Thursday, April 9, 2015

Walgreens' Cost Cutting Lesson From Uber -- Will Close 200 Stores But Keep Employees as Independent Drug Dealers

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Last August, Walgreens announced its plans for a $1 billion cost-reduction initiative. The largest U.S. drugstore chain upped the ante this Thursday when it revealed the anticipated closure of 200 stores across the nation, a move intended to further boost profits and increase the proposed cost-cutting effort by another $500 million. “After a rigorous analysis, the company has identified additional opportunities for cost savings, primarily in its Retail Pharmacy USA division,” company spokespeople explained in a statement to the press. Reorganizing staff and eliminating overhead expenses were two of the main strategies discussed. However, the decision to shutter 200 points of operation has left many wondering what will become of the workers in those locations. Walgreens vowed that it will not lay off its employees. Instead, the company launched a revolutionary program, patterned off of Uber’s obscenely lucrative business model, which will allow the affected workers to become independent contractors who peddle drugs directly to consumers on the streets.

”What Uber’s accomplished hasn’t just redefined the business of personal transportation, it’s redefined business,” said Marion Tershdaal, one of the financial officers spearheading Walgreens’ bold move. “You’re talking about a $40 billion company that’s expanded its service area from 60 cities in 21 countries to 250 cities in 50 countries, in one year. And only 850 people are on the payroll. All of the drivers are independent. They pay for everything -- their vehicles, gas, repairs, maintenance and even the apps Uber makes them use. In return, they get a few pennies on the dollar from their fares.”

The best part? The rates aren’t even determined by the drivers. Uber sets them.

“The profit margins Uber’s pulling down must be ridiculous,” Tershdaal exclaimed. “And Walgreens wants in. Sure, travelers and drunks need rides, but do you know how many people in this country need drugs? We could make a killing if we didn’t have to pay salaries, taxes, benefits and insurance costs to cover these people. Labor regulations have turned workers into parasites. And with this plan, we won’t have to technically fire anybody.”

Indeed, the drug trade continues to flourish as a growth industry. According to FBI statistics, the flow of narcotics and amphetamines over the Mexican border has intensified. The revenue generated by trafficking this contraband has created a $50 billion-per-year industry.

The Walgreens’ drug distribution system relies on an app-based ordering platform similar to Uber’s. Customers access the app, order their drugs and the request is transmitted to an available dealer nearby.

“Our pharmacists simply meet customers at whatever seedy motel or questionable alleyway they’ve agreed on, conduct the transaction and scurry away from the scene as quickly as possible,” Tershdaal explained. “The real advantage of the new service is that it finally allows Walgreens to penetrate markets it hasn’t legally been allowed to enter. Now we can bring other in-demand products into the fold: heroin, LSD, cocaine, crystal meth, weed, you name it. Prescription meds might be all the rage in the suburbs, but there’s a whole other customer base we can reach now.”

And because Walgreens’ pushers are contractors, not statutory employees, they’re on their own if they get busted in a raid by federal agents. The company merely sets the rates for products, which are known only to Walgreens’ executives and the pushers. Otherwise, the drugstore can distance itself from costly liabilities by disavowing any relationship with dealers taken into custody.

“Not only will this program prevent hundreds of workers from being unemployed, it could actually create jobs,” Tershdaal said. “We understand that there are thousands of independents already prowling the streets, or holing up in crack houses, with a rich inventory of quality drugs. They’re not trained pharmacists, but they’re amazingly knowledgeable. Their lack of formal education may have complicated their job searches, but we can find homes for these talented amateur chemists and streetwise entrepreneurs.”

Tershdaal recognizes that store closures and downsizing often spell trouble in volatile economic conditions, but she wants Walgreens’ stakeholders to know that this new program will improve services, bolster employment, spur business growth and soaring stock prices, and lead to “mind-blowing highs” for every individual with an interest in the company.

2015. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. See disclaimers.

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