Walk-in medical centers first started showing up in 2000. By 2016, there were over 2,000 clinics in operation across the United States—and that number is only continuing to grow.
If you’re wondering how to start an urgent care clinic of your own, you’ve come to the right place. The following are two of the most critical things to consider about starting your own urgent care business.
What Unique Features Will Your Urgent Care Startup Offer?
Your passion may be for helping people heal and recover from trauma, but let’s be honest: your goal as a business-person is to launch a profitable urgent care business.
And it’s true across practically all business categories that, unless what you do is different from what everyone else is doing, no one will come to you instead of the competition.
So the question is, what will set your urgent care apart from everyone else? What is your unique selling proposition (or USP)?
Your USP might be that you focus your practice and marketing towards athletes, and you’re located next to a gym or a beach.
It might be being open after typical working hours, and your target audience could be people that work late or play sports after work.
Or it could be specialized offers that go beyond basic urgent care, such as assistance for people struggling with weight loss or recovering from drug addictions.
How Much Does it Cost to Start an Urgent Care?
Launching an urgent care startup is like building any other business—it starts with months of careful research, planning, and development, and at last, a leap of faith.
Besides having good, trustworthy information to back up your plans, you’ve got to have the financial capital to realize those plans. This may come in the form of a bank loan, investments made by friends and family who believe in you, or out of your own savings.
The question you’re likely wondering is, how much money are you going to need?
The answer to this question depends mainly upon three things: the location where you intend to launch your practice; the size of the building you need to meet your future patients’ needs; and the real estate arrangement you’re going to use.
First of all, the location for your urgent care is critical. Ideally, it needs to be easily-visible, in a high-traffic area.
Unfortunately, such spots can be hard to come by, and even harder to afford. However, if you have a competent practice, the right location can more than pay off in the long run.
Obviously, geography also has a considerable effect on the amount of money needed to launch. Cost of land is much higher in some areas than in others. Different states will also place differing expenses upon startup owners in the form of taxes and fees. City areas are typically much more expensive than rural areas.
Second, regarding the size of your urgent care startup. Urgent care clinics are, on average, roughly 3,000 square feet. However, the only factor that should determine the size of your clinic is not how big anyone else’s is, but how many patients you intend to serve at a time.
When it comes to choosing a better size or a better location, the location should always come first. It doesn’t matter how big your office is if no one can find it. On the flip side, if you have so much traffic that you can’t fit everybody who needs care inside at once, you’ll have a good reason to upgrade later on, once you’re actually making a profit.
Last, the cost will also be determined by your real estate arrangement. Are you going to lease a general-purpose building, build a brand-new clinic, or buy an existing office? You should carefully look into all of your options before choosing anything.
Most urgent care owners lease the space for their practice. Whatever you do, you’ll want to work closely with an architect who specializes in medical care centers. This will ensure that your original space or upgrades are compliant with medical and safety codes.
It’s estimated that the average urgent care startup involves a cost-to-launch of between $850,000 and $1 million. The good news, however, is that clinics also tend to break even and start turning a profit within a year and a half to two years.