August 20, 2012

NEMT Business Idea #5: Generating Additional Income from Advertising

Care-a-Van is non-profit wheelchair accessible non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) provider serving West Michigan that has integrated advertising into their service. Care-a-Van offers to local companies a unique advertizing opportunity they call the Featured Partners Program. The program gives area businesses that provide complimentary healthcare services and products a chance to advertise directly to their target market through Care-a-Van. This involves providing customers with brochures, coupons, and other special promotional offers. All customers are presented with these materials when the Care-a-Van drivers arrive to pick them up. A bonus packet with additional benefits and information is provided for all Plus One members, Care-a-Van's frequent user discount program.  Program partners are also featured prominently on the Care-a-Van website. All profits from the Featured Partners Program are directed to driver training at Care-a-Van.

While this program is well suited to their unique situation as a non-profit organization, it could also be expanded and applied to for-profit enterprises. For example, advertizers could be featured in newsletters, recorded phone messages if put on hold, and on-board ads, both in and outside of vehicles.  As with any advertising, care and discretion has to be used. When does it become too much? Is it appropriate? Does the income generated make it worth the trouble? Your website and company vehicles are your place to tell the world what you do, so any additional information: paid ads or even graphics showing support for a worthy charitable cause, shouldn't distract or confuse viewers. As well, offering (for example) local home healthcare service and product businesses the opportunity to direct market to your clients through your NEMT company might be accepted at first by customers, but too much might turn people off.

As a business owner or entrepreneur considering a NEMT start-up, seeing your company through the eyes of a potential advertiser forces you to examine elements of your venture that you may not have realized as having a monetary value. For example, if you have identified a spot inside your ambulette as a good place to display an on-board ad, wouldn't it also be a good place to post notices for customers to remind or inform them about some aspect of your service?  In other words, that space (if utilized) is worth something to the business, just as it is to the potential advertiser; even if income isn't generated. The same can be said of other parts of the operation. Instead of handing new customers a packet of coupons, drivers can provide clients with your company's brochure and business card. Or on your website, instead of ads, you can include an eye catching graphic that showcases some unique part of your NEMT company: employee of the month or show off your new ambulette. You could even link all these together, as in an ad campaign: for example, if you have branched out and started a courier service, then let everybody know and include it consistently throughout all aspects of your operation.

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