The Socialist Invasion Has Begun, And Rubber Bands Are The New Symbol of Surrender.

Big changes reportedly happening at the Pharmacy America used to trust my friends, first and foremost, that artificial corporate person is no longer an American citizen. Remember that vaguely patriotic Walgreen's logo that used to abound in the pill counting world?  Well it no longer fits the global monstrosity that is the new "Walgreens/Boots alliance," and has been relegated to the trash heap of history. Right wing Fox news types take note, the country's largest drug chain is no follower of the doctrine of American exceptionalism, as evidenced by the new logo scrubbed of every trace of red, white, and blue:


Holy crap that thing looks like some sort of campaign sign for the Green party. Could European pussies be replacing good old American corporate assholes? 

NEVER!!!! I hear the Fox newsies screaming. EUROPEANS ARE SOCIALISTS!!!! AMERICANS ARE THE FREE MARKET JOB CREATING BUSINESS CHAMPIONS!!!!! USA!! USA!!! USA!!

Let's break away from the Foxy type of reporting for a minute though and check in with reality. This comes from a source deep in the bowels of the new company who says:

As you’re probably aware, Walgreens “bought out” Alliance Boots. Bought out being the most vague of terms, as (Former Boots and now acting CEO of the new corporation) Stefano Pessina is a much, much smarter businessman that Gregory Wasson was, as the latter was a pharmacist who kissed asses all the way to the top. So Pessina outmaneuvered him at every turn, and now the “Walgreens Boots Alliance” still keeps the Walgreens name, but the upper level of finance is 85% people from the Boots dominion.

USA!!! US....wait....wha? But you thought any country with universal health care automatically had a system on the verge of collapse because evil bureaucrats didn't let anyone make a profit, didn't you? Well guess what dittohead, the land of the National Health Service produced a corporate asshole that just took your home grown one to the cleaners.

Perhaps those Europeans did overestimate American competence just a bit though:

As you also probably know, Walgreens as a company has pledged to cut some obnoxious amount of money.  This is because, when they were preparing for the merger, they were talking out of their ass as much as they could in order to inflate their expectations.  This fell pretty flat on its face, and I’m sure Pessina was thrilled to see the forecasts that he inherited.

Before you get too flustered though, you might be happy to know that some of the language of business is Universal. Mainly the stupid micro-managing bullshit part:


So the initial plan to recoup this billion dollars of loss was to minimize amber vial returns. Logic being that while we only get minimal credit for open stock bottles, we get no credit for pills that are in store prescription bottles. So make sure you use the pills that are in those vials (from return to stocks et. al) before anything out of the stock bottles. This makes sense, right? 
Except the fact that they literally paid someone 50,000 dollars to come up with the idea of.....

Get ready for this. This is great.....

  “rubber banding amber vials to the stock bottle it belongs to so technicians know to use it first” 

BBBBWWWWWWAAAAAHHHHAAAAHHHHHAAAHHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! I seriously put this in contention for some sort of  "stupidest bullshit directive of all time" award, but upon reflection, I realized the current champion, Rite Aid's "no more than 5 labels printed at a time" rule, had absolutely zero impact on revenue, while this time-waster at least is grounded in an attempt to maximize credits. The rubber band thing will have to settle in at number two.

This part of the experience will be no surprise to those of you plugging away inside a corporate swamp though:

they’re so committed to the idea that I receive eight e-mails a week about making sure those rubber banded vials are all over your shelf, and I actually had a visit from a guy from Deerfield because my store was “a high risk store.”  

I wonder if they sent each store a supply of official rubber bands to be used in this program, in order to keep the risk as low as possible? My money says there's a good chance.

There's more than rubber bands afoot in the new order though. It seems the Europeans aren't too bad at good old American downsizing:

Now, obviously, unless 75% of your stores are completely inept (which, in all fairness, I have met some of my peers and walked away wondering that sometimes) they’re not wasting a billion dollars a year on drugs that the technician just doesn’t pick up off the shelf.  So they went to plan B, which is “firebomb every level above store level.”  This is honestly kind of nice, because it gives us the nice thought that maybe they realize they can’t cut any more from store level (I know this is a pipe dream). 
Walgreens initially had a position known as a community leader - this position was a front store manager somewhere that was also responsible for the six stores around them and making sure things ran smoothly.  Walgreens has “pumped up” this position to take the manager out of the store and responsible for about 15 stores instead of about 5, and is calling them the “District Manager” - based on my experiences with the former community leaders, they are going to have the basic pharmacy understanding of a technician school graduate on their first day.  They’re also slashing the “district manager / district pharmacy supervisor” positions in almost half - the half that doesn’t make it can step down to the new “district manager” position (at a pay cut), and the half that does make the cut is now responsible for twice as many stores.  They did the same trimming for the level above them, and cut out 4 markets, evenly dispersing them over the rest.

And now a war on District Managers, which actually.....makes sense. When I was at Rite Aid we went through an extended period where we were District Managerless, and during that time company emails consistently ranked "vacant" as the second or third best district in various company metrics. I'm pretty sure Vacant even kicked everybody's ass and came in first a few times.

Let's sum up:

So end-game here is a couple things:
1)  The suits who have been trying to make us do more with less now all the sudden have to cover more ground with less help, which is a nice twist on what we’ve had to do for a while. 
2)  Someone, somewhere in this merger has given me hope that someone might have a glimmer of the idea that “you can save as much money by cutting a middle-management paper-pusher who is making 150,000 a year as you can by cutting 15,000 tech hours in his spot, and the tech hours are more productive” 
3)  I’m going to have a whole new level of high school graduate telling me how a pharmacy should be run, and complaining that I’m overpaid.

 Time will tell how profitable the British socialists will be. In the meantime, I think I might buy stock in a rubber band company. Whichever one Fox News says will never succeed. 
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The Socialist Invasion Has Begun, And Rubber Bands Are The New Symbol of Surrender.
The Socialist Invasion Has Begun, And Rubber Bands Are The New Symbol of Surrender.
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