Swan Serv-U Pharmacy (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin)

12 - Swan Serv-U Pharmacy - AF

Dedicated To Focusing On Patients and the Community for Over 40 Years

For more than 40 years, Swan Serv-U’s dedicated staff of Pharmacists, technicians and clerks has served their community, striving to meet their unique health care needs and exceed their expectations. They take great pride in offering the highest level of customer service, and have recently built a compounding lab.  Their pharmacists will always have time to answer your questions, address your concerns and get to know you. They are honored that their customers have placed with them something so important and personal, their trust.  

IPC:

Could you tell me a little bit about the history of your pharmacy and your involvement with the store?

Randy:

“The store was purchased from Hayward pharmacy, moved to its current location in 1972 as a Serv-U Pharmacy, and renamed Swan because of the streets that we’re on. It’s on Swan Blvd. at the intersection of North Ave and Swan Blvd. There were quite a few Serv-U pharmacies at one point, and now we are down to three, primarily due to attrition. People want to retire so they would sell-out to Walgreens or whoever would want to buy. This particular store essentially kept the same look since 1972, so I always referred to it like the streets of Old Milwaukee, walking back in time. Then the owner who had it since 1972 sold it to Tim Walsh about 12 years ago and it stayed as a Serv-U Pharmacy. Tim had been working with Serv-U basically his entire career, and then about five years ago he approached me to buy in as a partner. So it was now Tim and I. I had been with Serv-U in different capacities for most of my professional career, not all of it but a good chunk of it. Then a month ago Tim got on his horse and road off into the sunset and retired, so now it’s just me. About two and a half years ago we completely changed the business model of the store. Part of that included a complete renovation of the inside of the store. We expanded the prescription area quite a bit, probably about four and a half times the size of what it used to be. We pushed the counter way out, and we added a compounding lab.

We are very fortunate because the USP 800 rules were finalizing when we were working with an architect who specializes in that. We were able to build the lab proactively so we were very lucky on the timing of it. Now we have a compounding lab and just a few other things we do: cognitive services, home blister packing for people, and we make some products doctors want like essential oil products and different things for diabetes. We’ll get a prescription for that and we are able to use not only pharmaceuticals but also things like essential oils and different supplemental items. We have changed the business model of just filling prescriptions and have gone into different areas. As anybody knows in the business if you’re an independent pharmacy and all you do is sit back and fill prescriptions you might as well close your doors.”

IPC:

What is the most rewarding aspect of working in the independent pharmacy industry?

Randy:

“You get to guide the direction of the pharmacy based on what your vision is. For me the vision is really serving the community directly around you. We are not a mail order pharmacy, and we’re not someone that reaches further than a certain radius around us for the most part. So the people that have been coming here have been coming here for decades so they are used to being treated a certain way, and we show them compassion and take time to help them with insurance needs or prior authorizations.

For me the most rewarding thing is to carry on the tradition that the other two owners have fostered. That tradition is to really connect to the individual people that come into the pharmacy. It’s that connection that I really enjoy. We really get to know our customers and where their kids go to school and what they are up to, etc. It’s a lot of fun.”

IPC:

Why did you choose to be an independent pharmacist?

Randy:

“For me I had an opportunity to go to one of the chains and I turned it down. Then they offered me a different position, and I turned that one down as well because how they described the position it was rather impersonal. When they revamped the offer it was really to do a lot of cognitive services for them, and as an example, you would be staring at a screen as the techs are filling prescriptions and you would be doing a comprehensive medication review for a customer and having to watch both and not really giving the customer the full amount of your time. Then oftentimes you’d have to have the customer wait for 10 or 15 minutes and then come back and finish the review depending on how busy you were. I would just go around to different stores and do that, and it’s impersonal. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying for me it wasn’t the right fit. Tim and I had actually worked together years ago at a Serv-U Pharmacy for a couple years and I’ve known Tim forever. So it was a good fit for me in terms of having the partner that he would be because I knew who he was, and it was also a good fit for me for the kind of pharmacy that I wanted to practice. That kind of pharmacy is a more individualized approach to each person then just trying to churn out as many prescriptions as you possibly can.”

IPC:

What types of things is your pharmacy involved in within your community? What type of community are you in?

Randy:

“We are in a large community, Wauwatosa, WI which is right next to Milwaukee. The description of the area is primarily residential. We are a member of the Midtown Tosa Business District. Different areas of Wauwatosa create these districts to increase pedestrian traffic. We have restaurants, shops, etc. This particular district, Midtown, focuses heavily on healthcare. We are fairly close to Froedtert’s medical complex. I was on the committee to help develop a mission statement for Midtown Tosa Business District. Part of our mission was to promote the health and well-being of the community around us because there are pediatricians, physicians, dentists, massage therapists and physical therapists, all within a 25 to 30 block distance down North Avenue. We anchor one end of the district and the area is designed to really focus on health and well-being.”

IPC:

Can you tell me something unique about your store?

Randy:

“I think a lot of independents are trying to do what we’re doing which is looking at other areas and ways to generate business and revenue. The compounding portion of our business has been the fastest growing. We do try and keep current and adapt with the trends or what fits people’s interests. For example, we have opened up an essential oil bar. Instead of having to buy three or four different bottles if you wanted a particular blend or if you wanted to use one of our blends we have a recipe book available you can create that blend. You pay a fraction of the cost since you are not buying all of the individual bottles.

I also hired a social media marketing person, and we are developing a plan right now. These are ways to keep your pharmacy relevant, and that also includes our renovation and getting into different areas on the pharmaceutical side like cognitive services. We don’t want to become a dinosaur. That’s probably one of biggest elements that hurts independent pharmacies is that if you always try and do the same thing, and if you want to stay open and fulfill what you think your vision is you have to offer other things. One of those ways is reaching out to people, and that is through social media and having products that appeal to someone that might not necessarily come into your pharmacy. If they know about those products they’ll come in and you can build a relationship from there.”