Good things come in small doses
People who live in Hainault, Essex, do not go to the chemist, they go to “Barry Shooter’s”. For a chain of just four outlets within a five-mile radius, the pharmacies command an impressive level of brand recognition and loyalty.
This is largely thanks to the efforts of Barry Shooter himself, and his staff — many of whom have clocked up at least 20 years’ service. Such loyalty is evident throughout their survey responses and particularly in the sections related to leadership: 89% have a great deal of faith in Shooter and 82% think that he is full of positive energy.
Shooter qualified as a pharmacist in 1969 and opened his first shop a few months later on the London-Essex border. His pharmacies are successful — total revenues last year were £5.4m — yet he has refrained from overstretching himself through too much expansion.
“I find that four is a very convenient number, it allows you to know everybody and yet not have to be in one particular branch all the time. So it doesn’t give me a vast income, but it does allow me to not be involved when I don’t want to be,” he says.
Keeping things local suits Barry Shooter employees. Women heavily outnumber men, and are given time and space to meet their family commitments. Most employees live near the branch where they work, and a healthy 85% say they are happy with the balance between their work and home lives, the top small companies score in this area.
June Kelly has worked for the company for 26 years. Since her husband was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease, she has been able to take whatever time off she needs, even if that means dropping everything in the middle of a shift.
Bonuses, which are given to all staff, help contribute to the feeling of contentment. The award is between £20 and £300 depending on performance, length of service and hours worked, and is paid in the form of high street vouchers. Birthdays are marked with a personally chosen present (there is a member of staff assigned specifically to shop for these); Easter with eggs and Christmas with dinner and a gift. Last year, £4,000 was spent on fun and social events.
Such generosity pays off, with only 16% of employees saying that they would leave tomorrow if they had another job, and 83% saying that they love working for the organisation.
At Barry Shooter Pharmacies, the patients come first — 91% of staff think there are strong principles in the company for treating their customers well.
There is a friendly, informal atmosphere in the shops and a prescription delivery service, free to anyone who is housebound and only £1 for others. This service costs the company £3 per delivery, but Shooter thinks it is worth it.
“We try to exceed our customer expectations, as the marketers say, and I think we do,” he says. “It’s also one of the benefits of being a small business.”
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