One of the best places to increase your PT practice’s presence in the local area and to attract new patients and referral partners is at community events. Most areas have a combination of small events, festivals, foot races, parades etc. that have sponsorship opportunities. Some annual events will even have a website or listserv that sends out advanced announcements of sponsorship or volunteering to past year’s participants. But, how do you pick which events to participate in? Which ones will have the best impact for your practice?
Some health or wellness events are:
- Sports leagues or tournaments
- Food festivals
- Seasonal events
- Farmer’s markets
- Religious or community organization fairs
- Small business or Shop local events
- Health fairs
Set a goal for yourself! Allocate time and resources to participating in a community event every quarter, bi-monthly, or monthly. The first couple events might require a lot of work to plan and execute, but after a few “warm-up” events, it will be smooth sailing.
5 tips for successful community events
- Have a planning session: at least 3 weeks before the event, gather the staff and team members who will be supporting the clinic during the event.
- Create committees and leaders: divide the event tasks into groups (Marketing, Packing, Set-Up, On-Site, Clean Up) and assign a leader to oversee each committee.
- Invest in packing and travel supplies: purchase large storage totes, duffel bags, waterproof folders/padfolios, and office supplies that are designated for event use only. *A small hand truck or dolly is great if you have a lot of gear to haul.
- Make checklists: each committee should have both a supplies and a tasks checklist. Laminate these so they are durable and waterproof. Tape the supplies list to the corresponding storage tote and buy a clipboard for the task list.
- Remember your team: it’s easy to get caught up in packing stuff. Don’t forget about your staff—bringing water bottles, small snacks, first aid supplies, spare phone chargers, camp chairs etc. can make the day run smoother and be more fun!
For practice owners and/or marketing coordinators: make sure at least one member of the executive team is on hand for every event. This will provide an ultimate leader for the team and ensures someone will be on-hand to handle any issues or emergencies. What can you do to prepare for the unpredictable? It’s all about attitude! Be positive, flexible, and accommodating.
Key event planning considerations
- Weather: always plan for the worst! Outdoor summer events need to have rain plans, thunderstorm action plans, and heat plans (you can’t have staff fainting from the heat, hence the water bottles and snacks).
- Location: if you can, always ask the event coordinator which site will be yours in advance. Do a “drive by” a couple days before. See if the equipment you need (electric, water, tables/chairs etc.) is available. Also check out the setting—is the ground uneven, can you stake down the pop-up tent, where are the bathrooms?
- Parking: most events will have vendor parking, but often that is farthest from the site to allow patrons easier access. If you are parking across the street, in a parking garage, in a nearby field; then, you will need be able to carry and transport your gear by hand. Worst case scenario: loading zones. If you have to unload and then park…bring at least two people (a driver and a helper) so that someone can always be with the gear.
- Competition: you might not be the only physical therapy clinic represented or you might be super excited about your giveaways only to find another vendor has the exact same ones. Stay calm and be flexible. If you get upset, then your team and patrons may feel your vibes and be less enthusiastic.
- Patrons: every owner’s biggest fear, a disgruntled past patient who has decided that today is the today to tell you about their problems with your clinic. Oh no! Have a plan in place—the senior team member should address the patient’s concern privately (“let’s go for a walk and talk about it”). Staff members should be positive and remain polite. If you can return from the walk with smiles and a handshake that is a huge win for your public relations.
After all, community events are about bringing you and your team out from beyond the clinic walls and interacting with local residents. The sign of successful event is everyone heading home happy, healthy, and with a list of new patients or contacts.