“Appearances matter” is a commonly heard phrase, but sometimes appearances can either encourage new patients to come in or literally stop patients at the door. It’s not enough that you’re open 12 hours per day. The equally important question is, does your urgent care center look open? I’ve frequently seen urgent care centers which—during operating hours—have their exterior signage turned off, no “open” sign displayed, and their window blinds closed, giving the appearance of being closed. The culprit is usually an east- or west-facing elevation, causing staff to lower blinds to reduce early morning or late afternoon glare and heat, and then failing to raise the blinds after the sun shifts. Regardless, the top marketing tools for urgent care are ample signage, strong building visibility, and high-traffic counts so if your center appears closed, you’re missing out on potential revenue.
Consider the image of CareNow in Dallas, TX. This center has highly visible signage on the building, monument, and billboard. The blinds are open so that patients can not only see the center is open, but that the waiting room is empty (indicating little waiting to see a doctor). Any question as to whether the center is open is settled by the bright neon “open” sign displayed at the entrance. And to assure patients of their safety, the parking lot is well illuminated.
In addition to assuring a welcoming appearance at your center both day and night, also consider:
- Placing a sign on or near your front door, listing your daily hours. The font should be sufficiently large for a motorist to read without getting out of the car.
- Nighttime sensors to automatically turn on exterior lights/signs rather than a timer or relying on staff (especially in northern geographies, where in December/January it gets dark as early as 4:30 pm).
- Augmenting street and building signage with temporary signage such as flags and banners to further attraction attention of motorists. Check your municipal codes to ensure this is acceptable.
- Realizing the full marketing value of exterior signage by leaving it illuminated after the center closes—if not all night, then at least until midnight.
- Trimming any trees, hedges, or other foliage that may obscure signage visibility.
Alan A. Ayers, MBA, MAcc
VP, Strategic Initiatives, Practice Velocity, LLC;
Practice Management Editor,
JUCM—The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine