Like the birth of a child, a facilities expansion is a true game changer.
The complexity of a new hospital or major facility expansion mandates a disciplined process to balance the countless strategic, business, and logistical considerations. Too often, these processes fail to leverage your most powerful tool: your brand.
Based on numerous hospital expansion projects and new hospital grand openings, Franklin Street has deep insights about leveraging and strengthening your brand throughout the construction process. From the early fundraising stages, capital campaign planning, initial announcements to the final grand opening and beyond, we’re happy to share our experience with you.
1. Tell a Story People Want to Hear
Every milestone in the expansion process is an opportunity to build a narrative that leads toward your future brand. But you need to make your story relevant. Instead of focusing on what you have to say, focus on what the market wants to hear, for example, the vision of a better, brighter future.
2. Start Early
Perhaps the most common mistake is waiting too long to engage the public with your expansion story. As a rule of thumb, the public phase of the story should occur well before groundbreaking – ideally with the Certificate of Need. Use the time to build desire and engage the public in the planning process. Every month you wait is time you could be creating momentum, engaging the community, and testing and refining your story.
3. Secure Your Base
While the majority of the population won’t tune into the narrative before construction begins, there will be a small portion of your audience who will be highly interested in the project. These are potential influencers who can play a big role in building support for your vision. Engage them with news and information, and then give them platforms like town hall meetings in which they can share their enthusiasm.
4. Listen Widely
One of the most powerful brand builders available to you is the listening tour. By giving people an opportunity to have their say, you not only gain valuable ideas that can improve the project, but you also build your relationships with key shareholders. Be sure to talk with community groups, health system staff, physicians, EMS, fire departments, and others as appropriate.
5. Engage Early and Often
Invite the community into the process, ideally in the planning stage. Gather their input and find ways to incorporate these contributions into the project to create a sense of shared ownership. Maintain regular contact through all of your communication channels including social media and marketing automation. As you engage people in a constructive way, they become part of the story and feel a vested interest in its success.
6. Leverage Your Foundation
A new hospital is all about legacy, investment, and impact – which can make it an attractive priority within the local philanthropic community. By working with your foundation, you can build a strong core of support among a powerful constituency.
7. You Only Launch Once (YOLO)
You only get one shot to make a first impression so make the most of it. Done right, a grand opening is the natural culmination of a story that has been built over years, as well as the opening chapter of a new story – the future of your brand in the community. With this in mind, think about how to use the opening to position your brand for years of success by asking these questions:
• What behavioral changes are needed?
From physician referrals to traffic patterns, your new facility will require changes in the way people behave. Use the opening to start the process of helping the community to find you.
• What are your business drivers?
Use the opening to attract and capture the traffic you need to reach your new capacity targets.
• How does the launch support your brand’s long-range vision?
Your new hospital or facility expansion’s grand opening is a cause for celebration, but it’s simply the beginning of the next phase of your organization’s brand.
For more information download our Hospital Expansion Report based on Franklin Street’s branding and opening of four new hospitals.
What to expect:
- Steps you can take for a successful expansion
- How to apply these steps to your health system
- Now you have a plan, how do you gauge your success?