A CUSTOMER rewards program and investment in cloud technology is helping the state’s top private company to overcome rising rents and cut-throat competition.

The prescription for growth and profit is a simple one for Terry White Chemists – an unwavering focus on communicating the company’s value to customers.

Terry White Chemists (TWC), ranked the Top Private Company in 2012, is more than 50 years old and enjoys a 97 per cent recognition rate in brand awareness surveys, according to its CEO Anthony White (pictured).

White, who took over the reins from his father Terry, who founded the company, says that high brand recognition has been hard-earned.

“We are working very hard on that and being very clear on providing better value for money and healthcare support to consumers,” he says.

White is pleased with TWC’s transition since the brand was bought back from Symbion Pharmacy Services for an undisclosed sum in 2009.

He says more work remains to be done, particularly in the area of expanding the business’s online services and social media profiles.

One approach to maintaining growth is the company’s promise there is ‘still more’ to pharmacy shopping than just low prices.

The franchise group this year rolled-out its new Rewards Plus loyalty scheme, which gives customers with a $3 voucher for every $100 spent in-store.

White says the scheme has attracted more than 30,000 customers since May, with 20 pharmacies already onboard and a further 140 expected to participate by the end of October.

While people of all ages are signing up, the key demographics are mothers in their 30s or 40s and older people.

“We are adding 500 customers a week, which is quite substantial. Within a year, the average pharmacy should each sign up about 10,000 people,” says White.

Investment also extends to a new onlineshopping interface on the TWC website.

White plans to integrate Rewards Plus online later this year and incorporate a click and pick up in-store option in 2013.

“It is part of our multi-channel marketing approach to use with online, Facebook and YouTube platforms,” says White.

“A customer who interacts with us online is far more valuable to us than before. That is where the growth is, and we are looking to identify those customers and target them more appropriately.”

TWC has also invested more than $1 million in cloud-based technology. A further $2 million is budgeted for the works, which involve incorporating finance, warehouse and merchandise modules into existing operations by mid-2013.

“[The benefit] is just having one singlepoint of data, so when information enters the system it does not have to be entered again in different systems,” says White.

The TWC franchise network has about 60 locations in Queensland, 35 in Victoria, 35 in New South Wales and 20 in Western Australia. White hopes to open more pharmacies in Sydney and Melbourne.

However, one of the biggest barriers to achieving his goal will be the difficulty of securing property at reasonable rates.

“Rents in Australia are at unsustainable levels and it is about time the industry started to address those things. Our rent costs about 10 times the average rentalrate per metre in the US,” he says.

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