Traditional marketing tactics, such as placing billboards and radio ads, are great ways to promote your urgent care center’s services, but they can also be quite expensive. That’s why it’s important to maximize the reach of your marketing dollars by integrating grassroots marketing efforts into your marketing plan. One such tactic that has been effective for many urgent care centers is to offer sports physicals to area students.
Sports Physicals as a Marketing Tactic
It might seem like you’re just adding another service line, but the business goal of offering sports physicals isn’t actually to turn a profit. Rather, the business goal of offering sports physicals is to capture future injury and illness visits at your center. When urgent care centers invest in sports physical promotions, they typically see long-term results such as:
- Student athletes returning annually for physicals. If a student participates in multiple activities over 6 to 12 years, they could return 20 or more times.
- Recurring revenue from families returning with younger siblings.
- Students returning to those same urgent care centers into their 20s and 30s.
This is because sports physicals introduce coaches, parents and student athletes to the urgent care center’s providers and services, keeping it “top-of-mind” should any of those segments experience an injury or illness later on. Within the scope of your urgent care center’s annual marketing plan, you should view sports physicals as a seasonal marketing campaign because it is a seasonal marketing tactic used to promote your center’s services.
Developing a Sports Physicals Program
When developing your sports physicals program, you’ll need to determine a variety of factors, including how much to charge, which schools to partner with, and how to build relationships with schools in your area.
What to Charge
Sports physicals aren’t usually covered by insurance, so they are typically a cash-pay service. When setting a price, watch market conditions and competitor pricing, but don’t get caught up in price wars. One urgent care center, for example, partnered with a local children’s magazine and radio station to provide free sports physicals. The short-term response was excellent, but long-term results showed that very few patients who had received free physicals returned after 12 months to seek treatment for illness or injury.
Further analysis revealed that many who had come for the free physicals traveled from low-income areas outside the center’s catchment. In other words, these families made a special trip for the free physicals. The center did a great job drawing in visits during the promotion but failed at growing future visits for illness or injury, which was the actual business goal. When considering what to charge for sports physicals, it’s best to pursue other marketing tactics if your center cannot reasonably compete with the established competition.
Building relationships with coaches and athletics directors will help you get the most value out of your efforts because they will promote your center to their student athletes and their families. And any sports physicals you offer could potentially be promoted in school newsletters, websites and other school communications. There’s no magic formula for the best time to contact a coach or athletics director; the timing is unique to each program or school. However, the general recommendation is to contact athletics directors in May before school is dismissed and staff is out for the summer. The key messages you’ll want to communicate to the coach or athletics director are:
- Your urgent care center can help ensure their student athletes are compliant
- Your center can cater a sports physical promote to meet the specific needs of the school or athletic program
- Your center can treat student athletes’ sport-related injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, cuts and abrasions
- Your services are significantly less expensive than a hospital emergency room, and your wait times are significantly shorter
- Your vendor partnerships will allow you to provide durable medical equipment, such as ankle braces, walker boots and wrist braces, as well as other supplies, such as first aid kits
Although most children have pediatricians who could perform their sports physicals, there’s no beating the convenience the walk-in, extended hours of an urgent care center provides. With the right partnerships and strategy in place, a sports physicals promotion can be a great way to promote your urgent care’s services to families in your community.
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