How important is the role of a pharmacist in our life?
They are a vital source of information and advice and a trusted partner for your family. It’s probably a role many may take for granted, but our pharmacists need to be on top of technology and maintain a strong knowledge to effectively serve our community.
Being Men in Business month, we thought we would get inside the mind of one of our local men in health, pharmacist Gavin Hodges of Priceline Pharmacy Forster. Gavin and his team are located within Stockland Shopping Centre and are a crucial part of our local community. Gavin is going to tell us about his story in business and life and what it is that makes the team at Priceline Pharmacy Forster tick.
Gavin, you’ve been working your way up and down the coast and dropped anchor in beautiful Forster. Tell us about the journey?
I grew up on the Gold Coast and went to university in Brisbane but worked in a pharmacy as an assistant from age 16. Having started on the floor, it gave me a great sense of the needs of pharmacy customers and the role we play in the community. After graduating, I went to the U.K. on a two year visa and worked as a locum in some of the bigger hospitals and specialist departments like St John’s Dermatology and the chest clinic at Royal Brompton.
I met Narelle – my now wife – there and on return to Australia, we moved to Sydney, where I worked for Webstercare, running their nursing home department. An opportunity to become a pharmacy managing partner arose at Ballina, which we jumped at and ran for five years. It was a great experience in a great town, and we learnt some valuable lessons. I came to work for Bob Crane in Forster over Christmas and got talking, as he was looking to retire. We struck a deal, and I bought Priceline Pharmacy from Bob in July 2011. Now here we are!
In that five-year period you have implemented some major changes. Tell us more about some of the philosophy behind this.
Convenience is the factor we have focused on, whether it be extending our trading hours, now 8am to 6:30pm, or making the pharmacy easier to navigate with wider aisles and space them out more. During the shop fit, we installed a Willach stockhandling robot, which helped significantly reduce our script times and enabled us to spread the roster out, facilitating extending trading hours.
They seem like practical things that obviously make the process easier. What about some of the community initiatives you run? Tell us about the Priceline Sisterhood Foundation.
With many health concerns affecting Australian women today, we sisters (and brothers) have to stick together! It all started in 2010, when we conducted Australia’s Biggest Health Check, a ground breaking survey in which over 25,000 Australian women told us what concerned them most about their health. We decided it was high time that someone started giving back to protect the women we love! Our commitment is to supporting four charity partners to help the women who are affected by serious illness. These charities are Look Good Feel Better, PANDA, Children First and Alzheimer’s Australia. We donate 100% of the proceeds raised via the Priceline Sisterhood directly to our nominated charities. Since its inception, we have raised more than two million dollars through the Priceline Sisterhood!
Wow! What a contribution. It’s a great team you have as well. In fact, quite a big team! How do you go with communication and training of such a diverse group?
We work hard on getting the right knowledgeable staff in the right places at the right times to empower patients about their health, wellness and beauty. We have a blend of youth and wisdom and have trained hairdressers, a beauty therapist, a naturopath and great pharmacists who are passionate about health. Regular staff meetings always have a training component and often guest speakers. Investment in training and staff development is critical.
What is new that Priceline Pharmacy Forster is doing, and are you big on technology?
We have two great initiatives at Priceline Pharmacy Forster. Firstly is our Health Tracker.
The Health Tracker is a free in store health station! This amazing device checks your blood pressure, heart rate, height, weight, BMI and body fat percentage. All of this is then conveniently emailed to you to track your health. It just takes four minutes to complete, and you can log in to keep an updated diary of your results.
Our other customer care programme is our Sisterclub Health Plus. This programme looks after our customers, especially those who might be time poor, by sending free SMS reminders when your scripts are due, having your scripts ready when you arrive at pharmacy, letting you know when you need to get new prescriptions and also medication reviews by our pharmacist.
You are big community supporters. How important to you is giving back to your local area?
Our customers are the most important thing to us. Every decision we make always comes back to them. Our philosophy is to give back to the community that supports us. Our business contributes to the success of the local community by helping its members through sponsorships and donations where ever we can. We get letters every week asking for community support, and we do our best to contribute to all of them. This way our customers know that by shopping at Priceline you are also contributing to our local community.
For you, what is the best part about being in business in the Manning-Great Lakes?
Seeing the difference you can make in people’s lives. A lot of people come to the Great Lakes/Manning to retire, and we help with their health and wellbeing so they can enjoy our beautiful area. Being a part of this and seeing the locals enjoying the area is very satisfying.