First Time Pharmacy Buyers in Focus – Tom Pham

Pharmacy ownership has been a wild ride in 2023. But the truth is, the past decade has been no less of a rollercoaster. From navigating price disclosures to battling fierce competition, and even grappling with the curveballs of a pandemic, pharmacy owners have had to embrace change to succeed. Our aim with this series of articles is to show aspiring pharmacy owners what is possible when starting from the ground floor.   

Article two in AP Group’s first-time pharmacy owner series delves into the journey of Tom Pham and his Sunshine West Pharmacy. Hailing from the local Sunshine area, Tom embarked on his ownership adventure with a simple yet profound mantra: delivering expert care, advice and excelling in the fundamentals. Fast forward three years, and Tom’s journey has been one of strong growth, with increased script numbers, turnover, and profitability – a robust start to his pharmacy ownership career. 

Tom’s decision to acquire Sunshine West Pharmacy was deeply rooted in his local knowledge. Having previously worked at a nearby pharmacy for several years, he possessed an intimate understanding of the local clientele and their needs. 

Thorough business planning ensured that Tom set himself up for success.  By purchasing within his financial means, Tom had crucial breathing space during those initial months of trading, when loan repayments are typically at their peak. 

Tom opted for a gradual approach to implementing change for growth, employing minimal yet deliberate changes. He began by immersing himself in the intricacies of pharmacy operations, taking a hands-on learning approach. With a keen eye on his profit and loss statement, he focused on the significant factors of sales, stock management, and staff costs. Tom’s business philosophy is beautifully simple: retain existing customers, attract new customers, and provide them with an exceptional experience. 

Under Tom’s guidance, Sunshine West Pharmacy introduced several customer-centric changes aimed at simplifying the customers shopping experience. Services like ‘Click & Collect’ and ‘Chemist to You’ delivery were implemented, offering convenience and accessibility. The introduction of Parcel Collect, allowing customers to receive parcel items at the pharmacy, provided yet another incentive for customers to visit. Tom also rejuvenated the existing Tatts operation, drawing a steady stream of customers through the door. 

Sunshine West, nestled in inner western metropolitan Melbourne, is a diverse community, and Tom ensured that diversity was reflected within his team. Visitors can seek health advice in Vietnamese, Greek, or Indian, fostering inclusivity and accessibility. 

In just three short years, Tom has solidified Sunshine West Pharmacy as a cornerstone of the community, expanding his customer base, increasing turnover and profitability, all the while diligently chipping away at the business loan that enabled the pharmacy’s purchase. 

This article is the second chapter of our exploration into the world of first-time pharmacy owners. Stay tuned for more stories of triumphs, trials, and the unwavering spirit that’s shaping the future of pharmacy. You can revisit article one here

Written by Andrew Whelan, General Manager – AP Group 

AP Group are the leading pharmacy experts in Australia and specialise in helping first time buyers find the right pharmacy and secure the finance to support their purchase.  

We connect existing owners with over 5000 ready and eager investors via our cutting-edge online Data Room. Our Data Room keeps confidential listing data secure and allows buyers to make informed decisions on each of our pharmacies for sale.  

AP Group have built connections with all the major banks and a host of smaller lenders, ensuring that first time pharmacy buyers find a better deal.  

About the Author: 

When Andrew Whelan is not out pedalling his bike or looking after his two marvellous kids, he’s pedalling through pharmacy finance and strategy development.   

 Having been with AP Group since the beginning, Andrew has more than a decade experience in pharmacy and is an asset to the sales and finance division. He’s a numbers wizard, people person and sustainability champion — leading AP Group to achieve official Carbon Neutral Certification with Climate Active. 

Before AP Group, Andrew spent more than a decade in the telecommunications and media industry including 7 years at Telstra in a variety of senior management roles and 3 years in the United Kingdom managing the commercial function for the British Sky Broadcasting — a time where it was the fastest growing broadband provider in the UK.  

So it’s no surprise that he is well equipped to help customers with some of the biggest decisions they will ever make — buying a home or investing in a pharmacy — and helping to show them what’s truly possible. 

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