Ritzman Pharmacy

160515 Ritzman Location27884

Ritzman Pharmacy intends to rebrand the pharmacy experience by sticking to its customer-driven roots.

By Bianca Herron

After 65 years in the industry, Ritzman Pharmacy is taking a page out of Starbucks’ book to rebrand the pharmacy experience, just like the fast-casual giant did with coffee. “We call it ‘customer centric’ because everything we do is seen through the eyes of the customer,” COO George Glatcz says. “We use the Starbucks analogy because they created a completely different experience by creating new language for their drink sizes and a whole new environment for what a cup of coffee should bring you.”

It’s all about the brand experience that customers have, Glatcz says, which is why the Wadsworth, Ohio-based company has changed its language by calling its pharmacies ‘practices’ as opposed to ‘stores’ because they practice healthcare. In addition, Ritzman has also consciously changed how its organization is structured.

“For example, our practices now have what we call a ‘concierge,’ that greets everyone when they come into the practices and identify what needs they have within the location,” Glatcz says. “So they’re recommending them to the pharmacist, as the person who helps them with their nutrition or wellness. Our pharmacists are specifically trained in those tasks and services that we are providing customers.”

Ritzman is also remodeling the look and feel of its locations. “When you walk into one of our pharmacies now, it doesn’t look like a pharmacy, but a wellness center,” Glatcz explains. “Customers cannot see where the pharmacist or technician are counting pills – that’s completely hidden from the customers. So the experience that the customer is having is more about the healthcare professional and less about the transaction of the prescription. So interaction is critically important.”

In addition, the company has implemented technology bars in its new and renovated practices. “In the old days, the pharmacy had a soda fountain where people would come and gather. We now believe the tech bar is where people can do the same thing,” Glatcz says. “Many people want to learn about technology and there is more than 22,000 health apps out there in the world. Who can better help navigate them for our consumer but the pharmacist?”

Repackaging the Pharmacy

As Ritzman Pharmacy embarks on its goal to rebrand the pharmacy experience, it is emphasizing four core values that it promises to deliver to help customers.

“First, we want the pharmacy to be a place for everyone to learn, particularly from our pharmacists,” Glatcz explains. “Secondly, we want our practices to be a place where customers can gather. That’s why we are holding events in our practices where customers can get information about their healthcare by a pharmacist, but at the same time create a craft.

“For example, most recently we had customers bring their old vitamin jars in and we repurposed them into flower vases by using chalk paint and other things,” he continues. “So they’re restoring something old, but getting something new at the same time.”

Ritzman’s third core value is to give customers service beyond a prescription. “We’re doing that through a program we call Ritzman Revives. It’s dedicated to helping customers understand how to increase their energy levels and what they should be doing from an exercise, nutrition and supplement level to better their health,” Glatcz says. “So it’s dedicated to bringing energy back to communities through product services we’re providing.”

“Finally, our fourth core value is individualized care. All of our employees in each of our practices know all of our customers’ names,” he continues. “It goes back to when the company was started in 1950 and the first Ritzman brother – there were four of them – had a pharmacy and knew everyone’s names when they walked through the door, whether they were a customer or not. People really responded to that, so our employees really make an effort to ensure we know the people who live in the communities we service.”

Keeping Tradition

Today, 65 years after Ritzman Pharmacy was founded, the company has 22 practices located throughout northeast Ohio. Tied into its customer-centric rebranding initiative is an overarching theme to pioneer vintage care, according to Glatcz.

“We’re going back to the Ritzman family roots, and the community-based way they ran the pharmacy and treated its customers 65 years ago,” Glatcz says proudly.  “Our belief is that we can reinvent that today because we have been innovative and a leader in several categories, including customer service.”

What set Ritzman Pharmacy apart from its competitors 65 years ago was the fact that its pharmacist and owners were very deeply engrained in the community and created great relationships, according to Glatcz. “When we look back on the stories told then, and today even, when we talk to grandchildren of customers, they converse about how well their family was treated by the Ritzman family 65 years ago,” Glatcz says. “So customer service and the pharmacist-community orientation is a huge differentiator for us.”

Those key factors evolved when the company started growing. “In 1999, we were one of the first pharmacies to start selling and marketing natural and organic supplements within a pharmacy,” Glatcz explains. “At that time it was a culture shock for many people because those who took natural and organic supplements had no interest in doing prescription medicine. Everyone at that time thought they were contrary to one another and we certainly believed the two to be complementary in nature. We were innovative about it, and as you can tell today we were right because natural and organic is a hot commodity.”

Acquiring Talent

With the huge emphasis on the customer experience in its rebranding campaign, customer service is key. That is why Ritzman ensures it is bringing in the right candidates for its culture through a process it calls benchmarking.

“We have worked with a consulting company to help us lay out what the key accountabilities are for our benchmarking positions, which include the concierge, pharmacists, technicians and customer service associates,” Glatcz says. “We also have a behavioral profile that’s generated as well so that when we interview people we can assess them against those profiles. This helps us determine whether they not only have the knowledge and skillset, but the behavioral and acumen to be customer centric.”

Once candidates make it through the company’s rigorous hiring process, Ritzman incentivizes them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. “I have been here for two years and my mantra is if people grow, our company grows. That is why each individual has a personal growth plan. Employees have to have continual opportunities to grow and be challenged in their job so that they will be able to deliver,” Glatcz says

In addition, Glatcz noted that the company is trying to empower those within its organization to take more ownership over what they do. “We want them to have a little more flexibility in how they make their decisions and what they do to drive and move our business forward,” he explains. “That is why we have given them a voice by creating five company teams, which input ideas to our management team about how the company should grow.”

These five teams are Retail Operations, Talent Optimization, Customer Centricity, Engagement Activation and Communication, and Tech Optimization. This last one focuses on how the company innovates its current technology and finds other technology that can generate its business growth forward.

“There are people in the practices, and out in the field as we call it, that have been asked to sit on these teams, which also have subgroups that work together,” Glatcz says. “Five years ago, 80 percent of our associates never came to the corporate office. Today, at least 40 percent are now being asked to come and present and be on teams at the corporate office. So we’re involving them much more in the planning, processes and systems as we go forward. Most importantly, I think our employees feel more included in where the company is going.”

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