When you’re launching a new urgent care clinic, creating awareness that you’re here and you’re open is essential. That’s where marketing comes in. There are lots of options that leave you asking lots of questions. Should I rent a billboard? Do I need to run ads in a local newspaper? Do I really need a website if I have a Facebook page? Yes. Yes. And yes. To make your grand opening a success and start the flow of patients, you’re going to need to do some strategic marketing.
But all of that strategic marketing will only matter if you’ve built a strong foundation with three things at its core. Product, service—and in the urgent care business—location. Today’s healthcare consumer expects more than a great slogan. They are smart consumers that know they have choices. Once you get them in the door, great marketing begins with the product and service you provide.
One: Provide a Good Product
As the competition in urgent care heats up, how you do business becomes more important than ever. Your product is a service—urgent care—so you have to make sure this product is the best it can be from day one.
- Hire a skilled staff that understands the urgent care industry. Be sure you aren’t just filling positions. Urgent care is unlike other healthcare models because it’s not only important to be a healthcare expert, but getting people in and out quickly requires people who can get the job done fast and with accuracy.
- Keep enough staff available to handle patient flow. There’s a fine line between not enough help and too much. A skeleton crew may work for you during slower times of the year, but during the busy season, not enough help can slow workflow, cause missed charges, and result in losing customers who are short on time.
- Meet the needs of the community. Always tailor your product to meet the needs of the community surrounding your urgent care clinic. If you’re in a family-rich residential part of the city, be sure you are offering good pediatric urgent care with providers who understand caring for kids. If you’re in a community with a big boomer demographic, cater to them. Or offer a strong OccMed product to serve an area with industrial, manufacturing, and other businesses. Finally, keep your hours convenient to your demographic.
- Make a positive impact on the community. Any clinic can offer basic urgent care, but when you become a bigger part of the community by providing learning opportunities, participating in community events, and adding value to the community, you become an expert that people count on when they need healthcare advice.
- Support other organizations in the community. Participate in health fairs, volunteer time, and offer financial support to important cause in the community to build a rapport with your patients and set yourself above competitors.
- Provide the best healthcare available. As an urgent care provider, you are responsible to your patients. Be sure everyone on your team is up-to-speed on new treatments, procedures, and regulations so your patients leave your office knowing they’ll be back the next time they have a need for urgent care services.
Two: Provide Good Customer Service
The number of people receiving healthcare at urgent care clinics is on the rise as patients seek healthcare that is convenient and saves time. But they still expect to receive great customer service—and it can be much simpler than you think.
- Smile. Patients begin forming opinions about their experience as soon as they walk in the door. Be sure every patient is greeted with genuine smile, and make sure patients feel welcome through every step of their visit. A smile can build the foundation for long-term relationships with patients.
- Make it easy. Use technology to make check-in and check-out easy. Online and mobile registration make visiting your clinic more convenient for busy patients. In addition, your website can be an important source of information for patients. Providing an online portal makes it easy for doctors and clinic staff to share healthcare information, send reminders, provide test results, and offer follow-up advice. It gives your patients access to information and their medical records when it’s convenient for them.
- Follow up. Although patients don’t generally visit an urgent care as often as their primary care physician, following up with patients after an appointment can ensure they come back when they are in need of same-day healthcare. Be sure you tell them the next steps in their care. Repeat business is a big part of urgent care success.
Three: Pick the Right Location
If patients can’t find you easily, they’ll go somewhere else. Be sure your new urgent care is in the right spot.
- Choose a good location. Look for a location without too many competitors that is easily accessible from the street. Parking should be easy, with handy entrances and exits, and should be ample for the number of patients you expect to see. Be sure there’s plenty of room to drop off and pick up patients, and that patients will not have to walk too far from their car to the entrance.
- Good visibility. To be successful, you have to be seen—easily and often. Choose a location that is close to frequently visited big retailers, grocery stores, and intersections. And make sure your office isn’t hidden behind a large building. You want to be seen so often that people think of you first when they need urgent care.
- Effective signage. Your sign just might be your biggest marketing consideration. It must be visible from the street; not blocked by other buildings, signs, or even trees. Check retail centers for sign restrictions and use your options to increase your presence.
Marketing is good. Marketing is important. Marketing begins in the clinic, with a great customer experience. This is what will make your marketing mean something.
So promote and sell your new urgent care clinic to the public with traditional marketing strategies. You may want to use billboards, mailers, brochures, and public relations efforts. We’ll spend more time exploring marketing strategies in a future post, so check back soon.