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How to Manage a Pharmacy

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Pharmacy management requires a combination of skills including account management, staff management, marketing management, sales and stock and a heavy dose of customer service. Retail pharmacy managers are in charge of the entire retail space with the exception of the prescription department which falls under the purview of the pharmacist. Despite the dual stewardship of the pharmacy space, the manager is in charge of most every issue outside the dispensary.


Pharmacy managers are responsible for managing accounts ranging from supplier payments to third-party insurance and any peripherals that may come into play. All the proceeds taken in by the pharmacy must be tallied on a daily basis and compared with expenses so that the money coming in never falls short of the money going out. Since many of the accounts dealt with have different due dates, it is essential to remain in control of all finances at all times. Most pharmacies are paid primarily by third-party insurance companies for the prescription medication they dispense. Payments arrive on a monthly basis and muse be checked for accuracy and shortcomings against the prescription log for the month. If there are discrepancies, the manager must contact the insurance company at fault and claim the difference.


People management is a major part of any retail store manager position. Pharmacy staff range from part-time register and stock help to licensed pharmacists and pharmacy techs. Pharmacy managers are charged with the creation of a work schedule for all staff members. A licensed pharmacist must be present at all times or the store cannot legally open. This means the manager must ensure that a pharmacist is always on the schedule and on site, and that there is a fill-in on the ready in the case of illness or other absence. There are instances where a pharmacy department is equipped with separate roll-down gates that can be locked even while the rest of the store is open. In such cases, the store may operate even if there is no pharmacist on the premises.


Prescription drugs and other controlled items, such as sharps or insulin, must be ordered on a regular basis so that they are in stock when needed. Most drug supply companies have two deliveries per day so that even when the supply is low or completely out, replacements can be dispensed later in the day upon the receipt of a second delivery. Typically pharmaceutical supply companies also stock over the counter (OTC) items which play a huge role in the financial solvency of the store. In most cases, pharmacies make more from their OTC sales than from their drug dispensary. Hence the growing number and variety of products carried by large pharmacy chains around the country who earn more profit from the front counter than the back.


Pharmacy management comes with a list of peripheral duties that fall outside the medical and OTC realm. Many pharmacies sell items like state lottery tickets, beer and wine, or groceries. These items tend to have their own accounts to manage, their own storage issues (a store safe for lotto items, a refrigerated case for some groceries), and their own wholesalers to deal with. Lottery ticket retailers are obligated to pay winners up to a certain amount as dictated by the state government and this can lead to confusion in accounting. Groceries have expiration dates that must be constantly monitored so that old merchandise does not end up in the customer's kitchen.


While major chains tend to dictate promotional periods and guidelines from a central corporate office, independent pharmacy managers are often responsible for devising specials and other marketing campaigns on their own. Since the manager knows the wholesale cost of every item, what sells best and least, and how consumers shop the store, she is best suited to promotional management. Promotions may include special pricing, flyer creation, distribution and general advertisements for the store. Promotions must be maintained year-round and often require adjustment as seasons and consumer buying habits change. The expense of each campaign must be factored into the budget and accounted for in monthly profit and loss calculations.


Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

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