Customer Service Best Medicine at Jefferson Pharmacy
Working with patients and doctors has makes a difference, owner says.
How many stores of any kind can you go to where, when you need something in an emergency and the store is closing, will the employees will unlock the door, turn the lights on, turn the register back on and get you what you need? One place is Jefferson Pharmacy in Lake Hopatcong, and the owner, Doug Caballero, believes that that quality sets his store apart from “big box” pharmacies.
“It’s the little things that we do that keep customers coming back to us,” Caballero said.
“At some places, it’s nearly impossible to get even five minutes of a pharmacist’s time,” said Pasquale Pontoriero, Caballero’s friend and fellow pharmacist. “We give that time, calling insurance companies or doctors, giving advice, and listening to what our customers need.
“We also have a good relationship with the doctors that we work closely with,” Pontoriero said. “Sometimes they’ll call us and ask what the most current or least expensive medications are. When we build that confidence with the doctors, nurses and office staff, we know we’re in.”
“We really put in the extra time and effort for our customers,” Caballero said. “We work twice as hard just go get the business, and show devotion to our customers.”
Caballero and Pontoriero believe that mandatory mail order prescriptions are the biggest threat to the independent pharmacy business.
“From the customer’s standpoint, we understand mail order because it is less expensive,” Caballero said. “But what I don’t understand is if insurance companies can offer medications at lower prices through mail order, why can’t they do it at the retail level?”
Threats aside, owning his own pharmacy has been Caballero’s dream since he completed pharmacy school. He worked at a pharmacy in high school and from that time on, he knew he wanted his own place someday. After his graduation from pharmacy school, Caballero ran a store, which he purchased from the owner shortly thereafter. He is now the owner of Jefferson and Eckerson Drugs in Spring Valley, NY, along with his partner Carlos Almanzo.
Pontoriero also aims to own a pharmacy in the future.
“I think a lot of pharmacists look for a place to call home, but right now this is home to me,” he said.
For now, the two work with technician Jessica Gilman, Brittany DeWolf, who will soon complete technician training, and Bridget Vergel.
What does the future bring? Many possibilities, Pontoriero said.
“We’re looking at trying to start an immunization clinic here at the store, hopefully very soon,” he said. “We’re trying to work out all the logistics now.”
Pharmacy as an industry is constantly changing and evolving, both Caballero and Pontoriero said. They plan to grow and change with the times.