Do you want to start an urgent care center? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start an an urgent care center with no money or experience.
If you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the city you reside in to know what is expected of you.
The bottom line is that you would need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your city to get the information you need before you can legally launch your urgent care center.
You can start your urgent care center business from a small town in the United States of America and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized.
20 Steps to Start a How to Start an Urgent Care Center
Understand the Industry
The Urgent Care Centers industry includes facilities that deliver medical care on an unscheduled, walk-in basis. Urgent care centers are primarily used to treat patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant emergency room care.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 9,464 licensed and registered urgent care centers responsible for employing about 191,077 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $39 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 5.9 percent between 2016 and 2022.
It is important to state that the companies holding the largest market share in the urgent care centers industry in the US include MedExpress Urgent Care, NextCare Urgent Care Inc., FastMed Urgent Care, and Medical Holdings Corporation.
A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that over the five years to 2022, the Urgent Care Centers industry exhibited strong growth Shifting consumer preference to the convenience and time-saving of urgent care, coupled with rising emergency care costs and a shortage of primary care physicians, stimulated demand for industry services.
In response, industry revenue is anticipated to grow at an annualized rate of 5.9% to $38.5 billion over the five years to 2022, with revenue growing 3.4% alone. During the current period, an increase in the number of insured Americans benefited industry operators.
However, long wait times at emergency rooms and inconvenient operational hours at physician offices incited many individuals to address their noncritical health.
The report further shows that the revenue growth for the Urgent Care Centers industry is expected to accelerate, as the shortage in primary care physicians inundates industry operators with high patient volumes.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has provided a unique growth opportunity for the industry in the form of testing, symptom monitoring, and more recently, immunization.
While mass inoculation is expected to continue through the current year, the coronavirus pandemic will be continually monitored in perpetuity.
As a result, testing and symptom monitoring is expected to persist during the outlook period and beyond, benefiting urgent care establishments that offer convenience in these treatments
The urgent care center line of businesses in developed countries is still enjoying good patronage particularly if they are well positioned and if they know how to reach out to their target market and partner with the government.
Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographics composition of those who need the services of urgent care centers are patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant emergency room care. These people can fall across all genders and ages.
Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
It is safe to say that there is no niche area in the urgent care centers industry because generally, urgent care centers are equipped to carry out patient care services and Sonstige, but it is important to point out that some urgent care centers may decide to specialize in any or all of the following services;
- Diagnose general symptoms
- X-ray services
- Routine blood tests and other diagnostic laboratory procedures
- Provide prepackaged prescription services
- Provide treatment for minor traumas such as broken bones and lacerations
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competition that exists in this business go beyond competitions amongst urgent care centers in your location; you are expected to compete with other players in the healthcare industry who are also into accommodating former prisoners and psychiatric patients, or others unused to non-institutional life. So, it will be right to say the competition in the urgent care centers industry is tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that you partner with the government and key players in your community, you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.
Know Your Major Competitors in the Urgent Care Centers Industry
Here are some of the most popular urgent care centers in the United States of America;
- MedExpress Urgent Care
- NextCare Urgent Care Inc.
- FastMed Urgent Care
- Medical Holdings Corporation
- American Family Care
- CityMD Urgent Care
- GoHealth Urgent Care
- MedPost Urgent Care
- Fast Pace Urgent Care
- Aurora Health Center Urgent Care
- MedSpring Urgent Care
- Banner Urgent Care
- ProHEALTH Urgent Care
- Hometown Urgent Care & Occupational Health
- Providence Health & Services Urgent Care
- Mayo Clinic Health System Urgent Care
- Premier Urgent Care
- Baptist South Florida Urgent Care
When opening an urgent care center, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and start competing at a national level.
When conducting costing and economic analysis for your urgent care center, you just have to critically examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion. You would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your urgent care center.
It is important to note that rent payment or lease, medical equipment, and overhead cost are some of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of running an urgent care center and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.
Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend to start a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting an urgent care center in the United States of America or in any part of the world, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of an urgent care center to buy.
Besides, starting an urgent care center from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other related businesses which usually require detailed groundwork and extensive paper work before launching the business. With an urgent care center, you should just get the required facility, the required license, permits, the right employees, build business relationships with key stakeholders and investors, and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your urgent care center.
Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to open your own urgent care center today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well–established urgent care centers and of course other players in the Hospital and Healthcare industry that also treat sick people that needs urgent care.
The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market. Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face are mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), stiff competition, volatile costs, and rising medical care prices.
So also, unfavorable government policies, seasonal fluctuations, demographic/social factors, a downturn in the economy which is likely going to affect consumer spending, and of course the emergence of new competitors within the same location where yours is located. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering opening an urgent care center, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow. Generally, you have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your urgent care center.
Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small-scale urgent care center especially if you are just starting out with moderate start-up capital, in a small facility, and with minimal employees.
But if your intention is to grow the business and operate all across the United States of America, then choosing a sole proprietorship is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC, or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings, and other managerial formalities.
These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your urgent care center; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners and investors’ expectations, and of course taxes. If you take your time to study the various legal entity to use for your urgent care center, you will agree that a limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as a limited liability company (LLC) and in the future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have plans of going public.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your urgent care center so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own urgent care center business in the United States of America, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Pro Health© Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Victor Brown® Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Med Plus© Urgent Care Center, Inc.
