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More than just a customer

When Mike Koelzer took the reins of the pharmacy his grandfather started 75 years ago, he knew he was inheriting a legacy of outstanding customer service and deep patient relationships.

But he faced a big challenge—how could he grow his business without sacrificing the relationships with customers?

His solution might surprise you. Social Media.

Mike explains that social media is the easiest way for him to stay connected to his patients outside of the four walls of the pharmacy. “Social media platforms help me stay connected with our patients more efficiently than my father used to be,” Mike said. “I’m still the face of our business, but now I can communicate more broadly and more quickly.”

An enthusiastic proponent of social media tools, Mike maintains the popular Kay Pharmacy Facebook page. He has mastered the art of content marketing, posting regularly on health-related topics ranging from food allergies to ADHD and restless leg syndrome. This strategy seems to be working as his page currently has more than 5,000 followers.

He also uses Facebook to help promote his LinkedIn blog where he writes on a variety of topics. Most of them have more to do with life and relationships than medicine. Some of his most popular blog posts have titles such as: When the world runs out of love (children create more) and Let’s hold hands in 50 years, which are touching posts about his five-year­ old son.

In other posts, Mike writes about the importance of appreciating the small things his employees do well every day and how a sixteen-year-old’s firm handshake at a job interview made such a positive first impression that Mike knew right away he wanted to hire him.

When asked where he gets his ideas for blog posts, Mike says, “Some I’ve thought about for years and are now just coming out. Others come from discussions I’m having throughout the day, or emails I’ve written, or procedures I’ve had to think about. I try to keep them as original thoughts, and try not to be too cliché or do too many how-to lists.”

His advice to other retail independent owners looking to expand their online presence is to stay away from the straight product marketing tactics that the chains and big stores offer. Instead, he feels the community pharmacist should use social media to do what they do best—make personal connections with their patients.

“I don’t just want to talk to my patients about the color of their sputum,” Mike chuckles. “I want to connect with them on a personal level. That’s the difference between the independent pharmacist and the chain stores. You’re more than just a customer here.” 

Mike Koelzer, R.Ph.

Kay Pharmacy

Grand Rapids, Michigan

“Social media platforms help me stay connected with our patients more efficiently than my father used to be. I’m still the face of our business, but now I can communicate more broadly and more quickly.”

—Mike Koelzer, R.Ph.