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How to Start a Walk-in Clinic

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Walk-in Clinic

Fast Facts

Investment range

$682,600 - $1,054,500

Revenue potential

$1,095,000 - $2,463,750 p.a.

Time to build

6 – 12 months

Profit potential

$109,500 - $246,375 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Full-time

walk-in clinics, also known as urgent care centers, are increasingly being utilized by patients with minor illnesses or injuries, as they offer the convenience of extended hours and they ability to walk in without an appointment. In fact, the U.S. urgent care centers industry is growing rapidly and is worth nearly $53 billion. 

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the booming industry and are a healthcare professional, you could start your own walk-in clinic. It takes a significant investment, but a walk-in clinic can generate healthy profits.

But first, you’ll need to understand the business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide details all the business insights you need to launch a successful walk-in clinic. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Help the people of your community
  • Booming market
  • Excellent profit potential

Cons

  • High startup costs
  • Many laws and regulations to follow

walk-in clinic industry trends

Industry size and growth

Urgent Care industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • Pediatric urgent care centers are the largest growing segment of the market.
  • Many urgent cares are adding specialty health services such as orthopedics and dermatology.

Challenges

  • Urgent care centers are being opened by large hospitals, creating competition for independent walk-in clinics.
  • Some states only allow a licensed health care professional to own and operate an urgent care center.
Walk-in Clinic Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

  • Most popular states – The most popular states for acute care physicians are North Dakota, Maine, and Vermont.((https://www.zippia.com/acute-care-physician-jobs/best-states/))
  • Least popular states – The least popular states for acute care physicians are the District of Columbia, Florida, and New York.
Walk-in Clinic demand hotspots

What kind of people work in walk-in clinics?

Walk-in Clinic industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a walk-in clinic business?

Startup costs for a walk-in clinic range from $700,000 to $1 million. Costs include the space rental and preparation, equipment, and an operating budget. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your walk-in clinic business, including: 

  • X-ray machines
  • Hematology equipment
  • ECG/EKG
  • Spirometer
  • Hyfrecator
  • Cryogenics
  • Microscopes
  • Centrifuge
  • IVs
  • Patient beds
  • Waiting room furniture
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$2,000 - $3,000$2,500
Insurance$10,000 - $20,000$15,000
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Space rental and preparation$200,000 - $300,000$250,000
Equipment$200,000 - $300,000$250,000
Operating budget$200,000 - $300,000$250,000
Sales and marketing budget$50,000 - $100,000$75,000
Legal and Professional fees$20,000 - $30,000$25,000
Total$682,600 - $1,054,500$868,550

How much can you earn from a walk-in clinic business?

How much you charge patients will depend on the services offered. These calculations will assume an average charge per patient seen will be $150. Your profit margin should be about 10%. 

In your first year or two, you might have two physicians seeing 10 patients each per day, bringing in $1,095,000 in revenue. This would mean $109,500 in profit, assuming that 10% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might have three physicians seeing 15 patients a day. With annual revenue of $2,463,750, you’d make a tidy profit of $246,375.

Walk-in Clinic earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for an urgent care. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs
  • Meeting your state’s licensing and other requirements for a walk-in clinic

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a walk-in clinic, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research walk-in clinics in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of walk-in clinics that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing an urgent care center that specializes in family medicine, or that has on call nurse practitioners. 

You might consider targeting a niche, such as emergency medicine.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

You’ll have to decide what types of medical services to offer. You should at least be equipped to handle common issues such as:

  • Sore throats and strep throat
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Minor injuries and wound care
  • Sinus infections
  • Other minor illnesses

How much should you charge for walk-in clinic services?

Your prices should depend on standard prices in the industry but also on your ongoing costs.

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market could literally be anyone, unless you decide to specialize in something like pediatrics or sports medicine, so you should spread out your marketing to include Instagram and Facebook.

Where? Choose a walk-in clinic location

Choosing the right location is crucial for the clinic’s success. It’s beneficial to conduct a thorough market research and feasibility study before finalizing a location.

You’ll need to rent out a large space for your walk-in clinic unless you decide to build a facility. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

Here are the factors to consider when choosing a location for a walk-in health clinic:

  1. Demographics: Target underserved areas and consider local health needs.
  2. Accessibility: Ensure easy road access, proximity to public transport, and available parking.
  3. Visibility: Opt for main roads or shopping centers.
  4. Proximity: Be near pharmacies or hospitals, but avoid areas with many similar clinics.
  5. Safety: Choose low-crime, well-lit areas.
  6. Affordability: Balance rent costs with expected revenue.
  7. Size: Adequate space for essential facilities.
  8. Regulations: Confirm zone allows medical facilities.
  9. Competition: Evaluate nearby clinics and market gaps.
  10. Infrastructure: Reliable utilities and services.
Walk-in Clinic business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Walk-in Clinic Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “walk-in clinic” or “walk-in care”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “HealthHorizon Centers” and “MedExpand QuickClinics” over “QuickCare Community Clinic” and “StepRight Health Hub”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Walk-in Clinic Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Provide a brief overview of your walk-in clinic business, highlighting its purpose, location, and unique features.
  • Business Overview: Introduce your clinic, explaining the services you offer, such as urgent medical care, vaccinations, and wellness check-ups.
  • Product and Services: Detail the specific medical services you provide, including treatment for common illnesses, diagnostic services, and any specialized care.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the local healthcare market, considering factors like population demographics, healthcare needs, and potential patient volume.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify other healthcare providers in your area, highlighting what sets your clinic apart, such as extended hours, no-appointment policy, or specialized care.
  • Sales and Marketing: Describe your marketing strategies to attract patients, including online advertising, partnerships with insurance providers, and community outreach.
  • Management Team: If applicable, introduce key team members, such as medical professionals, nurses, and administrative staff, showcasing their qualifications.
  • Operations Plan: Explain how your clinic operates daily, including scheduling appointments, handling emergencies, and maintaining compliance with healthcare regulations.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, pricing models, and revenue expectations based on patient visits and insurance reimbursements.
  • Appendix: Include any relevant certifications, licenses, or affiliations with healthcare networks, as well as testimonials from satisfied patients if available.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to walk-in clinics. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your walk-in clinic will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Venture capital investors take an ownership stake in exchange for funds, so keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some control over your business. This is generally only available for businesses with high growth potential.
  • Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities. 
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a walk-in clinic business. If you’re successful and want to expand to new locations, you may be able to attract angel investors or venture capital. 

