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Mistake #7: Picking a Small, Declining Community

I hate small towns because once you’ve seen the cannon in the park there’s nothing else to do.
— Lenny Bruce

When you open an urgent care center, population density and industrial growth are important for success. Every community in America needs access to convenient, extended-hours, walk-in, medical care, i.e. an urgent care center. Thus, even communities that have declining population and business environments will support urgent care centers. Before you open an urgent care center, decide if your community can support a startup urgent care center. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What if someone else opens another urgent care center in the community? Can my urgent care center still survive and thrive?

If your answer is “No, my center is likely to limp along if it has to compete with another urgent care center,” then it may be best to find another community.

  • What is the community population?
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As a general rule, a community with less than 25,000 residents is not adequate to open an urgent care center. Of course, you should also look to the surrounding county or counties, as many times people who live outside of a town consider that town to be the hub of their community life for meeting their retail, service, and healthcare needs.

  • How many McDonalds are in the community (or within a 10-minute drive in urban areas)?

If the answer is two (or even better three), then you probably have found a community that is a good place to open an urgent care center. Of course, this rule of thumb assumes that the community is not already well served for urgent care services.

  • Am I willing to incorporate primary care medicine when I open an urgent care center?

If you deliver primary care services, even a community of 10,000 people may be able to support your startup urgent care center. Thus, this guideline has a true exception: if you are in a community that is truly underserved for access to medical care in general and urgent care in particular, then you may have success when you open an urgent care center in a small community.