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Benefit golf tournament brings name recognition
How would you like to meet with current and potential referral sources for an entire day, show them a good time, raise money for a charity, and provide name recognition most providers only dream about? That’s just what Greensboro, NC-based Advanced Home Care has done each of the past five years with its Charity Golf Classic, with stellar results for everyone involved.
Advanced Home Care is an infusion, HME, home nursing, and respiratory services provider with locations in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Charlotte, and Asheville, serving 50 counties throughout North Carolina.
When Michael Fultz, community education representative for Advanced, was looking for a better way to target referral sources, putting on a golf tournament seemed an obvious choice. It allows him to see numerous referral and potential referral sources in one day, all in a non-intimidating environment.
The inaugural event was called the Physician’s Golf Classic and held in Greensboro five years ago.
"We invited as many physicians as we could to a day’s event, charged them a small entry fee, and tried to raise money for a charity that is associated with one of the cities we are in," he says.
Fultz has learned quite a bit about putting on a quality golf tournament that allows referral sources, charity, and Advanced Home Care to benefit. He says there are several keys to getting the biggest return on your dollar.
1. Don’t cut corners.
The tournament is a reflection of your business. Scrimp and save and you’re likely to send the message that you do the same when it comes to providing patient care.
"It costs Advanced Home Care an average of $15,000 to $16,000 to put on a good tournament," says Fultz.
But Fultz gets a big bang for the buck. Once the golfers have registered, lunch awaits them in their golf cart, along with a bag of donated items and a high-quality golf shirt with Advanced Home Care logo on it.
Fultz also provides free golf balls for participants to practice on the driving range for the day’s prizes. Eight prizes for the top teams are up for grabs, ranging from $125 to $75 gift certificates, all for the golf course clubhouse. There are also $50 gift certificates for various awards such as longest drive, closest to the pin, and closest to the pin on second shot.
After the tournament, there is a raffle for which all golfers are automatically registered for items such as cell phones, weekend getaways at local motels, golf equipment, or gift certificates to restaurants.
To top it all off, Fultz also offers a new Mercedes for a hole-in-one, as well as a $10,000 putt-for-cash competition for a 60-foot putt. But Fultz doesn’t put up the Mercedes or cash.
"You buy insurance for the Mercedes and certain other things," says Fultz. "It’s all actuarial, but we buy the insurance and sponsor the car and putt for cash prizes."
2. Do it for the right reason.
Make sure you put the charity first. Fultz chose to raise money for indigent medical clinics, which are often associated with local hospitals.
"We charge an entry fee, but that check is actually written to the charity, and all the money related to the tournament is donated to the charity," he says. "My personal reason for getting into it is to give something back to the community. If you go that route, you will be more successful than saying you want to do this for marketing or to generate referrals."
Fultz says that referrals will come, but that’s not the main reason for the tournament.
"I want everybody to have fun and get them in a neutral setting so they do not think it is going to be a high-pressure marketing day, because that is not the intent," he says. "The intent is to raise money for a great cause and indirectly, the name recognition will generate referrals."
The entrance fee for the event is $110. The tournament raises $10,000 to $11,000 each year for a charity.
3. Use your resources.
Spending $15,000 to $16,000 for a golf tournament isn’t within everyone’s budget. However, Fultz has several ways to help defray the cost of the tournament. The first is to find sponsors.
"I sell spots on the sleeves for a co-sponsor of the shirt," says Fultz. "An HMO participated [in] it last year, and they helped defray some of the cost of the shirts."
Fultz says there is one major obstacle in finding sponsors.
"Most of these corporations don’t have the funds to just write you a check, although some of them do," he says. "Sunrise Medical writes me a check every year and they choose to do that, but other vendors choose to donate their product to me in lieu of money."
For example, Advanced Home Care uses Sabratek pumps. Rather than giving Advanced Home Care money to become a sponsor, the company donates pump sets to Advanced.
"That is an option that vendors can choose, and with an event like this any help a vendor can give us is appreciated," he says.
Sponsorships begin with a Bronze sponsorship for $500 and go up to a Corporate sponsor for $5,000.
In addition to sponsors that help defray the day’s costs, Fultz uses Advanced Home Care staff to help with the event. There are two volunteers at each hole for the various competitions, as well as four volunteers who patrol the course in beverage carts for the participants.
The designated charity also does its fair share of work.
"The charity usually helps gather raffle prizes, find sponsors for lunch, putt for cash, and hole-in-one competition. Because we fund this, I give them responsibilities to help out," says Fultz.
4. Spread the word.
Fultz sends out flyers and invitations for the tournament to potential referral sources in the medical field: physicians, key individuals at hospitals, attorneys, and even dentists. Current referral sources are also invited, and past participants receive a letter at home.
"It gets easier and easier every year to fill the field," says Fultz. "The last two years, I’ve turned people away; there is nothing worse than having to turn away a surgeon, and I turned away five of them."
Some physicians travel from other cities, up to an hour away, to take part in the tournament.
"We usually limit our players to about 130. We had 132 last year, but I don’t want many more than that. I don’t want it to be too long of a day for them, because these people have other things to do too," says Fultz.
5. Do low-key marketing.
Putting on a charity event and avoiding hard-sell techniques doesn’t mean you should have a day devoid of networking. Fultz makes a concerted effort to ensure Advanced Home Care makes a good account of itself.
"We put some of our company employees in the foursomes," says Fultz. "I have some strategic placement of key Advanced Home Care employees where I would like them to play so they can talk about certain things during the course of the day."
Last year, for example, Advanced’s CEO played with three pulmonologists from a physician group that didn’t send much business to Advanced.
"I told him that I would like him to talk about our oxygen program, but be very low key," says Fultz. "We’re not looking to sign any contracts on that day, so you don’t want to start discussing business on the second hole."
Other employees pair with vendors and talk about new technology and similar developments. And when the day is done, Fultz puts the entire day’s event in perspective.
"People tell me at the end of the day that it’s the best golf tournament they attend," he says. "My marketing spiel is that the quality doesn’t end here, it goes into the home care agency as well and the services we deliver. I segue it into that, and that’s where it’s very important."
The final touch is a thank-you letter to each participant.