Column: The importance of staff training

How many times have we walked into a store – any store not just a pharmacy – and a well presented sales assistant has given advice on a product they know nothing about? Sure, it’s easy to talk about products, but to actually know and understand what these products do and how these products work requires a little more than just reading the back of the box.

Emilie-smallHaving been in pharmacy for over 10 years, I can honestly say I still have a lot to learn. With products forever changing, new ones coming on the market and old faithfuls being discontinued, staff training and product knowledge has never had a more important role in the day-to-day running of a successful pharmacy. With so many products being readily available in supermarkets and convenience stores, and the ongoing threat of these retail giants taking on scheduled lines too, well-trained staff with exceptional product knowledge must be our point of difference.

A pharmacy can be a very busy place; there’s always something happening, customers to be served, orders to be placed, stock to be put out, date checks, cleaning, the list goes on and with never enough hours in the day.

So where, when and how do we find the time to train our staff? In the last month I have found myself in a new role at a new pharmacy. After recently completing QCPP accreditation one remedial in particular, further emphasised the importance of staff training. It certainly got me thinking about the best and most efficient way to approach staff training.

Sure product knowledge does come with experience, but we all have to start somewhere. We need to guide our juniors and inexperienced staff, show them the way by giving them opportunities to listen and learn from our more experienced staff. We need to talk with them, find out their strengths and weaknesses so their knowledge can grow as well as their confidence, and always remember to give them encouragement and praise. We need to utilise our pharmacists who are a wealth of knowledge and take advantage of reps when they enter our stores. Then we have technology, with so many options for training at the click of our fingers, we really have no excuses.

So, never underestimate the importance of spending time with your staff – talking to them, training them – as the results speak for themselves. From higher profit margins (companion selling) and maximising customer satisfaction, to the most important reason of all – your customer. Finding the right advice for their every need and in turn creating a loyal, happy customer.

Emilie Hodgins,
Victorian Pharmacy Assistant of the Year 2015