I didn’t expect Steve Martin during a pharmacy conference general session key note presentation. The famous comedian, musician, author, and actor wasn’t there in person, but Jeff Key, president of PioneerRx, relayed some excellent advice from Martin at the center of remarks he made to conference attendees.

Key noted that in Martin’s book, Born Standing Up, he describes an interview in which he was asked if he had any advice for aspiring performers. Martin’s response was that nobody ever takes note of his advice, because it’s not what they want to hear: He always tell people that they have to be so good that they can’t ignore you.

…So good that they can’t ignore you.

There are a couple of things about this advice that Key finds refreshing.

First, as he said on stage, he likes that it advises us to focus on our own excellence. This in turn allows us to stop thinking about what the world has to offer us and start thinking about what we have to offer the world.

Second, this is a mindset that Key sees as reminding us to keep our head down and focus on providing added value.

Key went on to pose an interesting question to the assembled independent pharmacist, owners, and staff. He asked: If you took your pharmacy and you put it at the corner with Walgreens and CVS and RiteAid, would it grow? Would you steal their customers? Would you be so good that they can’t ignore you?

Key then followed up by suggesting three things to get independent pharmacies moving down this path and answering yes to those questions. What follows is his advice in his words:

Jeff Key’s Advice

1. You need to get motivated.

“A positive attitude and enthusiasm for serving your customers will bring results.” 

2. You need to get educated.

“The role of business and especially pharmacy is a state of constant adaptation and change. Pharmacy’s almost unrecognizable compared to 10 or even five years ago. Without continuing education a pharmacy owner risks seeing his business insights and process become obsolete right before his eyes. What works today isn’t going to work tomorrow. One of the big misconceptions is that staying educated takes too much time. But it can take as little time as drinking a cup of coffee. Invest a few minutes time in researching online what’s going on in pharmacy. Sign up for publications. Follow other leaders in pharmacy. A small time investment can make a big difference.”

3. You need to get the best tools in your pharmacy.

“PioneerRx has been growing rapidly over the last few years. And this has created a need to continuously expand our facilities. One of the cool things is that we do our own construction. We have over 35 installers and, when they are in town, they build the walls that we work in. One of the things we sound in this process is that the difference between a great solution and a poor solution in construction is having the right tools. This is the same thing for you. If you don’t know the difference between great tools and the other tools, NCPA is a great chance to visit the exhibit hall and see the difference. I can tell you there’s a massive difference between a fill-and-bill pharmacy system and one that’s going to take you into the clinical future.”

“If you don’t have the best pharmacy system, you need to get it today,” said Key. “In the hands of a motivated and educated pharmacy staff, the best pharmacy system is the tool that can allow you to be, in the words of Steve Martin, so good that they can’t ignore you.”