We meet husband and wife team Susan MacMillan and Brian O’Reilly.
At the forefront of pharmacy in Kildare, and modelling many of the innovations at the heart of Alitam, is CarePlus Pharmacy. This inspiring business is run by pharmacist of 35 years Brian O’Reilly, and his wife, the entrepreneur and business maestro Susan MacMillan.
The perfect complement
Susan and Brian are the perfect team. “Brian’s passion in life is to be a pharmacist helping people every day,” says Susan. “He’s the face of the pharmacy and what I call the ‘intellectual property’ of the business. He’s very kind, gentle and compassionate – but with a great sense of humour, and he makes time for everyone who comes through the door. In fact, people go to him instead of the doctor because of his depth of knowledge and compassion, and also for what we in Ireland call ‘the banter’. He recognises the importance of bringing a smile to people’s faces, and to see customers visiting just to say hello is a common occurrence. We’re the perfect team because I keep an eye on the profit and Brian keeps an eye on the patient!”
Brian rejoins, “Susan is an astonishingly talented business person, who’s proved herself in many other enterprises. But never more so than in this venture. Early on she recognised the huge advantage of opening a CarePlus Pharmacy in terms of the technology available, the strong branding and marketing support, and the merchandising and business intelligence tools. The biggest advantage that Susan saw was the buying power that afforded us the opportunity to avail of huge discounts, resulting in exceptionally high profit.” Susan established the pharmacy in a greenfield site, targeting CarePlus and a location adjoining the largest private GP practice in Naas, and handled all matters pertaining to the set up of the business. All I had to do was turn up.”
The New Model Pharmacy
Susan and Brian, together with their close-knit team of staff, are resolutely focused on customer care. “We benefit from such a huge range of business support, which frees up the team to spend quality time with each and every customer,” explains Susan. Said support includes business intelligence tools regarding stock management, ordering systems and trend reports; national and local marketing campaigns and the creation of a top class retail experience in store. “All of that side of the business is taken care of,” says Brian, “so I’m free to consult in-depth with patients. Meanwhile, Susan manages the entire business, the vast majority of which can be done remotely due to the systems in place .”
This astonishing freedom afforded by comprehensive technological support extends to customers, who can use a dedicated app to book consultations and access pre-filled forms and health advice. As such, it serves as a model for the Pharmacy of the Future, and makes Susan and Brian’s pharmacy a natural fit for Alitam. Feisal Nahaboo, Alitam founder, explains, “The CarePlus pharmacy has adopted many of the initiatives we champion with Alitam. However now, as part of our extensive and highly talented group, this remarkable couple can widen their offering and reap the rewards of even greater buying power, technological expertise and clinical services. It’s a symbiotic relationship with Alitam members benefitting from Susan and Brian’s track record here, and remarkable energy. I’m very proud to have them on board.”
Much of this energy has recently been invested in building a 10 bay vaccination centre, so the pharmacy is ready to administer a high number of Covid-19 vaccinations when given the go ahead. “It’s a great example of how well Susan and I work together – combining logistics and clinical expertise,” says Brian. “And now, as part of Alitam, I’m really fired up about all the other possibilities we can explore. I’d love to expand our homeopathic offering for instance, I look forward to information exchange with all members of Alitam.
Susan nods, “On the business side the benefits are enormous. We can grow our business, and profit, while maintaining a fully active role and enjoying challenging careers. There’s such an eclectic mix of talent among the membership, and the management team is a force to behold. So we will never stop learning, and of course Feisal is an incredible entrepreneur, he’s the real deal. I have total admiration for him. He’s clever and creative, and a real gentleman. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary movement.”