SBJ: What have been the keys to your recent growth?
Don Savley: We’ve been blessed. We’ve also been pretty diligent at redefining our company. We’ve done a good job at hiring the right people. We have invested a lot in our company in automation and rethinking our business. It’s paying off now.
SBJ: You’ve bucked the industry trend of small, independent pharmacies closing or merging with larger companies. How have you done it?
Don Savley: Community pharmacy has a ton of challenges because of payer networks and how they control it – they’re trying to put independents out. We developed a specialty pharmacy back in late 2015. Specialty pharmacy is high-end drug sales. That (was) the largest segment of growth predicted at that time for the next 10, 15 years. Also, we paid attention to the aging population and in 2017, we began, from scratch, a long-term care pharmacy. That put us in community, specialty and long-term care. We jumped forward and bought robotics and specialized packaging, and we invested a lot in the electronic medical record system. We launched investments upfront to be able to have the capabilities second to none. We took that risk, but those are where the tremendous growth is.
Melody Savley: In Springfield, Missouri, city limits, seven of the 14 independent pharmacies closed in the last year and a half. Change is very difficult, and a lot of these pharmacies didn’t change. We had to get a whole new software system, which is top of the line, but it’s a learning curve. We have to be very careful because the way we’re getting paid is also our competition. The (companies) that are paying us for these prescriptions, over 80%, are also their own pharmacies. Several years ago, we saw a huge need for addiction help in this town and our retail pharmacy stepped up to the plate. We called on the Greene County Drug Court, Christian County Drug Court, we worked with the Christian County Sheriff’s Office to get them a pre-injection of Vivitrol before the inmate left the facility. It’s a community service. Sometimes it’s just stepping out from behind the counter of the pharmacy and developing relationships of how can we be of assistance. We were the first of the pack to develop synchronization. What we do is we try to get their medications due at the same time every month so that they’re not having to come to the pharmacy all the time. We call almost 1,500 patients every month. Especially those elderly people that don’t have family in the area, it’s just been a godsend for them. Then we’re packaging it for them in daily supplies if they want.
SBJ: What are the issues you’ve faced as you grow?
Don Savley: Capital and personnel. As we target our long-term plan, creating leaders is right at the forefront of that and developing our compensation and 401(k) that keep people that feel they are part of an organization that they not only work for today, but they can retire from.
SBJ: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don Savley: When you’re acquiring a business or looking at a new business model, my older brother told me, “Believe what you see, don’t see what you believe.”
The Forward SGF comprehensive plan was born from the input of residents, and one message that came through loud and clear was their desire for connection.