Sunday, November 18, 2007

Big Shop, Little Shop 2

I filled in all the details for the little shop to get a repeat prescription for my husband, and then realized that he had exhausted his number of repeats and needed to see the GP for a review.

I duly made an appointment for him, having had to hang on the phone for 10 minutes or so waiting for the automated system to get to the end of the day for his appointment.

After his appointment, I trotted off to the chemist. They didn't have enough of medicine X so I arranged to collect two days later.

When I did the chemist was on the phone but came off the phone to tell me that the GP had prescribed husband the wrong medication, so the prescription has to go back to the GP.

"But he runs of out of his medication tomorrow."

"Don't worry," he assured me. The chemist had in fact phoned the GP to notify her that she had made a mistake, a serious mistake. He had filled the prescription with the correct medication as directed by the GP on the phone, but the prescription itself needed to be sent back to the surgery for correction, or something like that.

The names of the drugs were very similar. "If your husband had taken this, he would have died."

I thought that was a bit over-dramatic, but he IS trying to win my business.

"Had you gone to B--ts, they would have given it to you and he'd be in trouble."

I said, "I don't think so as they have his records there and so must check to make sure."

It must have been the end of a very long day for the doctor. She must have clicked on a drug in a (so-called user-friendly) drop-down menu and 'missed', or mis-read, who knows? The drug she prescribed is apparently for people with a very rare nasty genetic disease and so the chemist was surprised to come across it. The other drugs on the prescription indicate he had another disease. Besides, the chemist's wife is on the same medication as my husband. In fact they have the same consultant. We had talked about this earlier.

So we were very grateful that this mistake was caught in time.

Little shops do provide a different kind of service. When will the business school gurus begin to preach 'bigger is not necessarily better'? I wonder.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A bit of a brag

A result from the BBC Strictly Come Dancing Series, a lesson on ethical thinking -- here is my recent contribution to Ethical Pulse, online publication of Ethical Junction:

Strictly Comes Ethical Thinking ... and Action


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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Big Shop, Little Shop

My husband requires repeat prescriptions. He had signed up with a large chain of chemists (and a bit) to organize collecting and filling these prescriptions.

But they somehow always seem to manage to lose his prescription in between the piles of prescriptions they have, not have the medicines he needs, and almost always there is a long queue waiting to be served and waiting to pay.

A couple of weeks ago we had a leaflet from our local independent chemist. They are a few doors from the sub-post office I use. They have now also introduced a collection service.

As I needed a prescription filled for myself I went to them to say we would like them to do my husband's precription.

They are so incredily friendly as small shops (and other owner-businesses) are capable of being. I've used their services before and have never been disappointed although the shop itself looked terribly dated and I could see that the packs of disposable nappies they were selling looked, hmm, dusty.

Basically they are a chemist more than a shop. They serve the many old and frail in the area who do not have the energy or wish to get to the larger town centre where unruly teenagers push and shove and illegal sellers of illegal DVDs hassle them at every five metres or so.

They have had the shop refitted recently and now it is bright and cheerful with the same friendly service. The chemist part is still why people come to them.

I think the future of small shops lie in that personal service they are able to provide.

Big chains make enormous profits on sheer economies of scale. They are also staffed (usually) by employers on minimum wage. But businesses run by owners and others with a share in the profits (as co-operatives are run) tend to provide the best shopping experience.

My own business plans are to grow big in the area of being small. Does that make any sense at all?

Probably not. My vision is to expand the business in such a way that small-players could provide the same friendly efficient service that my customers have come to expect. And why shouldn't they?

I'll have to keep thinking about this one.

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