Whether it be the introduction of new regulations; the arrival of new competitors in the market; or advancements in technology, the influence that market change can have on any business can be dramatic. But constant change in a business is a reality, and organisations must continually adapt to their environments to stay competitive – or risk becoming obsolete.

Six key questions are helpful in determining how to effectively deal with change:

  • Should we as an organisation be reactive or proactive when it comes to predicting, and dealing with, changes in our market?
  • Is it best to always be the innovator?
  • How can we change our vision to be different, better and more compelling?
  • Are our franchisees personally committed to change within the business?
  • Do we as an organisation have the capacity to change with the market?
  • How ingrained is our current culture?

Anthony White, CEO of Terry White Chemists, knows all too well the challenges that arise from an ever-changing marketplace.

Like other retailers, his business has faced challenges – it has had to become an online, as well as a bricks-and-mortar retailer; and it has had to rebuild its focus on franchising after 10 years of ownership by a corporate parent. In addition, the federal government’s attempted cost-cutting in regards to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme –cutting reimbursements for generic drugs, which are typically provided by manufacturers to pharmacists at a discount rate in a bid to win business – has slowed earnings in the traditional dispensary business.

So, how has Australia’s first franchised pharmacy chain, boasting over 165 franchises, kept itself at the forefront of the collective minds of its customers – and continued to thrive?

“I think the evolution of the discount pharmacy brand over the last 10 years has seen a number of competitors enter the market; add to that the changes to the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and I think you’ve got the two biggest challenges that we’ve faced over the past 10 years as a business,” said Anthony.

“But, in recent years, we’ve driven a differentiation strategy, particularly in innovating in the merchandising area; we’re still accounting for the largest volume of flu vaccinations in the industry – and that’s something we’re particularly proud of.”

Consistently being the first to implement new ideas, Anthony said, was key.

“We’ve been very aggressive in taking the lead as an industry innovator. It’s been important to us to be the innovator,” said Anthony.

“But when you’re in this space, where you’re the innovator, it’s not always possible to protect yourself from people replicating your ideas. So, you need to weigh up the benefits of developing something that you know your competitors could potentially offer for less, but still reap benefits from.”

Anthony White presented at the Franchise Management Forum 2014.  You can purchase previous recording of the Franchise Management Forum here