your spouse, a sweet treat for your kids, or showing a little extra love to your patients. February 14 may be a day of grand gestures, or it may be a season of simple acts of kindness. No matter how you celebrate the day, Valentine’s Day is the prime time to recognize all of your relationships.

When you take stock of the most important relationships in your life, you probably make a list pretty quickly. On this list, you include your family, your friends, and all of the familiar faces at your independent pharmacy. These are the people who support you, encourage you, and help you develop both personally and professionally.

But when you think about all of your important relationships, do you consider your business relationships, too?

It Takes a Village: Business and Pharmacy

By now, you know that pharmacy isn’t a game to go at alone. From finding study partners at school to partnering with investors to participating in pharmacy organizations, you know that you need other people to succeed. You need input, you need advice, and most importantly, you need people you can count on.

Networking is important for all pharmacists, but it’s essential for pharmacy owners. Owners need industry knowledge, strong business skills, and above all else, the ability to create relationships that can keep your doors open for years to come.

Odds are, you already have a handle on your business relationships. You probably keep in contact with partners, call up investors, and consult financial advisors to stay afloat. It’s not enough to get by, though. If you want to make more out of your interactions and maximize your business, start with the people that help make it possible.

In between your candy hearts and holiday fun, this Valentine’s Day, take the time to invest in your business relationships.

Get started by getting some advice from a seasoned pro.

How Jeff Harrell Handles 26 Pharmacies

It’s simple: he runs on caffeine and connections.

An entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for community care, Jeff Harrell is a Pharmacy Owner and Partner based out of Long Beach, WA. Jeff owns or co-owns 26 pharmacies all across the Pacific Northwest, with locations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

And if that didn’t keep him busy enough, he’s even ventured into other industries, like bakeries and, most recently, a local arcade.

With decades of experience and hundreds of pharmacies helped, Jeff is the expert in the business of pharmacy. In fact, he’s known all around as “The Pharmacy Matchmaker.” His secret to business success, though, is simple.

It all starts with relationships.

Back in December, Jeff joined us on the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast to discuss all things ownership, investing, and of course, relationships. This Valentine’s Day, though, his words ring more true than ever.

Jeff could credit his success to many things: being business-minded, consumer-savvy, or willing to take risks — but he doesn't. To Jeff, none of his business skills matter if he doesn’t have a relationship with the people he partners with.

As he explains, “Relationship is so important in this industry.”

Relationships are the backbone for every transaction, every contract, every partnership, and every pharmacy. And the opportunity to create relationships is abounding. As Jeff puts it, “The pharmacy world is a very small world — a lot of paths cross.”

When Opportunity Comes Knocking

With each crossing of paths comes a new opportunity to share new input, exchange new knowledge, and even jump in on a new business. When opportunity comes knocking, Jeff knows to answer.

Sometimes opportunities happen fast. Sometimes they take time. Sometimes they happen over coffee, at conventions, or in this case, on a podcast.

Back in December 2020 — a year before the most recent episode aired — Jeff joined the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast for the first time. In this episode, he shared how to stop losing money and start seeing a higher return on investment:

At the end of the episode, Jeff gave his email address to listeners who were looking to learn more. A pharmacist named Matt tuned in and, after listening, decided to reach out to Jeff to ask about a potential partnership.

Jeff explains, “Matt reached out to me. We’d never met before, but I listened. I always listen. I never say no.

After talking with Matt and learning more about his pharmacy, Jeff had a hunch that the two might make a good pair. Before moving forward, though, he knew he had to clear an important hurdle: building a relationship. To do this, Jeff met up with Matt and his family to get to know them, their personalities, and their vision for the pharmacy.

Over the dinner table, Jeff knew that this happenstance connection could make a powerful partnership.

As Jeff says, “Matt fit right in. He brought a skill set that [my group] didn’t have. We did the dance and closed the deal. Matt reached out later and told me that this was a dream come true.”

As Jeff explains, this partnership couldn’t have happened without his willingness to put himself out there and Matt’s willingness to respond. More importantly, though, it couldn’t have happened without both parties’ desire to take a connection and make something great for everyone involved.

That’s the power of relationships: not only of opening up businesses and boosting profits, but of making dreams come true.

Some Sage Advice from the Pharmacy Matchmaker

If you’re looking to make more out of your business relationships, Jeff has some advice. As he says, “Other people are out looking [for partners], too.” So don’t be afraid to start a conversation and make a connection — even if it doesn’t benefit your right away.

How can you get the conversation started?

  • Join local, state, and national organizations
  • Attend events, like PioneerRx’s annual user conference, Connect
  • Use social media to network
  • Stay active in your community
  • Stay in touch with colleagues
  • Reach out to Jeff at Jeff@PenPharmRx.com

And if you’re looking to expand your business and open a new pharmacy, Jeff has some advice for you, too. Rather than looking to lenders to fund your new venture, Jeff recommends talking to pharmacists who are looking to retire and sell their stores.

As Jeff says, “I like to go out and have a conversation with the seller: ‘Hey, let’s go have dinner and let’s talk. Let’s see what comfort level we can build.’ It goes back to relationships and trust… You can build trust and then [the seller] can carry the note.”

For more tips on opening and owning a pharmacy, tune in to this clip from Jeff:

With the Right People Beside You

This February 14, as you make time to invest in the relationships most important to you, don’t forget about those that back your business.

If you’re looking to go further this year, look around you. You need technology, innovation, and industry expertise to do it, but more importantly, you need other people. You don’t need 26 pharmacies to see success — but with the right people beside you, you can see success this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

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