Profitable Dispensing Tips #2 – Monitor Your Dispensing Rate

How Many Items per Hour are you dispensing?

So many phone calls I have taken over the years begin something like, “Greg, we’ve had the annual accounts back and the dispensary is showing a loss for the year…” to which my initial response [in my head] is surprise to put it mildly. A dispensary which is losing money is almost unheard of and usually it turns out that the reality is there has been a drop in the profit generated rather than a dispensary losing money.

It is at this point that the Dispensary Manager and I both let out a sigh of relief, I mean, showing a loss in profit is bad, but at least it isn’t an actual loss to the surgery.

So we talk through the problems that might have led to a drop in income, for example, if the dispensing fee has dropped by 5% in a year, then a drop of income of 5% in that year wouldn’t be unexpected, or at least with further investigation of the figures we could find where the drop in income was coming from.

It might be that the margin on generics had dropped for the year across the board for all practices or it could the figures show a rise in the cost of running the dispensary? Or is the dispensing speed being severely affected by poor dispensary layout and design? What are the dispensary running costs year on year, month on month?

Far too often the management accounts for the dispensary are held in secret by the GP partners and the Dispensary Manager is left in the dark. I would advise that all Dispensary Managers have full access to the management accounts for the dispensary and that these are produced monthly for large dispensaries, quarterly reports would suffice for most dispensaries. This is the only way you can manage a business and if you compare year on year accounts, like with like, you can spot trends or signs of a problem.

The question is are you the Dispensary Manager? If you are expected to manage the dispensary as a business you need all the tools to do so, you are the manager of a business.

Two questions for every dispensary manager:

What percentage of your time do you devote to managing the dispensary and what percentage of your time do you spend dispensing?

Secondly do you know how many items per hour your dispensers are currently dispensing [handing over not bagging up] to your patients?

Email me your answers to and I will give you my opinion  on what you should be doing/what your dispensing speed should be.

And for November we are giving free initial distance support via Microsoft teams, Zoom or the good old phone – get in touch now as we are introducing a NEW distance mentoring and support service for dispensary managers. Not just a one-off visit with a report you cant implement, we want to give Dispensary Managers professional and impartial help and support at a fair cost to the practice.

Its all about the patient – if your dispensary closes, where will the patient get their medicine from?