Design District is a boutique company offering design, project management and shop fitting services throughout Western Australia with a special focus on pharmacy. Today we are lucky enough to have their Director Shane Moyle share a blog about what one must consider before starting a pharmacy refit. He shares some valuable insight from when to start your refit to future planning for your pharmacy.
1. Approval Process
Many Pharmacy owners will underestimate not only the process, but the time it takes for submission and approvals for their fit out.
Governing bodies such as the Australia Community Pharmacy Authority and Pharmacy Registration Board of Western Australia will require you to go through the application and approval process for change of premises or alterations to your store. Applications need to be submitted in advance of the scheduled meeting dates (which can be found on their relevant websites). Missing a meeting can result in delays to your project of 4-8 weeks.
Building Permits to commence works on your site also take time. Plans need to be certified by an independent consultant, before being lodged to the local council for a Building Permit. Design District can help to guide you through this process as part of our service, reducing unwanted stress and time delays. With our extensive experience in Pharmacy shop fitting, we can help to streamline the process by ensuring that your design meets Building Code of Australia Standards and Pharmacy board requirements.
On completion of your new fit-out the PRBWA requires completion documentation including photographs, photograph location plan and half a dozen PRBWA forms. I have been on many sites the night before opening taking completion photos to have submitted to the board prior to opening the next morning. It’s all part of the service.
2. When is the best time for your fit-out?
As fabulous as it will feel to step into your newly re-fitted pharmacy, you will want to do it knowing that you have caused the least amount of impact to your customers, staff and your business.
We have identified that the lead up to Christmas is usually not ideal for adding wet paint and ladders into the mix. Traditionally January – February are slower months and can be an ideal time for your upgrade to occur. Taking the ever-increasing retail calendar of special occasions and scheduled Pharmacy Board meetings into consideration gives you the best opportunity to have a smooth transition into your new store with minimal disruptions to you, your staff and customers.
3. Selecting the right shop fitter for you
This process can be over-complicated if you let it be. Below is a check list of considerations when selecting a shop fitter for your next project:
· Does the company have experience in Pharmacy fit-outs? This is so important; you don’t want to be your shopfitters first Pharmacy fit out. This is a specialised field and without the right knowledge too many things can go wrong.
· Do they offer the particular service you require for your particular project? This could be consultation, design, manufacture, construction, installation, project management or compliance.
· Spend a day visiting previous fit outs completed by your potential shopfitter. This will allow you to see and touch the quality of the workmanship. It will also allow you to engage the pharmacy owner and get a good first hand insight of how the shopfitter performed throughout the entire process. This can be invaluable and help make your final decision with confidence.
· Is your shopfitter a registered building contractor? Are they fully insured? Are their sub-contractors all suitably qualified to perform their particular scope of works? All of these answers need to be a resounding yes, otherwise you are exposing yourself to potential risk.
· You need to like your shopfitter! You are about to go through a highly stressful period & you need a contractor that will take that burden for you and do it with a smile. At Design District we pride ourselves in most cases being able to call our clients friends by the end of a project. This is such an underrated aspect in a lot of businesses today.
· Transparency: Design District implements an open book policy on all projects. This simply put allows the client access to all quotes in their original form, free of alterations or mark ups. This give the client access to read in detail what each item or service will cost and what that cost includes. This takes away any conflict or confusion throughout the process facilitating a simplified finalisation of the project.
4. Looking to the future
Everyone wants their investment in a new fit-out to reap the rewards for many years to come. Therefore, some forward planning can help to ensure that you don’t out-grow your new pharmacy prematurely.
Technologies: With the increased use of Robotic Dispensers, this may be something you would like to consider bringing into your own pharmacy. Although they may not be in everyone’s budget, we are finding it more common to design dispensaries with the ability for a robot to be added in the future. Allowing enough space and clearances within the initial design is a simple step within the design phase which can result in substantial savings in alterations down the track.
With the boom of cloud-based information and access to mobile devices and tablets, pharmacies are able to adapt the way they service customers. Instead of needing to have someone stand at a counter while your staff look up relevant information, that service can be brought to them in the form of an iPad or tablet. This can help reduce congestion at counter during busy times and streamline the time spent waiting for service.
Location and demographic: Growth within your local community or the demographic of your clientele are something to consider so you can ensure that you’re meeting the needs of your customers. For example, Design District has recently designed a fun kids activity area with a viewing window from the consult room within a pharmacy who holds a strong value of ‘community’ and ‘acceptance’. Welcoming local families into the store not only shows that they care about their customers but encourages them to stay longer and benefit from their many services whilst the kids are entertained.
5. Know the services that you want to offer
Having a clear vision of the services you would like to offer within your pharmacy in the initial stages of your design can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. There are many pharmacies who are branching out to provide additional professional services such as Naturopathy, Weight Management and Diabetes programs amongst others.
Even if you are not offering these services currently but feel like they are something you would like to expand into in the future, make your designer aware of these things. It might be something as simple as adding a sink to your consult room which will then enable vaccinations, or an extra consult room which can accommodate more professional service as your business grows.
For example, Design District recently designed custom joinery and a dedicated cleaning station to cater to our clients Sleep Apnoea program. These details project professionalism and instils confidence in your customer that they are receiving the best treatment.