types of business funding

Step 8: Apply for Walk-in Clinic Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a walk-in clinic business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

You’ll need to check your state’s specific requirements for a walk-in clinic.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your walk-in clinic business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as nextgen, or Chordline, to manage your patient check ins, data, and billing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Check In Now”. This can sharply increase visits.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Community Outreach Programs: Engage with local communities by organizing health seminars, participating in health fairs, or offering free health check-ups. This not only promotes your clinic but also establishes trust within the community.
  2. Partnerships with Employers: Collaborate with local businesses to provide employee health services, such as on-site flu vaccinations or wellness programs. Offering corporate discounts can encourage companies to choose your clinic as their preferred healthcare provider.
  3. Targeted Social Media Campaigns: Leverage social media platforms to run targeted advertising campaigns. Highlight the convenience and efficiency of your walk-in services, emphasizing the importance of immediate healthcare access.
  4. Referral Programs: Implement a referral program where existing patients receive incentives for referring new clients. Word-of-mouth remains a powerful marketing tool, especially in the healthcare sector.
  5. Urgent Care Membership Plans: Introduce membership plans that offer discounted services for individuals and families. This not only attracts regular customers but also provides a steady income stream for your clinic.
  6. Collaborate with Pharmacies: Establish partnerships with local pharmacies to cross-promote services. Provide them with informational materials about your clinic, and reciprocate by offering to display their services within your clinic.
  7. Mobile Clinic Services: Extend your reach by offering mobile clinic services, especially in underserved areas. This can be particularly effective for preventive care and routine check-ups, creating a positive impact on public health.
  8. Local Media Presence: Connect with local newspapers, radio stations, and community magazines for coverage. Share success stories, health tips, or any unique aspects of your clinic to enhance your credibility and attract attention.
  9. Online Appointment Booking Platforms: Integrate with popular online healthcare platforms that allow patients to book appointments easily. This not only enhances accessibility but also positions your clinic as modern and patient-friendly.
  10. Feedback and Testimonials: Encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews and testimonials online. Showcase these on your social media platforms and website to build trust and credibility.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your walk-in clinic meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your walk-in clinic business could be: 

  • Convenient, quality care when you need it most – our walk-in clinic puts your health first
  • Efficient, accessible medical attention with our walk-in clinic, providing personalized care for all
  • Skip the wait, experience prompt service and expert care at our walk-in clinic
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a walk-in clinic business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in walk-in clinics for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in walk-in clinics. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a walk-in clinic business include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physicians Assistants
  • Nurses
  • X Ray Technicians
  • Receptionist
  • General Manager

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Walk-in-Clinic – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

walk-in clinics perform valuable services and are necessary in every community. By investing in your own walk-in clinic, you’ll be serving a need and making a good profit at the same time. You could eventually expand and have your own network of walk-in clinics.

Now that you understand the business, you’re ready to get your healthy and successful walk-in clinic off the ground!

Walk-in Clinic Business FAQs

Is a walk-in clinic profitable?

The profitability of a walk-in clinic can vary based on factors such as location, patient volume, services offered, operational efficiency, and reimbursement rates from insurance providers. Walk-in clinics have the potential to be profitable when managed effectively, attract a steady flow of patients, and optimize operational costs.

What happens during a typical day at a walk-in clinic?

A typical day at a walk-in clinic involves checking in and registering patients, conducting patient assessments and medical evaluations, diagnosing and treating non-emergency medical conditions, administering vaccinations and immunizations, performing minor procedures or wound care, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, counseling and educating patients on preventive care, and collaborating with healthcare professionals for seamless patient care.

What is the growth potential of a walk-in clinic?

The growth potential of a walk-in clinic can be significant due to increasing demand for accessible and convenient healthcare services, expanding patient preference for walk-in or urgent care options, opportunities to offer extended hours and weekend services, potential partnerships with local businesses or healthcare networks, incorporating telemedicine services, offering specialized services or niche care, and expanding into multiple locations or serving underserved areas.

What type of business is a walk-in clinic?

A walk-in clinic is a type of healthcare facility that provides immediate, non-emergency medical care without requiring an appointment. It offers convenient access to medical services for minor illnesses, injuries, vaccinations, and general healthcare needs. Walk-in clinics can operate as standalone businesses or be part of larger healthcare networks or hospitals.

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How to Start a Walk-in Clinic