A give attention to native impression and household.
SEATTLE — Based in 1890, Bartell Medicine has maintained a number one place within the larger Seattle market by staying near native shoppers and regularly creating new methods of addressing their altering wants.
“My grandfather instilled in us the value of customer service,” says George Bartell, chairman of the 68-store retailer. “Serving the customer is still the focus for the company today. Our size and family-owned structure give us the flexibility to be creative. It’s part of the reason we are so responsive to our customers and innovative in the products and services we offer.”
In mild of Bartell’s success in leveraging these belongings and persistently delivering Purple Vest Service to sufferers and buyers, the editors of Chain Drug Evaluate have named the corporate the publication’s Regional Chain of the Yr. The one that, together with Bartell and his sister, vice chairman and treasurer Jean Bartell Barber, is most liable for constructing on that legacy is Kathi Lentzsch. A confirmed retail chief with greater than three many years of expertise in quite a lot of commerce channels, Lentzsch turned the corporate’s chief government officer in January.
Previous to that, Lentzsch held government positions at main retailers together with Pier 1 Imports, Value Plus World Market and Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn, the place she oversaw the turnaround and repositioning of Pottery Barn as a premium residence model. Lentzsch additionally has expertise within the drug channel from her tenure as president and CEO of previously Berkeley, Calif.-based Elephant Pharmacy.
Lentzsch’s journey to Bartell’s began with a name from a recruiter. Though she wasn’t trying to make a transfer on the time, Lentzsch says “my ears perked up” when the recruiter talked about Bartell’s. “Someone at Elephant Pharmacy told me, ‘There’s nothing like Elephant in the country, but the closest might be Bartell’s.’ Because of that, I wanted to talk to them,” Lentzsch says.
What attracted Lentzsch probably the most to Bartell’s is that the corporate is all a few concentrate on native influence and household, she says, “which is my passion.” So Lentzsch packed up her life, left “28 years of friends behind” and headed to the Pacific Northwest to quiet down in Seattle.
When she arrived to start out her profession at Bartell’s earlier this yr, Lentzsch says she noticed a retailer that units itself apart from the larger chain rivals — a attribute necessary to her — and had similarities to Elephant. “I saw stores doing some of the same things we had done at Elephant with the low-profile fixtures,” she says. “Although Bartell’s is laid out more similarly to a traditional drug store than Elephant, the assortment had some similar products and had a focus on local. It excited me that Bartell’s was doing so much with local products and supporting local businesses.”
In her first few months on the job, Lentzsch says her main focus was on the corporate’s implementation of a brand new ERP (enterprise administration software program) system and the development of a brand new warehouse. And as typically occurs in giant organizations, Lentzsch says the corporate fell not on time. “I could not spend much time on the brand and focused on the operational side of the business. We had to get the systems working,” she explains, noting, nevertheless, that the ERP system has since stabilized and the brand new warehouse is operating easily, offering the corporate with double the sq. ft of its earlier facility. That permits Bartell’s to work with extra distributors immediately.
In her brief time with the corporate, Lentzsch did discover time to work on the model and sharpen the concentrate on what Bartell’s stands for — “how we continue the legacy.” It’s necessary to Lentzsch to get to the essence of the model and never alter what the Bartell household has constructed, however as an alternative convey the essence ahead and make what they established extra modern.
Central to Lentzsch’s management philosophy is placing staff first, which she believes creates a ripple impact that washes over everybody. “If you put them first and they’re happy, your customers are going to be happy,” she says. “And your vendors are going to be pleased if they deal with individuals who like what they do. One of the things we talk about here is treating people better than they expect to be treated.”
Lentzsch and the management group additionally developed a brand new model best. Bartell’s, based on this new ultimate, exists to rejoice the potential of kindness, caring, compassion and selection — and it’s caring and compassion, Lentzsch notes, that has been one of many signature attributes of the Bartell household. “We also wanted to reestablish the pillars behind the brand,” she says, “so when we made decisions, we always considered the brand pillars. Health and wellness is one of those pillars.”
One other foundational pillar that has all the time been essential to Bartell’s is service, which Lentzsch says the corporate tracks very rigorously with day by day buyer surveys. Lentzsch believes service fell off during the last two years on account of a few of the challenges the corporate had with the warehouse transition and the ERP implementation. “There were times we didn’t have products getting to the stores,” she says. “Now we’re through those tough times and our service levels are improving considerably.”
Inventory points, Lentzsch notes, are extra than simply inconveniences to clients. She believes lack of stock takes a toll on the morale of the workforce, and clients can sense that.
