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Skilled staff put Life Pharmacy in great health

21/11/2017

A pharmacy is far from a normal retail store, says Hilary Hatfull, Retail Manager at Green Cross Health’s Life Pharmacy in Lower Hutt’s Queensgate Mall. It’s all about giving customers advice to help them select the right products for their health. For instance, it might include helping them choose products that are compatible with other medications they may be taking.


This is important, says Hilary, who started in the industry when customers needed a doctor’s prescription for just about everything.

“These days there are so many products you can buy over the counter it can be difficult to choose, so giving customers the right advice is vital.”

Hilary is highly experienced with 35 years in pharmacy retail, and three different roles in that time.

She began her career at 18 years-old at a pharmacy in Hunterville, then moved to Hawera where she joined another pharmacy and became counter manager for Elizabeth Arden cosmetics. She had the same role at Queensgate Life Pharmacy for ten years, until early 2017 when she was made Retail Manager for the store.

Hilary is also responsible for managing formal on-job staff training where she has proved herself to be quite the champion. In fact, she recently received a Certificate of Merit at the Green Cross Health Awards for Team Development.

We asked her how she got high participation and success rates with her team.

“As leaders, we have a responsibility to develop our people,” says Hilary. “New and existing staff are given time to learn on the job, and there is an expectation that all staff participate in learning new things, or continually upskilling or refreshing their knowledge, as part of their development which forms part of their performance review.

“The Green Cross Academy provides a perfect solution for accessible learning on a huge range of skills and knowledge through the TeachMe online platform. Our staff work through each of the three learning streams, in rostered sessions of 30 minutes per week.”

ServiceIQ aligned Green Cross Health’s substantial in-house training, including its pharmacy curriculum, with industry training programmes that lead to nationally recognised retail qualifications at Level 3 and Level 4.

“As well as significant learning opportunities, our people also get the benefit of gaining a qualification at the end. It’s no extra work, and they receive a NZ Certificate in Retail with pharmacy-specific knowledge,” says Hilary.

Hilary knows the benefits of superior skills and knowledge for both the staff, and for customers. She says her secret for success is a commitment to ongoing improvement.

“It gives us the edge in a competitive environment,” she says.

“You have to make sure you have someone in store driving the training for it to make a difference. I was asked to lead it and I realised that if we were going to do it effectively, we needed to do it together.”

Green Cross Hilary Hatfull circle ServiceIQ’s Training Advisor Anita Teutscher provides regular updates so Hilary knows how her team are tracking.

Until eighteen months ago, when Green Cross Health introduced their training academy to all Life and Unichem Pharmacies, staff had never had the opportunity to achieve a nationally recognised qualification on the job.

Hilary believes it’s important to stay involved with a person’s training.

“I make sure I’m available to help in-store and by giving my contact number in case the team have any questions when they are working on the training modules after hours. And in fact, they text me lots of questions which is great because I don’t want them to get stuck,” says Hilary.

She also hands out small incentive prizes as they complete their unit standards to make it fun.

“We really want to encourage personal achievement,” she says. “It’s incredibly satisfying to see the team develop personally and professionally.”

Increased sales, more customers coming through the door, and better staff retention is “living proof that training works brilliantly,” says Hilary.

The Queensgate Life Pharmacy consistently scores top marks for service in customer surveys and this translates into sales, with over the counter medicines the biggest followed by natural health products, fragrances and cosmetics.

Currently, Hilary and a colleague are enjoying the challenge of completing Green Cross Health’s Stellar Leadership Programme that leads to a NZ Certificate in Business – Level 4.

Meanwhile, she has helped 18 of her team gain a ServiceIQ Certificate in Retail – Level 3, and she has 10 more staff in training.

It’s a sweet pill to swallow.