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Marketing Ideas to help grow your NEMT business

Starting and growing a non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) business can be rewarding but has unique challenges.  

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, more individuals are eligible for NEMT services than ever before. Some projections show the NEMT market value at $15.6 billion by 2028. 

With the industry on an upward trajectory, there’s never been a better time to start and grow an NEMT business. 

You must develop a strategic advantage and implement effective marketing strategies to succeed. These strategies will help you stand out from the competition and attract more customers to your business.  

This article will discuss key aspects to consider when starting an NEMT business, which will help you ensure it thrives in the long run. 

Develop a Strategic Advantage 

Setting your business apart from the rest is vital in a competitive industry.  

Identifying and developing strategic advantages can help determine how your NEMT business can confidently build a strong, thriving customer base. 

Fleet Size (Capacity) 

One of the most critical elements any provider needs to focus on is ensuring they have enough vehicles to do the work. Without continually growing your fleet, you’ll likely have to turn new business away because you won’t have the capacity. 

Not only is this essential to ensure you can grow, but investing in new vehicles helps mitigate the eventual risks of maintaining older vehicles. The older your fleet gets, the more it costs to keep your vehicles on the road and making money. 

In this area, stagnancy isn’t an option.  

Consistently buying new vehicles is a financial commitment, but it’s necessary to help grow an NEMT business.  

The market is growing, and the potential for new business is there, but if you don’t have the right size fleet, you won’t be able to tap into this potential. 

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Quick Response and Availability 

Availability and responsiveness are interlinked with fleet capacity. With more vehicles, your potential to promptly answer more calls for service improves dramatically. 

Your ability to respond quickly is intertwined with the satisfaction of your customers.  

The more clearly you understand their needs and what they’re experiencing, the likelier you are to provide responsive service that meets those needs. 

Follow-through is essential in this area. Whether it’s your quality of care or arriving on time every time, your potential to earn and maintain business hinges on respect and responsibility. 

Your ability to respond appropriately is also connected to your company’s availability or operating hours.  

While you don’t have to be open and operating 24/7, it’s critical to ensure your business hours closely match the times most patients have appointments. 

Hiring Practices 

Most industries struggle to find and hire quality employees; the NEMT sector is no exception. 

Many businesses need help to keep up due to a shortage of qualified drivers, and getting good drivers through the door costs more and more money. 

Establishing superior hiring practices is more essential than ever, especially when you realize your drivers are your bottom line. The quality of drivers can make or break your business. 

Hiring the right people, investing in their training, and giving them the right tools to do the job well are all critical practices for building a successful business.  

As the face of your company, if your drivers aren’t effective, your service won’t meet the necessary standards for proper growth. 

Utilizing the Right Technology 

Investing in technology is vital to building a successful NEMT business in today’s market.  

The days of manual dispatch and paper records are long gone.  

Modern software solutions like Tobi can significantly enhance operational efficiency by streamlining vehicle scheduling, dispatch, and tracking, improving service quality and faster response times. 

It also allows for better record-keeping, helping NEMT businesses maintain accurate and compliant documentation, which is essential for regulatory compliance and billing.  

The right technology improves the customer experience and helps NEMT businesses stay competitive, adapt to industry changes, and achieve long-term growth. 

Implement the Right Marketing Strategies 

While the quality of service you provide customers is one of the most significant ways to grow your business, thoughtful marketing tactics can help solidify your business as a go-to provider for NEMT services. 

Brand Awareness 

No matter what kind of business you run, your brand is your identity. It’s how people know you. 

Strong brand awareness builds trust and credibility, assuring clients of your reliability and professionalism. It fosters customer loyalty, as people are more likely to return to a brand they recognize and trust.  

Developing and sticking to a brand is essential as it helps you build a unique and recognizable identity that clients will remember—especially when backed by quality service. 

Below are several tools to help you build and increase brand awareness for your business: 

Company website: One of the easiest things to do is also one of the most important: create a website. A web presence with a functional booking portal for clients and patients is vital.  

Even if the site is simple, it matters that people can find you online and fill out an intake form to learn more about your services. 

Social media: It might surprise you, but platforms like Facebook can be an effective way to reach older patients, educate them about your services, and drive brand awareness. 

Print ads: Don’t overlook the potential of print advertising in your hyper-local newspapers and newsletters.  

For example, if there’s an apartment complex in your area with a predominantly elderly population, place an ad for your services in their apartment newsletter. It’s an inexpensive way to reach one of your primary audiences directly. 

Promotional items: Often referred to as “swag,” promotional items are a cost-effective way to put your name out there.  

Whether branded pens, tote bags, or apparel, they constantly remind people of your services. They can reinforce your brand in your customers’ minds, making them more likely to remember your services. 

Relationship Building 

At its core, the NEMT industry is based on building relationships. 

You can have the best drivers and latest vehicles, yet it’s hard to attract business if you don’t have strong relationships with your partners and community. 

The following tactics can help build relationships and entice customers: 

Sales letters: It is crucial to consistently reach out to potential clients via pen and paper or email to introduce your business and discuss opportunities. 

Tip: if you don’t consider yourself a writer, use automated resources like ChatGPT to help you create them more efficiently. 

Cold calling: If there’s a facility in your service area that you want to work with, don’t be afraid to call them, even if you’ve never talked to them before.  

It might feel uncomfortable, but talking to the transportation director and starting a conversation about your business can be helpful. Here are a few questions you can ask to see how you can best serve their facility:  

  • Do you have a tough trip we can help with? 
  • Do you have a backup plan if your provider can’t make it? 
  • Are there any problematic patients for whom we could provide service? 

Find out who orders transportation for that facility, and if you have one, put their information into your CRM so you can stay in touch with them. 

Cold visiting: Never underestimate the power of face-to-face communication. A quick stop into a facility you want to work with can help you build rapport with potential clients and put a face to your brand. 

Tip: if you just purchased a shiny new van for your fleet, it can’t hurt to swing by a facility and show it off. 

Setting Appointments: Once you’ve made contact and developed a relationship with the facility, set up an appointment with its president or a senior-level leader. Ensure you’re on time, presenting your company in the best light. 

Tip: Start with the receptionists. You might be surprised how important they can be in driving business with a facility. They typically know more about the organization than many others, and they are a helpful resource for getting an appointment and securing useful information for future conversations. 

End User Education 

Many individuals requiring NEMT services don’t know what it is or what to expect.  

Educating your end users about your services, how they can engage with your company, and the associated costs is crucial for building trust and fostering relationships.  

Whether it’s with facilities or their patients, building meaningful relationships will drive your business forward. 

NEMT isn’t just about taking patients to and from medical appointments; it’s about providing access to people who don’t qualify for other forms of transportation. 

Paving the Way to a Brighter Future 

While it can be challenging to navigate, working in the NEMT industry and helping people in need is a rewarding experience. 

Starting and growing a successful NEMT business requires a strategic advantage in fleet size, availability, quick response, technology, and effective hiring practices.  

Coupled with a strong focus on marketing strategies, including brand awareness, relationship building, and end-user education, your NEMT business can thrive in a competitive market.  

Whether your fleet is one van or 100, investing in these aspects simultaneously and consistently is critical to effectively grow your NEMT business and secure your place in the industry. 

Curious to see how Tobi can help you run your NEMT operations more efficiently? Sign up for a free 30-day trial and experience how Tobi makes your business better at every turn.