- Royal Medicals® Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Green Tower™ Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Gerald Martins™ Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Theresa Jessey© Urgent Care Center, Inc.
- Alex McPhersons® Urgent Care Center, LLC.
- Flip Side© Urgent Care Center, Inc.
- Coren Nelson© Urgent Care Center, LLC.
Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States of America and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own urgent care business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk Insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building/Property insurance
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
- Payment protection insurance
You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your urgent care center;
- Allstate Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
- Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
- New York Life Insurance Company
- Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
- MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
- Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
Protect your Intellectual Property with Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own urgent care center, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection or trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
On the other hand, if you want to leverage on the business opportunities within the industry and also protect your company’s logo and other documents, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Aside from the results you produce as it relates to running an urgent care center, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some urgent care centers stand out. If you want to make an impact in the industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own urgent care center;
- UCA’s Certified Urgent Care (CUC)
- Urgent Care Board Certification
- Certified Patient Care Technician (CPCT)
- Certified EKG Technician (CET)
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Please note that you cannot successfully run an urgent care center in the United States of America without acquiring professional certifications even if you have adequate experience cum background in the industry.
Get the Necessary Legal Documents
It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States of America without the proper documentation. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own urgent care center in the United States of America;
- Business and liability insurance
- Federal Tax Payer’s ID
- State Permit
- Building License
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License (Accreditation and Licensing to handle drug and alcohol addiction)
- Business Plan
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Health inspection Certificate
- Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting a standard urgent care center is capital intensive especially even if you choose to launch the business on a small scale and you only have a handful of full–time employees on your payroll. Leasing of a standard facility that can accommodate your patients and staff members and of course the purchase of medical equipment are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start-up capital, in essence, if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you will still have to source for fund to finance the business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things and perhaps the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors, and your friends to invest in your business.
Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for start-up capital for your urgent care center business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Raising money from investors and business partners
- Sell shares to interested investors
- Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from government, donor organizations, and angel investors
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Generally, in business, it cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to start your business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of the right demography.
It is important to note that a business facility in a good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough funds for leasing / renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your urgent care center facility business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility study and market survey. The possibility of you coming across a similar business that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out.
Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your urgent care center;
- San Diego, California
- Albany, New York
- Nevada, Las Vegas
- Miami, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Dallas, Texas
- Los Angeles, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
When it comes to starting a standard urgent care center, you will need medical surgical equipment. It is important to state that this equipment can be purchased as fairly used if you are operating on a low budget. In setting up a small office for your urgent care center, you will also need a computer, printer, home healthcare software, telephones, pager, photocopier, scanner, fax machine, first aid kit, gloves, and uniform.
When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility, the size of the facility you want to own and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. Besides, you will need a facility that is in a serene environment, a facility that is big enough to accommodate the number of beds, patients, and staff members working for you.
As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you need to consider your finance before making the decision. When it comes to starting a standard urgent care center on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer / Chief Medical Director (you can occupy this position if you are a medical doctor), Physiotherapist, Medical Doctor, Nurse, Lab Technicians, Marketing and Sales Executive (Business Developer), Accountant, Nurse Aides, Medication Management Counselors, Human Resources and Admin Manager, Customer Services Executive / Front Desk Officer, Security Guards and Cleaners.
Over and above, you would need a minimum of 15 to 20 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard urgent care center.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When an urgent care center has commenced operations, the administrative staff will be positioned to welcome patients and to sort out registration, payments, and card issues. Once this is done, the patient will be directed to see the doctor and urgent care centers primarily engage in the treatment of patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant emergency room care.
It is important to state that an urgent care center business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated urgent care center business process is not cast in stone.
Write a Marketing Plan Packed with Ideas & Strategies
Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch an urgent care center, then you must go all out to employ strategies that will help you attract veterans, or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well–known brands that determine the market direction for the industry.
So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in the Urgent Care industry, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the marketplace.
Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your urgent care center;
- Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, religious organizations, corporate organizations, HMOs, and everyone in and around the location where your urgent care center is located
- Advertise your urgent care center in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
- List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your urgent care center
- Engage in direct marketing and sales
- Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
- Leverage on the internet to promote your urgent care center
- Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your urgent care center; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you
Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut the operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save costs, it will also help you get the right pricing for your products.
As regards medications, toiletries, cleaning chemicals, disinfectants, and other supplies that you need to effectively run your urgent care center, you need to ensure that you purchase your items directly from the manufacturers or from wholesale distributors in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantity of items you purchase directly from the manufacturers or wholesale distributors, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
The availability of qualified and experienced healthcare professionals, your facility, your business process, and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base and business network. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well-positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your facilities can favorably compete with some of the best in the industry.
Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers to retain your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and also attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results, or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk SMS and customized emails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.
No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your urgent care center;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and healthcare-related magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community – based events / programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your urgent care center
- Install your Bill Boards in strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas in the communities around you.
- List your urgent care center in local directories/yellow pages
- Advertise your urgent care center on your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your urgent care center operates.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and vans are well branded with your company logo et al.