“The third pillar is all about our local impact, and the fourth pillar is humanity. We want all of our behaviors modeled to the fourth pillar. This is where compassion and kindness step in. The four pillars are what we’re really focused on now.”
Bartell’s is an organization wealthy in custom, which is highlighted by the truth that Lentzsch is simply the fifth CEO within the firm’s 128-year historical past. One custom is the corporate’s vacation present information, which Bartell’s has provided through the holidays for almost 20 years now. What stands out at Bartell’s through the holidays is the corporate’s concentrate on toys. “We have a specialty store mindset with our toy business,” says Brent Beebe, the corporate’s senior vice chairman of merchandising. “We work really hard to get specialty toy vendors to sell to us.”
The elements that play into the corporate’s success in toys, Beebe explains, are primarily the elements that play into the success in all the corporate’s classes. Protecting it native is important, in accordance with Beebe, who notes that dwelling in the identical space the place one does enterprise supplies invaluable insights into what clients need and wish. Having distinctive merchandise on the cabinets is one more reason Bartell’s stands out within the toy and present class, Beebe says. “I would say the local service and product ultimately continues to provide a moat for us.”
Beebe says Bartell’s is concentrated on staying true to its core values — the values which have made the corporate a hit for greater than a century. And meaning not following a number of the greater rivals. “Our front-of-store business is a huge part of our business and is extremely important to us,” Beebe says, including that as a result of he can’t “out-CVS CVS or out-Walgreens Walgreens,” he competes on choice. “When you’re in Bartell’s, I encourage you to go and look at a category that you’re familiar with. I bet my selection is exponentially higher than some of the traditional guys,” Beebe says.
However as necessary because the entrance finish is to Bartell’s, pharmacy is its bread and butter — and vice chairman of pharmacy Billy Chow sees pharmacy as an business heading towards expert providers and not one based on commodity shelling out. Chow cites immunizations for instance, but in addition average ailment triage, which some Bartell’s pharmacists are offering in partnership with Washington State College underneath the auspices of a CDTA (Collaborative Drug Remedy Settlement). “So, the pharmacists who have gone through the training program will be able to prescribe and initiate therapy on things like noncomplicated UTI, or upper-respiratory issues and animal bites,” Chow says.
Bartell’s CareClinics additional improve the expert providers the corporate gives its sufferers. These clinics, staffed by Kaiser Permanente clinicians, present fast care to sufferers 2 years previous and older, no matter insurance coverage, for minor sicknesses and accidents and preventive care, comparable to vaccinations.
Flu photographs have been a staple for the clinics, Chow says, particularly with final season’s flu epidemic. “Last year was another banner year for us. And we’ve never really had conflict, because many patients are agnostic,” he says. “They just want to get a flu shot. So, it’s whoever can take care of them first.”
The duty of bringing the various strands that comprise Bartell’s collectively at retailer degree and making certain that the expectations of buyers are met falls to senior vice chairman of operations Adam Wampler. A veteran retailer with greater than three many years of expertise at grocery store operators Safeway Inc. and Albertsons Cos. (which acquired Safeway in 2015), he joined the drug chain early final yr. Wampler understands that for Bartell’s the result of the battle for the hearts and minds of shoppers is decided by the expertise they’ve in-store.
“We’re committed to running stores that are clean, well stocked and easy to shop,” says Wampler, who in his final position at Albertsons was liable for 283 places in three states. “But that’s only the start. Our Red Vest Service is the thing that sets Bartell’s apart from other retailers in Seattle. That idea is deeply engrained in our culture, and it’s something that we stress every day.”
Wampler practices what he preaches, spending as a lot of his time as potential within the subject. Throughout interactions with district managers, retailer managers, pharmacists, cashiers and different associates, he leads by instance. On a current collection of retailer visits, he ceaselessly stopped to help clients, regulate vacation shows, and even decide up trash within the parking zone.
“I grew up here, so I know firsthand what Bartell’s means to the community,” explains Wampler. “The relationships that our employees, many of whom have been with us for decades, have developed with shoppers makes all the difference. More than anything else, that bond builds customer loyalty and keeps people coming back to our stores.”
Wanting forward, Lentzsch sees Bartell’s persevering with to construct on its lengthy custom and getting even stronger within the coming years. She believes the Bartell’s model is strong sufficient to ultimately increase outdoors of larger Seattle to different elements of the Pacific Northwest and past, however for now her focus stays on perpetuating the Bartell’s legacy and operating the corporate in line with that custom.
“I didn’t come here to change a lot about the business. I came here to build on it,” she says. “I like how the company has grown over the years, funding growth ourselves. In today’s environment with the uncertainties around the pharmacy business, it’s smart.”